Monthly Archives: April 2007

The Ignored Story of Our Wounded Soldiers

Most media sources focus on reports of soldiers who died and usually have a thrown in line about those who are “wounded.” The Army Times recently investigated treatment of wounded soldiers. For example, Pvt. Robert Van Antwerp, age 20, was wounded in a blast that ruptured his spleen, ripped out his colon, and fractured his skull when a suicide bombers blew up his vehicle leaving his two buddies dead. According to the Army Times, “Van Antwerp is one of thousands of wounded soldiers rushed from the war zone for health care and then stranded in an administrative limbo. They are at the mercy of a medical evaluation system that’s agonizing slow, grossly understaffed and saddled with a growing backlog of cases.” In 2001, about 10% of soldiers going through the medical retirement process received permanent disability benefits. In 2005, with two wars raging, that percentage has dropped to 3% according to the Government Accountability office. Figures for Reservists dropped from 16% to 5%.

Since the Bush Folly of War in Iraq, the normal wait of 120 days to complete paper work and evaluation at Walter Reed Hospital has grown to 270 days. For example, Pfc. Martin Jackson tripped and twisted his leg while running from a mortar round in Iraq, it was later discovered he had twisted his spine. He has been at Walter Reed for two years, his wife has filed for divorce and the Army is only willing to award him a 20% disability, and, even worse, no free medical treatment for war injuries and no insurance for his family.

Last Christmas, six soldiers at Walter Reed Hospital spent their time picking up trash, mopping floors and emptying garbage. Spc. Rubin Vilalpando tested positive for marijuana as did the other five. He lost his holiday leave and was reduced in rank, which means he will receive a lower disability payment rate if he is ever awarded disability. His cousin, Marcos Omar Nalasco, was electrocuted in a faulty shower in Baghdad. Vilalpando says he is depressed. “I am tired. I’m angry. I want to go home.”

Funny, but I never hear a word about our wounded soldiers from the conservative media or its loudmouth windbags declaiming about unpatriotic Democrats who want to end war and killing.

Letter to The Stars & Stripes

“I am a sixth generation 15 year veteran. Why is Bush doing whatever he wants with apparent disregard for what the people want? The only thing he is doing is upping the bad guy’s body count. When is he going to realize that this is a war we cannot win.

Quit sending Americans to die. It saddens me that I am now ashamed for the first time to be an American. Someone has to pull the reins on bush and this nonsense and fix the problems at home.”

Spc. Charles Zimmerman, Logistics Support Area Anaconda, Iraq

“I was appalled when I read reports on the disgraceful conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center’s Building 18 which houses our troops who are recuperating from combat injuries suffered in Iraq and Afghanistan. The news, on top of so many other reports on lack of protective equipment for our troops in combat, lack of care and recognition for our returning heroes and families, the erosion of benefits for veterans, etc… has made me reflect on the meaning of ‘support our troops.’ It does not just mean sending more troops into harm’s way; it does not mean just sticking a yellow ribbon on one’s car; it does not mean using them as a pawn to win a political argument; and it certainly does not mean disparaging those who do not support the war.”

Major Dorian de Wind, (ret)

“My sarcasm notwithstanding, the idea that insurgents in Iraq have somehow forgotten that America is over there, and that if US forces pulled out they would line up at an Iraqi Airway ticket counter for the first nonstop to new York City with C-4 in their carry-ons is patently absurd. I would think there was a better chance of the Viet Cong invading Hawaii in 1975.

Espousing this ridiculous ‘I’d rather fight them over here then there’ logic serves only to protract the war by throwing fuel on the flames. We will indeed by fighting them over there, pointlessly and through unabated suffering for God knows how many years as long as thinking (i.e. non-thinking) like this is mistaken as a legitimate point in the debate.

Furthermore, Veterans for Peace members are no more guilty of shaming their services and families than ill-informed service members who sustain such harmful illusions.”

Sgt. Brian Bridges, Wiesbaden, Germany

In a letter to the Stars & Stripes, a navy lieutenant raises questions about critics who claim liberals are not supporting our troops.

