Veterans

Submitted by tnjp on March 28, 2014 - 6:15pm.

Watch the hearing - Right to Heal Initiative for a People's Hearing on the Lasting Impacts of the Iraq War, Phil Donahue moderating Speakers: Yanar Mohammed is president and co-founder of the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq (OWFI). Falah Alwan is President of the Federation of Workers Councils and Unions in Iraq (FWCUI), one of Iraq’s largest labor unions. Iraq Veterans Against the War.

Submitted by tnjp on April 7, 2013 - 7:36pm.

A Pledge to Iraq Veteran Tomas Young
By John Bruhns

I never met Tomas Young. However, I strongly identify with his story as he and I joined the military for the same reason -- to fight those responsible for 9/11 . However, I was far luckier than Tomas Young as I never had to endure the crippling, and ultimately fatal wounds, he received in Sadr City in 2004. There is no real way for me to put myself in such a situation as it would be surreal to anyone who will never face such hardships. Tomas Young has now reached a point where his pain is too unbearable to continue living. Before he goes, we should all show him a bit of recognition. It is crucial that we let him know that his voice was heard and his message will echo on for long after he is gone.

From what I have read, Tomas Young is a patriotic man who loves the United States. His outrage with the 9/11 attacks motivated him to join the military to pursue the real culprits.

After all, it was our generation's Pearl Harbor. After the attacks, many brave Americans were standing in military recruiting lines ready and eager to seek retribution for their fellow citizens who died on that fateful day. Tomas Young was one of them.

I enlisted for active duty in the U.S. Army in an effort to deploy to Afghanistan and fight those who actually attacked us on 9/11. Like Tomas Young, I found my patriotism used for an unrelated and unnecessary military conflict -- the Iraq War.

In a recent letter written to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, Iraq veteran Young clarifies the misuse of his patriotism.

Young writes:

"I would not be writing this letter if I had been wounded fighting in Afghanistan against those forces that carried out the attacks of 9/11. Had I been wounded there I would still be miserable because of my physical deterioration and imminent death, but I would at least have the comfort of knowing that my injuries were a consequence of my own decision to defend the country I love."

When I returned home from Iraq, I spoke out strongly against the war. I was able to do so without any handicaps or bodily limitations. Tomas Young fought the same fight while being confined to a wheelchair. Even with his extreme physical limitations, Tomas Young was able to convey the true, harsh realities of the Iraq war to the American people.

The power of his message came from his experience, vision, and, sadly, his crippling and now mortal injuries. His testimony is unimpeachable, as he gave his body to a needless agenda-driven war that left most of us concluding 10 years later that the Iraq war was a mistake...

Submitted by tnjp on March 20, 2013 - 11:25pm.

10 Years Later and I’m Still Protesting War
Posted on Mar 19, 2013
By Col. Ann Wright

Ten years ago, I resigned my post in opposition to President George W. Bush’s war on Iraq. I had worked in the U.S. government for most of my life, first in the Army and Army Reserves, retiring as a colonel, and then as a diplomat. I served in U.S. embassies in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone and Micronesia. I helped reopen the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, in December 2001.

Yet after serving in eight presidential administrations, beginning under Lyndon Johnson during the war on Vietnam, I ended my career in the U.S. government in opposition to another conflict—the war on Iraq.

A decade after I stepped down as the deputy ambassador in the U.S. Embassy in Mongolia, the war in Iraq is over for Americans, but continues for Iraqis. The whirlwind of sectarian violence brought on by the U.S. invasion and occupation continues to blow there.

The war on Afghanistan is now in its 13th year and as the anniversary of my resignation day approaches, I find myself outside the gates of Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, protesting war and, in particular, President Obama’s killer drone programs in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

Although Obama’s kill list, the CIA drone attacks in the undeclared war on Pakistan and the assassination of three American citizens by drone in Yemen receive most of the media and congressional attention, the incredibly large number of drone strikes in Afghanistan has gotten scant coverage—and that is why I am at Creech...

Submitted by tnjp on March 20, 2013 - 12:52pm.

