color: SOME SOLDIER'S MOM: January 2009

Friday, January 30, 2009

Sexual Assault in the Military

Terri over at A Soldier's Mind has a post up about the Army's newest efforts to stem the unacceptable level of sexual assaults in the Army. As the video at ASM and as Terri notes, there have been over 1,800 convictions for sexual assaults since 9/11/01 -- but, as she rightfully notes, that would be just the tip of the iceberg because as statistics prove, sexual assault is probably the most under reported crime in the world. Here's a 2006 article that says that only about 26% of assaults in the military are reported...

I was not able to participate in the roundtable noted by Terri, but I have reviewed the materials and the official program information -- and IMHO it still gives way too much power to the attacker. For example, unless a soldier is willing to go through the formal investigation (Unrestricted Reporting) process -- which only provides limited confidentiality ["Details regarding the incident will be limited to only those personnel who have a legitimate need to know."] but in practice might as well be published in the base newspaper -- a victim must use the alternative process that allows them to be treated for the assault but leaves the attacker unidentified and unpunished -- and requires the victim to remain in the same unit and/or duty station as their attacker AND his "friends", no criminal investigation is conducted, etc.

I personally know of a young soldier... after she and her NCO had been drinking with other unit soldiers at AIT, this young woman was attacked. She was told by her company CO after she filed for a formal investigation that they'd rake her over the coals in a formal investigation, that she'd be subject to corporal punishment and maybe jail if the case against her attackers wasn't proven (and they were going to claim consensual sex as were their friends)... but the CO convinced her it would be so much easier on her if she'd just drop the formal charges, they'd put in a transfer order for her to another unit. When this 18 yr old girl withdrew the formal charges, she was then threatened with being charged with filing false charges and then given the "opportunity" to be discharged. The papers she signed WITHOUT counsel included waiving all her rights to any benefits.

Sexual assault changes the victims, and in this case -- victimized by the people charged with protecting her -- didn't just change this woman's life, it damaged it -- forever. She says that if she had to do it all over again, she would never have reported her rape... she thinks she would have gotten a better deal if she had killed the guys! Fortunately, she has now gone to the VA and registered with their military sexual assault counselor and is now receiving counseling while her case in investigated.

In this 2004 story from the Washington Post discussing the rise in sexual assaults and rapes, it was noted that, "Army officials noted that the five-year tally included reports of abuse that proved to be "unfounded" after investigation, a number said to have tripled from 48 to 157 between 1999 and 2003. Army spokeswoman Lt. Col. Diane Battaglia said she could not explain why the number of cases deemed false had risen so much." Well, now you know how that can happen.

I also know of the case of a teenage soldier whose NCO IN COMBAT approached him and when the soldier rebuffed the advance, the NCO threatened to make the young man WALK point in an area where the unit had encountered 2-5 IEDs daily if he spoke of the incident. As this young soldier reported, "I had to do whatever he assigned me to -- he controlled my life and my death... so I didn't mention it until we redeployed... but I did what I could to be sure no one was ever alone with him when I could do it." When the unit redeployed, he sought counseling and, through counseling, reported the NCO. The other members of the unit -- although threatened and punished (because the NCO remained with the unit) -- did agree to give statements supporting the allegations... but the NCO remained in the unit for more than a year while the investigation proceeded. The 17-year Army veteran eventually agreed to leave the Army but no one seems to be able to say the nature of his discharge. This unit was combat-hardened and stood up to this NCO until he was removed -- but I'm certain it's a rarity.

The statistics in this 2008 CNN story will make you go back and re-read the numbers:

"My jaw dropped when the doctors told me that 41 percent of the female veterans seen there say they were victims of sexual assault while serving in the military," said Harman, [ Rep. Jane Harman, D-California] who has long sought better protection of women in the military.

"Twenty-nine percent say they were raped during their military service. They spoke of their continued terror, feelings of helplessness and downward spirals many of their lives have taken since.

[snip]

In 2007, Harman said, only 181 out of 2,212 reports of military sexual assaults, or 8 percent, were referred to courts martial. By comparison, she said, 40 percent of those arrested in the civilian world on such charges are prosecuted.

Defense statistics show that military commanders took unspecified action, which can include anything from punishment to dismissal, in an additional 419 cases.

