color: SOME SOLDIER'S MOM: January 2007

Monday, January 29, 2007


I have a soft part in my heart for Fisher House.. having been a guest at the Landstuhl Fisher House for a few days. However, the Fisher Family began and supports a number of Foundations that support our military and our veterans and their families... And not just in name, but in intent and their ability to get things done. There, of course, is the Fisher House Foundation. And then there is the Intrepid Foundation which supports a number of noteworthy causes: the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, which provides financial support for the families of United States military personnel who have been lost in the line of duty, and Fleet Week, a celebration honoring the men and women of our nation's military.
Recognizing the need for a state-of-the-art facility for the rehabilitation of disabled veterans -- not just resulting from the Iraq and Afganistan campaigns but for all veterans with a need -- the Intrepid Foundation set out to get that facility designed, funded and built. THEY DID IT!!!

Center for the Intrepid Opens

SAN ANTONIO — Of the roughly 20,000 soldiers injured since the start of the Iraq war, more than 500 have lost a limb — many of them in roadside bombings.

On Monday, a $50 million high-tech rehabilitation center opens that is designed to serve the growing number of soldiers who return from war as amputees or with severe burns.

The 60,000-square-foot Center for the Intrepid will allow the Army to move its rehabilitation program out of the Brooke Army Medical Center and into a separate facility.

"The Center for the Intrepid is going to let us keep advancing what we've been doing," said Maj. Stewart Campbell, the officer-in-charge of rehabilitation at Brooke.

The facility tells soldiers "we're going to take care of you for as long as you need us, to get you back to where you want to be," he said.

At Brooke, amputees were being treated in offices and facilities carved out of the larger hospital. The new facility includes a rock-climbing wall, wave pool and a 360-degree virtual reality sphere to help soldiers recover their balance and other basic skills.
But just a little gumption and true grit from one of our soldiers:
Staff Sgt. Jon Arnold-Garcia, who lost part of a leg in a grenade attack, got his first look at the rehab center on Sunday.

"This place is amazing, that the American people donated the money for this," said the 28-year-old from Sacramento, Calif.

Arnold-Garcia has been in rehabilitation at Brooke since May, but he was anxious to get to work at the Center for the Intrepid, a four-story glass building decorated with art and modern decor.

Arnold-Garcia and other amputees have been eyeing the rock-climbing wall, visible through the glass. They have also heard about the wave pool, in which they can use wake boards to strengthen their back and stomach muscles.

"It doesn't look like a hospital," Arnold-Garcia said, sitting in the center's cafe. "It's a place I can see myself getting up and being motivated instead of walking hospital hallways with doctors."
Read about it HERE and HERE.
This facility was built with money donated by the American people. 600,000 people built this facility for American Heroes.
While enough funds were raised to build and outfit this facility, the Fund is accepting donations to provide additional services for our wounded military and veteran heroes and their families. These services may include facilities for patients' children, additional medical equipment and supplies, medical research to improve the care of patients, or other areas relating to the Center's activities including the patients and their families. You can make a donation HERE (and note -- if you want to host a fundraiser, you can do that, too!)
Just a thought... I can understand the military leadership in attendance at the opening and Sen. McCain being at the dedication since he is and has always been a supporter of the military and veterans, but I question some of the other elected "dignataries"... their voting records on veterans' issues say it all. The rest is lip service and photo ops for Presidential campaigning.
Copyright 2007 Some Soldier's Mom. All rights reserved.

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.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Absolutely True... and Absolutely OUTRAGEOUS!

To Whom it may concern:

Do you ship to APO addresses? I'm in the 1st Cavalry Division stationed in Iraq and we are trying to order some mats but we are looking for who ships to APO first.

SGT Hess

On Tue Jan 16 3:25, responded:
Sent: Tuesday, January 16, 2007 9:44 PM
Subject: Re: Feedback: from

SGT Hess,
We do not ship to APO addresses, and even if we did, we would NEVER ship to Iraq. If you were sensible, you and your troops would pull out of Iraq.

Bargain Suppliers

verify the story HERE
and at Snopes

or let them know by phone: *9 a.m. - 5 p.m*. central time: 414-736-8394

or by mail:

Bargain Suppliers
3259 S.106th Street
West Allis, WI 53227

Why would I ever want to do business with someone who was so disrespectful to a potential customer OR that disrespectful to someone who has no choice in being in Iraq OR be so disrespectful to someone who puts it on the line so that discount-mats can be in business. Of course, we know our military works hard to protect even a$$es like the people at this firm. It's a shame, but our military is an equal opportunity protector... I sure hope this wasn't the company's actual position -- just some misinformed, misguided employee who has since been fired (not for his/her political opinion, but because the person is an idiot to say so.)
Note: this must have a lot of people pretty angry as their website is "experiencing technical difficulties" and asks that contacts be made by email or phone.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Wednesday Morning

Wednesday morning, the phone rings. “Who the heck is calling at this hour?” As I turn over to reach for the nightstand, I glance at the windows in the room. They’re still dark; no hint of light. And I mutter under my breath, “It’s never good news if it’s dark.” As I reach for the phone, the green numbers on the clock say 5:30. I pick the phone out of its cradle and push the “on” button.

