Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Soldiers' Angels Katrina Relief Fund for Soldiers' Families

Soldiers' Angels has also began an operation to assist soldiers' families in Louisiana and Missippi who are currently deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan and cannot be home to help their families.

Katrina Soldiers' Relief Fund

Blackfive says:

Hurricane Katrina has devastated New Orleans and South Louisiana. The homes and lives of an untold number of our friends and families have been decimated. Included in the ranks of victims are the family members of our soldier's serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Many of these soldiers will be returning home in the next few weeks to find that their families have been displaced and their homes and businesses destroyed.

Soldier's Angels has established a relief fund to help our soldiers and their families cope with and recover from this devastation. Your donation will help these families obtain essential personal items, temporary shelter and any other needs that can be met. Soldier's Angels will also work to provide information to the soldiers concerning their families whereabouts and needs. Now is the time to help protect those who have given up so much to protect us.

If you can help, please do so.

* Call us at 626 398 3131
* Email us at

That's one more place you can give help.

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Hurricane Katrina: Disaster and Deliverance

How You Can Help

Reports continue to arrive on the status of the region hit by Hurricane Katrina. The destruction is completely devestating; more than experienced in years, more than September 11 if one discounts the deaths. There is no real casualty list or number of dead. Reports indicate that dead bodies are being left where they are, on the side of the road, in their homes, floating in the water and any number of places because there are no places to put them. The living get first priority.

The reality of this situation will not be truly apparent for days if not weeks as loved ones make reports and try to find their missing family members. There are probably many citizens who were elderly or had no family that would worry and report them.

Current reports indicate that the operation to plug a major levy has failed and they are expecting over 9 ft of water to flood the east side. Army Corp of Engineers is on its way with a convoy of trucks carrying giant Jersey barriers to be dropped into the hole and then covered with tons of sand in hopes of sealing the hole. Without it, the city of New Orleans may disappear beneath the sea. The American Atlantis. The mayor and governor have ordered everyone to leave the area, but other organizations indicate that the only way in and out of the city is by helicopter or boat. If the levies cannot be repared, we will be hearing many more reports of death.

Major looting was occuring by early Monday and continued through the day. Martial law was declared and SWAT teams were deployed to support the National Guard and local police. Many officers indicated that they were letting looters go, more concerned with the rescue mission and evacuating stranded people. Although, some officers were stopping looters who were not doing "basic essentials" looting, but were stealing televisions, DVD players and other non-essentials.

Sometime during the evening, a police station reported two men attacking them with AK 47s. Officers gave chase, but lost the men when they ran back into the French Quarter.

Horrible stories of despair accompanied by amazing stories of rescue continue to be heard. Tens of thousands of civilians did not heed the warning to leave and now are stranded without potable water, food and shelter. People are being pulled from their roof tops, rescuers are cutting holes in roofs to pull people from attics, people are floating on makeshift rafts.

Help Hurricane Katrina Survivors and Rescue Workers

The Red Cross is now asking for donations and volunteers. There are reports that the phone line for phone in donations and volunteers are overwhelmed and ringing busy. They ask for your patience and that you continue to try calling.

If you can't afford to donate cash, time and blood are the next two things you can offer. If you are in Kansas City, you can contact the local Red Cross here. According to the national site, if you are going to volunteer for Hurricane Katrina relief, you will receive a two day training course and need to be ready to be gone for at least three weeks. But don't let that deter you. The local Red Cross most likely will need assistance at local offices and warehouses to sort and send info, people and supplies.

The Kansas City office is located at:

American Red Cross
Greater Kansas City Chapter

211 W. Armour Blvd.
Kansas City, MO 64111 USA
Phone 816-931-8400
Fax 816-531-7306

If you are not in the Kansas City Area but are still interested in finding out about volunteering, you can find your local Red Cross here. If you are volunteering, you will need to complete this PDF form, fax, mail or take it with your when you go to the office.

If you can't donate money and can't volunteer, you can donate blood. The Red Cross was already reporting a shortage of blood a week ago and asking for donations. This disaster must surely task their supplies. Donate blood. Find a list of places to donate in the Kansas City Area here.

The next two days, blood donations are being accepted at the following locations:

Thursday, September 1
21350 W. 153rd St.
Olathe, KS
10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

14001 E. 32nd St.
Independence, MO
4:30 - 8:30 p.m.

Friday, September 2
Shawnee Civic Center
Johnson Drive & Pflumm
Shawnee, KS
10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Valley View Bank
7500 W. 95th St.
Overland Park, KS
10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

The following criteria should be met when giving blood:

If you're 17 years old or older, weigh at least 110 pounds and are in general good health, you can share your life with others. In fact, your one donation can save up to three lives because each component of your blood is used for specialized medical treatments.

Not in Kansas City? Go here to find your area blood donation region and locations.

As assessments are completed, the Red Cross will determine additional material needs, such as clothing, flashlights, batteries, basic toiletries and other needs will be noted. Other charitable organizations may be taking material donations as well. I suggest that you go through your closets for good, softly worn clothes that can be donated. Blankets, tents and other "survival" gear may be of assistance as well. Pick up a flashlight or some batteries or both here or there as you can afford it. These needs will be a continuing for weeks. Relief workers may also need items for their own survivability.

In the near future, there may also be a need for items for rescue and recovery dogs that will certainly be used in the coming weeks to locate survivors or the dead. Like the flashlights and batteries, you can buy a bag of treats, toys and other small items that will be needed for the dogs. Other things that will be useful, considering the time of year and conditions, will be fly and tick spray or ointment for animals. An organization currently involved in the animal rescue efforts is Noah's Wish and they provide a list of things that can be donated.

Another thing that you can do is conserve gas this weekend by limiting your driving. Diesel in particular because it is needed to run generators at hospitals, shelters and central command locations. The President has already authorized the release of some reserves because of the devestation to oil rigs and refineries in the area of the storm. You should also be aware that Kansas City Gas Stations are predicting gas to be at 2.90 to 3.00 by Saturday.

Save the gas and save your gas money to give to the rescue efforts.

Stay tuned for what, where and how you can assist.


Go here for a complete list of charities that are taking monetary and material assistance for Hurricane Katrina relief.

(hat tip: Egyptian Sandmonkey )


If you came from another blog, I will continue to aggregate local and national relief operations. Look for "current" postings.

Join us in Prayer for all those affected and for the brave men and women who are helping with the rescue efforts.

Dear Father in heaven, in the powerful Name of Your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, I beg You to lift Your hand and lay it on those suffering from Hurricane Katrina. I pray that You show Your grace and mercy - healing the sick and injured, giving Your protection, strengthening men and women to help each other, and forbidding the lawless to do major harm. I ask You, Father, to intercede on behalf of emergency workers, police, firefighters, and our national Guard. I implore You to grant them safety and health as they work to ease pain and rebuild from the devastation.

You, Lord, are El Shaddai - God Almighty and All-Sufficient - You can provide all that is needed. Your arm is strong to save, and Your love endures forever. Your Presence is to be desired above everything, and Your patience is indeed bountiful. I entreat You to display Your glory by Your mercy and Your providence for the citizens of this country. You have richly blessed us, Lord, and I pray You will bless us still.

Give us strength and unity, let us come alongside our neighbors and show the world how Your country displays courage and love to our own. Open our hearts and our hands that we may comfort, heal, nourish, and rebuild. Please, Father, let this draw us to You - to rely on Your strength, to trust in Your goodness and Your plan, and to proclaim the humble love of Your Beloved Son to people who so desperately need it.

It is in the Name of Jesus the Christ, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, that I offer this prayer.


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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Project VALOUR IT: Six Degrees of Separation

Lesson 1: Things You Can Do

John at Castle Arrggh! was talking the other day about the two degrees of separation for military personnel. In otherwords, they all know somebody who knows somebody or were someplace at the same time as the other. It comes out in conversations when these men and women meet.

Mr. Thomas Macclanahan of the Kansas City Star had written an article in 2004 about Iraqi blogs and he and I exchanged a few emails about it. Particularly, Iraq the Model. I read the article and went to that blog where I met a number of very interesting people. After reading that blog, I began this blog. A short while later, I found milblogs. I met some more fantastic people at these blogs. I found out about Soldiers' Angels and made some donations.

