I like many others watched the presidential address last night knowing what was going to happen and so hoping I was wrong. While I believe this was a very difficult decision obviously made by a president who really would have been far happier not being placed in the position he was in, I ultimately believe it was the wrong one. Yes, he had all of the intelligence and the generals, along with Congress and an assortment of CIA, NSA reports that the rest of us don't have, but I lived thru Viet Nam and have memories of a never-ending death tally on the nightly news. I remember many presidential speeches and ultimately the fall of Saigon with the air lifts of thousands of little children who were left behind by their GI fathers. We still have thousands of vets wandering the streets from that long gone war. How many more deaths and permanently physically and emotionally scared men and woman is it going to take before we realize we cannot "save" the world? When are we going to focus on our people and needs right here at home?
The following is an abridged version of an open letter to Ft. Drum Commander Major General James Terry urging investigation of mental health policies.
I'm certain that you're aware of the investigative report that was prepared in the aftermath of Sgt. John Russell's alleged killing of five soldiers, including two therapists, at Camp Liberty in Iraq on May 11, 2009. For me, the report's most significant finding was, "there was no clear procedure or established training guidelines for managing soldiers identified as 'at risk' for suicide." Witness reports in the study describe Sgt. Russell as paranoid and angry in days before the shooting and say that his behavior was "deteriorating."
We know of at least three incidents [murders and suicides] in the last seven months, which I believe document the need for a similar investigation. It wouldn't surprise me if there are additional incidents which have not yet been made public.
In addition, Ft. Drum soldier Justin Hunter has been apprehended and arraigned for two counts of second degree murder, Dec. 4.
Hunter's wife Emily told the Associated Press that he had returned from a combat tour of Afghanistan a "changed man," plagued by flashbacks, stress and sleeplessness. "He saw his best friend get blown to pieces and he tried to put him back together. He was never right after that," she told reporters. She added that she'd recently gone to the hospital twice after her husband had injured her arm and thumb. The accused's mother Judy commented; "In my heart of heart, I think he snapped."
General Terry, I am concerned that the incidents outlined above reveal a disturbing pattern of malfeasance and/or negligence toward mentally stressed soldiers at Ft. Drum. My greatest fear is that additional deaths or injuries may occur if corrective action isn't taken. I urge you to order an independent investigation that will fully disclose administrative failures within Ft. Drum's mental health system.
New York NY
Tod Ensign is an attorney and director of Citizen Soldier.
Clean water for all!
The imbibing of drinking water around the Third World that is not potable and often even grossly dirty kills more people then HIV, TB and malaria combined!
Why do we let that persist? We spend lots of money on quinine for malaria, and AIDS drugs are being allocated, albeit in inadequate quantities, to Third World locations. But just about nothing is being done to correct the contaminated water problems. Why?
Profits would still be made by those who turn out filters and other cleansing machinery, and to supply the people to purify fresh water supplies, especially in places where basic water sources are certainly adequate.
The answer is horribly shameful. To send out drug supplies for diseases places the alleged blame on the viruses, parasites and bacteria, etc. that cause the diseases. But to face up to the drinking water dearth is to place the blame where it belongs-on the industrially-developed world's exploitation of those countries in need. Where the developed world has raped and pillaged those undeveloped nations for centuries, leaving them without the resources that their natural wealth easily provides, surely enough to correct the dirty water needs.
New York NY
No lone gunman
A call-in sports show, in an attempt to stimulate calls the other day, asked listeners "What three persons, alive or dead, would you like to have dinner with?"
The first caller picked, "Lee Harvey Oswald." as his first choice. Interesting.
"Why Oswald?" he was asked. "I would like to know what went on regarding the assassination of John F. Kennedy," responded the caller.
That got me to thinking about my own research during this 46th anniversary of that tragic day in November and the several Americans, among others, who guided me to "what really went on," thus proving further insight into the nefarious deeds of our country beneath the flag-waving, the star spangled banner, God Bless America, and the "lone gunman."
First and foremost, the late Jim Garrison whose investigation as district attorney of New Orleans revealed more about a conspiracy than anyone else, notwithstanding harassment by the government, spies planted in his office and ridicule by a subservient press. His book, "On the Trail of the Assassins."
Mark Lane, attorney, who was the first to raise serious doubts about Oswald's guilt, within the first month after the shots rang out in Dallas that day. He subsequently authored "Rush to Judgment."
Local attorney Vincent Salandria and Richard E. Sprague, former assistant district attorney, uncovered gaping holes in the Warren Commission's findings that it was Oswald.
Mort Sahl, comedian, who zapped the official Washington line in his own inimitable style.
Local Temple Professor Joan Mellen for her 2005 book, "A Farewell to Justice."
And last but not least to Arlen Specter. Yes, the same opportunistic senator now trying to convince us all that he really is a Democrat. That makes about as much sense as his inane single-bullet theory in 1964 that it was "a lone gunman," i.e. Oswald. Poor Arlen. His vapid theory said more about a government cover-up, not to say Specter's I.Q.
Finally, for those of you who were close to adult-hood in 1963. Remember that the government sealed the files, making sure we would not know the truth about Oswald's secret connection to the government until the year 2039.....30 years from now.
See you then.