color: SOME SOLDIER'S MOM: May 2006

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Memorial Day 2006: SGT. Kenneth Schall

As I wrote earlier, our town’s formal Memorial Day observance was held today, the traditional Memorial Day. Because it was a weekday after a long weekend, I expected that there would be few people at this celebration. Having missed last year’s celebration for the daughter’s wedding, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Our new hometown did not disappoint.
The observance was held in the courtyard at the flagpole on the grounds of the Bob Stump VA Medical Center. This morning was another of those wonderful, beautiful sunny days in northern Arizona: a light breeze, balmy temperatures and a cloudless crystal blue sky.

The Bob Stump VA Medical Center is set on 137 rolling acres of land and is a collective of buildings that house the medical and rehabilitation services for those who have served our country in times of war and peace. On any normal day, it is a beehive of activity of veterans and their families and those who serve them; today, it was a teeming city of veterans and their families and neighbors come to honor their fallen brethren. There were many veterans of the Second World War and Korea in attendance many now well into their 80’s, but I noticed the large number of Vietnam Veterans standing proud and even a smattering of OEF and OIF veterans paying respects on this fine day as well.

The 2006 Memorial Day service honored 22-year-old Sgt. Kenneth Schall who was killed in Iraq in May 2005 and buried on Memorial Day last year.

The program began with the presentation of Colors by the American Legion Post, a performance by a lone bagpiper, and a parade on the grounds by the Arizona Roughriders, Northern Arizona All Airborne and the (ROTC) Young Marines Color Guard. Not cowed by the ACLU, there was a passionate invocation by the VA Chaplain for those that fought and were lost and for those that returned, and for those still defending our freedoms against insidious evil. Given the loud, “Amen” at the close, there was no doubt in my mind what answer would have been given by those present had anyone dared ask, “Why are we fighting in Iraq?” The few hundred assembled loudly proclaimed their Pledge of Allegiance to the flag as one nation under God.

We were treated to a moving and fervent rendition of our National Anthem (in English) by the late Sgt. Schall’s younger sister, Jessica. After a too-long performance of patriotic songs by a local group of singers, Sgt. Schall’s mother Terri addressed the crowd.

Terri Schall told us the story of her delightful and brave son who had a passion for the work he did in the Army. She told the story of his tenacity -- how he had crawled out on the 2nd story window ledge at his barracks to harass and convince a buddy to accompany him for a late night pizza after he had been turned down by the buddy five or six times.

This Gold Star Mother, her voice occasionally breaking, told us how close he was to his new brothers, his commitment to the mission, how “his troops” gladly followed him because they trusted him and his leadership. She told us all how much she loved her son, how hard this past year had been, how proud she was of him and the sacrifice he had made. There wasn’t a dry eye visible as she told how the family had traveled to Ft. Riley to attend the welcome home ceremony and celebration for 2/70AR and how she cherished the hugs and stories from her son’s buddies.

Terri said people often asked her if she thought we should be in Iraq. (I’m wondering how you ask a mother in not so many words -- so do you think your son died for “nothing”?). She told us that Kenny believed in the mission, in the good he was doing, in the hope he brought to the Iraqi people… how he had told her that he felt he had helped bring freedom to these people. She said that if anyone wanted proof of the commitment to the mission in Iraq, you only needed to look at her son: he had left his family, friends and home -- everything he loved and cherished -- to go to Iraq and Kenny’s commitment could never be wrong. She was honored to be his mother.

Of course, from the moment she began speaking, tears filled my eyes and quickly spilled down my cheeks. It was hard to control the sobs when she told us that the last time she had spoken to her son was on Mother’s Day 2005 and how he had told her he loved her and she had told him that she loved him, too, and that she was so proud of him. The Vietnam vet next to me that I met just minutes before borrowed a tissue, and we stood arm in arm as Mrs. Schall spoke. I watched Kenny’s father, sister Jessica and brother Matthew, aunts, uncles and cousins weep as Terri thanked them and the military community for their support this past year.

Next, Sgt. Kenneth Schall’s mother and sister placed a wreath in front of the new memorial to the veterans of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom -- the large brass memorial that the Schall family donated and now permanently placed beneath the towering flagpole at the medical center. Between the boots, at the base of the inverted rifle holding the helmet, they had lovingly placed pictures of their son, brother, nephew and friend. The honor guard -- former Marines and the Arizona Roughriders -- issued a 21-gun salute, and two soldiers now in their 80's rendered an echo version of "Taps" that brought new tears from those assembled.

After the conclusion of the ceremony, a line formed in front of the memorial of people wishing to offer their condolences, to convey their pride, to say thank you and to hug this family… to let them know that they were -- that they are -- not alone. As it came to be my turn, she spied my “I Love My Soldier Son” shirt and said, “Oh, you’re a soldier’s mom, too?” and we hugged… that hug that says silently, “I understand.”

Thank you Sgt. Schall, thank you to his family, too.
Just a note: Over the sound system during the dedication of the Memorial played a beautiful song written and sung by Sgt. Schall’s sister, “Soldier I Thank You”. His sister performs professionally under the name Jordan Leigh… you can see a slide presentation supporting the troops and listen to some of this really fine song HERE. Then 19-year old Jordan singing the National Anthem at a Phoenix Suns Game.

Copyright Some Soldier's Mom 2006. All rights reserved.

Rest Easy, Sleep Well...

May 30 is the traditional Memorial Day. I will attend the memorial service at the flagpole on the grounds of the Veterans Hospital in Prescott, Arizona (which was originally Fort Whipple in 1864. I'll post on the ceremony later. In the meantime, I recognize the traditional Memorial Day with this as a reminder... again... of those who gave all... for all of us.
Arlington National Cemetary at Christmas

Rest easy, sleep well my brothers.
Know the line has held, your job is done.
Rest easy, sleep well.
Others have taken up where you fell,
the line has held.
Peace, peace, and farewell!
As for all those wreaths? These wreaths -- some 5,000 -- are donated by the Worcester Wreath Co. of Harrington, Maine. The owner, Merrill Worcester, not only provides the wreaths, but covers the trucking expense as well. He's done this since 1992. Here's the story on that.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day 2006: A Soldier's Widow

SFC David Salie and two of his children

Memorial for SFC David Salie, Baqubah, Iraq
February 2005

I asked my friend Deedy Salie if she would write a little something on Memorial Day and she graciously did.

Something for Memorial Day, something possibly about my husband or maybe his men..... maybe even about the day itself. However, I'm not sure how to write about Memorial day.

I know what Memorial Day is for; I know what we are remembering. However, this is my life. Everyday is Memorial Day for me. You see, I am a war widow, though I still have a very difficult time using the word widow. My husband, SFC David J. Salie, was killed in Iraq last year. February 14 is supposed to be the day meant for love. We buy flowers, chocolates, cards to celebrate this day, but it will always be the day that I lost the love of my life, the person that was supposed to hold my hand when I died... and yet he died on a street, in a country light years away from me.

