My Brush with the State of the Union
I arrived at the prescribed time, I put my earpiece in, got the microphone clipped to my sweater and the cord appropriately hidden. The New York producer and the director (or tech guy??) both spoke in my ear and I did the microphone test... 1, 2, 3, 4... 10, 9, 8, 7. I sat listening to the broadcasts and news feeds in my ear for a good 20 minutes, including a few on-air promos of the upcoming interview “with two military moms with their take on the President's State of the Union Address,” as well as the two lead-in interviews with two of ABC's female political reporters -- one in New York and one in D.C.
OK, we're on. With us from Phoenix is Carla... who's son Noah is with the 3rd Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division and who was injured [note to journalists: injured is when you sprain your ankle on your morning run… WOUNDED… when you are injured in battle, it is wounded] his first deployment to Iraq and is about to head back in the next few months... and Ann Roesler (I honestly didn’t catch the name at the time) from San Francisco whose son Michael served three tours of duty in Iraq with the 82nd Airborne but has been honorably discharged from the Army because he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. Anne joins us from San Francisco. [I actually am thinking at this point, 3 deployments? I wonder if he’s a Marine? Except for at least oneNavy Doc I know and the Marines, no one I have heard has done a third rotation through Iraq... 3ID is about to be the first Army Division to do a 3rd tour…. But she said 82nd Airborne…]
“Thanks for being with us today… thank you for having me.
The anchor Juju Chang throws the first question to the other mom. I know your son is suffering from PTSD… give me a sense of what you think caused it [huh? What caused it?] so this mother goes on to say that it was because her son was deployed to a war he didn’t believe in, that he didn’t know what his mission was except to stay alive… and no down time between deployments… 4 months between 1st & second deployments, 7 months between 2nd & 3rd deployments… and no treatment when he got home… he (her son) believes that the risk from terrorists has been increased as does the majority of the American public and it’s time to de-fund this war.
I'm thinking, Great. I have Hillary or Nancy in the other chair! Close. Turns out it was Barbara Boxer’s friend, Anne Roesler (I have a picture of the two together but blogger doesn't want to upload photos today), (thanks MaryAnn for the heads up!) not to mentionNancy Pelosi’s darling. While there was a small legend that appeared and quickly disappeared under Ms. Roesler’s picture, turns out that Anne Roesler is no ordinary, average “military mom”, but a practiced anti-war speaker and writer -- AND HAS BEEN SINCE BEFORE THE WAR ACTUALLY BEGAN. And -- as it turns out -- not just any anti‑war speaker, but a member of Military Families Speak Out, a contributor at MichaelMoore.com… a friend of Ms Sheehan… and she’s also a spokesperson for United for Peace & Justice. She’s even been honored as a “social activist” by the Communist Party.
And she keeps such fine company… this from aSeptember 2005 Austin (TX) Chronicle story:
Saturday, however, Sheehan was in good company, sharing the mic with Rep. Cynthia McKinney, D-Ga., Rep. Lynne Woolsey, D-Calif., Former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, and others unafraid of opposing the administration's policies. Anne Roesler of Military Families Speak Out was also present to share a message from the battlefield.
And what’s the “message from the battlefield”
Anne Roesler of Military Families Speak Out was also present to share a message from the battlefield. "My son says that every single time he goes back, the chaos is worse," said Roesler, whose son is a staff sergeant in the 82nd Airborne Division in Iraq. "He fired more rounds and killed more Iraqis in the second deployment than he did in the entire first year that he was there during the invasion, and he doesn't want the job. He'd love to be able to give his two-week notice."
Let’s get this straight right here. I do not begrudge Ms. Roesler her opinion… but she should have made her affiliations known to the show, and if she did, then the show should have made those affiliations known both to me and to the audience.
For the record, I am not a member or a representative of any pro- or anti- war organizations nor am I a member of any political party or a spokesperson for any. I am a retired person who happens to have a son actually still in the military and about to deploy. I write this blog but I don't make any money on it.
Just a few observations… Anne, your son has PTSD because he went to war… the stress of battle. And you above all people -- with a BA in psychology… a
How do I know this? My son also suffers from severe PTSD. Severe. He has been hospitalized for it. He had the opportunity to be discharged from the Army, but he chose to stay in. He still suffers from PTSD… he always will… it is a long road.
But because he has PTSD, I know from personal experience that if a soldier remains untreated for PTSD ("and no treatment when he got back"), it is the soldier’s choice. Not all commands make it easy to receive treatment, but it is there. It is available. And yes, PTSD is a raging problem in the military and among veterans and it will continue to be. It does require the attention of the military and the Congress to be sure that every dollar and resource needed to treat our military -- active or veteran -- for the ravages of PTSD are available. Starting now.
None of the men and women we send to war come back the same, Anne. If they did, they would be inhuman. My son is not the same, and I know (and his wife knows) that he will again be changed by his next tour.
Ms. Roesler’s son was a Staff Sgt. (that’s E-6) -- tells me he was in longer than just 4 years. He enlisted. He volunteered. So I question: he was a Staff Sgt. and he didn’t know what his mission was?? And as I told my son the night before he deployed, “I know the Army has its mission and I know your unit has one, too. But your mission is to come home safe. If it’s you or them, make it them.”
Addendum: And as for all those military people and generals that you said didn't want more troops, you should actually read what Greyhawk points out about how all the generals who didn't agree with Bush's handling of the war didn't agree because they wanted more troops, more money and more time... Heh. Be sure to read it at Mudville/Milblogs.
Again, I do not begrudge Ms. Roesler her opinion… but she and the show should have made her affiliations known.
The interview experience was an interesting one. I did send a note of thanks and appreciation to the producer for the opportunity to appear on the show although I wonder whether she was aware of Ms. Roesler’s background (other than calling herself a “member” of MFSO) when they put her on the air or whether they just kept that from me? Other than this little detail, K really was very nice and very professional in all our dealings.
In discussing the experience on the drive back and over breakfast, I laughed and said to the DH that I wasn’t really aware in advance that I was going to have to defend the President’s plan in advance of the SOTU; he suggested that since we have both felt that the President and his staff have done a piss-poor job of explaining the strategy’s elements to the people and the local, regional and global consequences of withdrawal ("in short order" I believe the response said) -- something the “let’s get out” people and Ms. Roesler aren’t discussing to their shame -- maybe we should send a copy of the tape to Tony Snow in case he’s looking for new staff?? (We laughed at that one.)
Call me the eternal optimist, but I do believe that this country still has the opportunity to help stabilize Iraq and leave it with a fighting chance to stand on its own -- able to defend and sustain itself. Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that do not work.” (and he kept trying until that dang lightbulb worked.) That’s the way I see this new strategy.
Here’s the link to the video of yesterday’s interview. It may require a subscription to view, but note that there is a free 30-day trial subscription available http://abcnews.go.com/Video/ And my voice isn't that husky... there was a problem with my microphone which is a part of the reason (they tell me) that Ms. Roesler was allowed to go on at length while the tech guy adjusted it...
I don't know how I dropped this part -- thanks Greyhawk -- the video ends with a wonderful and heartfelt piece by Soldiers' Angel Sara Ehrlich... a story about why this Angel (and all Angels!) do what they do. Be sure to watch it!
Copyright Some Soldier's Mom 2007. All rights reserved.