One of the milblogs I found was From My Position. I was reading his blog in June when he was injured by an IED. Soldiers' Angels went to support Capt. Z and then provided a laptop and voice activated software. Another reader and friend of mine from the Castle decided that it would be a good idea to do this project. She solicited a great number of bloggers to help support this project (see list on side bar).

In that inevitable circular way, as I was researching who to send info to at the Star to get publicity for Project Valour IT, I saw his name on the list of Op Ed writers and decided to ask him if he would be interested in writing about our project.

I wrote him a letter that you can read by clicking on "the inner sanctum". It's long. I probably wrote too much and I hope he doesn't decide that he should put it aside to read another day, but I felt the need to give him as much info as necessary about the authenticity, originality and sincerity of Soldiers' Angels and this project. I even talked about the subject of this post; about how it was all connected in a strange way.

I just sent it to him this morning. I will be post an update every day about who I've written or talked to and whether there has been a response. I'm hoping that I get a positive response.

Already donated or can't afford to spare any cash?

Printed and On Line Media
This is one of the things that the readers of this blog can do to help support this project. You don't have much money, but want to do more? Letters are simple and take only your time, a fairly valuable item after all and it is valuable to Soldiers' Angels Project VALOUR IT. You can find your local paper online and research who handles space for charitable organizations (often provided free of cost though limited in space), contact them by phone or by letter and ask them to provide space for a small advertisement.

Have you written a letter to the editor lately?

A short letter (unlike mine) talking about people supporting the troops (may include such language as "despite the anti-war coverage by the media"; though we are non-political org, certain language may get your letter printed - if you are a member of SA, please make sure that your letter is in the format of a private citizen and not representing SA) is huge and growing. Mention Soldiers' Angels is one of many organizations and they have over 40,000 members alone. Then mention this project as an example of how people come together to support the troops. Be sure to give web addresses for both SA and Project VALOUR IT.

Another way you could segue into this subject in a letter to the editor is to talk about the other number one story, the hurricane, how the National Guard, once again comes to the rescue of our citizens, supporting us in our time of need and we should support them in all their endeavors and in their time of need. Like Soldiers' Angels, a great non profit organization that supports the troops in many ways. One such project is Project VALOUR IT. Again, web links are important.

Have you exchanged emails with a writer at a paper or a journalist at a news organization?

Feel free to write to them and ask them if they are planning to or would like to write a piece about ordinary citizens, working in the "six degrees of separation" have bonded together to support the troops. Maybe they would like to write about Project VALOUR IT and Soldiers' Angels? For these types of letters, you should send links to the information pages and provide a link or copy of the press release about this project which you can find here.

Newspapers Are Run By Corporations -
They always have space in their budget for charitable donations including costly web and print space.

To ask about getting free publicity in print or online, you should write your request to the public relations officer, phone it in or email. You should be able to find this person's information by going to any newspaper's/magazine's "contact us". They may be interested in getting their name linked with a great project like this or in simply fulfilling their obligations under their tax write offs for providing for charitable donations.

Remember that you are a representative of SA and SA is a non-political organization so don't tie that in when you're looking for PR help. Before you contact a public relations officer about providing space or other assistance for the project, make sure that you:

a) Have read the website for Project VALOUR IT thoroughly and understand what the project is about.
b) Discuss your proposition with Beth at Fuzzilicious. You can drop her an email at and she'll contact you. Be sure to provide your phone number in your email so that she can get back to you promptly.
c) Understand that you are acting as a conduit and do not have the authority to make decisions about using this space and certainly cannot obligate SA for any funds to PAY for any advertising. Unless of couse you can pay for it out of your own pocket, but you would still need to get approval for content from Beth or her designated person before posting.

I know, that sounds like a lot of rules for someone asking you to help, but please keep in mind that Soldiers' Angels is very important for the support of our group and cannot afford to have issues with copyrights, misrepresentation or other legal or financial issues. And this information is designed to assist you in ways to promote the project, not hinder you in anyway because we appreciate all of your help.

Of course, you can still donate money, time and effort. Write to Beth and ask her what we need.

Stand by for Lesson 2 in how you can help Soldiers' Angels Project VALOUR IT.

Dear Mr. Mcclanahan,

I wanted to write and thank you for an editorial you did last year pointing out the Iraqi blogs. I wrote a letter last year thanking you for bringing this information to the fore, that my brother is in the military and reading those blogs helped me understand what was going on. Those blogs have been some of the best information on the status of Iraq that I could find anywhere. Several times, the Iraqi blogs have broken the news about events in that country before television or news wires and papers. The last few days, I have been able to find out about the constitution and issues from bloggers hours if not a day or two before the AP even gets a paragraph up.

From reading those blogs, I found military blogs, written by our men and women deployed around the world, including Iraq and Afghanistan (lately, a number of Afghani bloggers have joined the fray as the country's infrastructure has been built up, largely off the grid for our media here). At these blogs I met some really fantastic people and found out about great ways to support our men and women in uniform.

I joined one of these organizations, Soldiers' Angels ( and donated to their many projects. I really liked this organization because it had a very personal side to their support. Besides organizing "adopt a soldier" and care packages, this organization goes above and beyond the call of duty.

When a soldier is injured, after stabilization in Iraq or Afghanistan, they are sent to Landstuhl, Germany Military hospital and then on to a state side military hospital like Walter Reed and Bethesda. Some people might no be aware that, when a soldier comes to a CSH (cash - combat support hospital), their clothes are usually cut off of them. When they are shipped to Germany and then the United States, they arrive in a hospital gown. They have no personal items. No underwear, socks, tooth brush or comb. If you've ever been in a hospital, these things are not usually provided (some provide mouth wash) and the military hospitals are no better. If they are able to walk around while in Germany, the military issues them new DCUs (desert camouflage uniforms), but the soldier has to provide his or her own under things and basic necessities.

Many of the soldiers are not able to do that due to the nature of their wounds and condition so they are left bare except for a hospital gown (and we all know how much that covers). It will take several days for someone back at their duty station (Iraq or Afghanistan) to pack up and send their belongings and then several more weeks for these things to catch up with them, leaving them with nothing. Most of the time, their loved ones cannot get to where they are admitted for a day or two and some cannot stay due to family, finances or other obligations.

Soldiers' Angels is there. Literally. There are Soldiers Angels who live near these hospitals, even in Germany, and, when contacted by loved ones, they go, even in the middle of the night, and meet the wounded troops. They deliver messages of love from family and friends, they bring back packs with essentials (t-shirts, underwear, combs, deodorant, etc) and "blankets of hope" (hand sewn blankets with messages of love and gratitude) to comfort the soldiers. Sometimes they stay with the soldier all night, holding their hands and standing vigil until a loved one can make it there.

They have many other "operations" that support the troops.

Of course, there are many organizations doing their part, but this one is my favorite because it has an extra personal touch and fills a unique niche in the wide range of troop support organizations. They were recently written about in the Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal Opinion Journal (links at bottom of email)

In the article from the Washington Post, Soldiers' Angels is meeting with Capt. Charles Ziegenfuss. Capt. Ziegenfuss' blog,, was a regular read for me on my tour through the military blogs (milblogs). His wife was the first to tell us about his injuries when she posted a note on his blog. He had been severely wounded by an IED causing a lot of soft tissue, muscle and nerve damage to his arms, hands and legs, including losing his pinky and part of his hand. It was from there that Soldiers' Angels received the information and went to work.

In the article, the writer mentions that Soldiers’ Angels brought Capt. Ziegenfuss a laptop and voice activated software so that he could continue to write in his online journal. He was also able to use it to write emails to his friends and troops still deployed. Through his website he received hundreds of notes of appreciation, good wishes for recovery, words of support and comfort for both him and his family (his wife Carren was posting about their experience until he could).

His wife wrote to Soldiers’ Angels “he loves to see how many people comment when he posts.” It is” very instrumental for his healing”. Several of his readers and supporters of Soldiers’ Angels realized that there might be another distinct opportunity to help wounded troops and created Soldiers’ Angels Project VALOUR IT (Voice Activated Laptops four OUR Injured Troops). With the numbers and types of injuries the soldiers are suffering it seemed apparent that many other soldiers could benefit from this type of equipment.