David was on a patrol to get familiar with where he was, he had only been in Iraq for four days. His was the fourth Humvee in the convoy when an insurgent clicked a button on a remote that would shatter my world, the world of my children. I had spent the day buying my children little things for Valentine's Day, like I had every year. That year the day ended much differently than most, I opened a door around 9:15 that night only to be told that my David was gone forever.
My life has changed drastically since that night. I now live in a small town in Mississippi with our three children and my Mom. I do all the things that I'm supposed to do with my kids and now I also do all the things that a Daddy is supposed to do. I have so many things that most people aspire to have in life: a beautiful house, automobiles, land, my children and not so bad health.... and yet all of it, with the exception of our children, means almost nothing to me.

I look around and realize what an influence David still has on me. Honestly, this is David's house we’re living in! I always wanted an old country home, a fixer upper.... David was the one that wanted a new house with all the bells and whistles. I now own a four bedroom, four-bath home that was built 4 years ago. The only thing I didn't get that David wanted was a log cabin -- I've often wondered if one had been on the market if I would have bought it? LOL. But David's not here to share it with me, with us.

I still own David's truck and will probably own it until the day I die. David loved that truck and so I love that truck. It will probably become a planter in my front yard before I ever get rid of it. David always wanted an "I love me" room -- a room that he could put all his plaques on the walls and such. I've turned the computer room into that room for him. Our computer room has turned into David's “I love me” room... our "we love him" room. It's amazing how much of an influence David still has on me.

We're having a few people over, mainly family, for Memorial Day. Though I'm sure everyone that comes to my house will think of David, they will also be thinking of all the others that have lost their lives and/or the people that have come home with a permanent limp or without some body part. I'm sure they will think of the ones that have come home from other conflicts. I, however, think of them everyday. I think about all the men and women that will never be the same because of what they've seen and what they've had to do while at war.

Memorial Day is every day for a woman like me, a family like mine. We live it, we breath it, we are it. I think of David's soldiers all the time, they know it. They know that no matter where they go or what they do, they will always be "David's men" and I will always think of them, be here for them, love them.

I hope that people will not only remember our soldiers, but also remember their families. Remember the spouses that are now raising children on their own; remember the parents that will never see their child again; the soldiers who have lost fellow soldiers; the families that are still living with a military member who will live another day in the life that they love so much.

In closing I ask that while you are there having that BBQ, drinking that beer or swimming in that pool: take a moment to remember all of our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines. Remember their families -- they, too, pay the price. Even though they pay the price willingly and most just as adamantly as their military member, they still pay it. When the "thank yous" are handed out, they are the ones that are least likely to get one. Please take the time to thank them, let them know that you remember their sacrifice. Tell a military child that you appreciate what their parent has given our country, for they are the smallest yet sometimes (I think) they are the most affected, but least remembered. The littlest heroes. They surely are the ones that pay a very high price indeed.

Deanna "Deedy" Salie
Wife of SFC David J. Salie
KIA Baqubah, Iraq

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Memorial Day 2006: CDR Kirk T. Walsh

CDR Kirk T. Walsh
12Jan37 - 10May06
CDR Kirk T. Walsh was a survivor. Scarlet fever at age 5, a broken neck from a diving accident at 17, three crash landings as a naval aviator in Vietnam, one in which a helicopter blade punctured a windshield and slashed his throat, a heart attack on a helicopter training flight, forcing him to make an emergency landing. A stroke at 58.
After graduation from the University of Colorado with a degree in Political Science, Kirk Walsh was commissioned an Officer in 1962 and enjoyed a 20-year career as a naval aviator -- flying aircraft including the Huey and Cobra helicopters and serving two tours in Vietnam.

During the Vietnam War, Cmdr. Walsh earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, a Bronze Star with a combat V, 33 Air Medals for combat missions, a Navy Commendation Medal and two Presidential Unit citations.

He declined to accept a Purple Heart after being injured during a mission while serving as commander of a Marine flight squadron, believing that he couldn’t in good conscience accept the award because so many others had lost so much more. Despite his injury, Cmdr. Walsh helped his crew evade capture for nearly 24 hours until they were rescued.

In November 1969, Walsh was serving as aircraft commander and fire team leader of an armed helicopter detachment. When his base at Vinh Gia came under heavy attack, Cmdr. Walsh led a dash from a bunker to his aircraft. The citation for his Distinguished Flying Cross states that, “Subsequent devastating rocket and machine gun runs destroyed three enemy firing positions and probably a fourth. and “His immediate and decisive reaction to the enemy attack was instrumental in preventing severe damage to the support base and in lessening personnel casualties.”

After his Naval career, CDR Walsh, a recovering alcoholic himself, served as a substance abuse counselor and later as an ombudsman volunteer for Aging and Independence Services in conjunction with his county's Health and Human Services Agency. He also developed a partnership with the Veterans Administration to serve veterans through a homeless outreach program and was instrumental in starting "Stand Down", a program in Balboa Park that has provided shelter and services for homeless veterans for 18 years.
Kirk Walsh was diagnosed with lung cancer in December, a decade after he quit smoking, and died of a heart attack May 10 at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center. He was 69.

Job well done, Commander. Bravo Zulu.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Memorial Day 2006: Yes, In My Name.

My friend Capt. B reminds us that Memorial Day is not just a 3-day weekend. It is the day that we honor the members of our military that have fallen in defense of our country.

I know I say this a lot, but holidays have new meanings for me beginning this year. The change in my outlook is not just a one-year change, but a life-changing epiphany. The day
our son was wounded irreversibly changed the intensity with which I view each day, but especially holidays. Thanksgiving and Christmas had new meaning, as did New Year’s Day and Mother’s Day. And certainly Veterans’ Day.

However, I think one of the most significant changes for me is how I will view and celebrate and feel Memorial Day. My family has always remembered Memorial Day. Thanks to my mother, our family learned early to honor those that serve. We attended Memorial Day, Independence Day and Veterans' Day parades in our town: some years we sat and cheered from the curbs as we waved our American flags, while in other years we were participants.

We attended many wreath laying ceremonies at our war memorial on the grounds of our county court house in New City, New York and cheered from the court house lawn on Main Street (really) as Veterans paraded by. It was on the court house steps that we attended our first “Support the Troops” rally organized by two of Noah’s Senior class classmates, and attended with Noah. In fact, the large court house square, the large veterans community and the area's patriotism were key factors in our choice of the Arizona town where we now live. Paying homage to those that serve and have served is the least we can do... a few minutes from a whole day set aside to honor our war dead.

