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Veteran Suicides A Major Problem—Before We Kill You With Neglect, We Tell You How Much We Care

Opinion columnist Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times recently wrote about suicides of  American veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Here is some of what Mr. Kristof said—

“HERE’S a window into a tragedy within the American military: For every soldier killed on the battlefield this year, about 25 veterans are dying by their own hands. An American soldier dies every day and a half, on average, in Iraq or Afghanistan. Veterans kill themselves at a rate of one every 80 minutes. More than 6,500 veteran suicides are logged every year — more than the total number of soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq combined since those wars began. These unnoticed killing fields are places like New Middletown, Ohio, where Cheryl DeBow raised two sons, Michael and Ryan Yurchison, and saw them depart for Iraq. Michael, then 22, signed up soon after the 9/11 attacks. Then Michael was discharged, DeBow picked him up at the airport — and was staggered. “When he got off the plane and I picked him up, it was like he was an empty shell,” she told me. “His body was shaking.” Michael began drinking and abusing drugs, his mother says, and he terrified her by buying the same kind of gun he had carried in Iraq. “He said he slept with his gun over there, and he needed it here,” she recalls. Then Ryan returned home in 2007, and he too began to show signs of severe strain. He couldn’t sleep, abused drugs and alcohol, and suffered extreme jitters….Michael and Ryan, like so many other veterans, sought help from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Eric Shinseki, the secretary of veterans affairs, declined to speak to me, but the most common view among those I interviewed was that the V.A. has improved but still doesn’t do nearly enough about the suicide problem…Likewise, neither Michael nor Ryan received much help from V.A. hospitals. In early 2010, Ryan began to talk more about suicide, and DeBow rushed him to emergency rooms and pleaded with the V.A. for help. She says she was told that an inpatient treatment program had a six-month waiting list. (The V.A. says it has no record of a request for hospitalization for Ryan. While Ryan was waiting for a spot in the addiction program, in May 2010, he died of a drug overdose. It was listed as an accidental death, but family and friends are convinced it was suicide. The heartbreak of Ryan’s death added to his brother’s despair, but DeBow says Michael is now making slow progress. “He is able to get out of bed most mornings,” she told me. “That is a huge improvement…..”

Note that President Obama’s Veteran’s Secretary would not talk to Mr. Kristof.

It is no surprise that this is how we treat veterans in the United States.

The whole war in Iraq was based on a lie.

We did not give our troops the equipment they needed when fighting in Iraq.

We killed many thousands of Iraqi civilians to make clear our contempt for life.

We sent wounded veterans to Walter Reed where many of them got lousy care.

And now we let our soldiers kill themselves while Mr. Obama’s Secretary of Veterans Affairs won’t talk to the supposed liberal apologists at The New York Times.

Here is what my late father, Tony Aquino , a Korean War combat veteran, wrote about our wars and about the Cold War —

“One thing that I learned is that the young men who fought in our wars should never be forgotten…Another fact I learned…is that millions may serve but far fewer fight. So, in reality, for many who have served, war is a glory-and-gory myth that feeds on its own legends and publicity. …Another truth I learned is that civilians are combatants in war–embattled victims perpetually on a losing side….That brings us to the biggest deception: The need to be ready defend our freedom if we are to keep it. Those who say that freedom has a price are absolutely right, and wrong: International conflict today is beyond ideology. The only freedom American and Russian leaders offer their freedom today is the freedom to kill ourselves in the name of freedom.  This is not freedom, but allegiance to a suicidal death culture….Today, we are servile to our masters, mistaking economic well-being for true freedom, which is the freedom to live hopefully and not to die needlessly.”

I found out not long after Tony’s death last year, that after he got home from Korea he would wake up from nightmares and would break dishes around the house. Tony never got over fighting in that war.

And for what? For a war that is not officially over to this day? So red-baiters at home could score political points? To defend Jim Crow?

Of course our leaders are often killers. They kill time and time again, and they do so with the enthusiastic complicity of so many of our fellow citizens. Millions of Americans are sick and crazed with a love for violence.

The expression of great care for a group of people in our country is often a kiss of death.

No matter if it is children or our veterans, you can bet that we are in good part neglecting–or worse–those we say we value most.

Both at home and abroad, let this nation be most defined most of all by our love of violence and by our contempt for those who serve.

April 18, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 2 Comments

Houston Parade For Iraq Veterans On Saturday, April 7—You Can Go And Still Not Forget That The War Was A Lie

There will be parade in Houston on Saturday, April 7 to honor those who served in Iraq.

