color: SOME SOLDIER'S MOM: My Brush with the State of the Union

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

My Brush with the State of the Union

In advance of the President's State of the Union Address, I was invited to be a guest for a 7-9 minute segment on a show called "Top Priority" (a show on "women's issues") on ABC's News Now -- their live and OnDemand broadband news outlet. According to the show's producer, I was being invited to discuss one of the biggest issues facing our nation -- Iraq -- as the President prepared for his State of the Union Address. They were looking forward to hearing about my experiences as the mother of a soldier and how I felt about the situation in Iraq. It was being anchored from New York and I would be in the ABC studio in Phoenix.

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 one Navy 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 mention Nancy 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… 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 a September 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
psychology instructor and an assistant professor at San Jose State ‑‑ know or should know that better than anyone. To use his PTSD to promote your anti-war views is shameful. Here’s a news flash, Anne: it happens even to soldiers who believe in the mission.

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 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.


At 1/24/2007 3:35 PM , Blogger MaryAnn said...

What media bias???

At 1/24/2007 4:10 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you have been very gracious about your interview. They certainly knew who this other "mom" was.. Someone had to contact her or get some background on her before they invited her to
be a part of the interview. I find it more than a little suspect that you didn't have equal time.
OH YEAH, I forgot, there were technical difficulties...
Thank you for representing us Army Moms who just want to support our troops and don't have personal agendas.

At 1/24/2007 4:22 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The comment was posted by Robin from Soldiers Angels. Didn't mean to be leave my name out.

At 1/24/2007 5:36 PM , Blogger Greyhawk said...

#1: Great picture of Noah.

The video is available free. If it doesn't launch from the link, go to the main ABC page ( and enter "Military Moms Discuss War in Iraq" in the search window. It will launch from the video results list that will appear on the right side of the resulting page. (You'll also find some other reports on "military moms" - it's a running theme.)

You did a fine job, but you were indeed set up against a practiced political pundit with prepared talking points - and held your own just fine.

Small thing I noticed, your "counter-intuitive" remark was interrupted with a request for clarification. Unfortunately, Ms. Roesler's idea that the US owes Iraq reparations - but that we can't fix the country militarily and must withdraw now - was allowed to stand without any additional clarification whatsoever. I'd really like to hear the details on exactly how that's going to work.

One explanation for the different treatment might be that the reporter was listening to you and ignoring her, of course.

After your segment ends the piece concludes with a great look at Soldier's Angels, and that's awesome.

At 1/24/2007 8:38 PM , Blogger GI Korea said...

I had no problems accessing the video the link worked fine. You did very well despite clearly having the deck stacked against you. I have to agree with you and Greyhawk that there was plenty of holes in what Roesler was saying that should have been clarified by the commentator.

At 1/24/2007 10:20 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fantastic job, Mom. Thanks for keeping AZ safe for me!

At 1/25/2007 7:43 AM , Blogger Soldiers Angels said...

you talk,
you were articulate and I was so proud of you.
Forget the other one,
she lied all the away around.
No wonder her hero son has PSTD,
she is not healing him. When a family works with their war hero,
and loves them and VALIDATES what they had to do, heores WILL HEAL.
Her words aid and abet the enemy!
Good mother award would not go to that traitor.

At 1/25/2007 8:46 AM , Blogger Rachelle Jones said...

said as always, you were gracious, and intelligent. While watching the interview here, it made my heart hurt.

ABC knew who she was, and that is a shame they did announce her as being a henchman for Michael Moore.

I am proud that you represented my views.

Continue to fight the good fight. And that Noah is handsome....

At 1/25/2007 11:54 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I fully understand her being upset over her son having issues....but apparently he had time to get help when he got back the last time, so what changed? My problem with her is her using it for a political agenda, it makes me sick!

I think you were gracious and composed in presenting your points, in what little time you were given. You were definitely set up and that too makes me angry. The media just loves to show America a one sided version of everything to orchestrate how they want them to see it. 'media brainwashing' at it's finest. I truely think America has lost all ability to form an opinion without the media drawing them a plan!

I am a grateful to your son and his family for the sacrifices that he continues to make. From the spouse of a deployed soldier from 3d ID, I thank you.

At 1/25/2007 11:55 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I fully understand her being upset over her son having issues....but apparently he had time to get help when he got back the last time, so what changed? My problem with her is her using it for a political agenda, it makes me sick!

I think you were gracious and composed in presenting your points, in what little time you were given. You were definitely set up and that too makes me angry. The media just loves to show America a one sided version of everything to orchestrate how they want them to see it. 'media brainwashing' at it's finest. I truely think America has lost all ability to form an opinion without the media drawing them a plan!

I am a grateful to your son and his family for the sacrifices that he continues to make. From the spouse of a deployed soldier from 3d ID, I thank you.

At 1/25/2007 11:56 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know why it posted twice, sorry!

At 1/25/2007 12:23 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a spouse delurking to tell you I love your blog and what you stand for.

Many thanks to your son for his service as well as the rest of our troops and their families.

At 1/26/2007 7:14 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

So proud of you!!!

At 1/26/2007 9:05 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, you did a GREAT job!!!! (hugs) Very proud of you... way to go.

At 1/27/2007 7:58 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You were definitely set up and ABC knew all about Ms. Roelser. Pathetic is what I consider our MSM these days. Thanks for standing up for many of us Military Moms out here. You did a great job.

At 1/27/2007 5:15 PM , Blogger Military Mom said...

You did wonderfully. You showed your love for your son and his position - supporting him and his fellow soldiers.
You make me and other military moms proud :) Well done.

At 1/29/2007 4:34 AM , Blogger Call Me Grandma said...

We knew you could do it.
Good job Mom!