The Last Letter: A Message to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney from a Dying Veteran

To: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney

From: Tomas Young

“I write this letter on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War on behalf of my fellow Iraq veterans. I write this letter on behalf of the 4,488 soldiers and Marines who died in Iraq. I write this letter on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of veterans who have been wounded and on behalf of [those who bear those wounds. I am one of those.] I am one of the gravely injured. I [am] paralyzed in an insurgent ambush in 2004 in Sadr City. My life is coming to an end. I am living under hospice care.

“I write this letter on behalf of husbands and wives who have lost spouses, on behalf of children who have lost parents, on behalf of the fathers and mothers who have lost sons and daughters and on behalf of those who care for the many thousands of my fellow veterans who have brain injuries. I write this letter on behalf of those veterans whose trauma and self-revulsion for what they have [done, witnessed, endured] in Iraq have led to suicide and on behalf of the active-duty soldiers and Marines who commit, on average, a suicide a day. I write this letter on behalf of the some 1 million Iraqi dead and on behalf of the countless Iraqi wounded. I write this letter on behalf of us all—the human detritus your war has left behind, those who will spend their lives in unending pain and grief.

Exclusive: Tomas Young Reads in Full His Letter to Bush & Cheney, "A Message From a Dying Veteran" | Democracy Now!

“Your positions of authority, your millions of dollars of personal wealth, your public relations consultants, [and your privilege and power] cannot mask the hollowness of your character. You sent us to fight and die in Iraq after you, Mr. Cheney, dodged the draft in Vietnam, and you, Mr. Bush, went AWOL from your National Guard unit. Your cowardice and selfishness were established decades ago. You were not willing to risk yourselves for our nation but you sent hundreds of thousands of young men and women to be sacrificed in a senseless war with no more thought than it takes to put out the garbage...

Submitted by tnjp on March 16, 2013 - 10:12pm.

Take Action - Sign the letter to Sec. Hagel

Dear Secretary Hagel,

Congratulations on your confirmation to the office of Secretary of Defense. As you take the reins of this new position, Veterans For Peace would like to express to you some ideas about what we would like to see from this office. Veterans For Peace (VFP) has been around since 1985 and was formed by a Viet Nam veteran with the intention of creating a bridge between the peace movement and veterans. VFP members believe that our collective experience as veterans allows us to speak about the true costs and consequences of war and militarism with a voice of credibility and true standing. We feel a responsibility to speak out against war and militarism, particularly when it is manifested in illegal and immoral wars of choice and aggression. We appreciate very much that President Obama has chosen you--someone who has seen first-hand the horrors of combat--to fill the position of Secretary of Defense. Like the members of VFP, your voice will carry an extraordinary credibility, because you understand war in a way that a civilian cannot. It will not be easy to dismiss your words when you caution against military force, or speak in favor of abiding by the Geneva Conventions. We hope that you will become a force for reshaping the Department of Defense, by consideration of the following:

1. Refuse to put troops into harm’s way as part of an illegal, immoral war of aggression. The 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF), signed as a knee-jerk reaction to 9/11 has been used, first by the Bush administration, and now by the Obama administration, as a blank check for perpetual war. As the Secretary of Defense, you should refuse to deploy any combat troops until Congress provides a legally binding authorization to do so. As a combat veteran, you truly understand that no one should be asked to kill or be killed for a war of choice, particularly one that has not even been legally authorized. Demand adherence to the War Powers Act.

2. Take responsibility for the deaths, damage and harm done by the U.S. The “Collateral Murder” video leaked to Wikileaks showed the world just one instance of war crimes conducted by U.S. forces. For the United States to have any moral credibility whatsoever, we must take responsibility for our actions.

3. State unequivocally that the U.S. will abide by the Geneva Conventions and will not torture, or participate in the extraordinary rendition of prisoners.

4. Stop the illegal use of combat drones that are responsible the extrajudicial assassinations of thousands of civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

5. Call for the closure of all U.S. military bases in foreign countries. The U.S. currently has military troops stationed in more than 150 countries around the world. Bringing all U.S. troops from Afghanistan and around the world back to the U.S. will send a strong message to the international community that the U.S. is not interested in hegemony, or in being the world’s policeman.

