color: SOME SOLDIER'S MOM: New Perspectives

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

New Perspectives

Still in Illinois... working long days every day going through 70 years of accumulated possessions and collections of things. And doing some sprucing up on my husband's boyhood home. It's hard, physical labor most of the time. I'm blessed though because in addition to sharing this work with my loving husband, I have been able to spend time with one of my sisters who lives in the area. Linda lives 1-1/2 hours north of the town where we are working, but on every one of her days off since late March, she has driven to this house and either done back-breaking landscaping work
(she designed and then she and I built the white stone wall in the pic) or has worked in a large warehouse or the basement of this house sorting through "stuff". In the wee hours of the morning one day last week, she rose before the sun to personally dig up a number of beautiful plants from her garden (many hostas, day lilies, burning bush... she has 20 years of planting and dividing and says she has too many) to add to the garden here. Of course, we had to dig all the holes and make all the gardens for them here... but it was worth it!

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...)

However, given that Noah is currently in the process of being evaluated (Army MEB -- Medical Evaluation Board) and facing the VA Goliath later this year, I listened intently to the presentations and questions with a whole new perspective. I have a greater appreciation for the facets of the process and am certain that I will have an even newer perspective in short order. As for the MEB process, Noah says he'd rather be fighting real dragons in a sandbox than trying to slay the paper dragons in this process. It's not hard -- just tedious and long. He's continued counseling for his PTSD and has new (old) medications, and he's doing better with that. He's still pagued by transcient numbness in his extremities and pain in his back, but he has lost much of the mental "funk" of not being able to continue his military service... at least he sounds better to me and I have actually heard him speak positively about the future. To a parent's ears, sounding more upbeat after two years of hearing depression and anxiety is music to my ears. These occasional glimpses of the "old Noah" lift my heart and do me good.

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.

I'm getting ready for the Milblog Conference May 4-5 in Arlington, VA. If you're still undecided, better register now: registration closes April 27 and there will be no registration at the door.

Copyright 2007 Some Soldier's Mom. All rights reserved.


At 4/25/2007 7:29 AM , Blogger Butterfly Wife said...

So much to comment on. I will simply agree with you and thank you for sharing a well-articulated perspective on the Democratic position. I think you are spot on correct.

At 4/25/2007 4:26 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I, too, agree with you and my frustration level with the powers that be. With my daughter preparing to return to Iraq I want all Americans to remember that freedom is a cherished right and we should NEVER take it for granted. Have a safe trip and I will be looking forward to your report on it.

At 4/26/2007 3:41 AM , Blogger Taco Bell said...

Great letter!!! I'm glad to hear that Noah is doing better. It's young men and women that serve in harms way who will always have my respect. I only pray that in the future, they may run for office and knowing what it's like to serve, will guide this country to a positive future for my daughters.
Semper Fi,

At 4/28/2007 4:05 AM , Blogger Call Me Grandma said...

I am so glad that the old Noah is starting to emerge.
The house is looking good.
My prayers are with you SSM>

At 4/28/2007 7:29 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too am glad to hear that Noah (Hi Noah!) is doing better. The most difficult thing for a Mom's heart is to hear sadness or despair in their child's voice and not be able to make it all better. (oh, for those days of the magic kiss on the boo-boo)
I have been also thinking about the Iraqi people and what would become of them if we up and leave and Reid,
et al their wish. I remember the last days of Viet Nam very well and have worked alongside of the children and grandchildren of those who died in the days after we left or who have parents that can never go back to their homeland without facing certain death.
You're so right ~ the democrats don't care. All they want is the power and it doesn't matter how much blood is spilled to acquire it apparently. And aren't all the hearings and investigations into "evil Bush and Co" a wonderful distraction from their heartlessness.

Looking forward to meeting you in DC!

At 4/30/2007 4:23 PM , Blogger shano said...

Respectfully, Try a new perspective? Lets see, how about 70% of Iraqis want the Americans to leave.

And how do you KNOW for a fact that there will be a bloodbath if we withdraw? No one can say this for a certainty. Create a framwork for Iraqis to run their own country after the oil bill and other bits of legislation in Iraq is signed and agreed.

