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EXCERPT FROM “HEIRS OF HONOR” – FLASHBACK


FLASHBACK

How the fuck could I be so stupid?  What the hell was I thinking?  An angry barrage of self-criticisms roared through my mind, as I hid in the shadow searching for a way out of the situation. The gooks had cut me off. I could not believe I’d been caught taking a piss outside of the camp. A sharp throbbing pain radiated up my leg, convincing me I had been hit.  I felt hobbled hiding in that tiny shadow, my frustration and anger resisting every thought of finding a way out of this predicament.  I was on the brink of self-destruction if I did not start thinking clearly and save my rage for later.  I was furious with myself for pulling such a stunt.  I was no cherry and yet here I was outside the wire, cut off and wounded.

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Anyone who has not experienced a flashback really can’t have any idea how absolutely real, this-is-happening-now, oh-my-God earthshaking an event one can be.  We’re told it’s all in our heads.  Get over it.  Well I’m here to tell you folks… It doesn’t work like that. I wish to hell it were so simple!

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EXCERPT FROM “HEIRS OF HONOR” – LAOS – THE ORPHANAGE


For as long as I can remember, I always wanted to be a soldier.  I wanted to prove myself in battle   This is how my greatest test began….

“Our team was limping towards an international border; so naturally we were not where we were.  Laos was a shit-pit country and we’d overstayed our welcome.  The natives were doing their best to kill us, from the moment we arrived.  The irony was we were looking at South Vietnam as sanctuary, as if it was a safe place to run, because that’s exactly what we were doing.”   

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UNJUSTIFIED POSITION OF POWER ….PART ONE


Like most Americans, I am disgusted with the gridlock in Washington, perpetuated by the pettiness of politicians that seem perfectly happy to destroy the middle class of America, in order to further their own agenda at the cost of the welfare of the American people.  With the exception of presidential races, I must admit that I have not paid a lot of attention to politics, outside of my own state, until now.

After the release of a VoteVets ad by Vietnam Veteran, Charles Erwin, accusing Senate Minority leader, Mitch McConnell of failing veterans by blocking $21 Billion in funding for veterans, my curiosity inspired me to research McConnell (i.e. military service, voting record, etc.).  I began my search with military service records, and discovered multiple layers of murky possible scenarios that opened up like a set of Chinese boxes.  Mitch McConnell’s military record has been under question for decades.  He allegedly enlisted in the Army Reserve (or the Enlisted Reserve, as it was referred to in 1967, and as I recall, difficult to get into.  It usually required knowing someone with influence, like having a Congressman or Senator write a letter for you) in July 1967.

While McConnell was still in boot camp at Fort Knox, as a member of the 100th Division of the U.S. Army Reserve, Maj. Gen. A.D. Surles, commanding general at Fort Knox, received a letter (and several telephone calls) from U.S. Senator John Sherman Cooper (McConnell was an intern in Cooper’s Washington D.C. office in the summer of 1964), dated August 10, 1967, advising the Major General that “Mitchell anxious to clear post in order to enroll NYU.  Please advise when final action can be expected.”  (According to the NYU Registrar’s office, McConnell never applied for, nor attended any classes at NYU.  In fact, he already held a law degree from UK in 1967, prior to enlistment in the Army Reserve).

McConnell’s former Chief of Staff, Hunter Bates, told the Herald-Leader that Cooper wrote that letter to “expedite a discharge” at the request of McConnell’s father after the Army informed McConnell his condition was grounds for leaving the military.

At that time, McConnell’s Army Reserve Unit was serving its’ summer active duty at Fort Jackson, South Carolina.  Normal military procedure would have required that McConnell transfer from the training unit back to the Army Reserve Unit, prior to release.  However, McConnell was released from military service directly from the training unit by the Commanding General of Fort Knox.  This violation of procedure would only have occurred under the most critical circumstances.  Remember, this was at the height of the Vietnam War, and it was just not that easy to avoid service….unless, of course, you knew the ‘right people’.

There have been conflicting explanations for McConnell’s release from military service.  Robert Steurer, a press secretary for McConnell in Washington, was reported to have said that McConnell never served in the Armed Services.  One ‘official’ reason given for McConnell’s discharge is a diagnosis of optic neuritis ,even though McConnell apparently never had a physical exam,  a condition easily cured by steroid treatments in 1967, and not a valid reason for discharge, in itself.