This isn’t just about providing soldiers with a source of entertainment. This project is meant to be another tool in the process of recovery. As I mentioned above, many family members cannot stay with the soldiers throughout their recovery and rehabilitation due to children, employment or finances. This means that they will have to try to stay in contact and give moral support via long distance phone calls that can be very expensive though many organizations have lent a hand by providing free calling cards, but usually to the soldiers and not the family. There is also the problem of soldiers with severe hand and arm injuries, not to mention amputations and paralysis that cannot use the phone without assistance.

Voice activated laptops will allow them to have the computer at bedside and simply command the computer to write an email or use instant messaging or even have live, over the net voice chats. This will help these soldiers stay connected to their support base during their long recovery.

It will allow them to do the same with their comrades and friends still on active duty in Iraq or Afghanistan. This also has an important role since the experience of combat creates a unique bond through shared experiences. Many soldiers say that the only people that really understand how they feel are other soldiers that have been in combat. After a traumatic event, particularly severe injuries from combat, soldiers experience a period of anxiety due to separation from friends and usually suffer from post traumatic stress (acute stress) that may later become post traumatic stress disorder, a long term psychological problem that affects many people and soldiers each year. The National Center for PTSD indicates about 7% of the entire population may suffer from PTS or PTSD every year. Other studies indicate that up to 30% of all soldiers returning from combat may suffer from mild to acute post traumatic stress or anxiety.

Project VALOUR IT is meant to assist these soldiers by keeping them in contact with those whom they have shared the most with, can lend additional support and relieve the anxiety of separation. Many soldiers stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan have access to internet cafes or even have internet connection in their quarters. This is a much simpler way to keep in contact because of time zone differences, cost, access to phones or the limitations caused by injuries of the returned soldier.

The project also expects that the laptops will provide a sense of independence, confidence and normality by allowing the soldiers to get control of their personal affairs, like paying bills and doing online banking. They will even be able to take college courses and search for employment to prepare them for life after discharge.

Lastly, it can be a source of entertainment by allowing them to watch DVDs, play CDs or even browse the web. They can also use it to write online or offline journals as a method of self expression.

All of these things are meant to support these soldiers, improve morale and lessen the anxiety about their injuries, separation, and ability to function in a world where computers are now a common household item.

The project will also be providing the voice activated software and accessories free to soldiers discharged home with permanent disabilities impairing the use of their hands. Once loaded on the home computer and with a few devices installed around the home, the voice-activated software can be used to operate common household appliances, turn on lights and, of course, operate a computer.

Project VALOUR IT expects to provide 150 laptops and software to six military hospitals in the United States and Germany for a total of 900 computers. Several businesses have already lent their support and provided computers, software and accessories either at a discounted rate or free, however, the project is estimated to cost approximately $600,000. The project has collected a little over $10,000 through private donations and has already purchased 20 units that will be dispensed in the next seven to ten days to Walter Reed and Bethesda.

My apologies for running on about this project, but I am very passionate about supporting our troops in every way, from deployment to return. This evening, I was exploring ways to promote the project, particularly, how to bring this to the attention of our local press. As I was searching the Kansas City Star site for information about who to contact, I saw your name on the list of opinion columnists and remembered your editorial about the Iraqi blogs and our subsequent exchange of emails. I thought, no I hoped, that you might be interested in writing about how, despite the news coverage of the anti-war groups, there are organizations, their thousands of members and donors (maybe millions counting all organizations), like Soldiers Angels who go on supporting the troops actively, quietly and in every way possible.

Of course, if you do write about Soldiers’ Angels, I am hoping that you will mention this special project (Project VALOUR IT) and how, through one editorial you wrote over a year ago, a local citizen became connected to this project.

I want to thank you again for the editorial about the blogs and giving me the opportunity to meet such great people.

Kathleen Henry
6210 NE Antioch Rd
Gladstone, MO 64119

Links to information and articles

Soldiers’ Angels
Soldiers’ Angels Germany
Wall Street Journal Article
Washington Post Article
Capt. Ziegenfuss’ blog
Capt. Z talks about getting the laptop and software
Capt. Z photo using laptop and voice activated software (note hand that is raised is missing a pinky and part of the hand; he is still in rehab to gain full use of the hand)
Recorded interview with Captain Z at Soldiers’ Angels blog

Well Crap!

I was looking at local news and radio that might offer free advertising or commentary for our Project Valour IT and clicked over to "opinions" because one of the op-ed guys had written about the Iraqi blogs last year and that's how I found them. So, I was thinking that I would contact him and see if he'd be willing to write something for us.

When I got to the op-ed section on line, what did I see?

Bush is taking a long hike on a trail of failure - Maureen Dowd

Maureen Dowd is now being carried by the Kansas City Star?


And I was feeling so proud of the commentary about the web coverage.

I'll say no more since I wish to schmooze them for some help. Just imagine my feelings on the subject. Something akin to the last time the dog showed up on my porch with a dead squirrel.

Fortunately, they still have guys like E. Thomas Mcclanahan.

Kansas City Star #1 Story: Web Coverage of Katrina Blew Away TV News

Ever since Dan Rather put his body between Hurricane Carla and mainland Galveston, Texas, in 1961, television and Mother Nature have enjoyed a tempestuous, but fruitful, relationship.

But with Monday’s all-day coverage of Hurricane Katrina, it appears severe weather has a new suitor: the Internet.[snip]

But as TV cameras struggled to capture video of the rare Category 5 hurricane, news Web sites and amateur blogs offered snapshots and analysis of Katrina that were arguably better. Millions flocked to them with reporting an all-time record for streaming video requests — nearly 6 million by mid-afternoon Monday.[snip]

Still, anyone with Internet access had little reason to turn on the TV, except if they needed to see Fox’s Steve Harrigan, CNN’s Anderson Cooper or The Weather Channel’s Jeff Morrow doing standups in the mother of all rinse cycles. A number of blogs like and were keeping track of cable news coverage all day, and even had links to the key video streams.

Just as it did with bloggers during the 2004 campaign, CNN tried to co-opt the Net. It aired camera-phone shots e-mailed by amateurs in a segment pompously entitled “Citizen Journalists.” One problem: Because television offers a lower-resolution picture than a computer screen, the pictures looked awful. If Daryn Kagan hadn’t said we were looking at a picture of the hole in the Superdome, we might have mistaken it for a UFO, or Big Foot at night.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Improved Survivability, Increase in Traumatic Injury

As I work on Project Valour IT, I begin to see an aspect of this project that I hadn't thought about before. First, I didn't realize how excited I would be about this project. Since it was a blog inspired project that was started by a friend of mine after she read about a soldier who was injured and whose blog I also read, it seemed natural that I should support the project.

Besides, it didn't take much time, just writing a post, asking readers to donate and putting our blog roll up on the side bar. Not much. Although, as several days went by, I was trying to think of new things to write about, new ways to convey the importance of the project.

As Fuzzybear Lioness wrote today, we have written about the emotional, the practical and the patriotic reason to support this project, but, it wasn't until I volunteered to help put some information together for a power point presentation on the project that I really started thinking about what the project really meant. What it might mean to the wounded soldiers and their recovery.

Wounded soldiers. That sounds so impersonal now. Very general. Even talking about the fact that the wounds include amputation of limbs or digits. You understand this? There are some parts of the body that are naturally the most likely to be affected from blasts and burns. Partly because the military has been able to greatly improve the body armor that our soldiers use. This armor now covers, not only the torso, but the neck, the groin and even has "shoulder" guards. They have helmets and ballistic glasses. Some soldiers have even invested in "tactical" gloves. Tactical gloves can also have kevlar in them. Police use them these days instead of just wearing rubber gloves to search a suspect because of the number of officers who have been inadvertantly stabbed with a needle. Some have contracted hepatitis C and even a case of AIDS or two.

For soldiers, tactical gloves lend one more layer of protection.

In a direct or indirect blast, the most vital areas are covered. Still, the most vulnerable areas of the body, those parts without armor, particularly joints of limbs and digits, are the areas that are likely to see significant wounds.

I'm hoping that, as you read this, it isn't too dry a topic for you. It's certainly been discussed before on other blogs. It's usually the information that we readers scan for inumbers, to affirm our knowledge about numbers of casualties and tuck away for future reference. But, this isn't a dry subject for the wounded. They live it every day. It's something that I'm getting more familiar with as the project goes on and it is the significant reason why this project was started.

