color: SOME SOLDIER'S MOM: May 2008

Thursday, May 29, 2008

[Military] Parents Zone

At the first Milblog Conference a few years ago, it was suggested that a website for the parents of military members be started... it was also a topic at last year's Milblog Conference and the BlogWorld Expo. Well, it's finally getting off the ground! The site is called PARENTS ZONE. I have agreed to be a contributor... along with a number of other MilParents. So stop on by and say hello... pass the info on to your friends, and check in often!

I have my "inaugural" post up... So Your Child is Being Deployed.

We're also interested in suggestions from other parents: what would you like to know? What would you like researched? What information do you need? What do readers want the page to be?? Send your suggestions -- or if you're interested in writing for Parents Zone -- to Liberal Army Wife at


Monday, May 26, 2008

We Have Not Forgotten

SPC Jeffrey W. Corban
SPC Richard A. Hardy
SPC Thomas ("Tommy") H. Byrd
SPC Timothy D. Watkins
SSG Vincent E. Summers

Friday, May 23, 2008

Prayer for Peace, Memorial Day, 2008

Prayer for Peace, Memorial Day, 2008

- - - - - - -

by the President of the United States of America

A Proclamation

On Memorial Day, we honor the heroes who have laid down their lives in the cause of freedom, resolve that they will forever be remembered by a grateful Nation, and pray that our country may always prove worthy of the sacrifices they have made.

Throughout our Nation's history, our course has been secured by brave Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen. These courageous and selfless warriors have stepped forward to protect the Nation they love, fight for America's highest ideals, and show millions that a future of liberty is possible. Freedoms come at great costs, yet the world has been transformed in unimaginable ways because of the noble service and devotion to duty of these brave individuals. Our country honors the sacrifice made by those who have given their lives to spread the blessings of liberty and lay the foundations of peace, and we mourn their loss.

Today, our service men and women continue to inspire and strengthen our Nation, going above and beyond the call of duty as part of the greatest military the world has ever known. Americans are grateful to all those who have put on our Nation's uniform and to their families, and we will always remember their service and sacrifice for our freedoms.

On this solemn day our country unites to pay tribute to the fallen, who demonstrated the strength of their convictions and paid the cost of freedom. We pray for the members of our Armed Forces and their families, and we ask for God's continued guidance of our country.

In respect for their devotion to America, the Congress, by a joint resolution approved on May 11, 1950, as amended (64 Stat. 158), has requested the President to issue a proclamation calling on the people of the United States to observe each Memorial Day as a day of prayer for permanent peace and designating a period on that day when the people of the United States might unite in prayer. The Congress, by Public Law 106‑579, has also designated the minute beginning at 3:00 p.m. local time on that day as a time for all Americans to observe the National Moment of Remembrance.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Memorial Day, May 26, 2008, as a day of prayer for permanent peace, and I designate the hour beginning in each locality at 11:00 a.m. of that day as a time to unite in prayer. I also ask all Americans to observe the National Moment of Remembrance beginning at 3:00 p.m., local time, on Memorial Day. I encourage the media to participate in these observances. I also request the Governors of the United States and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the appropriate officials of all units of government, to direct that the flag be flown at half staff until noon on this Memorial Day on all buildings, grounds, and naval vessels throughout the United States, and in all areas under its jurisdiction and control. I also request the people of the United States to display the flag at half staff from their homes for the customary forenoon period.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty‑second day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand eight, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-second.


Friday, May 16, 2008

Answering Email

I received this via email from a kindly Congressional staffer who wanted to make sure I had seen it. I do not know this staffer personally, but he read my post trashing the proposed Veterans Mental Health Treatment First Act. I appreciate that he sent this along, given that I have also written on Veterans Suicide Prevention (for which I took a lot of drubbing from those who think this is a "bash the military" meme… but who need to be reminded that Veterans – like non-Veterans -- commit suicide – most not because of their service, but in spite of it… and are worth saving one person at a time.) I think I might have scared the staffer off as I haven't had a response… yet.

Hi Carla –

I read your blog post on veterans' mental health, and thought you might be interested in this story.



Contact: (Veterans' Affairs)

May 15, 2008


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI) invoked his oversight authority as Chairman of the Veterans' Affairs Committee to formally request data from VA on veterans' suicides that is not otherwise available to the Congress. In a letter to Veterans Affairs Secretary James Peake, Akaka stressed the need for full and accurate data on the issue.

"We will not know the true cost of war until we know the true rate of suicides among veterans," said Akaka. "Until the VA mental health care system meets the needs of those who have served, we will continue to see the tragic consequence of veteran suicides."

