We have had some wonderful conversations and walks down memory lane of our youth and family as we worked or shared meals together. On occasion she has brought along her wonderful husband Bob (who has two businesses and works 7 days a week) and one of my nieces and her fiancee to share in the work. While we are exhausted at the end of every day, it has been good work and good company.
However, I have a new perspective on "stuff" and I will never be able to look at a piece of paper or "stuff" I haven't been able to dispose of in the same way. It will be easier now to decide whether it should "stay" or "go". Next time I'm in our basement, I will take a marker with me and write "out" or "keep" on boxes for the kids in case they have to ever go through our "stuff". And while we can occasionally find ourselves missing the lush green lawns and abundant leafy trees of our Midwest roots, I have a new perspective and have forever been reminded how much work and upkeep the greenery takes compared to the natural high desert landscaping we enjoy back home of low water, low maintenance plantings, cactus, natural rock formations and underground drip watering systems when necessary.
Of course, while we have been busy, we have tried to catch the news and follow stories as they have developed these past few weeks. Last night I was watching the appropriations committee meeting discussing the Iraq War funding bill and listened to that dipsh*t Patty Murray say that if the President vetoes the bill -- as he has promised and Murray knows that there is no "if" -- then the President will have to answer to the Americans and the military on why they don't have the funding... and I sat incredulous wondering if she actually thought that the people listening believed her? Then a friend made a comment about how the Democrats have become pathological in their lying -- that they have dug their hole so deep and have said it so many times (you know, Bush lied... it's all Bush's fault... we've lost the war...) that THEY actually believe it and apparently that's all that matters to them. So I began to listen to the rest of the speeches with that new perspective and realized it to be true. Sad, but true. And it works across the aisle the same, but there is a quiet force when you have right on your side.
Alternately, I was watching the hearings on the future of Veterans and military health care. I was neither impressed nor unimpressed by co-chairs, Bob Dole and Donna Shalala (but Ms. Shalala, if you're going to chew gum or candy, please close your mouth! ugh!); their questioning was routine. Some of the committee members were embarrassingly lacking in knowledge of the military and veterans' medical systems --and it showed when they opened their mouths. After listening to the representative of the VA discuss the process of determining a disability rating and his fairly detailed -- but not confusing -- explanation of why the military "fit/unfit" process and attendant medical examinations aren't interchangeable or necessarily flexible enough to be combined or supplanted with the VA's disability rating examinations, one committee member asked a question that exposed her complete lack of comprehension of what the witness had just gone to great lengths to explain.
I found the statistics and figures the VA rep gave fascinating: of the 1.5 million military members that have served in OEF/OIF roughly 153,000 have filed disability claims with the VA. Of those, 17,000 have been denied service-connected disability and (if memory serves) about 20,000 claims are pending. The single largest cause of delay is caused by delays in getting documentation and proof. He was quick to dispel the harsh criticism the Army has received for the supposed lack of granting the same levels of disability than the VA. As the VA Director described it: the missions are different. The Army wants to know what is wrong with a soldier and whether or not it can be fixed and the soldier returned to duty. Their question is, "Can the soldier (sailor/marine/airman) function in the military?" The VA, on the other hand, wants to know everything that's wrong with the soldier, whether it can be proven to be service-related, whether or to what extent the condition affects the veteran's functioning in the civilian sector and whether or not a medical condition suffered in service has affected the earning capability of the person. The example given was tinnitus (ringing in the ears): it may not affect the soldier's ability to remain in the Army, but it may affect the ability to take certain jobs in the civilian sector. (I think I got that all right...)
Finally, I prepared a whole blog entry during my last flight between AZ and IL on why it was important to stay in Iraq and finish this. I started to post that here, but when all was said and done, I realized that the important part of the post was in this new perspective: Reid and the Dems' constant call to withdraw our military because it's a civil war in Iraq and we can't fix that with the military, doesn't have anything to do with "supporting our troops" -- I realized that Reid and the Dems KNOW that millions of Iraqis will most likely die in the violence likely to ensue if we leave -- and they don't care. THEY ARE TELLING THE WORLD THAT THEY DO NOT CARE WHETHER MILLIONS OF INNOCENT IRAQIS DIE -- SO LONG AS THEY "WIN" THE POLITICAL POINT. How absolutely repulsive is that? That democracy and "world peace" is only for Reid's white man's world... that "world peace" is only world peace if the Democrats say so and on their terms. They are willing to let MILLIONS of Iraqis die for political hay.
Forget why or how we got there. Inside the four corners of the box WE ARE THERE and whether it was intended or not, our military presence is keeping millions of Iraqis alive and if we leave, they will die. Of course, it's not the only thing our military is doing there -- they are taking the fight to the enemy (you do remember al Queda??), but they also are breaking up local militias and keeping common criminals from perpetrating even greater violence. While American soldiers and Marines are on the ground, there will be no genocide in Iraq. The Dems have said, "Not our problem, bring our soldiers home." Not because it's the right thing to do or because it will end the violence, but because it is a political position. I am appalled, aghast and ashamed that any person would take such a position KNOWING that so many men, women and children will die... (Smacks of selling infected blankets to the American Indians??) These are not the people I want to run my country. They have stood and declared to the world that they do not care how many die. They do not care what we have promised. They do not care that if this fledgling democracy is not helped to true stability and security (against all enemies foreign and domestic) that Iraq could become a greater threat to us than even under Saddam. THE DEMS DO NOT CARE -- so long as they can make a political point. I listen to them speak with this new perspective... appalling. Horrifying. They should be ashamed. Anyone who knows that even one person will die and does nothing to prevent it are guilty as if they had killed with their own hands.
Copyright 2007 Some Soldier's Mom. All rights reserved.