Joe Galoway asks us to remember the families of the fallen. As I wrote over at Milblogs, “David Salie was one of my son's instructors in Airborne school... he was in Bravo Co. while Noah was in Able Co. on the same Brigade Combat Team when they deployed. They had just arrived in Iraq when Sgt. Salie was killed. His widow, Deedy, continues to be an influence in the lives of the young men that David led, and in the lives of other military wives and mothers... offering them counsel and a shoulder to lean on and a hand to hold in good times and bad. I am proud to call Deedy Salie a friend. She is MY hero...”

And Robert Stokley reminds us of his pride for his late son, Sgt. Mike Stokley and how Mike will be remembered every Memorial Day. This Memorial Day will be so much different for me. After the deaths of so many of Noah’s unit last year (here, here, here, here, here, here), Memorial Day will never be the same. And after the grief of The Funeral of Spc. Tommy Byrd, the tears I shed on this and every Memorial Day will be hotter and will burn my cheeks deeper than in years past. The playing of “Taps” will stab at my heart and the National Anthem will never sound sweeter nor be more bittersweet. No, Memorial Day will never be the same. Not for me. Not for Noah and those that served and returned with him. Not for Deedy Salie and Robert Stokley and all the families of these fallen.

And not just these men, but all the soldiers that have died IN MY NAME in this war and all the wars that have been fought to defend democracy IN MY NAME. I will think on these young lives and the families left behind to mourn. This Memorial Day our family will mourn these young men, but we will also celebrate and honor them for their dedication, for their spirits, for their sacrifice. The sacrifices they made for me, for us…. In the Wars they fight for me… IN MY NAME.

I will remember each of these Heroes, and their families this Memorial Day and I ask that you do the same.

Remember, I will still be here,
As long as you hold me, in your memory
Remember, when your dreams have ended,
Time can be transcended,
Just remember me
I am the one star that keeps burning, so brightly,
It is the last light, to fade into the rising sun
I'm with you,
Whenever you tell, My story,
For I am all I've done
Remember, I will still be here,
As long as you hold me, in your memory,
Remember me
I am that one voice, in the cold wind,
That whispers,
And if you listen, you'll hear me call across the sky
As long as, I still can reach out, and touch you,
Then I will never die
Remember, I'll never leave you,
If you will only,
Remember me
Remember me...
Remember, I will still be here,
As long as you hold me,
In your memory
Remember, When your dreams have ended,
Time can be transcended,
I live forever,
Remember me
Remember me,
Remember... me...

"Remember" (from the sound track of the movie "Troy")
lyrics by Cynthia Weil, music by James Horner, as performed by Josh Groban

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Senate Immigration Bill is Bad Legislation

The current version of the Senate comprehensive immigration bill is a piece of hastily crafted, poorly written and marginally thoughtful legislation. They should get this right and not rush just because after doing nothing for 20 years they feel they have to act before the next election. Get this right -- not rush. Secure our borders... THEN we can talk immigration reform. The reform part doesn't have to be done in a day or a week... We should be putting together legislation that can actually work and that the American public will support... and this isn't it. (And if Ted Kennedy is all for it -- we should be really wary!)

Under the Senate agreement, illegal immigrants who have lived in the United States for five years or more, about seven million people, would eventually be granted citizenship if they remained employed, passed background checks, paid fines and back taxes, and enrolled in English classes.

Illegal immigrants who have lived here two to five years, about three million people, would have to leave the country briefly and receive a temporary work visa before returning, as a guest worker. Over time, they would be allowed to apply for permanent residency and ultimately citizenship.

As if people would actually sign up to go back where they came from to maybe come back?

Illegal immigrants who have been here less than two years, about one million people, would be required to leave the country altogether. They could apply for the guest worker program, but they would not be guaranteed acceptance in it.

The legislation would also require employers to use a new employment verification system that would distinguish between legal and illegal workers. In addition, it would impose stiff fines for violations by employers, create legal-immigrant documents resistant to counterfeiting, increase the number of Border Patrol agents and mandate other enforcement measures.
Critics of the bill did gain some notable victories. They won passage on amendments that call for 370 miles of fencing along the border with Mexico, designate English as the national language and reduce the number of foreign guest workers to be admitted annually to 200,000 a year from 320,000.
What they haven't addressed is the elimination of the "chain migration" that is really a pyramid scheme to increase the number of immigrants -- a ponzi scheme that permits one new green card holder (which many of the currently illegal immigrants will become almost immediately) to bring an unlimited number of family members (parents, brothers, sisters, all the inlaws and then THEIR brothers, sisters, spouses, children, parents, and THEIR parents, brothers, sisters, spouses, children... ) and which fall outside any "caps" or quotas.

Nor have they addressed the IMMEDIATE eligibility of illegals that become eligible for residency (that's 80% of currently illegal aliens) to the Earned Income Tax Credit which is estimated to cost $29 BILLION dollars over the first 10 years in CASH OUTLAYS -- not deferred tax revenues but real cash -- and expands exponentially in years to follow. There are also provisions to forgive or permit the partial payment of past due taxes and the waiver of fees and fines.

I like that Senator Jeff Sessions says we should be encouraging the immigration of SKILLED and educated (at least a high school diploma) individuals that already speak English. He says studies show that those immigrants to America have a vested interest in succeeding here and who, in fact, contribute far more in tax revenues than they draw from system benefits... and conversely, those immigrants with less than a high school education draw 70% more from the system than they pay in. They estimate that 60-70% of all illegal immigrants currently living in the U.S. have less than a high school education and that less than 50% speak English well enough to pass a basic test.
I agree with Sen. Sessions entirely when he says we should strictly control who comes here and in what numbers... and do whatever it takes to make that happen.
And it doesn't appear that there are any penalties for those that remain in the U.S. illegally. And there doesn't appear to be any FUNDING for all these measures... just empty legislation that will permit illegals to stay here -- the one thing that they do now and costs nothing -- no enforcement. Look the other way and let them stay... and everyone will then throw up their hands and blame the other party -- or the liberals or the conservatives... Anything to get a vote and everything to avoid accountability. What they won't have achieved at all is immigration reform.