There are many types of wounds that can render a soldier incapable of doing basic daily functions much less use a computer, either permanently or temporarily as they go through rehabilitation. According to the DoD, wounds by reason (updated through Aug 6, 2005) indicates the number of wounded (ie, not killed) in hostile action:

  • 6577 Explosive
  • 1301 Weapons or weaponry effect
  • 862 Gunshot
  • 766 Rocket/mortar
  • 530 Bomb (different than "explosive"?)
  • 39 Burns/Inhalation
  • 16 Grenade
  • 10091 Hostile Fire

    That does not include the number injured in transportation accidents hostile or non-hostile, parachute/jumps, etc.

  • 14120 total wounded according to Icasualties (updated through Aug 23, 2005).
  • 7350 Total returned to duty within 72 hours of wound
  • 6770 Total non-returned to duty within 72 hours (including those that had longer recovery times at medical units in Iraq and those evacuated to medical facilities in Germany and the United States)

    Those who do not return to duty suffer a multitude of types of wounds. Everything from soft tissue wounds, muscle damage, nerve damage, complicated and simple fractures, 2nd to 1st degree burns, amputations, spinal cord, neck and head wounds, and lost or damaged eye sight.

    According to this article in December of 2004, apprx 6% of the wounded require amputations compared to 3% in previous wars. In a strange way, this is good news. While reports indicate the number of amputations are up compared to other wars, the number of deaths and ratio of deaths compared to past wars is markedly decreased. In World War II, 30% of all wounded soldiers died, 24% in Vietnam and 10% in the Iraq war.

    It means more soldiers are surviving, but it also means that the types of traumatic injuries survived increases. This means long periods of recovery and rehabilitation. It also means that many soldiers have to learn how to do simple things like turn door knobs, button clothes, tie shoes, walk, drive and, yes, even use a computer.

    Most of us understand the concept of amputation of a limb impacting how a person would continue to perform daily liviing activities. It doesn't even have to be a whole arm, hand or leg. Simply missing several fingers, the digits and functionality that set us apart from other primates, can impact how a patient functions in their every day life.

    Many other wounds can be just as debilitating. With the advances in skin, artery, vein, ligament, tendon and bone grafts, more and more soldiers are able to keep their limbs. Some returning to as much as 90 to 100% functionality. Others may only retain 50% or less movement and functionality in limbs, hands and fingers. then there are those that suffer from neck, spine and head injuries. The same report indicates that 20% of the wounded suffer from this kind of trauma, possibly even in addition to their other wounds. Blasts can knock soldiers into obstacles or even just throw them to the ground with enough violence to damage these fragile places on their bodies as this online journal shows when a mother reported that her son suffered just such an injury. Recovering from these injuries takes long and often painful weeks and months of rehabilitation to gain the simplist use of damaged limbs, control of functions or use of prosthetics.

    You'd be surprised by the simple tools devised, called aids for daily living (ADL), to help overcome the difficulties experienced from having missing or damaged limbs. Things like button hooks and sock aids to help with dressing can take away some of the frustration of dressing and aid independence.

    Most of us take those simple tasks for granted and do not realize how depressing it would be if we were not able to control that one simple function in our life and must rely on someone else to assist us. These simple tasks are the things that rehab units at Walter Reed, Bethesda, Brooke and other military facilities focus on to help move injured soldiers towards basic functioning and independence.

    I've talked about the number and types of injuries. Now Soldiers' Angels is looking to supply our wounded soldiers with voice activated laptops at six facilities in the United States and Germany. These aren't frivolous toys, these laptops serve a number of practical purposes:

  • Allow soldiers to manage financial affairs like bills, banking and correspondence.
  • Allow soldiers to use their GI bill and take online college courses while they are recuperating and in between rehabilitation schedules.
  • Allow soldiers to search for employment opportunities and prepare for a future beyond the military and their future discharge from the hospital
  • Allow soldiers to handle personal and business correspondence

    These laptops will be voice activated, so soldiers that don't have the use of their arms, hands or fingers can still use the computer by simply speaking to it.

    Captain Ziegenfuss shows us how he uses it to keep his online journal.

    There is another aspect of using these computers that is even more important than these practical matters. As Beth at Fuzzilicious explains, there is a real impact on the healing process of these soldiers. She explains how the computer can act as a tool for developing and maintaining coping mechanisms to deal with the trauma of severe injury and separation from friends and family. The computers will help foster independence, maintain connection with their support network even when they can't be near, and re-connect them with the people that they have left behind in theater; the people that they have shared an intense part of their life with and whom they may feel most comfortable with sharing their thoughts and emotions with. All part of the healing process.

    It's the most important reasons why we are supporting this project and why I keep asking for your donations. We have a chance to be part of our wounded soldiers' recovery.

    We've set a substantial goal of providing 150 laptops to each facility. That's over 900 laptops at a cost of $600k. You can tell by the number of wounded and the reasons they were wounded that there are a lot of men and women coming into these facilities that could use these laptops. The quantity of 150 may not even be sufficient for the numbers, but will be an excellent start.

    Keep in mind, we aren't waiting to collect this total amount to move forward with the project. As the donations come in, we're buying laptops and sending them out to the hospitals for immediate use. We've already purchased 20 laptops, software and accessories. The first 10 have arrived and are being readied to send out in the next week. So, the numbers shouldn't daunt you from participating since a single unit only costs us $625.00 each, including the software and accessories.

    Yesterday, this blog had over 20 regular readers and over 80 new visitors. Can you imagine what we could do with only a $6.00 donation from each? We would have had a new computer in one day. That would have been one more soldier receiving a gift of caring and healing.

    If you've donated already, it's greatly appreciated. We hope that you will keep donating to this unique project.

    Tomorrow, I'm going to post about how people can help support this project with time and effort, which is just as valuable as your money. We'll review types of community, corporate and media projects we can do to help promote and fund Project VALOUR IT.

    You too can be some of the few and the proud. If you have some experience, suggestions or ideas on how the project can be supported, your input will be greatly appreciated.

  • Sunday, August 28, 2005

    Where In the World...

    If you're wondering where I am and why I haven't written anything brilliant and scintilating for two days, I'm busy working on Project Valour IT. Something you should be doing, too.

    That's right, you can help by donating, posting information on your blog or journal or simply spreading the word to other bloggers, friends, family, radio and newspapers or other entities (like your employer, church group, American Legion, VFW, hint, hint).

    Project Valour IT has already received the first 10 laptops, software and accessories. Another 10 are on their way. We've still got a long way to go to even get the first 25 out to each of six facilities, but we're working hard to get this project off the ground.

    Maybe you're tired of me asking for your help. You didn't come to this blog to get hit up for donations constantly. You came for erudite commentary.

    Well, too bad. Somewhere out there, right now, there is a soldier who's tired, too. He or she can't use their hands or arms, they're in pain and they can't connect to the world wide web and read this blog or contact loved ones and friends who can't be at their side immediately or during part of their recuperation and rehabilitation.

    They need our help. So...what are you gonna do? Sit there and complain about the lack of content? Or, are you gonna get up off your easy chair and press this button...

    It's not just money either, though that is a primary need. We need publicity. We need sponsors. We need people willing to volunteer. You have a few minutes during the day to call radio or television stations to let them know about this project. Maybe you know somebody in the local community that would be willing to help out.

    We need a few good men and women. Why don't you join us and give meaning to your otherwise boring life?

    I didn't tell you enough? Go here to find out more.

    Are you ready to volunteer? Drop me an email at and tell me what you think you can do for us. I'll pass you on to the supreme leader, Beth at fuzzilicious.

    Now, what are you waiting for? Permission?

    Get a move on!


    Friday, August 26, 2005

    The Quiet Majority

    Maybe Santayana was misquoted. Maybe what he meant to say is those who remember history are condemned to repeat it. And repeat it, and repeat it. [snip]

    Today, because of the Internet, no one has to seethe in silence, as wired activists in both parties proved in 2004's high-tech election, and now. But it may be that the current infatuation with anti-Bush, anti-Iraq sentiment is again missing a political current flowing beneath the surface of the news, just as the media missed the silent majority 40 years ago and the values voters in the 2004 election.