I do believe the Army is taking this seriously. I do believe the Army is trying... but until the process requires the investigation of every sexual assault... until every victim is protected from reprisal and punishment (unless false accusations are involved), and until the process offers full confidentiality and alternatives (like anonymous evidence gathering, immediate removal of victims from the unit of her attacker or removal of the attacker from the unit, etc.), and until soldiers are guaranteed that the attacker will be harshly punished (and for those whose allegations are PROVEN to be false), soldiers will refuse to report sexual assault. The Army and other branches of the military will not correct this problem until punishment is swift, terrible and assured. It must make the process immediate and the punishment so horrible and sure that it serves as a deterrent and a reminder of the zero tolerance the military professes.

Here's a link to last year's (2007) Report on Sexual Assault in the Military . You can read all the words, but be sure to look at page 31 which shows the number of attacks and the responses. Frightening. Can't wait to see this year's numbers....

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Do You Know A Veteran in Need of Health Care?

From the Military Officers Association of America:

Fallen on Hard Times? VA May Help With Health Care

2009/01/27 00:00:00

The VA offers an assortment of programs that can relieve health care costs or provide care at no cost to veterans who are struggling financially because of a job loss or decreased income.

Veterans whose previous income was ruled too high for VA health care may be able to enter the VA system based on hardship if their current year's income is projected to fall below federal income thresholds. The fall must be caused by job loss, separation from service, or some other financial setback.

Veterans determined eligible because of hardship can avoid copayments applied to higher-income veterans. Qualifying veterans may be eligible for enrollment and receive health care at no cost.

"With the downturn in the economy, VA recognizes that many veterans will feel the effects," says VA Secretary Dr. James B. Peake. "Therefore, it is important that eligible veterans learn of the many ways VA has to help them afford the health care they have earned."

Also eligible for no-cost VA care are most veterans who recently returned from a combat zone. These veterans are entitled to five years of free VA care. The five-year "clock" begins with their discharge from the military, not their departure from a combat zone.

Enrollment coordinators at each VA medical center across the country can provide veterans with information about these programs. Veterans also may contact the VA's Health Benefits Service Center at (877) 222-VETS (8387), or visit the VA’s Health Care Eligibility and Enrollment Web site at www.va.gov/healtheligibility.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK???

in my email from Congress.org:

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THESE BILLS?

More than 500 bills have been introduced in the House and more than 200 in the Senate in the 111th Congress. What is on the minds of Members of Congress that they feel need to be addressed?

Here are a few examples:

H.R. 15 creates a nationalized system of free health care.
My Comment: I guess by "free" they mean hospitals, doctors, pharmacies, etc. will be providing their services for free? Yeah. That's what I thought.

H.R. 414, the Camera Phone Predator Alert Act, requires cameras in cell phones to make an audible sound to alert others (such as in locker rooms) when a picture is taken.
My comment: Um, ok. I get the reasoning... but do we not have better things to be legislating?

H.R. 346 repeals the automatic payraises Congress receives.
My comment: It's about time. When they have fixed the messes they got us into -- i.e., when they have EARNED a pay raise, then they should get one.

H.R. 390 addresses "college football playoff games" while H.R. 187 says let Cubans play American baseball.
My comment: Um, ok. I get the reasoning... but do we not have better things to be legislating?

H.R. 227 states that human life begins at fertilization.
My comment: Danger! danger! danger! Danger, Will Robinson! Danger! This is definitely NOT the type of thing that ANYONE should be legislating. Not likely to get passed by the Democratic-controlled Congress anyway...

H.R. 254 moves voting to the weekend.
My comment: Maybe more working people will take the time to vote??

H.R. 113 requires anything funded by an earmark to be audited. Perhaps things like H.R. 202, which creates a "Museum of Ideas."
My comment: this should not only require an "audit" but it should require that each earmark be voted on its merits and not be tacked on to any other spending item.

H.R. 116 ends political "robocalls" if you are on the "Do Not Call" Registry, while Senate bill S. 30 wants there to be caller ID honesty.
My comment: Um, ok. I get the reasoning... but do we not have better things to be legislating?

H.R. 126 would limit citizenship at birth only to those who have at least one parent who is a citizen or legal resident. H.R. 160 would limit Social Security benefits to only legal citizens or residents.
My comment: Absolutely friggin' about time for both these measures... but, again, neither likely to be passed by the socialist Democratic-controlled Congress.