The Senate is scheduled to vote on this proposed bill tomorrow (Thursday) so feel free to contact your elected representatives... ASAP.
Copyright Some Soldier's Mom 2006. All rights reserved.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

A Bone to Pick With Barnes & Noble

Last night, dear husband and I went off for a round of errands at our local mall. Needed to get some small gifts for our soon to be daughter-in-law and her lovely daughters. Need a dress for the wedding. A local home show to browse through (I really wanted the wood flooring and the newest jacuzzi (sigh)) We also made our pilgrimage through the Barnes & Noble Bookstore. The Hubs likes to browse and I wanted to pick up Home of the Brave.
Since it is a newly released book, I went to the two fairly large "Just Released" tables, but the book wasn't among the 40 or so books displayed on either. So I went to the reference/help desk and asked a college-aged young man who looked the book up, walked me to the "Military History" shelves, and handed me a copy of the book -- shelved at the bottom under the "W" authors.
I said, "I was expecting this to be on the Just Released tables. After all," I continued, "it is a new release." To which he replied in a flippant and somewhat condescending manner, "Welllll, we can't fit all of them up there." To which I immediately and forcefully said (in a quite clearly "I am ticked" voice), "Well, THIS one should be there. It's about the Heroes who are protecting the rights of people to read and write what they want and to keep places like this in business." I didn't wait for a reply, but turned and walked off.
The Hubs and I continued to browse the store for a few more minutes, but I was so piqued by my earlier exchange, I stopped by the reference desk a second time and sought out the store's assistant manager (the store manager not being there on a Saturday evening) and I again voiced my disappointment that a book showcasing the stories of our Heroes while we are still at war is a book that should be front and center in the store. She politely told me that she would relay my request to the store's manager.
As we exited the store, I browsed the display window of the store which contained multiple copies of various newly-released books, but not "Home of the Brave". There was plenty of room to display at least one copy of Weinberger's book. And judging by some of the other crap on the "Just Released" tables, there certainly should have been room for a notable book like it as well.
This was the topic of conversation for the next few minutes between Hubs and me and I decided that with Memorial Day fast approaching, I was going to write a small note to the Barnes & Noble store manager and hand deliver my request that they create a special display of books on the US Military, its Veterans and Heroes in honor of Memorial Day. After all, it is only fitting and appropriate for the reasons I reminded that twit of a clerk: These are the men and women who have fought and continue fighting to this day to preserve our way of life -- including one of our most prized and precious -- our Freedom of speech and expression.
I urge all of you to do the same.
The text of my note is below. Feel free to copy it and use it as your own and deliver it to as many bookstores -- and not just B&N -- in America as you can.
Copyright Some Soldier's Mom 2006. All rights reserved.
To: Manager, Barnes & Noble Bookstore
Recently we were in your store to purchase a copy of the newly-released book "Home of the Brave" by C. Weinberger and W. Hall and were greatly disappointed that the book was not included on the "Just Released" tables in your store. Given that this country is still at war and that this book honors 19 of the most highly decorated soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who have fought in this War on Terror, it seems to us that this book should be prominently displayed in your store. After all, these are the stories of the men and women fighting to protect the rights of people to read and write what they wish and to keep places like your bookstore in business.
We would also like to request that, in light of Memorial Day's fast approach, you develop a display of books that herald and tell the stories of the U.S. military and the brave men and women whose love for America compelled them to serve and continues to compel them to defend freedom each day (with a nod to the dedication from "Home of the Brave").

Thursday, May 18, 2006

"ER" The TV Show: "Twenty-one Guns"

Last week, I wrote that I hoped that the writers and producers of "ER" -- which have shamelessly used the show to promote their anti-war, anti-Bush, anti-America agenda -- would "show the funeral and burial of an American Hero that died in service to his country -- a service for which he VOLUNTEERED and for which he gave his all -- that you might treat the soldier's death with respect and dignity... recognizing the valiant and noble effort of our American warriors." I also lamented that we would probably not hear of any of the good things that our soldiers do or about the atrocities and violence perpetrated by the terrorists and jihadis and just plain criminals in Iraq today.
I was bracing for the worst... thankfully, I was only partially right. None of the accomplishments of the Coalition were mentioned and, of course, none of the bad things by terrorists were highlighted either. I was, however, pretty amazed at the restraint shown at Captain (Dr.) Gallant's military funeral. Not just by the writers, but the scenes of the funeral itself.
First, let me say, that I did find the scenes of the funeral tasteful in that the funeral was not used as a political (i.e., anti-anything) statement. I was certainly and pleasantly surprised that Dr. Pratt told the grieving widow that her husband and others like him feel that they can make a difference in the world and that they feel a need to be part of something bigger than themselves. At one point, the widow questions whether her husband's death was noble, but I took that more as the anger of losing her husband and not a statement about whether the goals in Iraq are noble.
Oddly, my reaction was that there wasn't enough grieving at the funeral. I have only been to one military funeral, but it was about the saddest event I have ever experienced in my life. It wasn't just mournful -- it was gut wrenching and heart wrenching and overwhelming grief, especially for the family. Losing a young man in the prime of his life -- to be torn from the grasp of his young wife, his mother, father, friends.... is not only sad, it is -- in the truest sense of the word -- tragic.
However, in this "ER" episode, at the gravesite, the mother is perfectly coifed and her makeup is impeccable. The widow certainly looked sad, but I don't recall seeing either shed a tear. Not when they are sitting at the burial site, not when they hand the widow the flag from her husband's casket, nor when they give (or attempt to give) the wife the soldier's Purple Heart and another medal (perhaps the Bronze Star). I can't imagine that a wife or a mother could maintain their composure under such circumstances. This event in the life of these women is so horrible, shocking and overwhelming that they should have been shown weeping their eyes out and wailing.... but perhaps I am nitpicking here. I am grateful -- ok, maybe just relieved -- that the death of a soldier wasn't used inappropriately in this instance.
And I knew this woman (the widow) and those that write her part didn't and don't "get it" when she confronts the father (a retired career Army Officer) about how he could have kept his son from going back to Iraq... that he could just have easily convinced Captain Gallant to stay home with the ones that loved him. Note to whoever wrote that dialog: people in the military get orders. They go where they're told. Now, I don't watch "ER" enough so maybe I missed that Dr. Gallant had volunteered for another deployment?? But the real point is: there is nothing anyone can say to a soldier -- to a warrior -- that would convince him to not go when that is where he wants to be.... when that is what he feels compelled to do.
I do "get it". I don't pretend to fully understand it, but I accept it. It is what makes warriors so remarkable. They raise their hands, take the oath and say, "This we will defend."
Copyright Some Soldier's Mom 2006. All rights reserved.

Monday, May 15, 2006

How Do We Treat Our Wounded?

Update: from the father of one of the soldier's in the stories below:

That is a great post and, like you, I believe this should not be a reflection of the Army in general. I think for the most part it involves NCO's and mid-level officers who trust them to do their job.

Our wounded deserve much better and hopefully this will start a change. You blog is very good and anyone who reads your blogs knows that you whole heartily support our Military and their mission.

This is not coming from people who have any desire to embarrass the military. It involves people who love and care for every single military person regardless of branch, ethnic background or religious preference.

I support the mission and the men and women who carry out the mission. I also support our President and hope he stays the course.

As regular readers know, I support our military people and only occasionally point out some absurdity... Sometimes I just choose not to post some things because I'm afraid that they will reflect back on my son or his unit...

I'm hoping the following are isolated instances, but since I publicized Noah receiving his Purple Heart, I have had a number of emails on the treatment our wounded soldiers receive from their own units once they returned.

Names and places have been removed since a number of these soldiers are still active duty...

I read the story on your blog about Noah finally receiving his Purple Heart. Like you, my son was... wounded while serving as a gunner on the lead security vehicle escorting a convoy in western Iraq in Al Anbar Province.