    As I was saying in Making Something from Nothing:

    What I notice about "public support eroding" is more like public support being "absent" as in, not much to see so their busy microwaving their budget gourmet meals and wondering how they're going to afford the gas to go to work tomorrow.

    That media. They sure do have their finger on the pulse of America.

    But we, the supporters of the military and the believers in the right of freedom and democracy for all are here.

    I would call this faction the Quiet Majority. These people are organized and they are pro-active. But they pass beneath our politics unnoticed because they're about something deeper than TV face-time. There is a large number of groups that have organized in the past three years solely to support the American troops in Iraq.

    We're only "quiet" because we don't spend our days in front of the White House or the president's home in Crawford waving poorly made signs with bizarre accusations. The military mom's in our group support their sons and daughters quietly, only seeking recognition for the projects they do and the men and women they support, not for their own benefit.

    We didn't need an article in the Wall Street Journal Opinion Journal to tell us who and what these support groups and charities are because we donate to them, volunteer for them and support them as best as we can every day.

    • Bill Robie recently drove three hours from Atlanta to Camp Lejeune, N.C., to help Jim Hake's Spirit of America--which has nearly 14,000 supporters--load school supplies bound for Iraq. "Groups like SoA, Home for Our Troops, Operation Homefront, Fisher House and others don't get much attention," he wrote me a few days ago, "yet they represent the true character of our nation."

    • John Folsom is a Marine Reserve colonel from Nebraska, now in Iraq. Two years ago he "passed the hat" among colleagues and raised money to create Wounded Warriors, which supports military hospitals by buying laptops for bedridden soldiers, TVs and overhead projectors for medical staff. His support base is small. "It's almost like a family," he told me.

    Soldiers' Angels was started in 2003 by Patti Patton-Bader, the mother of a sergeant in Iraq then. It now has 45,000 members. Its executive director, Don MacKay, says: "Our members come from across the political spectrum. But there is one opinion they all share: Our soldiers deserve every ounce of support we can muster."

    We do what others have done in every war, whenever our soldiers are deployed, regardless of reason or politics because we know that our men and women in uniform are the ones that have and always will stand between us and those that would take away our freedom and destroy the American dream.

    We support our troops in every aspect, including the mission because it is the successful completion of the mission that sees our men and women home and our security intact. Nothing less so we can give nothing less.

    We remember our history. That history reminds us that we let our men and women down when we didn't support them in the past; men and women who still have the physical and mental scars from the mistakes of a nation. Not the mistakes of going to war or how it's prosecuted, but because we let others define that war and define our men and women as something that they weren't.

    We're not going to let that happen again.

    The message boards some of these groups maintain make clear that troops are aware, in detail, of antiwar activity. Again, this isn't Vietnam. They have news access. If the Democratic left does levitate another antiwar movement, it won't be the unanswered opposition of the Vietnam years. The counter-opposition will draw numbers from these pro-troop groups. They, too, are Internet-linked. They are better informed than most people, they are committed, and they are articulate. And they have stories to tell.

    We have stories to tell. Like the stories of members of our community on the internet who have been to Iraq or Afghanistan and are currently serving or recently returned.

    Such as Capt. Charles Zeigenfuss injured by an IED. He knows why he served, why he was in Iraq and what that service means. Now Captain Zeigenfuss has partnered with Soldier's Angels to support Project Valour IT to get wounded soldiers who have lost the use of one or more hands, temporarily or permanent, obtain voice operated software and laptops while they are recuperating in the hospital. Captain Z had injured his hands and found it difficult to type. He kept a blog and wanted to be able to keep in contact with his men and unit still in Iraq. Being able to talk to his brothers in arms helped relieve the stress of not being there with them, standing in the fight. Something many soldiers have expressed during their recovery period.

    A fellow blogger worked on getting Captain Z this important software. Once he started using it, an idea came to be. An idea that every soldier should be able to access a computer to stay in contact with their brothers in arms, with their loved ones that may not be able to stay with them while they go through months of painful rehabilitation, allow them to handle their financial affairs (banking, bills, mortgages, car payments, etc) as many civilians do every day, and allow them to manage education opportunities and search for jobs.

    Just like civilians. But sometimes they don't have the ability to use all their fingers or their hands or arms.

    That's where Project Valour IT comes in. Voice-Activated Laptops for OUR Injured Troops is meant to bring the convenience of current technology to our troops so that they can concentrate on recovering and not wondering if their bills are being paid or if their unit is doing fine without them.

    There are great things about this project that you might not be aware of. Every cent collected goes towards buying laptops and software. Nothing goes to administrative costs. And, the project is a totally blog inspired and managed project. So, if you're reading this, you'll see a list on the side bar of all the blogs that our supporting this project, listed under "Soldier's Angels, Project Valour IT".

    We endorse this project because we know the charity and we know the soldiers who need this. They aren't just bloggers, although Mili-Bloggers have been the best source of real information from the war front. They represent a wide swath of our military recovering from diffrent injuries.

    Thus, I recommend this program and ask that you join the quiet majority. Support our troops and...

    Other posts on Project Valour IT:

    Captain's Quarters
    Pink Flamingo Bar and Grill
    Castle Arrggh!
    Black Five
    Dean Esmey
    Homefront Six

    Thursday, August 25, 2005

    Making Something Out of Nothing

    We all got to hear repeated discussions of bozo Robertson's remark on Chavez this week. As if this guy was important or had sway over public policy. You can always tell when nothing big is going on. Some idiot makes it to the national cable news.

    Flipping through stories today, I catch USA today making something out of nothing, too.

    "So long as I am president, we will stay, we will fight and we will win the war on terrorism," he told a supportive audience of National Guard members and their families in a sports arena in this Boise suburb. Pulling out now, he said, would "embolden the terrorists and create a staging ground to launch more attacks against America."

    The speech came in response to intensifying anti-war protests that have put Bush on the defensive lately.

    Intensifying anti-war protests. I really beg to differ. I don't think the presence of a certain someone and some anti-war folks from the "peace house" in Crawford warrant the word "intensifying". Particularly when most of these folks have been down there for at least a year. The media is just now paying attention because you know who is making an ass of herself down there. However, I don't see it garnering much more adherents.

    When I see marches like the ones during the Republican Convention every other week, then I'll let you have the word "intensifying". Otherwise, this is the media. As usual, making something out of nothing.

    Oh, as for the "eroding" public support, I bet $10 right now that when the Iraq constitution goes to referendum and gets passed, we'll see the public support strangely "increase".

    What I notice about "public support eroding" is more like public support being "absent" as in, not much to see so their busy microwaving their budget gourmet meals and wondering how they're going to afford the gas to go to work tomorrow.

    That media. They sure do have their finger on the pulse of America.

    Pajama War Games

    Alaa and Mesopotamian does his own "war gaming" and predicts what Iraq would become if there was a hasty American withdrawal.

    Days 4,5,6 etc.; and subsequent weeks, months and years.

    It has become clear to everybody that the U.S. and other western powers are not going to come back, therefore the arena is free for all, so to speak. The Kurds withdraw into their mountainous region, and then decide to make a dash on Kirkuk. Fierce fighting erupts in and around Kirkuk, but the Kurds, being better organized and determined; initially succeed in controlling the town. Turkey cannot allow that so the Turkish army pours in from the North and the war starts between the Kurds and the Turks. The Turkish army advances quickly on Kirkuk through Mosul and after very bloody battles wrests control from the Kurds in the city. The Kurds retreat to the Mountains and start a classic guerilla war against the Turks. Turkey in effect occupies most of Northern Iraq.

    Everything after that is really ugly.

    Over There:

    Episode IV In the Toilet and Episode V Bad MSM

    I watched both episodes but have been remiss in keeping my duty in reporting the story lines and idiocy.

    Fortunately, someone else did it for me. OIF I vet at Counter Column reports on Episode IV: In the Toilet.

    Apparently, there's an important logistical convoy which is about to come through the town, and the brass wants to take out "the spotter," thinking that by taking out the spotter, they can make the road safe for traffic.

    No, enemy mortar crews, despite having been laying on the same section of road for days, never register their tubes on a known and fixed piece of terrain, apparently.

    The squad's unit, furthermore, is too stupid to, you know, simply go and raid the guy's house to see if he has a radio, or even if the mortar fire stops or becomes less effective the day he's picked up.[snip]

    And so the semi trucks come over the hill, with their precious cargo of toilet seats. Smoker, a tough street kid from Compton, doesn't think the cargo of toilet seats is worth the risk.

