2007 A Year of Advancements and Dissapointments

Politically we have seen our Representatives FINALLY start doing what they were hired to do,

unlike the previous Congress, Investigate and hold Hearings, way too numorous to list all.

We have some seeking to find the answers to all the wrongs committed by an administration

shown time and again to be Incompetant and Corrupt! And we have many, who once controlled,

playing the Obstructionists on every issue raised.

These Obstructionists were extremely lax in

their roles as the peoples representatives when they did hold that control, and will continue to be so,

we would have already seen a change in their ideology, whatever the hell that is!

One Extremely Important Issue that stood out, of the previous Congress, and the Media didn’t even question,

as they were beating the War Drums, and using three words ‘Support The Troops’ to marginalize

anyone questioning the Policies of the Administration, was ‘What About The Troops?’.

We all know the facts of sending a Modern Military, ill equiped,  built as a Conventional Warfare Force,

when many were telling them that Wars are no longer Conventional, they all become Guerilla/Insurgent Wars,

as citizens of invaded countries stand up to the invading forces to protect their countries and their people,

and some fight back for Power and Control to fill the Voids created by Invasions!

There was one Congressional Investigation and Hearing that stood out, near the end of the year,

which I’ll get to shortly, about what Should have been considered Front and Center as the Drums of War were

beating louder and louder and well into our Invasion of an Innocent Country and Peoples.

First we get some year end reports of the most important issue that will define what the future holds,

War, and the Creation of More Hatreds towards Us and this Country!

We get this report from the BBC Crunch year ahead for Iraq?

The country ended 2007 on a high.

Or did it really, reports of violence against the citizens of Iraq are down as are the deaths of the occupying forces,

but they are still happening.

We have the politicals trying to sell us the reason is completely because of the ‘Surge’, of U.S. forces into Baghdad and a few other area’s of the country.

Yet the “Surge” was sold, to us and the world, as a means to give the Iraqi Government some space to come together and govern.

And there have been many warnings that if the security gains are not underpinned by political and economic measures, they risk being squandered.

Even General Petraeus keeps saying

“but cautioned that security gains were “tenuous” and “fragile,” requiring political and economic progress to cement them.”

As others point out

it is not hard to imagine a much grimmer scenario, such as:

*bickering Iraqi politicians fail to rise above their differences and agree vital legislation, which is already months behind schedule and would weld the country together

*as US forces start to thin out to pre-surge levels by July 2008, al-Qaeda begins to make a comeback

*Sunni “local security” forces established by the US, clash with Shia militias, which laid low until the American grip loosened

*Iraq disintegrates into sectarian strife, perhaps descends into unequivocal civil war.

And as stated by US ambassador, Ryan Crocker.

“You’re certainly not going to hear from me that al-Qaeda is defeated and that victory is at hand,”

The violence is down because

by the end of the year, around 80,000 Sunni youths were on the US payroll as local guards looking out for al-Qaeda infiltrators.

This had a big effect in pacifying troubled Sunni areas such as Anbar province and parts of Baghdad.

But I keep getting this nagging feeling, maybe because of experiance in another of our Invasions, Vietnam, that we are funding and training at least some that will once again turn their guns and experiance on our forces to rid themselves of their occupiers as well as their own countrymen to fill the vacume of power and rule!

And I’m not the only one.

But the campaign is unfinished, with frequent violence in areas to the north of the capital, and displaced Islamist radicals surfacing at Mosul in the far north too.

Many of the Sunni vigilantes have Shia blood on their hands, and their emergence as virtual militias has raised fears of future sectarian battles if things go wrong.

On the Shia side of the equation, the order given in August by the Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr to his Mehdi Army militia to halt hostilities for six months had a big effect in reducing violence.

What happens if Sadr calls off the ceasefire, or his factions abandon him, one of the biggest reasons for the violence being down?

Whichever way it goes, for better or for worse, Iraq will be a very different place in a year’s time.

On the other front, seems to have become the Forgotten War, by this Country it’s Media and our Representatives, yet our Military Personal are being sent into that Theater on mutiple tours as they are being sent into Iraq, going from one to the other over and over, we have this year end report from the Army Times.