“Hey, Ma.” I mentally calculate, 7:30 Georgia time.
“Hey. Everything OK?”
“We’re going.”
"Your unit?”
“Shit.” Great. Not even out of bed and I’m already cursing.
“Do you know when?”
“Can’t say exactly. Looks like March. Be sure to watch the President's speech tonight."
I think, as if we’d miss it??
“Is it official? Did you get orders?”
“Not yet.” And then he tells me a tentative date.
Damn. Just Damn. Looks like he'll be spending his birthday in Iraq.
“I gotta go, Ma. We’ll call later.”
“Love you son.”
“Love you, too, Ma.”

Dad says he gathers from my end of the conversation that this is not good news. I tell him the substance of the call. “Damn,” he says. Great. Now both of us are cursing.

I lay there awake for the next hour with my mind running circles around itself. I can feel the tears behind my eyes. I tell myself, “Well, if there aren’t orders maybe he won’t go... after all, rumors are the adrenalin of the Army that early in the morning.” My heart is beating faster. I toss. I turn. I toss again -- certain that if I just practice relaxation techniques I can leave this waking nightmare for the safety of sleep.

At 6:30, I give up and creep out of bed; our big Chow moves up off the foot of the bed and plops where I last lay and breathes a deep sigh as he tucks his nose under my pillow and flips his tail twice.

I fill the coffee pot and put cat food in two dishes. The same thought keeps playing across my brain like an old movie marquee: “He’s going back.” It circles and appears again, “He’s going back.” I can feel my chest tighten. I find it a little hard to breathe. I can hear my heart beat in my ears. I recognize the classic slither and squeeze of anxiety.

I was preoccupied with these thoughts all day. I should have been working on our tax records. I should have been working on the meeting notes of the last Board meeting I attended. I couldn’t concentrate. Mostly my brain was doing loopty-loops… just when I thought I’d gotten myself focused on some task, my thoughts would do that loop and there would be the marquee, “He’s going back.” And my heart would add a few beats. I’d take a deeper breath. I say little prayers.

Thirty minutes before the President’s speech I pour a glass of wine. We listened intently. We listen to a brief commentary. Then we listen to the Democratic response. I pour another glass of wine. I say some rather ugly things to the guy from Illinois. Great. Cursing at the end of the day as well. But I meant it. It’s not going to be about our soldiers and Marines. It’s going to be about everything but. It’s not going to be about working together. It's not going to be about succeeding in Iraq. It’s going to be about reprisal and retaliation. I say more little prayers.

Thursday, the following arrives via email:

DoD Announces Force Adjustments

As a result of the President's Iraq strategy review, the Department of Defense announced today an increase of 20,000 U.S. military forces for Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Specific decisions made by the Secretary of Defense include:

The 2nd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, based at Fort Bragg, N.C. [***]

The 1st Brigade, 34th Infantry Division, Minnesota Army National Guard, [***].

The 4th Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, based at Ft. Riley, Kan., will deploy in February 2007 as previously

Three other Army combat brigades will deploy as follows:

· The 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, based at Ft. Benning, Ga., will deploy in March 2007.

· The 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, based at Ft. Lewis, Wash., will deploy in April 2007.

· The 2nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, based at Ft. Stewart, Ga., will deploy in May 2007.

It ends with: The department recognizes the continued sacrifices of these units and their family members.

I think, “Force Adjustments”? Why aren’t we just calling them reinforcements? They’re reinforcements. Force adjustments?

I continue reading. There it is. Half way into the announcement. My heart stops. I feel a gasp about to escape. My stomach rolls. There it is. It's official. It's public. Shit. There’s that word again. F**k. There’s that word, too.
A little later, the phone rings.

“Hey, Ma.”
“___________. That’s the date. We leave _____.”
“Shit.” (ok, if cursing is a sin, I’m going straight to Hell.)
“Is it definite?”
“Yeah. We should have orders in a day or two.”
“I know, Ma.”

We talk a minute or two longer. How’s M? How does she like her new job? What’s happening with the car that’s not running? How’s the dog? How’s the weather? We hang up.

I fight back tears. Not ready. Not ready. Not ready. I give up and let the tears fall.

I find his Dad and tell him. This time he doesn’t curse (he’s much better at not cursing than I am.) We sit on the couch for a while talking about it. He has his arm around me. He hugs tight. We talk about the last deployment... of Noah's wounding... of how hard this year and his PTSD has been on him and wonder just how he'll do with a new deployment. We talk about Noah’s new wife; we worry how she’ll handle the separation. We know how hard it is on us and we know it will be hard on these newlyweds. I only half joke about stocking the wine cellar, but he knows I speak the truth when I say deep breathing probably isn't going to cut it this time.