My son had emergency surgery at Balad, Iraq and was then sent to Landstuhl in Germany where he spent a week or so and then on to Walter Reed. We spent several weeks at Walter Reed with our son. It was a really great experience. The medical care was great and he was treated really well and we were also. He could have stayed at Walter Reed until he was medically retired but his unit wanted him back at ______. They promised to take care of him.

I can understand your disappointment about the Purple Heart Ceremony. Our son was awarded the Bronze Star a couple of weeks back. He was on a few days leave and was at home ... He was called by his unit on Saturday and told he needed to be back on Monday because General ______ was going to be presenting him with the Bronze Star Monday. We really wanted to be there, but the time constraints made it impossible. My wife's brother went with my son. He brought our video camera to film the ceremony. As it turned out, the ceremony was conducted by the docks were the [Division's] equipment was being unloaded; this was a restricted area and my wife's brother could not attend the ceremony so if we could have gone we would have been able to attend either.

I was just wondering if your son had any problems after he returned to his unit? My son's unit has been the only place he is not treated very well. My wife and I have been very disappointed with the way he has been treated since returning to [base]. He lost his right eye and has nerve damage in his back and right leg. After his leg had swollen up a couple of weeks ago he went to the emergency room in [base] and they discovered he had a torn ACL and torn quad and both will require surgery. Both happened when he was wounded by an IED a year ago in Iraq.

When his unit returned from Iraq... last year, we were going to go to the welcome home ceremony. Our son called a couple of weeks before his unit returned to tell us neither he nor the other wounded soldiers who were already back would be participating in the welcome home ceremony. They were going to have to guard their equipment at the airport or help unload duffel bags. The lucky wounded soldiers got to escort the family members of returning soldiers to their seats.

Let me give you a couple of examples of what I am talking about. His company commander just recently started a new policy. If you can't do PT you will not be granted any leave time. You are talking about wounded soldiers who will be disabled for the rest of their lives and there is no way they can do PT. They have sacrificed enough and should not be treated in this manner. My son had to be sent back to Walter Reed [in] Dec for another surgery on his eye and after the surgery he was put on 30 days convalescence leave. His company commander refused to let him come home while on convalescent leave. He was having a difficult time. He could not lift anything over 10 pounds until he healed from his surgery which made it very difficult for him. He could not get much help from anyone. This was during the Christmas season and we wanted him home so that we could take care of him while he was healing. I talked to the company commander and it did not do any good. I went up the chain of command, rear detachment, battalion, sergeant major, and then to the rear detachment commander and they would not over rule the company commander. After this, I went to my Senator... and it was not two hours and they decided he could come home, but of course he had to pay a price for this after he got back off leave.

We had a wonderful Christmas holiday -- maybe the best ever. It was great to have our son home and things are finally starting to get back to normal. It has been enough stress on us without having to worry about him being treated right at his unit. I hope this is an isolated incident but my son is telling me the other wounded soldiers from his unit are treated in the same manner.

My son has told me that the soldiers on medical hold at [base] had to do tasks for Rear-D... These men and women face an uncertain future with the disabilities that they acquired on the battlefield and they don't need to be degraded and treated like second class citizens as they struggle to get their lives back together.

The support our son has received from our local community has been outstanding. Our elected officials have been very supportive also, but if anyone should understand it should be those they serve with. I don't quite understand why this in going on.

I don't mind you doing a blind post just please don't use any names that can be traced back to my son. I have had to intervene a couple of times for my son and his unit did not take it well. Something needs to be done to insure that these men and women are treated at least equal with the other soldiers.

My son has decided that he is not going to have surgery on the ACL or the quad until he gets out. He was told that if he has the surgery now it will be a six month recovery and it will delay his medical retirement. He should get out in the next couple of months. He is going through the process now but it takes time.

It took my son a year to get the Bronze Star. He has not had an official ceremony for the Purple Heart [it was pinned to his pillow in the hospital in Balad] and I don't think it is going to happen. He thought he was going to receive both from General ______, but it was only the Bronze Star. A couple of other soldiers participating did get the Purple Heart pinned by General ______. I have attached a picture of the ceremony. You would think it could have happened at a much better location and with more fanfare than this. He was honored to get it nonetheless.

My son has several permenant injuries and like your son has profound hearing loss. He has to wear hearing aids in both ears. He is still adjusting to his limited vision. He is a little worried about getting a job when he gets out. He does not think many employers will want to hire someone with his disabilites, but I don't think he will have a problem. He should get a decent disability check and will still be able to work a job or go back to school.

My wife and I have talked about documenting our experience and send it to the Armed Service Committee of the Senate after he gets out. Maybe this will help future wounded soldiers who deserve better than they are getting.
Let me also say that [my son's] injuries were about the same as your son's. While they did require that he be returned home because of his limited mobility (which could have gotten himself or others killed), he has recovered -- only occasionally having flare ups of pain and, of course, his hearing will never be the same.

In my opinion, [our son] was treated "badly" when he returned to his unit -- although [our son] says that's just the way the Army works. First, they assigned him to the barracks that [his Division] had inhabited before they went to Iraq. The rooms had not been cleaned since the [unit] left nine months before. There was mold EVERYWHERE in the bathroom and shower. The rugs were covered in human waste and were so vile... there were bugs in the storage drawers under the bed. The mattress on the bed had every type of bodily fluid on it you can imagine. Since the supply officers/staff were in Iraq, he couldn't get bed linens unless he went to the OTHER side of the base -- and he had no transportation... so he laid the few pieces of Army clothing he had (which had been issued to him in Germany) on the mattress and was sleeping on those. He was told that the Rear Detachment was only responsible to get him to/from his medical appointments at the base hospital. He couldn't even get to the PX to get cleaning supplies. And he had 5 or 6 other soldiers living in the barracks -- all of them awaiting courts martial or dishonorable discharge!

A few weeks after he returned to [his base], he was assigned to the Rear Detachment. At first, they wanted him to go to the "field" detachment -- putting up fencing, mowing lawns, etc., but he spoke with his doctor who put the cabash on that since [our son] had head, neck and spinal injuries and lifting and hard labor was out of the question. There were days he could hardly walk! From his descriptions, it sounded like the Rear Detachment people were angry with our son for getting wounded... like it was his fault and they resented him for that!

I was extremely angry that anyone would even suggest that this was how we "rewarded" our wounded. So they gave him a desk job. When he was put on administrative duty, he was the one that worked every weekend and holiday because he didn't have any family there at [the base]. This included Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks when everyone else got time off (10 days at Christmas!) The only guys left at Rear-D were [our son] and two other wounded soldiers (and, of course, the people who lived at/near [the base] -- and they only occasionally worked 1/2 days so that they didn't get charged with any "time off".)