H.R. 155 would ban taxes on unemployment benefits for two years, while H.R. 162 bans taxes on Social Security benefits.
My comment: Makes sense to me... it's not like people are getting rich on unemployment benefits.

H.R. 87 says "Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is," and invites those who like to pay taxes to voluntarily pay extra taxes. Or how about just a "Fair Tax" as called for in H.R. 25.
My comment: Yeah... maybe Ashton & Demi would like to make this part of their Presidential Pledge initiative???

H.R. 70 would make it a hate crime to display a noose with the intent to intimidate. And H.R. 40 explores paying reparations to African-Americans.
My comment: This is always so friggin' preposterous. I didn't own any slaves. My family immigrated (legally) after slavery was banned. Besides, they have been receiving reparations for more than 40 years via minority preferences and quotas ... and any scholarships, grants, etc. paid to the African-American should be deducted from a "reparation". They should also have to prove they were personally damaged by slavery.

S. 213 would create an Airline Passenger Bill of Rights.
My comment: This is long overdue. I have said for the longest time that every airline ticket is a contract with an airline: I pay you to get me from point A to Point B within a reasonable time frame. If they can't do that, I should get my money back. Period. And it should be illegal to hold passengers on a grounded plane. If they did this off the plane, it'd be called kidnapping.

And Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is back in the swing of things. He's introduced S.151, a bill to protect Indian arts and crafts.
My comment: oh, john, john, john.....

And just one other little note on the "Stimulus Plan"... what's the price tag now? $850 Billion? Let us do a little math. Mr. Obama says that this stimulus plan would "create or save 3 million to 4 million jobs over the next TWO YEARS. $850,000,000,000 / 4,000,000 is $212,500 PER JOB! Maybe we should just pay $50,000 to each unemployed American?? It'd be cheaper.

Also note, that at least 5 million jobs, and probably many more, will have been lost during this economic downturn. So even if the new Administration's most optimistic projections bear out, unemployment in December 2010 will still be higher than it was in December 2007.

Just sayin'.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

The Little Big Man...

he's walking!! Soon he'll be asking for the car keys... we Moms & Dads know that is just a small joke... one that brings a smile and a tear.


video

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HOW THE NEW PRESIDENT AND HIS CONGRESS CAN HELP 99.9% OF AMERICANS -- NOW!!

OK, I think this is the biggest SCAM EVER! Have you looked closely at your credit card bills recently? Have you read those annoying notifications about "Amendment to Your Account Agreement" that are in typeface so small you need a magnifying glass to read or that is tucked in with all the advertisements they stuff in with your bill?

One of our sons brought this to my attention when the minimum payment on his credit card more than DOUBLED -- and in looking at his interest rate, he realized that it had almost tripled. So, knowing that he had not missed any payments, had no late payments, had not exceeded his credit limit (in fact, they recently DOUBLED his available credit line to an amount that approaches his annual salary!), he called Citibank and was told the interest rate was being increased "due to market conditions". He asked the customer service rep (who obviously was reading from a prepared script), "WHAT market conditions?" And she said, "General economic conditions..." When my son told me his conversation, I was just simply incensed! So I went
to the web sites of a number of credit card companies and found that ALL of them are FLEECING AMERICA -- Citibank, Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America -- even USAA which is supposed to be a financial association for the benefit of the members (past & present) of the Armed Forces and their families! Not all are charging exorbitant new rates -- but all have increased their rates: some rates were effective January 1... some will be effective in February!

Here is how this scam works: virtually every single credit card charges interest based on a formula of the Prime Rate -- that is, the rate the banks borrow money from the Federal Reserve -- PLUS some percentage... the lower your credit rating, the higher your "+ %" is. Now these banks -- which have received hundreds of millions -- nay BILLIONS -- of our tax dollars from our noble (and I use that word loosely) Congress supposedly to permit these banks to continue loaning money to people (that would be you and me.) Well, these banks are borrowing money from the Federal Reserve at the insanely low rates of 0.25 - 1.0 % which has resulted in wonderfully low interest rates on credit cards -- benefiting the people who need the help most!