In his letter, Akaka specifically requested the following from Secretary Peake:
  • The total number of veterans who have committed suicide or attempted to commit suicide
  • The number of veterans who have committed suicide or attempted to commit suicide while receiving care from VA
  • Information on VA's efforts to improve outreach and assistance for veterans between the ages of 30 and 64
  • All of VA's health care quality assurance reviews related to suicides and suicide attempts over the past three years
As Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, Akaka is empowered by federal law to review medical quality assurance records that are otherwise not provided outside of the Department.

Akaka's request follows heightened concerns from Congress and others regarding veteran suicides. Last week, Secretary Peake testified that both male and female veterans are more likely than non-veterans to commit suicide. In recent weeks Akaka has sought action on veteran mental health issues, meeting with Secretary Peake, and working with the Senate Majority Leader to bring up S. 2162, the bipartisan Veterans' Mental Health and Other Improvements Act of 2008. According to a recent RAND study, nearly one in five Iraq and Afghanistan veterans – roughly 300,000 so far – report symptoms of PTSD or major depression, and fewer than half receive mental health care. [ed. Emphasis added.]


Thank you for thinking of me. I admire and am deeply appreciative of the [legislator]'s work on behalf of Veterans. However, I have concerns about straight statistics and the twisting (the magic of bad statistics) that occurs when released (and used inappropriately as in the past.) By that I mean that data is used to promote political bashing rather than reflecting a true and sincere attempt to analyze why and how [fill in the blank] is occurring -- including how to "fix" the problem -- if, in fact, there is a problem and if it is fixable at all.

For example, I'd note that previously released data on the number of suicides within the active military (including Reserve and Guard) looked shocking; however, when compared historically and compared to the rate of suicide within the general populace (soldiers coming from the general population), the rates in every age, gender and ethnicity were the same as or lower than the general population (see, here for just one discussion and quasi-analysis). I suspect that the same might be evidenced in the veterans' suicide numbers.

The last statement of [this] press release also illustrates the "magic of poor statistics": the Rand study actually says (page 1 of the Rand Press Release; more on p. 3 of the Research Highlights) that "slightly more than half seek treatment"... and, we assume, all received
treatment. Therefore, slightly more than half (53%) actually sought and received treatment. So it is not true that "fewer than half received treatment"; the correct statement is that just less than half did not seek treatment -- they never asked for it. Of course, the assumption being that if the 47% who also had "symptoms" had sought or would seek treatment, they, too, would receive it. I know these don't spin well into shocking headlines, but it is a disservice [to connect suicides and misquoted statistics] and undermines legitimate arguments for meeting the needs of the military and veterans' communities.

You can understand my reservation that data (on veterans' suicides) served up in a vacuum is not particularly relevant unless it is also tested in a broader sense. In order to determine whether the suicides are "relevant" to the Veterans' Affairs Committee's work, the focus should not be simply on the empirical number of suicides by veterans (and its use as evidence of some "failure" on the part of the VA) but the legitimate investigation must also include whether the suicides have some connection to the veteran's military service (for instance had service-connected PTSD), whether the veteran served in combat, whether they suffered some detectable mental health condition prior to their suicide, and whether they sought or were offered treatment, etc.

This same slant is evident in the headlines about homeless veterans: are they homeless for some reason unrelated to their military service and just happen to be veterans, or are they homeless because they are veterans?? That there are homeless veterans is not in dispute. WHY they are homeless and SHOULD that be a concern are the questions that should also be asked and answered. Military service is not always the cause of veterans' misfortune-- homelessness or suicide. Tragic and sad? Absolutely. Of course, if all the relevant data indicates that the VA could be doing something (or should be doing something) in this regard, we should all stand on our chairs and DEMAND that it be done (and demand appropriate funding with reasonable timetables!) But we all know that resources are finite and that there are things that can and should be "fixed" in the DoD and VA systems (see my posts HERE and HERE).

As for the "Veterans' Mental Health and Other Improvements Act of 2008", it certainly is terrific on its face (and in its intent certainly), but some of its provisions are so over broad -- requiring treatment for substance abuse, etc. whether or not such abuse/addiction is a result of or connected in any way to military service and extending to individuals who have been out of the military for decades?? I reiterate that resources are finite and question whether this is the best use of those resources to serve the largest group of veterans with needs (in other words, will veterans get the biggest bang for the bucks?) Has there been an identified need for such services (I have seen no such study or conclusions)? Is there a larger population of veterans with a need that will not be met by diverting such funding? I also might question the paternal attitude of trying to "fix" every problem of every veteran (or every citizen).

Finally, I find it notable that Senator Akaka is also seeking information on "outreach" efforts to older veterans, but know it's a hollow pursuit unless funding is restored to open up enrollment again in ALL VA health care priority groups that would permit such services to be offered to ALL veterans. And, it goes without saying that Congress must be willing to FUND and commit resources to the VA in order to do something about anything. There certainly is enough legislation [already] languishing in various Defense and Veterans Committees (e.g., legislation addressing the comprehensive Dole/Shalala recommendations) that sits simply because these proposed bills have become partisan in an election year -- Democrats hesitant to support a Republican-sponsored bill (and vice versa) for fear the "credit" for such legislation will inure to the "other" party -- all while Veterans and service members suffer and die while waiting for services and compensation. No one asked them what political party they were when they took their oaths and party shouldn't matter to do what's right on their behalf.