One ‘unofficial’ account, was given by Alan Lynch, a Lexington Postal Clerk, who served with the 100th Training Unit Army Reserve in Louisville, Kentucky in the summer of 1967.  Lynch worked for a Major who was the assistant Adjutant in S-1, the administrative section of the unit.  The Major told him that a new member of the unit had been arrested in the barracks for sodomy, and the guy was getting out of the service under the medical excuse of an eye disorder because the soldier had served as an intern to Senator John Sherman Cooper, and Senator Cooper called the Commanding General of Fort Knox to arrange the discharge.

I cannot find any indication that Mitch McConnell has attempted to sue Alan Lynch for libel, and in spite of years of rumor and requests for McConnell’s service records, he has refused to make them public.  I can only speculate as to why.

On a personal note, I don’t care about Mitch McConnell’s sexual preferences, even though he is publicly homophobic (but then, many closeted gays are that way).  I don’t care that he used his political connections to evade going to war.  But, like the gay that is homophobic, I can’t help wondering if Mitch hates veterans because they went to war, in spite of their fear…leaving Mitch to privately question his own manhood….and feeling the need to punish veterans.  That is something I care about.

ARTICLES:

www.dailykos.com/story/2013/02/24/1189537/-The-Strange-and-Possibly-Sordid-Story-of-Mitch-McConnell-s-Military-Service

www.hillbillyreport.org/diary/976/Senator-Mitch-McConnells-Military-Service

www.kentucky.com/2008/10/22//563718_McConnells-Military-Record-Attacked

www.barefootandprogressive.com/2014/09/Mitch-McConnells-Terrible-Labor-Day-Weekend-Senate-Race-Video-Round-Up

 

WRITING ON THE WALL…


According to Associated Press reporter, Ryan Lucas’ article “Islamic State Fighters Capture Syrian Airbase”, posted 8-24-14 on HuffingtonPost.com, ISIS has captured their third military base in northeastern Syria, complete with “several warplane squadrons, helicopters, tanks, artillery, and ammunition bunkers”, and now control “a stretch of territory running from Syria’s northern border with Turkey as far as the outskirts of Baghdad in central Iraq”.  In addition Lucas states that in the central Syrian province of Homs….the Islamic State group was withdrawing its fighters after handing over its headquarters to the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front, according to the British based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Of course, those unfortunate enough to be captured by them were brutally killed, decapitated, with their heads and bodies put on display.

Lucas further states that according to the official Saudi news agency, “…foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Qatar, and Jordan met (Sunday) in the Red Sea city of Jiddah….Egypt’s foreign minister said ahead of the talks that the group would discuss the security threat posed by the Islamic State group and search for a way to bring about a needed political solution to the Syrian crisis.”  I am not really clear as to what is meant by a ‘political solution’, in this context, unless the Egyptian minister is referring to an alliance of governments between those countries, to join Iraq and Syria in an effort to fight ISIS.  

According to another Huffington Post article “10 More Horrific Numbers That Explain Why ISIS Is Impossible To Ignore” (posted 8-21-14 by Eline Gordts and Carina Kolodny), 12,000 is “the total number of foreigners who have joined the ranks of the Islamic State, according to the Soufan Group, a New York based consultancy.  Three thousand of those fighters come from the west…Officials have said they are worried that many of the fighters will eventually return to their countries of origin”, and “…up to 500 is “the number of British born fighters experts estimate are allied with the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.”

It becomes more obvious, every day, that ISIS cannot be negotiated with, and they are determined to conquer not only the Middle East, but the entire world, in the name of their caliphate.  They have been vocal in their threats to attack the west, specifically the United States, and have demonstrated a brutality, not seen since Nazi Germany’s Final Solution.

I understand America’s desire to avoid entering into another country’s civil war.  However, it should be obvious that this is no longer a question of a civil war.  ISIS has openly and blatantly declared war on everyone in the world that is not them, and specifically, the United States.  They now appear to be teamed with al-Qaida.  Even though they have yet to attack us, that is their stated intention and it seems only a matter of time, before they attempt another 911 on American soil.  We cannot afford to underestimate them.  We must take them at their word, and act accordingly.  We should learn from the past, and not repeat it.  