6. Call for the dismantlement of all nuclear weapons, and immediately take nuclear weapons off of naval vessels. There can never be a justified use of a nuclear weapon and if the U.S. is going to demand that other countries refrain from obtaining nuclear weapons capabilities, then it needs to lead the way in disarmament.

7. Stop the use of Depleted Uranium weapons. “DU” weapons violate the Geneva Conventions. Once exploded, DU particulates enter ground water, travel on air currents, and are inhaled by innocent civilians. DU weapons are responsible for a huge spike in deformities, birth defects and other ailments in Iraq where they were widely used.

8. End foreign military sales to countries who violate international laws and basic human rights, and who have child soldiers.

9. Push to become a signatory to the Land Mine treaty. The international community recognizes land mines and cluster bombs as weapons that kill a high number of civilians, often long after the “official” conflict is over.

10. Slash the Pentagon budget. The U.S. spends more on the military and war than the rest of the world combined.

Submitted by tnjp on November 20, 2010 - 3:22pm.

Pentagon blows up thousands of homes in Afghanistan

Repeating the horrors of the Vietnam War
By Brian Becker, ANSWER Coalition National Coordinator

Borrowing a page from its infamous “pacification” effort in South Vietnam, where peasant villages were napalmed and burned to the ground to “save them from the communists,” the Obama-ordered surge in Afghanistan has been secretly blowing up thousands of homes and leveling portions of the Afghan countryside.

As tens of thousands of U.S. troops have surged into southern Afghanistan, villagers have fled. Then the Petraeus-led occupation forces have determined which homes will be destroyed.

“In Arghandab District, for instance, every one of the 40 homes in the village of Khosrow was flattened by a salvo of 25 missiles, according to the district governor, Shah Muhammed Ahmadi, who estimated that 120 to 130 houses had been demolished in his district,” reported the New York Times, Nov. 16, 2010.

The Pentagon asserts that they must destroy the homes because some of them may have explosive devices inside.

The Pentagon’s murderous rampage and terror campaign 40 years ago against South Vietnamese villages, in areas that were considered sympathetic to the resistance forces, used much of the same kind of explanation. In fact, the New York Times in a throw back to Vietnam quotes the Arghandab District Governor, who is working with the occupation forces: “We had to destroy them to make them safe.”...

Submitted by tnjp on October 19, 2010 - 10:10pm.

Phony Marine, 'Airport Spitter' Victim "Darling" of Right Wing Groups
October 11, 2010 posted by Gordon Duff

“COLONEL” MIKE HAMILTON CHARGED WITH BENEFITS FRAUD AND MORE, MUCH MORE…
“How many stories were there of returning veterans killing “hippies” in Airports? “None” you say? This means, of course, that Vietnam veterans were all cowards, “candyass” whiners who, when confronted, ran and cried. That’s not how I remember it, though I do remember Sylvester Stallone telling it that way in a movie. I can see poor “John Rambo” crying his little pink eyes out. Worse than that, for 40 years I have heard dozens of “veterans” telling me about having to flee airports, gangs of hippies chasing them, saliva flowing everywhere.

By Gordon Duff STAFF WRITER/Senior Editor

Mike Hamilton of Fayetteville, North Carolina, was convicted recently of violating the “Stolen Valor Act.” Hamilton’s Marine uniform sported 2 Navy Crosses, 4 Silver stars along with 74 other medals and ribbons. When the Supreme Court overturned the “Stolen Valor Act” as unconstitutional, a violation of “freedom of speech,” Hamilton’s conviction was overturned. He currently faces charges for other violations, perhaps even more curious ones, but Hamilton himself isn’t the problem. There are some serious questions as to whether “Colonel” Hamilton is competent to stand trial. Today, veterans groups are swooping around Mike Hamilton like vultures, looking for a meal. A few short months ago, he was the darling of the “rubber chicken” circuit, spouting the myths they wanted to hear, waving the flag and cheering on the horse manure of that is so popular to the American “right.”