“Indeed, there is an abundance of philosophies among our ranks, this diversity is what makes our country and military strong and keeps me in. But, getting more practical, if we get very general and categorize 9as many do)liberals as not supporting our troops, why do so many decorated war veterans and senators belong to the Democratic Party? And, why are they with the most children serving with us here in Iraq? Why don’t more sons and daughters of the decidedly non-liberals who put us here get involved?”

Navy Lt. Bob Olson, Camp Victory, Iraq
Perhaps, Rudy Giuliani could respond to the lieutenant’s questions…

  • DID YOU KNOW? The Pentagon ships bodies of dead soldiers killed in Iraq or
    Afghanistan to the nearest major airport? Families have to pay to cover costs from the airport to their home town.
  • DID YOU KNOW? The armed forces have announced, due to lack of money, they will be unable to organize receptions for returning members of the military when they meet their families.

    Maybe George Bush could ask his lobbyist friends to chip in with some money to pay for the receptions. Heck, it would be pocket change for them.
  • DID YOU KNOW? The Pentagon does not pay the full cost of burying soldiers? The Hawthorne family in McKeesport, Pennsylvania was only given $4000 for a funeral that cost $14,000. A patriotic funeral parlor forgave the rest.
  • DID YOU KNOW? Expenses incurred by the Air Force in dealing with Hurricane Katrina came out of its operating budget?
  • DID YOU KNOW? That Donald Rumsfeld’s wife visited the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in October, 2006 and was told about the poor conditions in which soldiers were being treated? As far as we know, she said and did nothing.
  • DID YOU KNOW? The Department of Defense lists 23,000 wounded soldiers, but there are over 30,000 cases of post traumatic stress? Joe Nicholson, (former Chair of the Republican National Committee) Secretary of Veterans Affairs, believes the higher number stems from those in need of dental care.?

I guess old Joe is going to get a slap on the back from Bush for the wonderful job he is doing with Veterans.

Coalition of Anti-Squeegee New Yorkers

The Impudent Observer had the following message delivered to our offices in a brown manila envelope. We print it without any comment.

TO: The Impudent Observer
FROM: Coalition of Anti-Squeegee New Yorkers

We are writing as members of the Anti-Squeegee Coalition which originated during the exhilarating era when our beloved leader, Rudy G. (bylaws forbid writing out the entire name of our noble leader) extinguished once and forever the presence of shiftless homeless men waving squeegee weapons as they assaulted peaceful occupants of cars. Prior to the arrival of Rudy G., it was common that any attempt to traverse the streets of New York in a car resulted in hordes of lazy bums waving squeegee weapons as their smelly bodies sprawled over our shiny new cars. We refer to that as the “Era Before the Arrival of Him.”

Your snotty comments about Rudy G. indicate you were never a resident of New York during the days of horror. We might excuse your incredible ignorance, but the continual sniping at our beloved leader goes beyond the pale of decent behavior. New York City was in chaos before His arrival. Crime ran rampant, people feared leaving their homes, and children attended schools in which violence reigned. It was a glorious day when he won the mayoral election and drove from power David Dinkins, who is well known as the friend of criminals and squeegee terrorists. Once in power, our Beloved Leader issued directives banning these uncouth, filthy creatures to the underground and he forbade them from even breathing on our cars. For the first time in decades we felt comfortable transporting our wives and children through the streets of New York City.

We insist The Impudent Observer cease and desist from any further attacks upon our Beloved Leader. We await the day when Rudy G. will assume the mantle of leadership of this great nation. We are sending a communication to the United Nations asking that The Impudent Observer be cited for defending squeegee terrorists since we believe your website supports evil akin to that of Nazi Germany. Once Rudy G. becomes president, he will wipe out the squeegee plague in every sector of this nation.

We insist on an apology from The Impudent Observer.

P.S. We are sending three squeegee men with their weapons to stand outside your home and attack your car with their filthy bodies when you attempt to drive your car.