Thank you again for forwarding this. Please don't think this a rant against [the legislator] -- it isn't and it isn't meant to be. It's the result of frustration with a system that puts election year politics (hell, any year politics) ahead of the needs of those who protect and defend. As the wife a retired career Navy officer, and the mom to a serving US Sailor, a Navy vet and a disabled Army veteran, I know of what I speak.

Best regards,


Some Soldier's Mom

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Monday, May 12, 2008

Still Going Strong

Yep… the Marines did it again! 142% of the April recruiting goal—even better than February and March! And all the other services met their goals as well… so much for Colby (Buzzell's] contention that the call up of IRR is due to a dearth of new recruits… maybe he has a special skill set the Army requires?? Or maybe (for the conspiracy set out there) they are just picking on him??

OORAH to all the new Devil Dogs and a big CONGRAULATIONS to all!!!

DoD Announces Recruiting and Retention Numbers for April 2008

The Department of Defense announced today its recruiting and retention statistics for the active and reserve components for the month of April.

  • Active Duty Recruiting.
  • April Monthly. All services met or exceeded recruiting goals for the month of April (below) and have surpassed goals for fiscal year 2008 to date.

April 2008












Marine Corps




Air Force




  • Active Duty Retention. Army, Navy, and Marine Corps met or exceeded their active duty retention objectives.
  • Reserve Forces Recruiting.
  • April Monthly. All six reserve components have met or exceeded accession goals through April 2008.

April 2008




Army National Guard




Army Reserve




Navy Reserve




Marine Corps Reserve




Air National Guard




Air Force Reserve




  • Reserve Attrition. Losses in all reserve components are within acceptable limits.

Sunday, May 11, 2008


Thursday, May 08, 2008

Before I Was a Soldier's Mom

Before I was a Soldier's Mom

I never tripped over a rucksack or knew the words to the Army song.

I didn't worry whether or not my child could shoot or had "zeroed up".

I never imagined saying, "Good job!" when my child told me he had jumped out of a perfectly good airplane... or when he qualified with a grenade launcher.

I could not have told you the difference between division, brigade, regiment, battalion, company, platoon or squad.

I cheered for Navy.

Before I was a Soldier's Mom

I never looked into a soldier's eyes and cried.

I didn't understand "HOOAH".

I never imagined I could be so gloriously happy over a simple "Hey, Ma."

Before I was a Soldier's Mom -

I had complete control of my mind and my thoughts.

I slept all night.

I never sat up late staring at a computer screen or woke in the middle of the night just to check if the computer and cell phone were working.

Before I was a Soldier's Mom

I never knew that so few words could affect my life so deeply: Deployment. Bradley. Wounded. and I never knew the alphabet could rob me of breath: OIF. IED. RPG. WIA. KIA.

I never felt my heart break into a million pieces when I couldn't stop my child's hurt.

I didn't weep at the sound of "Taps", the National Anthem or "American Soldier".

I never held back a scream or had my knees go weak at an unexpected knock at the door.

Before I was a Soldier's Mom -

I never had so many sisters! (and brothers) nor so many sons and daughters!

I never felt fear so completely.... and

I never felt such pride.



Sunday, May 04, 2008

Waiting for All My Uncles to Get Home

Add Image

Thursday, May 01, 2008

One Step Forward

One of the reasons some soldiers suffering PTSD or other mental health condition (depression, for example) do not seek treatment is their concern for the effect it could have on obtaining or retaining a security clearance. Now treatment "strictly related to adjustments from service in a military combat environment" will not be counted against the applicant (i.e., you can answer "no" to the mental health treatment question.)

From the DoD today:

Questionnaire for Security Clearances Revised

The Department of Defense, Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) have approved revisions to question 21 on the Questionnaire for National Security Positions, Standard Form (SF) 86, regarding mental and emotional health counseling.

"Our people deserve the best mental health care we can provide without the fear of hurting their career in the long run," said Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen. "It's time we made everyone in uniform aware that the act of reaching out for help is one of the most courageous acts -- and one of the first steps -- to reclaiming your career and future. All leaders must set an example by seeking help themselves and encouraging others to do so. Getting this question changed is a terrific first step."

Per direction of the secretary of defense, DoD components will immediately distribute the revised question 21 language for awareness and use by all DoD personnel completing the security clearance form.

Until a new SF86 is published by the OPM later this summer, the OMB has agreed to allow DoD members to use the revised version of question 21 with the current SF86.

For the text of the revised question, go HERE.