We don’t know much about Hamilton. He claims to be a former judge and police officer. We are told those things aren’t true. He claims to be a Vietnam veteran and former Marine. Though he is accused of, perhaps the most grandiose “resume enhancement” in history, we really don’t know his military record. It is assumed he never served. Frankly, we aren’t sure, nobody ever checked...

Submitted by tnjp on October 17, 2010 - 8:46pm.

DemocracyNow trancript/audio/video

After Service, Veteran Deaths Surge
October 16, 2010
By AARON GLANTZ

In the six years after Reuben Paul Santos returned to Daly City from a combat tour in Iraq, he battled depression with poetry, violent video games and, finally, psychiatric treatment. His struggle ended last October, when he hung himself from a stairwell. He was 27.

The high suicide rate among veterans has already emerged as a major issue for the military and the families and loved ones of military personnel. But Mr. Santos’s death is part of a larger trend that has remained hidden: a surge in the number of Afghanistan and Iraq veterans who have died not just as a result of suicide, but also because of vehicle accidents, motorcycle crashes, drug overdoses or other causes after being discharged from the military.

An analysis of official death certificates on file at the State Department of Public Health reveals that more than 1,000 California veterans under 35 died between 2005 and 2008. That figure is three times higher than the number of California service members who were killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts over the same period...

Submitted by tnjp on October 12, 2010 - 8:54pm.

Despite Army Efforts, Soldier Suicides Continue
By JAMES C. McKINLEY Jr.
US | October 11, 2010

Nearly 20 months after the Army began strengthening its suicide prevention program, the suicide rate among active service members shows little sign of improvement.

FORT HOOD, Tex. - At 3:30 a.m. on a Saturday in August, Specialist Armando G. Aguilar Jr. found himself at the end of his short life. He was standing, drunk and weepy, in the parking lot of a Valero station outside Waco, Tex.

He had jumped out of his moving pickup. There was a police officer talking to him in frantic tones.

Specialist Aguilar held a pistol pointed at his head. This moment had been a long time coming, his family said. He had twice tried to commit suicide with pills since returning from a tough tour in Iraq a year earlier, where his job was to drive an armored vehicle to search for bombs.

Army doctors had put him on medications for depression, insomnia, nightmares and panic attacks. Specialist Aguilar was seeing an Army therapist every week.

But he had been getting worse in the days before his death, his parents said, seeing shadowy figures that were not there, hallucinating that he heard loud noises outside his trailer home. "He wanted help - he was out there asking for help," said his father, Armando Aguilar Sr. "He just snapped. He couldn't control what he was doing no more." Specialist Aguilar was one of 20 soldiers connected to Fort Hood who are believed to have committed suicide this year...

Submitted by tnjp on October 7, 2010 - 8:20pm.

Operation Recovery launches publicly today
Today Iraq Veterans Against the War publicly announces our Operation Recovery campaign to Stop the Deployment of Traumatized Troops. Our team of campaign organizers has been working around the clock for the past month to prepare for today's action in Washington, D.C.

You can do your part to raise awareness by sending a Letter to the Editor of your local paper. Click here to send a Letter to your local Editor. We've made it easy.

Today's Action


  • The campaign launch will start at 9:15 AM EST at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center where we will hold a ceremony in honor of all those wounded in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  • From there we march 6 miles to Capitol Hill, where we will testify about our experiences being deployed in war zones while suffering from traumatic injuries.

  • At Capitol Hill, we will read a letter out loud before delivering it to the offices of members of the Senate Armed Services Committee. (The letter is also being sent by mail to officials within the Pentagon and Veterans Administration.) The letters will serve to put these officials on notice that service members and veterans are standing up for their right to heal, and we will expose those responsible for the deployment of troops who are suffering from trauma.


Today's launch marks the beginning of Phase One of our campaign. Over the next several weeks, we will work to investigate the issues, decide which officials will become our campaign's targets, and work to raise awareness about the campaign.

That's where you come in.....

Submitted by tnjp on October 7, 2010 - 1:40pm.

Afghanistan Veterans Speak Out on 10th Anniversary

Submitted by tnjp on October 7, 2010 - 11:39am.