Now these same banks are telling you and me that "due to market conditions" that the "+%" is being increased -- doubled and even tripled! WTF?? And it's not just future purchases -- the new interest rates are on the entire balance! So if you made a purchase (stimulating the economy with your purchase) on a credit card at a nice low interest rate that you figured you could afford the payments, that purchase will also be assessed the new interest rate! And, yes, you can "opt out" and keep your low interest rate -- but you have to agree to either cancel the card or not use it again -- if you do, your use signifies your "agreement" with the new interest rate!

First these banks get OUR money via the Congressional bailout, next they are permitted to borrow OUR money from the Fed (remember, government doesn't have any money of its own -- ALL its money comes from US via taxes!) at ludicrously low rates and now they want to SCHTUPE us by telling us THAT MARKET CONDITIONS DEMAND AN INCREASE in these rates? WHAT market conditions? GREED is not a market condition. The banks bad mortgages and their over extension of credit to those who were/are not creditworthy are NOT market conditions for which the public should be paying!! Propping up the banks' share prices for the benefit of their stockholders are NOT market conditions for which the public should be paying! I understand that banks are entitled to make a profit and to pay their LEGITIMATE administrative expenses -- but since when was 8% (of loaned money) not a reasonable profit? When did it become acceptable to set 13, 14, 15% to be "reasonable" profit levels?? And please don't tell me that the new credit card reform will help -- that bill (which would actually stop SOME of this) isn't effective FOR 18 MONTHS (August 2010!) -- by that time, more people will be bankrupt or in default and interest rates will already be so high what would be the point??

Seriously, if the Congress intends to give MORE of my money to the banks, I think the minimum condition to receiving this money should be that these banks accept the terms of that legislation NOW!!

If the new President and people like Ted Kennedy, Harry Reid, Barney Frank, Nancy Pelosi, et al. REALLY want to help the American people through these hard economic times, this is as good a place as any to start.

And lest they think this somehow benefits the "rich" -- I remind them that the "rich" have other resources and do not carry the significant portion of the country's revolving debt -- the POOREST people of our country are hurt far more by these banking practices! Not to mention that this is seriously NOT the way to stimulate the economy! This is an outrage and if they don't know it, they SHOULD!!

I encourage every one of you to copy & paste this and SEND IT IMMEDIATELY to your Congressperson and Senators. This is an OUTRAGE! THIS is the place we HOPE for CHANGE!

GGGGRRRRRR.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Trillion $$$ Bailouts???

Obama team gives bailout more scope
U. S. government's controversial US$700-billion rescue package...
the next US$350-billion...
The fund ended up taking US$250-billion...
Congressman Barney Frank... demand that more than US$40-billion
Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008
authorizing the... Secretary of the Treasury to spend up to US$700 billion
Obama team: 'Urgent' need for bailout money
the second half of the $700 billion financial bailout
Who'll want a bailout next?
Hustler publisher Larry Flynt and Joe Francis of the "Girls Gone Wild"... need for assistance — about $5 billion worth.
so all these casual references to billion dollars here... billion dollars there... added $20 billion in pork here... (Read the 2008 Pig Book which identifies 11,610 projects at a cost of $17.2 billion in the 12 Appropriations Acts for fiscal 2008) made me wonder

How many zeros in a billion?


This is too sad to be funny. The next time you hear a politician use the word 'billion' in a casual manner, think about whether you want the 'politicians' spending YOUR tax money.

A billion is a difficult number to comprehend, but one advertising agency did a good job of
putting that figure into some perspective in one of its releases.


A.
A billion seconds ago it was 1959.


B.
A billion minutes ago Jesus was alive.


C.
A billion hours ago our ancestors were
living in the Stone Age.

D.
A billion days ago no-one walked on the earth on two feet.


E. A billion dollars ago was only 8 hours and
20 minutes, at the rate our government is spending it.

and that TRILLION dollar bail out??
one trillion = one thousand billion.
A THOUSAND BILLIONS.


so while you're rubbing your hands in glee (or dismay) about what's in a bailout for you?? Remember "The government cannot give anything to anyone that it does not first take from someone else."


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Friday, January 09, 2009

Every Soldier's Mom

The link to the blog of an Israeli soldier's mother from Brat reminded me that we parents of soldiers (and sailors, marines, air force, coast guard) share the universal love and admiration -- and WORRY -- we have for our children when they are deployed. It is a universal feeling among parents who value and cherish the lives of their children... in the parents who know the hope of the world is in the LIVES of their children and not in their deaths.