U.S. casualties in Afghanistan hit record?

Afghanistan in 2007 saw record violence that killed more than 6,500 people, including 110 U.S. troops – the highest level ever in Afghanistan – and almost 4,500 militants, according to an Associated Press count. Britain lost 41 soldiers, while Canada lost 30. Other nations lost a total of 40.

The AP count is based on figures from Western and Afghan officials and is not definitive. Afghan officials are known to exaggerate Taliban deaths, for instance, and NATO’s International Security Assistance Force does not release numbers of militants it killed, meaning AP’s estimate of 4,478 militant deaths could be low.

“Al-Qaida, Taliban and other militants have really become a regional problem,” he said. “If in 2008 the U.S., NATO in general, is unable to make any notable differences in the [Pakistani] tribal areas, the situation in Afghanistan will not get better.”

Add that last to what is to become of our Supported Dictator, in Pakistan, and the growing Hatreds in Iraq and that whole Region, and you see the Future we may have Created through the Extremely Failed Policies, a Future our Children, and theirs, will be Living!

We have a Broken Military, Stressed out beyond the Breaking Point, as well as a Nation, at least the few citizens paying Any Attention, who Recognize what we have created and what may be the results of!

That Military has been showing signs of what that Stress is creating, within it’s ranks as well as to the families of.

Just one of the signs is Suspected Army suicides set record

A record number of soldiers – 109 – have killed themselves this year, according to Army statistics showing confirmed or suspected suicides.

The deaths occur as soldiers serve longer combat deployments and the Army spends $100 million on support programs.

“Soldiers, families and equipment are stretched and stressed,” Gen. George Casey, Army chief of staff, told Congress last month.

The highest number of Army suicides recorded since 1990 was 102 in 1992 – a period when the service was 20% larger than today.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, records show that 128 soldiers have killed themselves while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.

One was:

One was Spc. Travis Virgadamo, 19, of Las Vegas. His family said he was on suicide watch but was eventually taken off, and his gun was returned. “That night he killed himself,” says his grandmother, Kate O’Brien, of Pahrump, Nev.

O’Brien says her grandson desperately wanted to come home.

“He would say, ‘Grandma, pray for me.’ ” she says. “What good is somebody (to the war effort) that is under such stress?”

You can Help one Veterans Group fight for the Iraq and Afgan Veterans as well as the many other Veterans who served this Country

Dec. 31: Help VCS Fight Bush Veto of Wounded Warrior Bill

Today’s message is our last effort this year to raise money so Veterans for Common Sense can fight for our soldiers, our veterans, our national security, and our civil liberties. We need you now more than ever because President George W. Bush announced he will veto the Defense Bill that contains our critical “Wounded Warrior” reforms that fix many of the problems that caused the terrible Walter Reed scandal.

That Congressional Hearing, mentioned above, was held on December 12th, and examined how the Department of Veterans Affairs can help to Reduce the Number of Suicides among returning Active Duty forces, including the National Guard and Reserves. After a report, that frankly was widely known/suspected by many before finally being published, by CBS News

The hearing, called Stopping Suicides: Mental Health Challenges Within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs was held by the House Committee on Veterans Affairs.

You can visit the link above or follow these links, below, to the opening Statesments and Witness Testimony of All who participated in this Extremely Important House Hearing:

Opening Statements

**Hon. Bob Filner Chairman, and a Representative in Congress from the State of California

**Hon. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, a Representative in Congress from the State of South Dakota

**Hon. Harry E. Mitchell, a Representative in Congress from the State of Arizona

**Hon. Cliff Stearns, a Representative in Congress from the State of Florida

Witness Testimonies

**Panel 1

**Mike and Kim Bowman, Forreston, Illinois, (Parents of Specialist Tim Bowman, U.S. Army, Illinois National Guard, Bravo Troop, 106th Calvary)

**Panel 2

**Ms. Penny Coleman, Rosendale, New York, Author,,  Flashback: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Suicide, and the Lessons of War