Emotional Effects of Heavy Combat Can Be Lifelong for Veterans
ScienceDaily (Oct. 6, 2010) — The trauma from hard combat can devastate veterans until old age, even as it influences others to be wiser, gentler and more accepting in their twilight years, a new University of Florida study finds.

The findings are ominous with the exposure of today's men and women to heavy combat in the ongoing Iraq and Afghanistan wars on terror at a rate that probably exceeds the length of time for U.S. veterans during World War II, said UF sociologist Monika Ardelt.

"The study shows that we really need to take care of our veterans when they arrive home, because if we don't, they may have problems for the rest of their lives," she said. "Yet veterans report they are facing long waiting lines at mental health clinics and struggling to get the services they need."

The 60-year study, co-authored with UF graduate student Scott Landes and George Vaillant, a psychiatry professor at Harvard Medical School, compared 50 World War II veterans with high combat exposure with 110 veterans without any combat experiences. Results showed that heavy combat exposure at a young age had a detrimental effect on physical health and psychological well-being for about half of the men well into their 80s, she said. The findings were published in the latest issue of the journal Research in Human Development...

Submitted by tnjp on September 24, 2010 - 1:50pm.


Campaign for GI and Veteran Rights - First sector: Right to Heal
Operation Recovery: A Campaign to Stop the Deployment of Traumatized Troops

On October 7, the 9th anniversary of the Afghanistan invasion, Iraq Veterans Against the War will announce our first-ever strategic campaign, *Operation Recovery: Stop the Deployment of Traumatized Troops. We recognize that we must stop the deployment of all soldiers in order to end the occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, we see the deployment of soldiers with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injuries, and Military Sexual Trauma as particularly cruel, inhumane, and dangerous. *Further more, we know that without the repeated use of traumatized soldiers on the battlefield, the occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan could not continue. This is how we will end these wars, by winning our right to heal.*

Do you want to help IVAW end the occupations? Sign the pledge of support for Operation Recovery.

Join our campaign now by making a Pledge of Support

We are reaching out to you, our loyal supporters, before we make the campaign announcement public. In building up to the announcement we need you to help us inform others about this issue and get them to pledge their support for the campaign.

Thousands of troops are being sent to war despite suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and Military Sexual Trauma (MST). Many of us within IVAW have faced or are currently facing deployment as we try to recover from the severe trauma we have already experienced.

While we recognize that we must stop the deployment of all soldiers in order to end the occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan, we see the deployment of soldiers with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injuries, and Military Sexual Trauma as particularly cruel, inhumane, and dangerous. Military commanders across all branches are pushing service members far past human limits for the sake of 'combat readiness.' We cannot allow those commanders to continue to ignore the welfare of their troops who are, after all, human beings.

There is a problem, a basic right is being denied, and we will organize to get it back.

This issue affects all of us. Everyone needs to recognize that the improper standards of care in the military and VA are harming our brothers and sisters, our nation, and only furthers the cycle of dehumanization and destruction of these wars.

Spread the word about the campaign here: https://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/5966/tell_a_friend/operationrecover... ...

Submitted by tnjp on June 29, 2008 - 4:06pm.



U.S. Military Demands Bonus Money Back from Soldiers with Arms, Legs Blown Off
by David Gutierrez

(NaturalNews) In some cases, the U.S. military has been denying wounded soldiers the full amount of their enlistment bonuses, under the rationale that the soldiers are unable to fulfill the full term of their service contract.

The policy came to light after Jordan Fox, who was injured by a roadside bomb in Iraq and sent home three months early, received a letter asking him to repay $2,800 of his signing bonus. Fox had been hospitalized for several months, and still has an injured back and a blind right eye.

"I was just completely shocked," Fox said. "I couldn't believe I'd gotten a bill in the mail from the Army."

Upon signing up for military service, troops may receive up to $30,000 in signing bonuses. These bonuses are contingent upon fulfilling a specified term of service.

But according to CBS affiliate KDKA in Pittsburgh, the military has asked "thousands" of injured troops to return part of their bonuses.

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