When he got his 30 day convalescent leave when he returned to [the base], they told him it was completely separate from the "end of tour" leave the [Division] had earned and would get, so he took the leave and came to visit his family because he just needed to be 20 years old again. He planned to do a "road trip" with his buddies once the rest of his unit got back from Iraq. Low and behold, when it came time for the end of tour leave, [our son] was told at the very last minute that he had to stay behind and man the Rear-D while everyone else went off. Although he was fit to return to his unit when it returned from Iraq, they kept him in the Rear D for a number of months so that everyone else could take their leave. He just recently returned to his unit. Our son isn't bothered so much by this as his father and I are... he says that's just the way the Army works.

[After he was injured by an IED in Iraq] [my son] was in Germany for 4 days and then at WR for 2 weeks. They were very good at WR, kept me very informed of what was going on with him, but of course I was sitting there day in & day out in his room so they almost had to *L* He's doing very well now, he is at [base] on Med Hold and anticipating a medical discharge. His unit just returned home from Iraq... & they're all at [base], but will probably move, he'll stay there because of the med hold.

My experience with the medical community is that they are slow to do anything. While we were at WR they were wonderful and I'm still getting calls from there, people checking up on [son], but at [base] they are slow and I'm not sure if that's how it is for everyone or if my [son] just doesn't push them. He's been there since December... 2 weeks ago they finally started physical therapy for his shoulder which was hurt in S. Korea, 2 months before he went to Iraq.

And just last week saw an orthopedic doc for the wounds received in his shoulder/shoulder blade in Iraq. He has had a floating rib and has yet to see a specialist for that, the day he had an appt. they called and cancelled his appt. and told him that the Doc was going to be gone for 4 months and he'd have to wait till the doc got back. So he has never seen anyone for that rib. I'm pretty sure there are more specialists in [that state] than just the one, so I'm not understanding the wait.

Also they are very quick to prescribe. [Son] has been diagnosed with PTSD, which 95% of the wounded there with him have also been diagnosed with. When I visited him in March I was shocked at the pill bottles lining his desk: morphine, anti-depressants, anti-psycotics, take 4 a day, take 2 a day, blah blah blah. He doesn't take all of them, but he has some buddies there that have od'd on them because they live in the barracks and there is no one really keeping an eye on them with all of this medication. It's very frightening to me. It seems like they're not treating the PTSD, but just giving drugs. So when he gets home, then what? I sure don't know.

As I said, [my son's] treatment might be just because he doesn't push. And with him being an "adult" Mom can't call and get any info from the docs or demand that things get done. I don't want to scare you, wherever Noah ends up is going to be different, I'm sure. I think the best thing he can do is to be very proactive in his treatment, the squeeky wheel gets the grease type of thing. [My son] is not a very aggressive person so he gets left behind I think.

I would advise when Noah gets his medical records to make several copies, keep some at home and send some with him. Those records have a way of getting lost when given to the COs for some reason. Also, I don't know if Noah will be eligible for a medical discharge, but the paper work he fills out for that should be copied; they've lost [son's] twice now and luckily he had made copies before he turned them in the first time. I think all of this is due to his commanding officer, not medical personnel. They have a very poor CO there, who seems to resent the boys who are wounded for some reason...

As soon as [son] gets his discharge and can't get into trouble I am calling his CO and telling him how I feel about his treatment of these guys & it's not going to be pretty *L*

Well, I have written a book here & I hope I have not discouraged you. I think it all depends on where these boys end up for their rehab & treatment. I really don't think that [son's base] was equipped to work with these boys and are doing the best they can. Just make sure that Noah is very involved with his treatment, I think that's the key.

Thanks so much for responding and asking about [son]. It's been almost a year since he was wounded, but it still stops my heart when I think about almost losing him, like it just happened yesterday. I hope I've been some help here & please feel free to write anytime and ask anything, I'll be as helpful as I can be.

I hope these are truly isolated incidents... If people prefer not to leave incidents in the comments and/or to have the incident reported completely anonymously, you can email me (see my profile).

Copyright Some Soldier's Mom 2006. All rights reserved.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

What I Want for Mother's Day

I have been thinking a lot about the moms who had sons in Noah's unit that were killed during their deployment this last year. I have corresponded with a few of them over these last months, but don't know quite what to say to them as Mother's Day looms. My heart aches with grief for all the mothers who have lost a child in this war. American. Italian. Polish. Canadian. Iraqi. I'm not sure I would ever be able to celebrate Mother's Day again if any of our children died. It just would not be the same.

I mentioned to my girlfriend Ella over lunch yesterday about how my whole perspective on life changed once Noah went to Iraq... and how nearly losing him put my own mortality into perspective. How it crystallized and intensified my love for my children (which I thought impossible for I love my children more than my own life!) When I mentioned that it would be impossible to celebrate Mother's Day if I lost any of my children, she said how that might be unfair to my other children.

Many of the mothers that lost sons or daughters in Afghanistan and Iraq have other children. But how can I wish them a Happy Mother's Day? I know it won't be. I know that they will be thinking of their sons and daughters not with them. Of course, that's my motherly perspective. I am reminded of a story -- an analogy -- I heard many years ago about a mother grieving the loss of one of her ten children. A man told her how lucky she was that she still had nine children left. To which she replied, "Well, you have ten fingers. Which one would you be willing to have cut off?" When he looked at her aghast, she continued, "After all, you would still have 9..."
This year Mother's Day has a whole new meaning for me. Last year, I got flowers from each of the children, including flowers from Noah while in Iraq (isn't the internet a wonderful thing??) But having had to face his mortality for the second time in his short life, I count myself incredibly lucky this year to be celebrating another Mother's Day with all of my children (although none will be here in Arizona with us.)
There should be Mother's Day. We should celebrate the love and sacrifice of our mothers. However, if I were a Gold Star Mother, I'm not sure I could celebrate. Not in the traditional sense anyway. I send my heartfelt sympathy to the mothers of our fallen heroes this Mother's Day. In all honesty, the thought of these women losing their children makes me cry. There are no words that will heal that wound. But to those mothers, I say "We honor you and your children."
And to those mothers who have children in harm's way this Mother's Day, know that we are thinking of you... I know exactly what that's like and have described the whole "worrying and waiting to hear" as a constant mental asthma attack -- gasping for any news, any word... to have an IM, to hear their voice, to get a letter or an email. Know that we salute you this Mother's Day and stand with you.
I have guilty twinges celebrating Mother's Day when I know that these women mourn and that these women wait. In the past, I really felt a part of Mother's Day -- it was my day after all. I don't feel all that important this Mother's Day and all I really want is to talk with each of my children tomorrow... to hear their voices. To have them say that they love me. It's all I'll ever want for Mother's Day from now on. I am so grateful to have them here with me.