Here are details of this parade

“The parade, sponsored by the City of Houston in partnership with the Astros 2012 opening weekend festivities, will step off from the corner of Texas and San Jacinto at 4 p.m. and then proceed east on Texas to Crawford and then north (left) on Crawford to Congress, ending at Minute Maid Park.”

I will attend this parade.

You can honor our veterans without forgetting the fact that War in Iraq was based on lies,  and that more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians died in this war.

My dad, who saw combat in Korea, was always clear to me that he viewed himself as just an unlucky guy fighting a bunch of other unlucky guys.

He saw combat veterans, and civilians killed in a war, as people for the most part being harmed and used by others who did not have to bear the cost of what was taking place.

In any case, I hope to have some pictures of the parade up on the blog within a few days.

April 6, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Certificate For Honorably Discharged Veterans—War Based On Lies

Above is the certificate I got a few weeks back from the Department of Veteran’s Affairs noting the death of my father in March of 2011.

My father–Anthony S. Aquino–-was a combat veteran of the Korean War.

Family members of honorably discharged veterans can get this certificate. It is signed by the President.

My dad would have been glad that this certificate was signed by Barack Obama and not George W. Bush.

Tony viewed G. W. Bush as little more than a murderer for sending troops to fight and die in Iraq based on lies.

Dad was of the opinion that President Bush’s twin daughters should go and fight in Iraq.

I’m putting his views a bit more nicely than dad often did.

It is everyday people who fight our wars, while politicians and war profiteering corporations gain.

Also, many civilians die in our wars. Though our nation often lacks the moral character to discuss that fact.

The Coldest Winter—America and the Korean War by David Halberstam is a well-regarded account of the Korean War.

Cultures of War—Pearl Harbor/Hiroshima/9/11/Iraq by John Dower is about how militaristic cultures bungle and bluster their way into endless conflict.

January 4, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Iraq War Ending—How Will We Treat Our Veterans?

President Obama is bringing the troops home from Iraq.

How will we greet and regard our troops when they return?

Will they get a parade and good lifetime benefits?

Or will we ignore our Iraq veterans? Will we soon find them on the unemployment lines? Or find many of them homeless?

We know already that people view days such as Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day as days to go out and shop, or to do anything but remember our veterans.

The Iraq War was based on a lie. There were no weapons of mass destruction. Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11.

Politicians on both sides of the political aisle approved of the Iraq War

There have been more than 100,000 civilian deaths in the Iraq War. 

My father was a combat veteran of the Korean War.

Here is what my father once wrote about war and about the Cold War—

“One thing that I learned is that the young men who fought in our wars should never be forgotten…Another fact I learned…is that millions may serve but far fewer fight. So, in reality, for many who have served, war is a glory-and-gory myth that feeds on its own legends and publicity. …Another truth I learned is that civilians are combatants in war–embattled victims perpetually on a losing side….That brings us to the biggest deception: The need to be ready defend our freedom if we are to keep it. Those who say that freedom has a price are absolutely right, and wrong: International conflict today is beyond ideology. The only freedom American and Russian leaders offer their freedom today is the freedom to kill ourselves in the name of freedom.  This is not freedom, but allegiance to a suicidal death culture….Today, we are servile to our masters, mistaking economic well-being for true freedom, which is the freedom to live hopefully and not to die needlessly.” 

George Bush offered Americans the freedom to die in Iraq. That was all he offered. He did not offer the truth or any sense of honor, decency, or purpose.

Does America have the national character to treat our returning veterans with respect?

Here is a timeline of the Iraq War from Reuters.

October 21, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 6 Comments

Have Republicans Taken Over North Korea?—It Is Obama’s Fault

North Korea has lobbed shells at South Korea.

Two South Korean marines were killed and many houses were destroyed.

(Above–North Korean soldiers peering into South Korea. Like you and I, these troops in the picture are people in a world they did not create.)

This took place on Yeonpyeong Island. This is not the first conflict between the two Koreas over this island.

President Obama has said that the United States will help defend South Korea if that is what is required.

With all this trouble, I found myself wondering if Mitch McConnell and John Boehner had taken over North Korea.

We already know the Republican Party wants the economy to fail as long as President Obama might get the credit for things going better.

We also see with the START Treaty that Republicans will undermine our foreign policy  for no other reason but to offer up opposition.

A New Korean War could be used to go after President Obama in many ways—

* President Obama could be blamed for failing to keep the peace.

* When focusing on war strategy, the President could be attacked for not working on job creation.

* The need to fund the New Korean War could be used as a pretense to further gut the social safety net.