At 1/29/2007 5:35 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh where do I start?
First, you were exceptional (as usual) in saying what you did. Thank you!
All I can say about the other mother is no wonder her son still has problems ~ and how's she is milking it is so sad for him.
Interesting too, the airtime differential between the two of you...
is Noah at Ft Stewart now?? That's where my daughter is.

At 1/30/2007 10:43 AM , Blogger Monica said...

I'm delurking. I've long admired your blog. I have to speak up now but I'm not sure if my comment will be allowed to stand.

You're right. There ARE soldiers who suffer from PTSD who believe in their mission. My son was one of them. But I don't think it makes us bad moms or "moms" as some of the commenters put it because we want what our children rightfully deserve. I have to fight to get my son counseling. I have to fight to prove his service in spite of a DD214 and his medals. I have to fight for help dealing with his dream: being in a hummer with insurgents in front of him, the Tigris on one side, innocent Iraqis on the other and HIS LITTLE BROTHER AND SISTER in there. That's a nightmare. His two realities merging.

I think it's sad that moms who fight for their sons and daughters living with PTSD are seen as the enemy and called names. I don't have a personal agenda. I'm not making money off this war. I'm certainly not making television appearances to promote a book about it. Maybe I should. Maybe I will. When I have time. Because I have one child with nightmares who's not wanting to "make waves" because he isn't physically wounded (save for RTD wounds) and another son who's just been sworn in as a Marine. Because that's who MY children are...patriotic and caring about this country.

But anyone who thinks PTSD only exists because of whining moms, isn't being fair to the rest of us.

So yes, maybe I do have a personal agenda: saving my son. But I'm not savvy about politics and I'm not out to make a name for myself. I'm not appearing on tv shows where even I know they show opposite opinions for ratings. I just want to help my son.

And that makes me a "mom" with a personal agenda? and what are the other names on here? a traitor? a liar? pathetic?

I wouldn't dare call the mother of a deployed soldier names. I would have too much respect for what she and her family are going through. But I had to speak up for the moms who are being called these names.

At 1/30/2007 5:51 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Monica, did you even watch the video? you haven't read what was being said by the commenters.. no one is calling mothers with children who are deployed nor mothers of soldiers with PTSD any names... it was the anti-war mother who insisted that her son had PTSD because he didn't believe in the war or know what his mission was... and no one was selling any books...

the point of the post was that this woman's anti-war affiliations were not made known to the audience or SSM... AND that the other mother was promoting her anti-war views with her son's PTSD... THAT is a mom with a personal agenda (she wasn't asking that her son receive help or that he was even denied help for his PTSD)

no soldier should have to fight for mental health counseling or any other medical service that they EARNED and if that's happening and the people who read this blog would be the first to jump up and stand in your corner! your son needs to speak up and if you're his advocate then you need to go up the chain of command and to your senators and congressman... and to any of the many VA centers and groups that will help you and your son through that maze.

bless your sons and your family for their service

At 1/30/2007 10:32 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

just saw your interview on ABC online
it is a great shame that main stream media has to always have a twist. I thought I had seen Anne Roesler before, thanks to you I now remember!
More time for you of course would have been great, but i have to say for the network ending the story with Sara Ehrlich, was a nice touch. It brought tears, knowing how much they REALLY do love getting those packages! Being an armed service mom myself; a step son (Navy) who is leaving for work in Kuwait soon and a son (Army) who will be redeployed this summer to Iraq. I So dearly know you don't have to LOVE the WAR, YOU NEED TO LOVE THE SOLDIER! God bless Noah, he will be in MY PRAYERS

At 1/31/2007 5:21 AM , Blogger Monica said...

Anonymous, I wasn't referring to the video. I found the name calling right here in the comments. I don't agree with Cindy Sheehan's campouts but I thankfully have not walked in her shoes. I understood going into Afghanistan more than I did Iraq but I respected our troops and their belief in their Commander in Chief. I still do. But yes, Anonymous, there was name calling right here. And when that happens, it muddies the waters and nothing gets done. Someone named Patti called the other mom a liar and a traitor and then sarcastically used the term her hero son. We shouldn't do that to each other. Someone named Becky called her pathetic.
Military blogs HAVE agendas. Moms have agendas. Agenda is not a bad word. I documented everything and now my son is getting the help he deserves and EARNED.
I would be very nervous about having moms in my corner who did little more than call other moms names. Nothing gets done then. It just ends up hurting the cause.

At 1/31/2007 5:23 AM , Blogger Monica said...

And just to clarify what MY cause is? It's not Iraq. It's praying that my sons come home safe. And to me, every military man and woman over there is my child.

At 1/31/2007 9:46 AM , Blogger Monica said...

The post in itself was written well as I've seen all of Some Soldier's Mom written. But the name-calling I've seen in the comments and other posts written because of this post literally hurt and I decided to write my own post regarding the name calling. I just wanted to be honest and let you all know that.

At 2/10/2007 8:46 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey husband is with the 82nd airborne and he left for his third tour there in early January. (2 BCT 82 ABN)

At 2/13/2007 8:30 AM , Blogger Monica said...

Andrew's wife...yes exactly...I pointed that out to her in email. People really should be accurate before calling someone a liar. I know others from the 82nd on their third tour as well.

At 2/13/2007 6:38 PM , Blogger Some Soldier's Mom said...

oh monica... get over yourself. no one called anyone a liar... it was a random thought in a split second that went through my brain... I wrote it just like it happened. move on already.

At 2/14/2007 10:16 AM , Blogger Monica said...

If you don't want me to comment on something I have every right to as the mom of TWO military sons, then you shouldn't have an open blog. Even the PRESIDENT said today we can support the troops and not the war.
I'm not sure why you are so offended at me having the right to my opinion when mine doesn't involve name-calling and yours does. But then I guess that answers the question, doesn't it?


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