Create jobs for Iraqis that lead to employment so you dont have the discontented young male population stewing idle.
Create some secular schools with good security, for example.
Nothing is being done about the root causes of radicalism fomenting in Iraq.

How about giving jobs to the locals instead of Haliburton? How about programs for grass root improvements in Iraqis daily lives?

Maybe if there was some rational diplomacy, bringing the region together to solve some of the problems, then things will get better. It is in the Middle Easts best interests to come together on this point, and has to be done if any goals can be accomplished.

America had a bloody civil war while creating their own history of a Republic. Bush wants now to partition Bagdad with a wall? Look at the good that has done in the Palestinian and Israeli conflict. Please, there are better ideas not being considered.

The bashing of Democrats is too steriotyped here. They simply want some fresh thinking on how to make the outcome more positive. So far, relying on a military solution, no matter how great a job our soldiers are doing, is not resolving much.

So Bush admin. say they will re-evaluate the surge in Sept? Good. But think the Iraqi government needs to have consequences if they dont reach some benchmarks in meeting political goals.

Yes, I wish all the troops well, but the politicians need to step up, both Iraqis and Americans to hammer out the political solutions. Otherwise our grandchildren will be shipping over to the Middle East.

Just frustrated by the simple thinking that Bush is all good, Dems are all bad, when none of the real problems are being addressed by either side.

At 4/30/2007 10:30 PM , Blogger Some Soldier's Mom said...

You know, Shano, you're just a little too quick to defend the Dems here... and if you'd actually bothered to READ what I wrote
Iraqis will most likely die in the violence likely to ensue if we leave
and for Heaven's sake -- you're actually willing to RISK those deaths... what will you say then -- OOPS? Who cares if it's a civil war -- we should stay until the Iraqis can quell it themselves -- and kill the foreigners propogating the sectarian violence.

Diplomacy? WITH WHOM? Ossama in a cave? We don't negotiate with terrorists... it just encourages the rat bastards... or have you even read about the Carter era fiasco in Iran? Hammer out a political solution? So, how long should we give them -- it's been just 15 months since they adopted their constitution and elected their government? How long, Shano? and do you think additional violence and deaths will hurry that process?

and 70% of Iraqis want us to leave? yes -- but not right now... and 82% think they are better off without Saddam... and 100% of Americans want Americans out (including me)-- but when the Iraqis can defend themselves.

The "wall" in Baghdad is not Bush's -- it is the military's TEMPORARY attempt to quell violence -- while a political solution is worked out AND the militias and the terrorists are disarmed... good heavens -- get a grip... It's not the Berlin wall... it's between two neighborhoods in one corner of Baghdad... we have gated communities in AZ that are larger.

It's not about "fresh thinking" by the Dems... cut & run worked for them in Vietnam... or did you forget that that was Kennedy's/Johnson's war... and the Dems funded it until a Republican President was elected -- and that MILLIONS of Vietnamese and Cambodians died when Congress cut off funding, set a deadline and pulled the troops. Oh. Yeah.

I'm not defending any politicians -- but I am condemning Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and the 3 Johns as being so politicized that it makes my stomach flip and my blood boil every time one of them spouts that brown stuff and says it's because they "support the troops". BS.

If it were really about supporting the troops, the funding legislation would contain everything the military needed to SUCCEED in Iraq without restrictions and surrender dates... and it would contain more for Veterans Healthcare than for peanut storage and spinach farmers.

At 6/25/2007 11:31 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

First off, glad to hear your son is doing better.

Secondly, please keep in mind the perspective that there would be fewer Iraqi deaths if America had never gone into Iraq in the first place. While morally we now are obligated to stay in the country, politically speaking both the Democrats and the Republicans will be calling for redeployment unless Gen. Patreus delivers a promising report this Sept. Most Americans cannot stomach fighting the long hard fight, and the politicians do not want to risk seeing another Saigon-style evacuation.

Also keep in mind that the U.S. has lost fewer of her citizens in the last 5.5 years of fighting in the Middle East than in the 10 year period from the first World Trade Center attacks to 9/11.


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