Last year I extended my wishes for the mothers of Iraq, and those wishes still hold true. I want a better life for their children. But added to that, this year I am wishing for all mothers of America's soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines that this is the last Mother's Day any of our children needs to be in Iraq or Afghanistan or any place someone is shooting at them. I know that's all probably pie in the sky given all the madmen still on the loose and all the tribal, ethnic, religious and other fighting going on in the world, but I wish it any way. I want my children -- sailor and soldier, medical student and American worker -- to be safe and living in peace every Mother's Day from now on. What I want for Mother's Day... Peace.

Copyright Some Soldier's Mom 2006. All rights reserved.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Dear "ER" (the TV show)

Dear ER,

Tonight on your episode you showed the death of soldiers in Iraq in furtherance of your story line. You also showed the Casualty Assistance Officer and the Chaplin telling the widow of the soldier (a doctor) killed by the IED.

You also gratuitously showed two characters "go off" on the war in Iraq. One was in the midst of a psychotic episode as he assailed the CAO and Chaplin about the bushitler and cheneyhaliburton war machine... while the other character, raging out in anger at the death of his friend, spews something like, "Yeah, that's what America does best: war and prisons."

I was actually surprised to see the farewell video made by the soldier to his wife in which he tells her that he needed to go back to Iraq even though his wife didn't agree with his decision to go. Unfortunately, you missed the opportunity to tell WHY that soldier -- why our soldiers -- feel the need to "go back". About how they SEE the progress and good they do there.
So, "ER", I know it's probably asking too much that in your next (and season-ending) episode when you show the funeral and burial of an American Hero that died in service to his country -- a service for which he VOLUNTEERED and for which he gave his all -- that you might treat the soldier's death with respect and dignity... recognizing the valiant and noble effort of our American warriors. If you want to know what the funeral of a hero is like, you can read about The Funeral of SPC Tommy Byrd. I can probably count on there being no mention of the schools rebuilt, of the hospitals equipped, of the women and young girls no longer raped in Iraq's rape rooms, of the democratic elections and the adoption of a constitution. There will for sure be no mention of the murders of Iraqi civilians, of Iraqi forces, of elected officials by terrorists. Of course, there will be no mention of these things -- the things for which the soldier character on the show gave his life -- and for which real soldiers in real life give their lives. No, I guess I won't count on seeing those things or any mention of the good that has happened.
But it would be good for the writers, producers, et al. to remember that they speak English and not German or Japanese because "we do war so well"... and it's a given that when one of their Hummers or Ferraris or whatever vehicle they drive is stolen... or when someone holds a gun in their face... or stalks them... or threatens their families... I'm certain they would be thankful for the prisons then.
Yup... we do wars and prisons well. Also free speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, the right to bear arms... Yup, we do those well, too. I'd ask them not to forget it... nor forget the soldiers that defend those rights and freedoms. And occasionally they ought to mention them AND THEIR MISSION with honor and respect in their television show.
Copyright Some Soldier's Mom 2006. All rights reserved.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Movies and Books

United 93

We saw the movie “United 93” the other evening. Every American should see it. It should be shown in schools. I think people need to see that film. They need to put a face to jihadists. To the crazy people who are trying to [alternately] rule or destroy the world.

I had an interesting physical response to the movie. Of course, like everyone else, I knew how the story ended. I knew what happened on the plane. But from the minute the film began, my palms were sweaty, my heart raced and I found myself holding my breath at various points in the movie. Tears filled my eyes when the planes hit the WTC and I felt like I did that day in Manhattan waiting for the next plane to hit... the next shoe to drop. I thought, man, if I feel like this early in the film, how the heck am I going to endure the latter scenes that had been described as intense and overwhelming? With my hand firmly wrapped around the hubby's arm and a few deep breaths, I got through it.

If you have hesitated to see the film, I urge you to see it. It is riveting and well done. Yes, it is emotional and intense, but only in its unflinching portrayal of the things that went wrong... and the things that went right. I hope that we have now gotten it all right. As I told my husband, it will never happen again. I don’t think Americans will ever stand for it. If they think they might, then they need to see this movie.

As an aside, after I saw
this story, I’m pretty sure I’m right about Americans never letting it happen again…

Go see “United 93”.
One Drop of Blood, by Thomas Holland
Someone was nice enough to send me a copy of this book. I had mentioned in a blog post or two that I'm a fan of a number of authors that write forensic/coroner type mystery novels.
Holland is the scientific director of the DoD Central Identification Laboratory. CIL is responsible for, among other things, identifying all US war dead from the battlefields old and new around the world. It's a good first effort at drawing the reader into the world of such a daunting task as he tells the mystery of one set of remains from Vietnam and the Arkansas family of the lost soldier. In the process of making my way through this story, I now have a much better understanding of the classification and identification of mitochondrial DNA than I thought possible.
I hope Mr. Holland's next book is the real-life story of identifying the remains he has been called upon to identify at his lab. I'd love to hear the heroes' stories from the lab and from the survivors.
Copyright Some Soldier's Mom 2006. All rights reserved.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Can it be?

Trying not to read too much into this, but can it be? I'm just waiting to hear all the naysayers start claiming that they are the reason for the drawdown. So let me remind them right now that the President has said from the beginning, when the Iraqis stand up, we'll stand down.
DoD Announces Adjustment to Iraq Deployment

The Department of Defense announced today that the 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, based in Schweinfurt, Germany, will not begin its deployment to Iraq in early May as scheduled.

Additional information about this unit, to include its revised deployment date in the rotation plan, will be announced as decisions are made.

The adjustment to the unit’s deployment was made as commanders assess the security situation on the ground in Iraq. Decisions about troop levels are conditions-based. In consultation with the Iraqi Government, commanders continue to assess the situation to ensure sufficient force levels to best support the Iraqi government.

This decision affects approximately 3,500 U.S. active duty soldiers and their families, but in the near-term will not affect the current number of U.S. troops in Iraq, which is numbering approximately 133,000.

The Coalition remains committed to assisting the Iraqi people while their democratically elected leaders establish a national government and create conditions for greater security. Iraqi Security Forces continue to develop capability and assume responsibility for security in Iraq. To date, there are more than 254,000 trained and equipped Iraqi Security Forces.
Dear God (by whatever name you call Him), Please bring peace to our world. Protect our military and bring strength and courage to them and their families. Amen.
Copyright Some Soldier's Mom 2006. All rights reserved.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

The Best That He Can Be

My mother-in-law was over for dinner the other night. While we prepared for dessert, she was looking at pictures of her grandkids. When looking at a picture of Noah taken while he was in Iraq, she noted how menacing the gun he was holding looked. As if his gun alone wasn’t large enough, the one Noah was holding had some sort of grenade launcher on it. This led to a short conversation about how, as a mother, I walk that funny line when your child is learning skills you just never imagined he or she would.