His departure is still weeks away and I’m already feeling the stress. I feel the entire first deployment right behind my eyes being pushed by the second deployment already. I thought last time was hard... I thought I could be "ready" for this next time. Today I understand completely that I can't ever be ready.

Hard as I try, I cannot forget the terrible hardship he and Our Guys endured last deployment, and images of us stuffing rolls of toilet paper, canned foods, toiletries, and laundry detergents in hundreds of flat rate boxes for a year fill my head. As much as I try, the memory of the worry and pacing for days when we didn't hear seems as if it were yesterday and makes my stomach sour. It's even harder to supress the feelings I associate with the call and the days and weeks that followed. I try hard to push the pictures of David Salie, Matt Bohling, Jeff Watkins, Tommy Byrd and the others from my brain. That deployment changed Noah... it changed me. It changed our family and our friends. I try not to dwell on the changes we might endure this time. I remember last time he left
I cried a river. This time I know I will cry harder. It will be an ocean.

Somebody let that bitch Boxer know that the sacrifice of military families is not a Democratic talking point… it is not a sound bite or a punch line. Even if she doesn’t think she owes Condi an apology -- she certainly owes one to military families.
Copyright 2007 Some Soldier's Mom. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Your Turn to Speak

It is your obligation to contact your elected representatives and let them know how you feel about the President's new plan:

You can contact your representatives via this Military Officers Association of America site (it's zip code friendly!) and you do not need to be a MOAA member... or you can find and contact your U.S. Representative here and your US Senator here and you can email the President here.

I did within 30 minutes of the speech and the Democratic respone (I even sent an email to Dick Durbin... )

Monday, January 08, 2007

Dear Mr. President...

a few thoughts from a Soldier’s Mom in a time of war with all the talk of increasing troop levels.

I’ve been losing sleep the last few nights… my mind racing at 85 mph about the whole “new strategy” about to be announced. I’m not only anxious about the President’s announcement -- I’m agitated at all the politicians and “experts” popping up for 15 seconds in the limelight before the news is -- well, news.

Since I won't be at the White House on Wednesday or at Fort Benning on Thursday...

Dear Mr. President: Common sense and reason tell me that just sending more soldiers and Marines without some fundamental change in the approach would be a mistake. If you are planning to send more troops, I hope you can make a clear and convincing argument… but be prepared if it’s just more of the same as I will be the first one to stand and tell you if I think you’re full of... it.

I do want victory in Iraq. I want a stable Iraq with an end to the sectarian violence. I want an entire future of peace and prosperity for the Iraqis… I want their children safe… and happy. But when all is said and done, I wish my son didn't have to go to Iraq again. I'm wishing and hoping his deployment isn't accelerated. I wish that no additional troops have to go -- hell, I wish the troops that are there didn't have to be there. I wish they all could come home. (Yeah, and if wishes were fast horses, well I’d ride and I’d ride and I’d ride…) I also accept the reality of the situation. We are at war. And we must succeed.

Mr. President, If you say that the way to succeed in Iraq is to send more troops, I say, Get it right. Be very sure, Mr. President. Before you send my son or anyone else’s son, be sure you and your advisors do a good job. And if you still say it’s the way to succeed -- if it's necessary in order to get ALL of our troops home sooner -- then I say, let’s go hard or go home. If 20,000 troops are what we need -- if it’s 40,000 -- then don’t hold back. Do it all. Do it well. Let’s just do it and be done with it. Let’s make sure our military have the equipment and whatever else they need to git ‘er done and then let’s get home.
and now...

Dear Fellow Americans (Dems, Repubs, Indies, left, right or none of the above): get behind this move -- whatever it is and whatever your reservations. You can bet our Soldiers and Marines are not going to Iraq to be additional targets. The heartbreaking fact is that more American troops are going to die whether we send additional troops or not. Some change is going to happen (whatever it is) whether you’re for it or against it -- so you might as well hope it succeeds. It may be true that we have sent small surges of troops before to no measurable effect, but remember what Thomas Edison said while working to get his lightbulb to light: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” If sending additional troops didn’t work before it only means it didn’t work before.
Even if you don't think so at the outset, what if this does work?? What if additional troops stabilizes Baghdad? What if it means we can get more trained Iraqi defenders in place? What if it means our troops get to come home sooner... and for good?
And, my fellow Americans, if you can’t cheer for success -- for victory -- then, please, shut up. No one’s asking you to be a Presidential cheerleader… but the ONLY way to support our troops in this instance is to hope and pray and cheer for their success. Do not undermine the most difficult thing these military men and women will ever be called upon to do. Telling Soldiers and Marines that you hope they don’t succeed just so you never have to say that additional troops were right is just, well, wrong.

I, for one, will be calling upon the Higher Power to give guidance and wisdom to those who must counsel the President and to those who must send other people’s sons and daughters into danger. I cannot imagine anything harder… then again, yes I can…

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

For a comprehensive roundup of links to some very qualified people discussing a surge and the likely (or advisable) changes in strategy, be sure to check out BLACKFIVE.