    Smoker apparently missed the OIF I rotation, but I digress.

    Read the rest here.

    Episode V: Bad MSM, really isn't that much better though a current soldier in service gives it a "two star" rating with a half a star for "most improved in one episode":

    For all its faults, "Over There" tried last night to show how the events in Iraq are distorted by media outlets interested in packaging the war into marketable chunks that'll boost network ratings. It may be slightly unintentionally self-referential, but I think the show as a whole is getting better and is working hard to redeem itself.

    Another soldier with him suggests how the show could be improved:

    One of the several soldiers watching the show with me said, "I wish Michael Mann had directed this show."

    "Michael Mann?" I asked. "You mean the shithead who directed Pearl Harbor?"

    "Oh, he directed that? Well, he did a good job on Miami Vice."

    I wonder if the show could have been better if Don Johnson played their battalion commander.

    Okay, I have to admit, I liked Pearl Harbor, but then again, I'm a romantic at heart and I thought it was rather romantic. And, of course, before Ben Affleck went on tour with a certain someone during last year's election, I thought he was cute. I still do, but now I think he's the kind of cute that should be seen and not heard.

    For my own take on Episode V: Bad MSM, I was really surprised how it was approached. I was super surprised that the episode made it past any network censors (you know, the ones that can't bare criticism of self) then I realized that it was on FX which is a Fox affiliate and thus, it explains everything. Particularly since the offending network had initials eerily similar to CNN. Coincidence?

    They were playing hot and heavy on the idea that the reporters in the field "only want the truth" and it is the networks that do the spin. I'll buy that in some cases since we're aware of how often footage is cut down to explosions, dead bodies and wailing family members, however, I am aware that certain folks over at a network that shall remain unnamed, do their own "in front of the camera" commentary and it continuously resembles this fake footage. I don't want to digress, though they gave the reporter the attributes of Kevin Sites (ie, reporter who filmed Marine shooting terrorist in the head when said terrorist was pretending to be dead during last years round two in Fallujah), with a little Michael Isikoff and the "flushed Koran" causing riots everywhere (ie, alleged Koran flushing incident at GITMO that sparked riots) with a dash of Daniel Perle or any other reporters taken hostage by the mujihadeen.

    I will say that the blag flag with gold writing in the background looked pretty damned authentic, though a part of me wonders if the terrorist are watching this program and disparaging their appearance as sniveling boys or buffoons who can't hit anything (well, that might be true sometimes, but I'm sure their disappointed in their presentation).

    1st Muj: Achmed! Achmed! Come look! New drama! It is called "Over There". I saw mujihadeen look like you!

    2nd Muj: Mohammed, how can you watch such propaganda? It will turn your brain to mush. Better to spend your time praying to Allah

    1st Muj: But, look, Achmed! See? That one with red checkered kafiya looks like you! He shoots like you. See he hides behind wall and shoots AK47 in "spray and pray"?

    (giggling from other muj)

    2nd Muj: I do not!

    (more giggling)

    2nd Muj: Mohammed, it is blasphemous to say "spray and pray". Don't make me chop your head off!

    (chases Mohammed around mosque with rubber scimitar)

    I've been concentrating on the soldiers portrayed in the program so much, I nearly forgot to look at the Muj. We could only pray that the Muj acted so stupid. This war would have been over in 2003 and we wouldn't be talking about this show.

    I digress. The commander is still an idiot and Sergent Screamy was blatantly insubordinate in front of the camera man and the men. Again. It's like the "Black Sheep Squadron meets Hogan's Heroes and Gomer Pyle".

    Then a colonel back at base, investigating the episode, proceeds to scream at our "Killa from Manila" smoke. Directly. No other officer present and certainly not the commander of the unit. No wonder this group is a bunch of screw ups.

    Then he says something that had me set up and say, "What?"

    Is it me or aren't these guys supposed to be army? I'm pretty sure that's what it says on their uniforms: US Army. But the commander threatens our erstwhile screw up with "the brig". The brig? That's a Navy term also used by the Marines for "jail". In the Army, it's a "stockade".

    Probably why this unit seems to be constantly confused about their mission, who they are and how they got to Iraq. Then again, their lieutenant does seem to resemble the Marine Major from "Heart Break Ridge" who transfered over from supply and gave ol' Clint such a hard time that he called his command a "cluster f*ck".

    I'm jumping around. In the beginning (geesh, I hate to say that...) the soldiers are tasked with clearing a village. As usual, there is little back up or support. No helicopters, no Air or Navy Assets, just our little squad. As they enter the town, they have no commo with the other squad from the other side. They don't coordinate. They don't do proper security on their own line. I kept waiting for a Muj to pop up behind them and cap them all in the ass. They are all also so tight in formation and hiding positions that a single RPG could have taken them out.

    I realize this is a necessity of filming, condensing the action to a single camera angle (particularly when they only have a few cameras in their budget to shoot with), but I keep expecting them to "get it" any moment.

    Another soldier from the squad with the lieutenant (or is it a captain? I'm confused since no one seems to refer to him with any respect) lifts up a table cloth and *BOOM* blown to bits. Pretty darn graphic actually. I wouldn't recommend that scene to any survivors or family members. Before that incident, no one has commo and they all just yell at the guy from across the road..."NNNOOOOO!!!" because even our Lost In Iraq Squad knows a bad thing is coming.

    Lots of shooting. Very young boy comes out and throws a grenade, or starts to, and is then shot down. Frankly, it looked like he was shot in the back by the Muj in the doorway, but our bad boy Smoke gets the blame and is dressed down for it. Later, when the command is investigating the matter, Sergent Screamy recounts the many soldiers he knew that were shot or blown up by young girls, young boys and old women. It sounded very Vietnam or Somolia. I could have bought the "young boys" since twelve and fourteen year olds have at least been used as ammo mules and look outs, but I am very suspicious of the "girl and woman" in the list.

    The Muj don't seem very interested in promoting that kind of equality for "martyrs" in the name of Allah. I mean, they might have to wonder if Allah is providing the women martyrs with 72 strapping Chippendale models and credit card at Victoria's Secret. That's just a little bit too much competition for our boys in black.

    I'll leave that up to real veterans to tell us if there is any such thing.

    The scene was exciting for its few minutes of shooting, though not very realistic again. Later, when the re-cut film comes out, the reporter comes to apologize to the squad and just about gets his ass kicked. I think that's why our previous vet remarking on the shows "improvement" really appreciated it. It at least showed what half the military probably wants to do every time they see a reporter. However, I am pretty sure that assaulting said reporter would be a big "no-no". Thus, a nice thought by Mr. Bochco and writers, but not realistic either.

    That has to tell you the tenor of our armed forces. They have to have some major self discipline not to do it in real life.

    Later, our intrepid reporter gets his interpreter shot and himself kidnapped when he tells the terrorist he meets with in the middle of the night that he knows what their plan was. As I've said of the soldiers in this program, if the reporters are this stupid, it's no wonder they get kidnapped or killed.

    I'm sure some reporters were watching this program, cheering the guy on about "telling the truth" right up until he pulled his stupid stunt. Then they were on their cell phones:

    "Dude! Did you see Over There tonight? That is so bogus! No reporter would act that stupid. What? Who did? Okay, but he was an idiot already. You're right, so was she. I mean, who walks through a market in Ramadi telling people they want to talk to the "freedom fighters". What? Okay, you got me on that one, he was an idiot, too. I'm not sure what he was thinking standing in the middle of the road behind a guy firing an RPG thingy.

    Hey! Wait a minute! Who is this? Greyhawk?. Sorry, must have dialed the wrong number.

    Egyptian Bloggers in CSM

    Sandmonkey says he was interviewed by the Christian Monitor, but not quoted though his blog is mentioned along with Big Pharoah and two other Egyptian bloggers.

    The gist of the story is how Egyptian blogging and other bloggers from the ME are making their political voices heard above the din. A concept that I opined about not so long ago that I personally was excited to be able to do shout my opinion across the world at the speed of a nano second and be heard.

    I've always believed that bloggers from countries like Egypt, Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia are the Thomas Paine pamphlateers of their day and that this tool is a major stepping stone to freedom across the globe. The biggest and largely free exchange of ideas in simple expressive commentary format.

