I Can’t Make This Clever: Updated 2:06 pm Friday, December 7, 2007

Something to think about this Saturday morning

promoted by ek hornbek

There’s a piece being written on in a number of blogs about a poll that indicates Bush has little support among military families, who probably are not going to vote for a Republican president next year.  It’s surprising to a lot of people who think of the military as an undifferentiated mass that gets told what to do (which is true) and how to think (they get told, but most eventually believe their experience instead).  Their families get lumped in there, too.

Those families used to vote the way their military members did, and military members used to uniformly (sorry) support “conservative” candidates.  I grew up in a military family, right after World War II.  I thought what I was told to think, that conservatism equaled patriotism, until I had enough education and work experience to know differently.  The votes of these families are going to reflect painful and terribly unjust personal experiences.

Any other subject and I would be able to write an essay about defeating a Republican into a masterpiece of clever snark.  This subject encompasses too much pain, too much suffering, and too much destruction.  The magnitude of what has happened to these families, the stories that underly the result of that poll, are just too awful.  I won’t  be able to touch it here, but I offer links that can get readers close, and I defer to them for a description of the ordeals that military families endure.

It’s estimated that 65% of combat veterans from this–Iraq–war will have brain trauma of some kind.  The principal traumas are PTSD, obvious brain injuries (by some kind of penetration), and a big one–traumatic brain injury.  This is what shaken baby syndrome is, and the force of the explosions uniquely prevalent in this war cause the same trauma, and range of trauma, that results when a baby is shaken until his eyeballs hemorrhage.  Like all the others, this injury is not being recognized (especially because there is no visible wound) or treated.  Think what it’s taking to get treatment for this when combat veterans suffering with obvious PTSD are being told they have a pre-existing “personality disorder” and are handed dishonorable discharges ending any possibility of care.

And they all have families.  The daily lives of all those families, and the futures of all those families , are being tragically transformed by the horrors their military members are experiencing. The future cost of the damage they’re sustaining could be an issue in a political campaign someday, but they are paying a price today.  They are living right now in a world where friends and loved ones are dying–physically, mentally, and spiritually– all around them.

A group of military wives and husbands have formed a new and already active group, Military Spouses for Change [www.militaryspousesforchange.com].  That they are already gathering so many members and are so outspoken, when the brass has always come down so hard on this kind of involvement, is just amazing.  Rather than being intimidated, they’ve put a partner group together because so many veterans, and other families of active duty service members, asked for a voice like this (Veterans and Military Families for Change [www.vmfc.com]).

Better and better-informed than I are howling into the wind to get attention for this tragedy.  Read a couple of DKos diaries http://www.dailykos.com/story/… http://www.dailykos.com/story/…  that disappeared practically without a trace, even though they had more information, and more reasons and ways to help while advancing a political agenda, than any others I read there today.  They are not to be missed.  

Some day this will be a part of history that, depending upon the direction we go from here on out, may be conveniently missing from the textbooks our children and grandchildren learn from before they have to startworking to pay for all this.  It will be good to have some ammunition, so to speak, to convince them to never let this happen again.


A 20-year-old Army veteran, Sammantha Owen-Ewing, has committed suicide in Rhode Island.  Sammantha was newly married (June) and had been in RN training at Walter Reed Army Hospital.  She was recently hospitalized at Walter Reed for a mental health diagnosis after an “uphill battle” for care. She was a combat medic in Iraq when on active duty. http://www.ivaw.org/


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    • pfiore8 on December 7, 2007 at 13:55

    you didn’t need to make this clever. it is so much more than clever. it is personal and painful and honest.

    hello boadicea and welcome here!

    • kj on December 7, 2007 at 16:09

    I interviewed a young Marine three days before his first child was born. He’d suffered a traumatic brain injury in Iraq.

    To say the experience of talking to him for several hours, while every five minutes or so he would ask, “Have I already told you this?” (short term memory loss) broke my heart would be a severe understatement.

    Broke my heart and made my blood boil at the same time. This was one person, but how many shattered hopes and dreams?

    Thank you for this essay, boadicaea.

    • documel on December 7, 2007 at 16:21

    Bush doesn’t seem to understand this–neither do most Republicans in his administration.  Ike knew it, Colin Powell did but didn’t act on this knowledge.  He and Tony Blair gave the evil W street cred and are, thus, fully responsible for the needless deaths and injuries.

    Consider how many Iraqis, children especially, that have also been so traumatized.  Compared to Bush, Saddam wasn’t so bad.  Shall we say, Bush is the devil’s devil.

  1. I had no idea that this group had formed.  I welcome your diary with a mixture of gratitude and pain because you acknowledge the pain that the military families are in and it makes it easier to feel and express my own.  I’m with you in believing that this group will have the power to change our future history.  When my grandfather came home from WWII we didn’t know much about PTSD but he came home to a grateful nation and I think that made his difficulties easier for him to deal with.  He had been a medic.  His son went to Vietnam and when he came home we began to understand PTSD and Vietnam vets did not come home to a grateful nation.  As we traveled the road to understanding PTSD family members of Vietnam vets became part of the journey and they laid the ground work for us to follow.  We need to understand and face up to the full effects of war on our troops and the families and when we do that we won’t have anymore of these fucking unnecessary wars and acts of aggression.  Nothing is free, someone pays!

    • odillon on December 7, 2007 at 20:17

    little attention is paid to it.

    My niece’s wonderful new boyfriend, age 31, just deployed to Iraq again. He’s on a sniper squad in a dangerous place and he’s the most caring and supportive boyfriend she’s ever had. He’s an independent and against the war now. All I can do is pray he’ll be okay and speak out against an evil war and evil warmongers.

    My own son, adopted from Korea at age seven, suffered as a teenager from PTSD for years, in and out of hospitals. It is a monstrous event for a family to go through, let alone in the mind of the person who endures it. Thank God he got through it all, but it was years and years of pain and problems.

    My brother has had his own pain from Vietnam service which still gives him nightmares.

    Thanks for what you are doing!

  2. No one did wrong.  It just happened as such things do.

    A young cowboy was bucked off his horse.  His foot caught in the stirrup.  He was dragged some distance in the desert.  The young man’s skull was split open and they said he left some of his brains in the desert.

    It was a miracle they said.  It was for that time.  Maybe for this time.  A helicopter brought the young cowboy to a hospital in the big city where the doctors saved his life and what was left of his brains.

    Actually it wasn’t much of a city but it was big to us.

    Better he should have died.

    I visited the padded room with my father.  The young cowboy was so thin.  He talked so well.  He remembered the old days.  Remembered well when he rode proud and strong on the open range. Couldn’t have told you what he had for breakfast.

    He was so mild.  He spoke so softly.  His brother had put him in that padded room because he feared the violent outbursts that come on so suddenly with head trauma cases.

    I wondered how it must have been when his wife and kids visited.  It is hard to picture.

    The keeper of a room full of people that had head wounds of a different kind hit us up for a few dollars as we left.  For the young cowboy of course.  Yeah.

    Send him back to his mother said the townfolk.  Yeah his mother in Ireland would have had great use for him.  Would she have been able to handle the young cowboy better than his brother?  

    At least the wife and kids wouldn’t have been duty bound to visit.

    Some people cause such things and talk about how grand the cause is.


    Best,  Terry


    • kj on December 7, 2007 at 23:24

    65 percent. Criminal.

    Can you send this to your local paper as a guest opinion piece?  

  3. http://votevets.org/news/?id=0095  

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