**Ms. Ilona Meagher, Caledonia, Illinois, Author, Moving a Nation to Care: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and America’s Returning Troops

**Panel 3

**Ira Katz, M.D., Ph.D., Deputy Chief Patient Care Services, Officer, Office of Mental Health, Veterans Health Administration, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

**Accompanied by:

**Robert Rosenheck, M.D, Director, Division of Mental Health Service and Outcomes Research, Veterans Health Administration, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

**Lawrence Adler, M.D., Director, Mental Illness Research Education Clinical Center, Veterans Integrated Services Network 19, Veterans Health Administration, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

**Frederick C. Blow, Ph.D., Director, Serious Mental Illness Treatment Research and Evaluation Center, Ann Arbor Veterans Affairs Center for Clinical Management Research, Veterans Health Administration, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

**Kara Zivin, Ph.D”., Research Health Scientist, Health Services Research and Development, Veterans Health Administration, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

**Panel 4

Statements for the Record

**Michael Shepherd, M.D., Physician, Office of Healthcare Inspections, Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

**Joseph L. Wilson, Deputy Director, Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Commission, American Legion

**Joy J. Ilem, Assistant National Legislative Director, Disabled Veterans of America

**Mr. Todd Bowers, Director of Governmental Relations, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America

**John Driscoll, Vice President of Operations and Programs, National Coalition for Homeless Veterans

**Richard F. Weidman, Executive Director for Policy and Government Affairs, Vietnam Veterans of America

View this Very Moving Video Cut of Mr Bowmans Testimony

On the same day another hearing was held by the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations covering Outpatient Waiting Times in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Currently, the VA reports that 95 percent of outpatient appointments are scheduled within 30 days of the date requested by the patient. However, the VA Office of Inspector General (IG) has questioned the accuracy of the data provided by VA.

You can visit the link to find the statements and testimony of this hearing.

Do we want to help minimize what we have already created, than Get The Troops The Hell Out Of Iraq, Now, and Take Care Of Them and Their Families!

Engage the Neighbors of that Country to help their fellow residents of the region Rebuild and Create a Stable Country in Iraq, that is Our Responsibility to Fund, instead of all the bravado hate messages, of those and theirs not being sent to fight as well as their supporters,  who created this disaster and cheered it on and still are!

What should have been on the Table, as the War Drums were beating, was the Monies and Support for those returning from the Battlefields created, not the lame excuses after everything started beaking, i.e. Walter Reed, that Reed was closing in a few years anyway! Where was the Administration and Previous Congress members on these Issues knowing, as they should have except for their total incompetance, what was to come!

I’ll tell you where, the same place they are Now, Obstructing!

As to Afganistan, it may already be way too late, but they deserve the Promises Made to be kept! Help them Financially rebuild after their years of Wars! Help their Government help the people the way all governments should! There are many other issues, by the World community, that can be brought to the Afgans to stem the tides of Hatreds that have only grown over these last few years.

But now much hinges on what happens in an unstable Pakistan, which wouldn’t have been if the World, especially the U.S., had stayed the course in Afganistan in the first place, and kept All of their Promises to that country!!


    • jimstaro on January 2, 2008 at 11:33

    Journalist Tells Congress About Suicide Epidemic Among Vets

    By Penny Coleman, AlterNet. Posted January 2, 2008.

    A testimony at congressional hearings in response to increasingly ominous reports of soldier and veteran suicides.

  1. Your perspective and the perspective of many Vets who have been there and done that is uncanny in being able to really see the big picture and point out the salesmanship and the bullshit.  I feel so tired sometimes because this has been one long hard haul and everything is still in mid FUBAR.  I have a husband very ethically dedicated to all of our moral obligations you have pointed out and no easy answers in sight and still no real leadership in being able to get some place constructive.  And if we don’t get our asses out of Iraq militaryily soon and move onto more constructive solutions there will those who stand with us grow to fight us again?  Of Course, we don’t belong there as a military force!  And so many betrayed young soldiers who have been hurt and don’t know where to go with it all and what to do with it all.

  2. The phony lip service that this Administration spouts then totally ignores needs to be brought out repeatedly.

    Great diary.

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