We have failed our heroes

Today is Memorial, or Decoration Day, a day of pause begun decades ago for decorating the graves of Civil War soldiers.

The long weekend is now dominated by stores holding big sales, high school graduations, blockbuster movie openings, and the unofficial beginning of summer. 

Today media outlets will provide us with beautiful photos of thousands of small flags doting the graves of the heroes buried in Arlington. The President will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown and make some remarks. Local television will update viewers on local ceremonies at 6:00 and 11:00 tonight. 

Before the day ends, our country will have 22 more veterans to mourn, soldiers whose lives where cut short due to their willingness to serve in our armed forces. 

The United States spends billions on waging wars with no exit strategies. Our fighting forces are built on the backs of the poor, officers who tolerate sexual assault and intimidation, and military families who can’t afford to feed their children without food stamps. 

Even worse, when our soldiers return, we fail to provide them with the services they need and deserve. 

Our failure as a country is why 22 veterans will kill themselves before Memorial Day comes to an end. Twenty-two brave volunteers who came forward, and survived, will reach their breaking point today and succeed in ending their pain and agony. Twenty-two families, made up of parents, sons and daughters, husbands and wives, nieces and nephews, brothers and sisters, will begin preparations to bury their soldier.

Because there are war injuries we can’t see with our eyes, we fail to see them with our hearts.

It isn’t PTSD

A few weeks ago I heard radio newsman Bob Edwards interview a British World War II widow who wrote a book about her husband and his war experiences. Her book includes how he, and therefore their family, were impacted by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

She made an interesting point when Edwards asked her husband’s PTSD. She proposed that soldiers who have PTSD not be described that way. PTSD can result from any number of injuries or traumas not related to war. Instead, she suggested that soldiers and veterans with PTSD, be more appropriately described as having a war injury.

She put forth that PTSD should be referred to as a war injury because describing it that way is accurate (the injury is the result of war). A war injury has fewer stigmas than mental illness, perhaps making a soldier less reluctant to recognize their injury and seek proper treatment.

I think that is a brilliant and accurate way to describe one of war’s darkest offenses to a soldier.

This Memorial Day, if only for a little while, we should set aside all the sales and the unofficial launch of summer. Let’s remember the soldiers, at least 22 of them everyday, who decide suicide is the only way to stop the war injury that has followed them from the battlefield from replaying itself over and over again.

And then let’s all work towards more and greater peace.

update: The woman interviewed by Bob Edwards was Patti Lomax. The movie
The Railway Man is based on her husband’s experiences. http://www.voanews.com/content/for-veterans-with-pts-battle-is-just-beginning-/1913544.html 

Gonna be tough to top that

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He’s back! President Obama has his feet back under him and the State of the Union address he just delivered made it clear that he and the Democrats are on their game.

The President isn’t going to wait around for the Republicans to hold who knows how many pointless votes on policies and programs they can’t overturn. Instead, he will work with Democrats and any willing Republicans, and he’ll use Executive Orders to move our country forward on minimum wage increases, equal pay for equal work, world-class education for our country’s children, peace in the Middle East, keeping our troops at home, making the voting booth easily accessible for legal voters, and immigration reform.

Obama said we are building a stronger economy using renewable energy fuel resources. The President also told climate deniers to get out of the way.

Come on Mr President, put a cherry on top of tonight’s speech and say No to Keystone XL now.

I listened to Rep Cathy McMorris Rodgers deliver one of four responses to be offered up by the Republicans tonight (Tea Party darlings Sen Rand Paul and Mike Lee are responding too while Rep Ileana Ros-Lehtinen R-Florida will deliver remarks much like McMorris Rodger’s but in Spanish).

McMorris Rodgers touched on some of the points Obama raised like access to health care, jobs, and education, but she didn’t do much more than share some personal examples about how important those things are to her and her family.

And really, did the Republicans and McMorris Rodgers think they need to pander to women by asking a woman who just had a baby two months ago to deliver their flimsy response?

Women and people of color will be wooed and courted by Republicans and Democrats from now until the November elections are over. The President and Democrats came to the front door tonight with a huge bouquet of long stem roses, jewelry, and heated seats on the 50 yard line of this Sunday’s Super Bowl. The Republicans can’t decide on a team captain.

Hey lady, your racism is still showing (a follow up to The Friday Photo, August 31, 2012)

At the end of August I posted a Friday Photo and report by Ari Shapiro on NPR’s Morning Edition which included comments about the Obamas made by Bobbie Lucier, a veteran’s wife. Her comments came across as poorly veiled racism directed primarily at Michelle Obama (although she couldn’t manage one kind word for the President either). The report sparked a slew of comments via social media and NPR’s Ombudsman addressed the report and listener comments too.

As chance would have it Shapiro ran into the Luciers and got to ask some follow up questions. Mrs. Lucier’s answers did nothing more than convince me more firmly that in fact the reason she dislikes the Obamas so vehemently is due to her own racist views.

Lucier said Jacqueline Kennedy and Laura Bush knew how to dress like First Ladies, specifically saying that wearing sleeveless dresses and shorts, or emphasizing strong muscles  are not what a First Lady should do. Really Mrs Lucier?

 

While Mrs. Lucier was busy digging her racist hole even deeper, she had to make excuses for the way she had dressed to attend Romney’s event.

Go figure.