    Shakespeare may roll in his grave at some of our prose, but I believe that Benjamin Franklin would have joined us in a heart beat. Who needs Paris Salons when the salon is only a mouse click away?

    So, congratulation friends for being recognized.

    Observations on the Peripheral:

    Iraq, Vietnam, Hippies, Global War and Idiots

    While I've been busy this last week with personal things, I've still caught the news and kept informed as much as possible though I had to make an effort to go back and catch up on the military and political blogs to get more of the details and things we don't see on the news...or things we see too much on the news.

    I had vowed not to mention a certain woman on this blog to several other bloggers and friends. No, not that other person whom I named once and said it was enough, but our most recent embodiment that camped out in Crawford, Texas with a bunch of hippies and other suspect characters. I am now breaking my vow of silence on this matter because I can't seem to escape her on the news channels.

    Our local station, KCTV5, a CBS affiliate, Tuesday evening brought the news that more soldiers were dead and wounded after an IED attack and then promptly went into coverage of Cindy Sheehan and her demands to know "why her son had to die".

    Nice contrast.

    It doesn't matter what answer is given because that is really not the point of Ms. Sheehan's vigil. Frankly, I do believe that the media is giving her more attention than she deserves and that the President is under no obligation to meet with her again or exhange any messages with her considering she is using her guise as a grieving mother to force the president to acknowledge her anti-war and anarchist rhetoric.

    Yes, she's a mom of a fallen soldier, but so are over 1860 other mothers out there as well as the over 10k mothers and fathers, wives, husbands, and children of wounded or killed soldiers. Ms. Sheehan is one of many. She's also one of many throughout history who have lost loved ones and wondered why. I've often thought of the phrase "popular war" being the worst misnomer of any American war in history. World War II may have been supported, but war is hardly "popular" like a prom queen or president of the Student Body.

    In long wars, in every war, people have suffered, their loved ones died and they have wondered "why". Why do people have to fight and kill? Why their son or daughter and not another? Why now? Why do evil people seem to pop out every few years and force themselves on the rest of the world?

    These aren't really new questions it's just a matter of modern media that the question gets any time because the modern media has taken its role as the arbiter of moral and ethical questions and guidance counselor to a new height. So, Cindy Sheehan keeps getting her face on the daily news in an effort to prick our conscience as if we would have no conscience without them.

    The same way Ted Koppel or CBS nightly news puts up the pictures of fallen soldiers and gives a sentence about their rank, branch of service and what they wanted to be when they grew up or came home. Just in case you have forgotten that it is real people, young and old (though mostly young) dying in a war that some people question.

    Strangely, or not so strangely, we don't get the same benefit of showing images of attacks on America 9/11 or video of Saddam standing on his balcony, wielding a gun or sword and threatening death to America. Nobody shows an investigative report of the hundreds of mass graves in Iraq and very few ever reported the information that Dave from the Greenside gave us from his base outside of Fallujah where he reported the daily occurances of finding dead bodies floating in the river decapitated by the Islamists in the city, or the children brought to be treated or the tortured victims in the Islamist's make shift jails and torture chambers.

    Since the recent victims of the beheading were not American or foreign workers, it was apparent that the media did not find that information newsworthy.

    God forbid that we must find out the true nature of the enemy and be worried about what it means to us and every nation threatened by such forces. I also note that no one has done a comprehensive report of the Islamist terrorist activities around the world. That might also give the impression that we truly are in a Global conflict.

    (red dots on map represent actual Islamist terrorist attacks, areas where Islamist movements have manifested, areas used as staging/training areas and areas where Islamists terrorist have been arrested on suspicion of planning attacks)

    I placed these red dots on the maps from memory of news reports. I'm sure if I researched it more thoroughly, I'd have a lot more red dots on this map. When I look at the maps and put them together, it strangely looks like a global war. Then again, I'm just some hick from Missouri. What would I know about maps and wars or reading news reports? I'm sure some hippie guy in a tie die down in Crawford could explain these all away as part of the "freedom fighters against American Imperial Hubris". Although, I'd be mightily interested as to whether we are planning to take over Bangledesh or Kashmir or Sudan or Chechnya or Thailand, etc, etc, etc any time soon.

    Of course, if anyone actually acknowledged this map, they'd have to mention that the enemy were Islamists. Then someone would actually have to take the time to explain who they were and what they wanted besides the little sound bites we get clipping out the paragraphs that demand our withdrawal from this place or that and threaten to kill more people if we don't.

    Someone might actually have to explain our foreign policy and what it means to the future verses what and where the Caliphate was and why these countries under attack had anything to do with that.

    It's all too hard apparently. Much easier just to do two minute clips about this attack or that, this message or that, etc.

    For Ms. Sheehan, I have sympathy; to a degree. She did lose her son. But as has been pointed out by several and reported here by Blackfive, her son was not some scared little boy who didn't know what he was doing. He was a man serving in the best tradition of the military and volunteered to go on the mission to rescue his fellow soldiers. A mission he did not have to go on.

    Volunteer. Mission. Duty. Honor. Sacrifice.

    These are things that her son understood. Things that apparently Ms. Sheehan cannot reconcile nor can we reconcile with the image of Ms. Sheehan and her bizarre statements about why we are at war. Neither can I reconcile her statements with her previous visit with President Bush nor with the image and reputation of her son which seems incongruous with his mother's political views, past and present.

    I've got to say, as my first and last statement about Mrs. Sheehan, the only thing I feel for her is pity. Pity for the death of her son. Pity that she did not really know her son because he was light years away from her in mind and body. Pity because she cannot reconcile and move from her grief. Pity because she has caused herself to be divorced when she most needed support for her grief. Pity that her actions have caused her mother to have a stroke. Pity because those around her whom she now thinks are the base of that support will one day be gone and she will be left with no one and nothing (which is the case in most causes du jour). Pity because she will one day be alone with her grief and still not be able to reconcile the answer to her question when her own boy gave it to her in his actions.

    The last pity I have is for her son, who was honorable and self sacrificing, something we could wish for our own children, whose name will now be forever immortalized in history, not as a brave man, but as the poster child for every anarchist and bizarre group that has hitched their wagon to the "Peace House" and Cindy Sheehan.

    I wonder if she knows, while she mourns her sons death and associates with these strange bedfellows, that some of her supporters have wished the death of a soldier? Another mother's son? Because he did not agree with her.

    Is that a good reason? If yes, then who is the bloodthirsty warmonger?

    And if he dies, will she personally go to the son's mother and express her sorrow and regret, or feel smugly satisfied or maybe she believes it's not her fault? The whole affair is rather sickening and, yes, pitiful. It is a sad realization that this is the far left, hypocrites who plant crosses on the side of the road in Crawford, Texas and yet every death they claim as vindication seems to bring them smug satisfaction, another rung on the ladder to stand on and wave their flag of self importance while the rest of the families go on.

    This woman has allowed herself and her son to be used in that manner.

    Thus, this is the first and last she gets from me; pity.

    Chuck Hagel on the other hand, is an idiot. He recently claimed that Iraq was turning into Vietnam or was Vietnam. As another has recently said, one wonders if he really thinks his experiences there actually hinder or improve his ability to compare and state such fallacies?

    Although, he is partially correct in his language, the base of his analysis is wrong.

    Iraq does have a few things in common with Vietnam. The first of which is that it is a battle in a global war against an evil and totalitarian ideology. Something that the revisionists of history have tried to erase from the reality of Vietnam and the thing that the media and current pundits have tried to erase from the explanations of Iraq.

    Vietnam has been surgically removed from the global struggle against Communism in history and placed in its own category, as if it were a stand alone conflict with causes that were strictly limited to Vietnam. The reality of every war is that it has its roots in previous history and previous war. No war really stands by itself without knowing the history that led to it. We like to think WWII started with Pearl Harbor, but that's an egotistical and simplistic explanation for a war that technically began a few years earlier and in which our own ships and people had been targeted long before December 7, 1941. And whether one believes Vietnam was won or lost or a draw, whether it was through politics, media or battle tactics, it did have its purpose in the greater struggle. It did serve that strategic purpose, regardless of outcome of the battle space.