European Parliament Investigating Polish Anti-Gay Law

The European Parliament is investigating the legality of proposed legislation in Poland which forbids discussion of homosexuality in Polish schools. Under the legislation, any teacher who engages students in such discussions faces being fired or imprisoned. Openly gay teachers would also face dismissal. According to Kathalijine Buitenweg, a Dutch Green MP in the European Parliament, “The disturbing proposals to outlaw discussion of homosexuality raise serious concerns about the commitment to fundamental rights in Poland. It is shocking that the government of a modern European country would even consider such draconian legislation. The promotion of gay hatred is the antithesis of EU anti-discrimination rules.”

Revival of Judaism in Germany

It appears there is a growing turnabout for Judaism in Germany since the number of Jews living there has now reached 200,000. German law allows Jews to come to their nation and obtain citizenship. A large number of Jews from Russia have settled in Germany rather than going to Israel. It is estimated at least half of all Jews in Germany came from Russia, obviously seeking better employment opportunities in the Federal Republic. Dozens of synagogues are being built and there is even a revival of the Yiddish language, which incidentally, receives scant interest in Israel. A new Holocaust museum has opened in Berlin to world-wide acclaim.
Information from The Economist

I find most fascinating the revival of Yiddish which was the language of millions of east European Jews. In one of my visits to Israel I found it irritating that no one appeared to have any knowledge of Yiddish, a language I learned as a child of east European Jews. I have worked with German educators and found they have done an outstanding job in teaching German children about the Holocaust. It is unfortunate that Japanese educators don’t follow the German education model in teaching children about Japanese atrocities in World War II.

New Muslim Group in Germany

A new Muslim group, the Coordination Council of Muslims in Germany (KRM), has been created. Its aims include being accepted by the government of Germany as a “recognized” religion – that could translate into allowing instruction about the Islamic religion in schools. It might also result in “tithing” of Muslims, since at present, government funds go to recognized Christian and Jewish groups. KRM represents four Islamic organizations, but their combined membership is only one million of the estimated 3.3 million Muslims in Germany.

In the coming months, we shall be reporting on issues confronting Muslims in Germany.

Nude Female Sunbather Legal

A 59 year-old women in Dalama, Sweden enjoys her sunbathing in the nude, much to the anger of neighbors. The landlord tried talking her out of nude sunbathing but she likes to do it. A Swedish court ruled in favor of sunbathing, nude or not.

I believe it is terrific if a 59 year-old female or male is willing to go public with his or her body. I guess if you have it, flaunt it.

Romeo and Juliet in India

A TV station was attacked by angry Hindu protestors who disliked the television story about a runaway Hindu-Muslim love struck couple. The station broadcast an interview with the two young people. Protestors claimed the TV station was denigrating Hinduism by appearing to promote love between people of different religions. After the interview was broadcast the young man was taken into custody and the girl was sent to a home for minors.

At the turn of the 20th century many people were shocked at the Broadway play, “Abie’s Irish Rose” which depicted a Jewish boy and an Irish girl in love. I guess we haven’t come a long way from those days, at least not in India.

Pakistan’s Religious Leaders Support Rape Victims

The Council of Islamic ideology unanimously decided that a victim of rape (zina-bil-jabr) should not be required to produce four witnesses in order to file a complaint against her attacker. The Council also decided that in rape cases the woman would be a complainant, not a defendant.

The Council distinguished between rape (zina-bil-jabr) and consensual sex with someone other than a spouse (zina-bil-raza). It ruled someone accused of adultery should be acquitted unless the complainant can produce four witnesses.

It is a plus that some protection is being afforded to women in Pakistan, but since in most cases adultery is a crime of males, it is clear that requiring four witnesses means the men will continue getting away with adultery.

Anglican Archbishop Urges Unity on Gay Rights

The Archbishop of Canterbury urged Canadian Anglicans to support gay rights. Rowan Williams said, “Ask the question, what is for the health of the Body of Christ, both locally and globally?” Williams is under pressure from American Anglicans who have voted to support same sex marriage and gay clergy.

Archbishop Williams has to face the reality that while American Anglicans tend to support gay rights, many Anglicans, particularly in Africa and Asia, are against such rights. The Anglican Church is headed for a rupture over the issue of gay rights.