Yes, it is hard to be a soldier's mom while the world is at war. I have written any number of posts on that topic over the past few years... about the worry that pervades night and day... 24 hours a day, every day that they are in harm's way. How hard it is to be HERE when they are THERE... how hard it is to be a soldier's mom...

Thoughts of A Soldier's Mom in a Time of War
Hard to Be a Soldier's Mom
Every Parent's Nightmare


And, sadly, like many of us who blog about our soldiers, we are subjected to the most horrible comments from the ignorant, the vile and the despicable. This Israeli mother is no different. I left her a comment telling her that she is one of us -- the mothers of soldiers who serve even though we did not enlist. I reminded her that we mothers -- that we parents and the families of those who serve pray every day for peace... we pray for peace everywhere. So run on by A Soldier's Mom and offer her encouragement... give her a virtual {{{HUG}}} and let her know she is not alone.

x-posted at Parents Zone

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Thursday, January 08, 2009

Gary Sinise: A Tribute to the Troops

“On the Road in Iraq With Our Troops and Gary Sinise” — a one hour special that is airing this Saturday, Jan. 10 at 9p ET on FOX News Channel.

This from Gary Sinise's Blog:

With the help of the USO, my brother-in-law Jack, and my friend Jonathan Flora who used a handheld camera, you will see what happened on a seven day trip I took to Iraq last summer which will air this Saturday night on the FOX News Channel. It was my fourth trip there with the USO. My goal, as always, was to cover as many miles as possible and to take pictures, sign autographs and shake hands with as many troops as I could in the time I had. Stops included bases in Kuwait and in Iraq — Al Asad, Al Qaim, Ramadi, Habbaniyah, TQ airbase and Baghdad.

It was the first time I have let a camera follow me around on one of these trips.

We all know Gary Sinise's dedication to the troops... and we thank him.

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

2008 Best Weblog Awards: Best Diarist

Please go over and vote for my dear friend Army Wife Toddler Mom (you can vote once a day!!)

THANKS!!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

GUARD & RESERVE: 2009 FREEDOM AWARD NOMINATIONS OPEN

I have been meaning to blog on this for some time... but time to blog has been an issue... so better late than never!

NOMINATION SEASON OPENS FOR

2009 SECRETARY OF DEFENSE EMPLOYER SUPPORT FREEDOM AWARD

National Guard and Reserve members and families encouraged to nominate supportive employers

ARLINGTON, Va. – Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, a Department of Defense agency, has opened the nomination season for the 2009 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award. National Guard and Reserve members and their families are eligible and encouraged to nominate employers who have gone above and beyond in their support of military employees. Nominations will be accepted at www.FreedomAward.mil from November 3, 2008 to January 19, 2009. The Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award is the highest recognition given by the U.S. Government to employers for their outstanding support of their employees who serve in the National Guard and Reserve.

The 2009 recipients will be announced in the spring and honored in Washington, D.C. at the 14th annual Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award ceremony September 17, 2009. Recipients of the 2008 Freedom Award met with President George W. Bush and Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England. Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, Dr. David Chu presented the awards at a ceremony attended by members of Congress and senior government and military officials.

Almost one-half of the U.S. military is comprised of the National Guard and Reserve. The Department of Defense shares these citizen warriors with their civilian employers, many of whom provide significant support to their employees who serve in the National Guard and Reserve. 2008 honorees ranged from a small family owned transportation business in Utah to large businesses including Chrysler and Dominion Resources to the City of Austin, Texas, a public sector employer. Past recipients of the Freedom Award have provided full salary, continuation of benefits, care packages and even family support to employees fulfilling their military obligation.

The Freedom Award was instituted in 1996 under the auspices of the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) to recognize exceptional support from the employer community.

ESGR is a Department of Defense agency established in 1972. Its mission is to gain and maintain employer support for Guard and Reserve service by recognizing outstanding support, increasing awareness of the law and resolving conflicts through mediation.

For questions regarding the Freedom Award nomination process, please visit
www.FreedomAward.mil or contact Beth Sherman, ESGR Public Affairs, at 703-380-9717.