    Of course, to understand this, you'd have to know your history pretty well and as Leno has proved on his Tonight show, there are a lot of people who don't even know who the first President was or who liberated the slaves, much less anything about world history. First you'd have to know that the conflict grew out of an economic philosophy called Marxism and to understand what Karl Marx predicted as the future in a post Industrial Revolution world. You'd have to understand the revolutions of Europe and know what the year 1848 meant. Then you'd have to know who and what Lenin was, who Tolstoy and Trotsky were, how Stalin came to power and his philosophy.

    You'd actually have to have some grasp of of the different economic structures like Communism, Socialism, and Capitalism. If that is too much, you'd have to know something about the Bolshevik revolution in Russia and how it spread throughout Europe, lending to the history of WWI and then Russia's expansionistic plans which it tried to implement first with Nazi Germany and then with the allies in post war Europe. Maybe you'd have to know something about China's post war revolution that eventually installed Mao and his "cultural revolution". How about the Iron Curtain and the Berlin Airlift? Do they still teach that in school?

    That may still be too much. Maybe just a few numbers including the number of people killed by Stalin and Mao as they struggled to install their version of "utopia" across vast regions and countries. Then there would be the Korean War, the expansion of Communism and Socialism, equally deadly, throughout Asia, Africa and even South America. Let's not forget Cuba and the Cuban missile crisis.

    I've always been amazed that people think of the Cuban Missile Crisis as separate from the history of Vietnam. The failing of most not recognizing the USSRs expansion and strategic goals to encircle the United States with Communist or client states from which it could launch either economic or military assault on the US. Cuba was right at our door step, a few miles from the Florida coast. People weren't building nuclear bomb shelters for nothing.

    Vietnam is like Iraq in these cases because there is a broad relation through historical movements and activities that led to it being strategically cast as a major battle in a global war, not as stand alone wars with their own specific purposes, devoid of relationship to anything else. However one classifies Vietnam, it served its purpose, draining resources, men and money from China and the USSR, all of which kept Communist governments from being able to fully fund and effectively support large movements in South America and other areas around the globe that would directly threaten our security both economically and physically.

    This issue was clearly lost on people like Sen. Kerry and others who demanded the withdrawal of funds from counter insurgency groups in South America during the 80's. Frankly, they couldn't see the forest for the trees. The same problem that affects them now. Including the right honorable Mr. Hagel with his Vietnam analogy.

    To truly comprehend the purpose of Iraq, you'd have to know a lot more about the history of the Middle East and Islamist movements, the strategy and purpose of the enemy and how Iraq directly effects that and is part of the global war, a battle space, alongside of and not separate from Afghanistan and the war on Islamist terrorists.

    I also find amusing the demands for a single reason for the war in Iraq. Whenever one talks about freedom and democracy in Iraq to someone from the opposition or anti-war crowd, they counter and shout "bah humbug" claiming that the President has changed his reasons for war too many times. They want a single reason for war in Iraq. As another recently commented, they want an "either/or" situation when it isn't. It is an "and" situation. Just because one of the "and" reasons didn't pan out, it doesn't negate all of the other reasons and strategic purposes. It's just something for them to latch on to to satisfy their own need and reason to oppose it.

    This is because they have a narrow view of the world and strategies to fight the global war. This is because they are afraid of what it means to recognize that this war exists. They want to limit it to a few men like Osama Bin Laden and Zawahiri hoping that if they ignore the rest it will desist from a over boiling pot to a simmer. Even pots on the stove at simmer that aren't watched and addressed once in awhile will lead to a burnt mess and possibly a kitchen fire or worse, burn your house down if you don't have a fire alarm and extinguisher handy.

    The reasons for war are: Saddam was a threat to the region having already invaded a neighboring country in 1990 and attempting to rebuild his military stealthily in order to regain his position of power in the region AND he was a murdering scum bag who killed hundreds of thousands of his own people and put them in mass graves, men, women and children AND he had used WMD against domestic and foreign people AND he refused to adhere to UN resolutions for eleven years to destroy all said WMD AND he had violated the terms of the 1991 ceasefire on multiple occasions AND he had abused the oil for food program to buy weapons (WMD or not) strictly prohibited by the ceasefire and sanctions AND he had enriched himself at the expense of his people AND he had sought connections with terrorist organizations AND he had provided money and resources to terrorist organizations AND he had provided training within Iraq to terrorist organizations AND Iraq was harboring known terrorists and organizations AND he had attempted to assassinate a president of this country AND he routinely threatened the United States with attack AND Iraq is centrally located within a volatile region AND it provides a strategic center within this region both politically, economically and militarily AND spreading democracy and freedom in Iraq has a direct impact on the social and political construct of other countries in the region AND terrorist organizations have decided to fight us in Iraq which allows us to do as they had planned, make them fight on land of our choosing, use their resources and money AND bring the war to their doorstep where people of the region can really see what the war and these people are about AND it caused the enemy to have to split its resources to cover two fronts AND it took away Afghanistan as its single battle space where they were already entrenched having ready made supply routes, weapons depots, bases of operation and support among the population.

    I could go on AND on.

    This isn't an "either/or" situation or decision on why Iraq was a chosen battlefield. None of these reasons alone stand as THE reason to go to war in Iraq. It is an "AND" situation and all of them together make war in Iraq necessary as a battlefront in the larger global war.

    So, Iraq is like Vietnam in the simplest and broadest view that it is part of an overall global struggle to insure the security of the United States. It has no single purpose or reason but a conglomerate of reasons and strategic significance in the greater war. It is not a single war, standing alone outside of history, but a battle. Bringing Democracy and Freedom is not "THE" purpose of the battle, but "A" strategy, a weapon if you will, in the "BATTLE" for this front in a global war. A war that was brought to us on September 11, 2001 that began on the streets of New York, at the Pentagon and in the air over Pennsylvania.

    If you want other broad similarities between Iraq and Vietnam, I suppose you could point to the fact that they are limited wars, since we are not attacking Iran, Syria or Saudi Arabia (to name a few) for supporting the guerillas. However, none of these countries can even come close to the support the USSR and China gave the North Vietnamese. I suppose you could point to the fact that it is a guerilla war, yet the guerillas do not control any one area of Iraq nor enjoy broad popular support among the population. Further, there are far more foreign personnel involved in the battle then in Vietnam on a percentage basis.

    Far less forces are involved from either side. Far less casualties from the Coalition have been taken. Large-scale battles inflicting large numbers of casualties do not take place involving enemy guerilla and regular forces against our forces. There’s no jungle. The enemy cannot move the amounts of men and supplies across borders and spaces that the Vietcong could through the jungle. We aren’t using napalm. We don’t have daily bombing raids on enemy cities.

    The political situation is nowhere near the chaos and insanity of Vietnam. The citizens are far less removed from their government and political issues. The citizens are more highly educated and literate. The economy is based on a significant commodity (oil) as opposed to rice and other agriculture.

    There are far too many significant differences.

    Therefore, I have no qualms about calling Mr. Hagel an uninformed idiot.

    Speaking of uninformed idiots who should be retired by now, what was that Pat Robertson thing? Don't get me wrong, I was sitting around last week thinking that Chavez was a menace and maybe he will get offed in a nice quiet coup that re-instates real democracy, but I was thinking an internal effort, not external. And, of course, I don't have a television program watched by hundreds of thousands either.

    However, I have to say that Pat Robertson has always reminded me of my crazy great uncle who is in a nursing home in the middle stages of Alzheimers who says lots of interesting things that no one really pays attention to. We just nod our heads and say, "that's nice".

    I am quite unsure how a statement from Pat Robertson rates the news coverage it gets anymore than Ms. Sheehan's continued idiocy. Chavez and his cronies are threatening legal action. I'm not sure what he thinks he can do. Cry to Larry King that he is misunderstood and he really didn't touch that little boy at Never, Never Land?

    Ooops...wrong scumbag, but I'm sure you know what I mean.

    As for other idiots, scroll down to see what Muqty Mc Sadr is up to these days.

    Wednesday, August 24, 2005

    Missouri Town Honors Returning Hero

    Via Gateway Pundit

    Festus, Missouri - What started out as a small gathering turned into a town wide parade with 52 groups honoring the return of Marine Timothy McGuire. McGuire was injured in Iraq when an IED exploded near his HUMMV, causing him to lose his arm and have severe head injuries.

    Read the rest here. See the video here