In the 1970 film ‘Tora, Tora, Tora’, and in the 2001 film ‘Pearl Harbor’, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto is portrayed as saying after his attack on Pearl Harbor, “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”  Hopefully, this time, the writing on the wall will be all that is needed to fill us with resolve.

A CHANGE OF HEART


It is one thing for one country to invade and occupy another; no matter how justified they feel their cause.  It is an entirely different matter when that invasion comes from an organization attempting to force their own ideology on the population of the country they have invaded.   It changes the rules of the game.  It is no longer a war between nations with set borders.  It is a war against all people that do not share the belief system of that organization.  That makes it a fight for everyone’s right to think for themselves and to decide their own way of life.  That is a fight that goes beyond the borders of individual nations, since if that organization will invade one country, it is only a matter of time before they move to invade all countries, because they fight for an ideology that demands world submission.

I used to be of the opinion that America should no longer get involved in any further military actions that required ‘boots on the ground’ of any other country, for any reason, at all.  Like most Americans, I am tired of seeing our soldiers fighting wars in other lands.  I believe America should help our allies when the need arises, but without putting the lives of our soldiers on the line…not unless America is directly threatened.

I have changed my mind.  Not only is America being threatened by the extreme jihadist group, ISIS, not only the countries in the Middle East, but the people of every other country on this planet are being threatened, as well.  This is no longer a regional civil war, if ISIS is not stopped, their war will become global.  Unlike Nazi Germany, ISIS is not a country we can declare war on; they are the worst kind of terrorist organization that does not hesitate to inflict atrocities on anyone that is not them.  We must stop thinking in terms of conventional warfare.  We must recognize that whether we want it, or not, we are engaged in a world war on terrorism, and commit to it with every resource we have.  Like it, or not, we are in a struggle to survive… along with all the rest of the world.

If you think I am being an alarmist, consider the fact that ISIS is currently sweeping through the oil rich Middle East.  If they gain control of the oil fields, they threaten the life of all industrial nations.

ISIS wants only one thing; that everyone in the world, convert to their form of extremist Islam, or die.  They have declared a war on all humanity, and must be stopped, by whatever means necessary.       

JUST ANOTHER TAP DANCE…..


This is another post from Mrs. Grossman. EF had asked us to hold it back to see how things played out with the VA. Well, after nearly a month, it’s all still relevant. So here’s one more from a very astute Mrs. Grossman.

Eric Shinseki, the current patsy and sacrificial lamb, has been forced to fall on his sword at the altar of grandstanding politicians.  This is nothing more than an effort to cover up their own failure to protect America’s veterans.  It is a game of ‘smoke and mirrors’ being played out in the political arena during an election year.  Since the scheduling issues at the Phoenix VA came to light, the VA has been in the middle of a major scandal, and politicians have wasted no time in attempting to capitalize on that scandal.   Professing their outrage, they are scrambling to prove their concern and introduce legislation to ‘fix’ the problems of the VA, as if these are brand new issues, and they just found out problems exist.  The truth of the matter is that Congress and the Senate had been aware of these particular issues for over a decade, and probably back as far as the Vietnam War.  Where was the ‘oversight’?  There have been many bills introduced, over the years, yet, here we are.  As always, one major issue appears to be funding the VA to provide the resources required to take care of the growing number of veterans in need, and provide the benefits they earned.  The same politicians that give away billions of dollars in foreign aid, can’t, or won’t provide enough funding to take care of America’s veterans.  There always seems to be more than enough money to fund war, and send Americans to die in those wars, just not enough money to take care of those Americans when they come home.

If you look at the individual voting records of our politicians, it becomes obvious which of them really care about doing right for our veterans and vote on the merits of a bill, and which vote only along party lines.

Senator John McCain, who should have been the first to be aware of the problems at the Phoenix VA hospital, since it is in his district, voted no less than ten times since 1993, and failed to vote four times, against bills to benefit veterans.  Senator Jeff Flake, new to the Senate, voted against one bill to benefit veterans, and while in the House of Representatives, voted against bills to benefit veterans no less than thirteen times, failing to vote twice.  Richard Burr voted against no less than nine bills to benefit veterans, failing to vote one time, since 1999.  Senator Tom Coburn voted against bills to benefit veterans no less than fourteen times since 1996, failing to vote one time.