I remember when Noah went to Airborne school. He was 18 years old. He’d been in the Army just five months. Dad, the Navy pilot, lovingly joked that only two things fell from the sky: bird poo and Army guys. Having seen the jump towers at Fort Benning, I had minor palpitations when Noah called to say that he had gone off the tower that day. I believe my heart skipped a beat when he called me minutes after his first jump from a plane and said excitedly, “I can not believe you didn’t want to jump out of airplanes!!” and then proceeded to describe the jump. It helped somewhat that he called me after the jump was complete and I knew he was OK… My instinctive immediate response was something like, “Good job, Son!!” However, as his Dad and I observed later, it was just six months prior that we had routinely discouraged him from driving from our suburban New York home to the neighboring community of Paramus, New Jersey because we thought the drive on Route 17 was too dangerous!! Everything is relative, I guess.

It was the same for me as Noah went through advanced weapons training. Some parents might actually be at a loss for words when their child called to tell them that they had qualified (hmmm, I forgot what the ranking was -- sorry Noah) on the grenade launcher… or the .50 caliber gun… Of course, you’re very proud and so you say, “Way to go!!” or “Excellent!” or some other encouraging and congratulatory words the same as when he got a hit in a Little League game. Later I would have these thoughts about how weird it was that I was congratulating my son on jumping from planes and shooting grenade launchers.

When he was at Airborne, my “mama‑reasoning” said it should take longer than six weeks to teach them to jump out of planes. I worried that when they went to Joint Readiness Training whether they were training enough and getting the right kind of training. Having now been through his first deployment, I worry that perhaps there is no level of training that can prepare them for the realities of war. I know with every part of me that there is no level of training that they can give soldiers that will satisfy their parents while their child is at war. Be that as it may, I've actually come to accept over the last few years that I want my son to be the best that he can be -- not because I believe that silly slogan, but because it means he is acquiring skills that will save his life.

Noah has recently taken some specialized training (which he doesn’t want me to blog about) and he is scheduled to go to some other highly specialized training in the next few weeks (which he has also asked that I not blog about.) (Note to son: I have a blog about being a soldier’s mom. Tell me something I CAN blog about… Sheesh!) I hate the nature of the training he’ll be doing: It’s dangerous stuff. He could get hurt just training. And I want him to do well -- to be the best -- but I also know that if he completes this training it will put him further up on the point of the spear… closer to danger the next deployment. That’s another one of those double-edged situations: on the one hand, we’re proud and pleased that he is ambitious and wants to get ahead and do bigger things and get better at his job. On the other hand, why couldn’t he just be satisfied to be “just one of the guys” and let someone else do it? [Sigh.] He tells me regularly, “I’m a soldier. I like my job. I’m good at it.” And he reminds me regularly, “Didn’t you and Dad always tell me to find a job I like doing and do it well?” Well, yes. [Sigh.] Why don’t children remind you of these things when they have decided to be, oh, an accountant or something?

I know you’re not starting this training for a little while yet, son, and I know we don’t have to tell you to do well. Ask questions. Learn everything. Be the best that you can be.

Copyright 2006 Some Soldier's Mom. All rights reserved.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

LT DAN!! LT DAN!! (Thanks, Gary Sinise!!)

Update via the wonderful Greyhawk at The Mudville Gazette, here's a video of the Lt. Dan Band playing at the Pentagon kickoff of Military Appreciation Month.
Gary Sinise and his Lt. Dan Band Help DoD
Kick Off Military Appreciation Month

Actor and director Gary Sinise and his Lt. Dan Band will perform during an afternoon concert at the Pentagon beginning at noon, Friday, May 5, helping the Departement of Defense’s “America Supports You” program kick off Military Appreciation Month.

“America Supports You” is an ongoing nationwide initiative that showcases and communicates America’s support for the men and women of the Armed Forces. Since its launch in November 2004 by DoD, the “America Supports You” program has welcomed more than 200 grassroots organizations and more than 20 corporate sponsers to its team. Twenty-seven of those groups will be attendance at the concert. For a complete list of the groups attending the concert, please visit HERE:

Renowned for his role as Lt. Dan in the movie “Forrest Gump,” Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band have performed USO concerts for military men and women at American military bases across the United States and throughout Europe. Gary Sinise recently returned from a trip visiting the troops in Afghanistan.

Other Military Appreciation Month events “America Supports You” will be highlighting are the Joint Open House at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., May 19-20; New York City Fleet Week in New York City, N.Y., May 23-29; and the Indianapolis 500 in Indianapolis, Ind., May 29.

Many “America Supports You” team members support the troops through letter writing, care packages, helping the wounded when they return home, assisting military families, sending an email or kind gestures. To learn more about how you can support military personnel, please visit America Supports You site.

Monday, May 01, 2006


I thought I was pretty staunch about illegal immigration reform until this past winter when the 25 year old son of a friend -- a veteran -- lost his job to an illegal alien who was willing to work landscaping for 1/2 the going wage, with no overtime, no benefits. And when he couldn't find another job, he went to welfare and was told that he was a white, American-born, English speaking male, without ten kids to support -- AND HE DIDN"T QUALIFY. That young man just about starved to death this winter. So much for taking jobs Americans don't want. This incident made me unwavering. And as long as illegals will work for "nothing" they will remain second class, uneducated and poor in America.
From an American citizen whose grandparents and great gandparents were immigrants -- LEGAL immigrants -- who is tired of illegal immigrants (forget that "undocumented worker" crap) tell us that they are entitled to be here:





Everyone keeps complaining that it would be too costly to deport 11+ million illegals. I say, they got here on their own and at their own expense and they can leave the same way. Why should American citizens and LEGAL immigrants pay for illegal behavior? Give them 90 or 180 days to get their affairs in order -- including documentation from American employers -- and go home. Then you are ENTITLED to put your name on a list and ASK PERMISSION to come and live and work in America. You can live in the country of your birth until background and health checks are conducted. Those that held jobs here would have priority to return. If you are illegal and are caught in the U.S. after the 90 day period, you get your butt deported and your name on a list that you can NEVER seek residency or a work permit here.
I feel strongly about this. No amnesty. No special treatment because they broke the law. And I don't care how long ago you broke the law and how many kids you've popped while you were here. No more free schooling. No more free medical benefits. No more free welfare. No more signs in Spanish. Learn English, and I don't think I should have to pay for it. No one taught my grandparents English in schools when they came here as adults nor did anyone offer lessons in schools. They had other immigrants that spoke English teach them on their own time at their own expense. It's the price -- and the priviledge -- of being in America.
Yes, immigration must be reformed -- but only immigration enforcement. Enforce the laws we have now and BUILD THE WALL. When that is done, we can talk "reform".
Now, I'm going out shopping and spending like there is no tomorrow! Boycott my a$$. This is MY little demonstration in support of OUR immigration laws. You don't like those laws? LEAVE. THERE'S THE DOOR. ADIOS.
Copyright 2006 Some Soldier's Mom. All rights reserved.