Senator Bernie Sanders, who voted to pass no less than fourteen bills to benefit veterans since 1993, and did not miss a single vote on veterans issues during that time, introduced a bill (the Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Pay Restoration Act) which greatly improves VA benefits and resolves many of the current issues, in February 2014.  The Republicans attempted to use that bill as a point of leverage to force sanctions on Iran that would have imperiled the ongoing international nuclear talks, and had absolutely nothing to do with helping our veterans.  It was just another attempt to blackmail the Senate into giving them their way.  Fearing sanctions would endanger the delicate negotiations Senator Harry Reid blocked the sanctions, so the Republicans blocked the bill, altogether.  Senator Sanders is re-introducing that bill, at this time.  It would be wonderful if the Republicans would choose the welfare of our veterans over their political agenda, but I’m too much of a realist to believe in that possibility.  Remember, they forced the government to shut down because they could not get their way, proving themselves to be masters of ‘cutting off America’s nose, to spite her face’.  Of course, it is never a Republican’s nose that gets sacrificed.  It is always someone else that must pay the price, and in this case, it is our veterans.

ADDENDUM……THE TAPDANCE CONTINUES

According to an article in the June 5, 2014 Huffington Post, Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator John McCain announced a Bipartisan deal on the Veteran’s Health Care Bill.  According to Sanders, the bill would allow for construction of an additional 26 VA medical facilities, provide $500 million for the VA to hire new doctors and nurses, make it easier for the VA to fire personnel and allow an appeals process for those firings, set up a two year trial program to allow veterans experiencing long wait times (or who live more than forty miles away) to go to private doctors, provide veterans aid for college, provide resources for victims of military sexual assault, update rules allowing spouses of veterans killed in battle to take advantage of post 9/11 GI Bill, and establish a presidential commission to work with the private sector to develop better technology for the VA.

Sanders also said in that article that he would have preferred that proposal went further, but “…given that he and McCain ‘are people who look at the world very differently’ their compromise is a major success.”  He also said “I hope we will be back on the floor to continue the effort to deal with the many unmet needs of veterans.   But right now we have a crisis, and it is imperative that we deal with that crisis.”

Well, that was a fast compromise, and very convenient for McCain, since the scandal reflected badly on him, due to it breaking in Phoenix, and questioned his competence for allowing it, if he was aware the problems (and since he is the ranking Republican on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee which has held dozens of hearings on VA issues, it is natural to assume that he was aware), or if he was not aware, then he failed to know what was happening in his own state.  The compromise came just in time for McCain to attend “a community forum on the allegations of gross mismanagement and neglect of veteran’s health care in Phoenix”, and announce that “Key senators have reached an agreement on a bipartisan proposal to address the delays in getting health care for military veterans,” according to Reuters.

Of course, in that same Huffington Post article, McCain did encourage other senators to add any amendments that they thought might strengthen the bill, but urged that they don’t allow “politics to get in the way of urgently needed legislation.”   In an era where politics seems to get in the way of EVERYTHING, McCain is surely aware that his open invitation for additional amendments is bound to further arguments, delays, and possibly prevention of this bill ever passing.  Remember, the bill has to pass the Senate, AND the House of Representatives (who hates funding anything), before it can be signed into law by President Obama.

I believe Senator Sanders has been consistently sincere in his attempts to help America’s veterans.  His voting record proves that.  I am not so sure about Senator McCain’s intentions.  This bipartisan deal came very quickly, but means very little if the bill is not voted on or passed.  Remember, Republicans are notorious for blocking bills to benefit veterans, and McCain tends to vote his party’s line.  However, announcing this deal gives the impression that he is a champion of veterans, and very good for campaigning in this election year.  And if the bill had failed to pass, he could have always blamed Obama.

Ref   Huffington Post – Posted 6/5/14 by Jennifer Bendery   “Sens. Bernie Sanders, John McCain Announce Bipartisan Deal On Veterans’ Care Bill”

Ref  MSN News – Posted 6/5/14 by Reuters     “Senators Reach Bipartisan Deal On Veterans’ Healthcare”

Ref Congressional Negotiators Strike A VA Reform Deal