* Munitions blasted into the air during the war could be blamed for climate change— Though even better for this purpose would be an exchange of nuclear weapons.

* Both North Korea and South Korea are in Asia. Since many Muslims live in Asia and since Obama is a Muslim, the New Korean War would be the fault of Muslims like Obama.

* And, of course, a New Korean War would show that this is the right time for tax cuts. The fact that the sun rises in the morning is also a reason for tax cuts.

The Republican party is very clever to take over North Korea. They will no doubt be able to cause a lot of trouble for President Obama while running North Korea.

Beyond hassling Mr. Obama, it has been more than 7 years since Republicans lied to start a war. I’m certain they feel it is time to start a new war under false pretenses.

Here is some basic history of the Korean War. A well-reviewed book on the Korean War is David Halberstam’s The Coldest Winter.

Here are facts and  history about North Korea from the BBC.

Here are facts and history about South Korea from the BBC.

File:Warkorea American Soldiers.jpg

(Above–American troops in the Korean War. The killing goes on and on in this part of the world. My father was a medic in the Korean War. I’m certain he saved many lives.)

November 24, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

England-United States World Cup Preview—Both Nations Looking To Recover From Tough Iraq Match

This is the third Texas Liberal World Cup preview post. This post is on the match to be played between England and the United States in Rustenburg on Saturday, June 12 at 2 PM Eastern time.

Here is my preview of the Mexico-South Africa game.

Here is a look ahead at Argentina-Nigeria.

(Above–Bristol, England. Here is information about visiting Bristol.)

As we assess this match, let’s see the basic facts for the two squads. ( It is England playing his match and not the United Kingdom. Scotland and Wales have their own teams. But for the text of this post we’ll look at the U.K. as a whole. The pictures are of England.)

For England-

Nationality: Noun–Briton(s). Adjective–British.
Population (2010 est.): 62.2 million.
Annual population growth rate (2010 est.): 0.7%.
Major ethnic groups: British, Irish, West Indian, South Asian.
Major religions: Church of England (Anglican), Roman Catholic, Church of Scotland (Presbyterian), Muslim.
Major languages: English, Welsh, Irish Gaelic, Scottish Gaelic.
Education: Years compulsory–12. Attendance–nearly 100%. Literacy–99%.
Health: Infant mortality rate (2009 est.)–4.85/1,000. Life expectancy (2009 est.)–males 76.5 yrs.; females 81.6 yrs.; total 79.0 years.
Work force (2009, 31.25 million): Services–80.4%; industry–18.2%; agriculture–1.4%.

(Of the 62 million people in the U.K., about 49 million English.)

(Above–Chicago. Maybe the best American city of them all. Here is information about visiting Chicago.)

For the United States

  • Full name: United States of America
  • Population: 314.7 million (UN, 2009)
  • Capital: Washington DC
  • Largest city: New York City
  • Area: 9.8 million sq km (3.8 million sq miles)
  • Major language: English
  • Major religion: Christianity
  • Life expectancy: 77 years (men), 81 years (women) (UN)
  • Monetary unit: 1 US dollar = 100 cents
  • Main exports: Computers and electrical machinery, vehicles, chemical products, food and live animals, military equipment and aircraft
  • GNI per capita: US $47,580 (World Bank, 2008)

(The U.K. facts are from the U.S. State Department. The U.S. facts are from the BBC. At both locations you can find extensive information about the nations of the world.)

(Above—English countryside in an area called Widecombe in the Moor. This picture was taken by a Dennis Redfield.)

Human Rights are an important aspect of any nation’s game.  Let’s review how Amnesty International sees the U.K.—

“Amnesty International has released a new briefing outlining its call for a full, independent and impartial inquiry into UK involvement in human rights abuses post-11 September 2001. The briefing outlines ten key questions that an inquiry should seek to answer.”

You can read the full article here. The U.K. sure got itself into a mess when it went along with George W. Bush and the invasion of Iraq.

Here is all of the Amnesty content on the U.K.

(Below—Badlands National Park in South Dakota. this picture was taken by Wing-chi Poon. Here is information about visiting this park.)

Here is what Amnesty has on the United States—

“Since June 2001, more than 334 individuals in the United States have died after being struck by police Tasers. AI is concerned that Tasers are being used as tools of routine force, rather than as weapons of last resort. Rigorous, independent, impartial study of their use and effects is urgently needed.”

Anyone who thinks the U.S. does not have a number of human rights issues is mistaken. We’ve made great progress since the days of Jim Crow, the second-class status of women, and the near-complete closeting of gay folks that existed 50 years ago. Yet one consequence of this progress is to illustrate how far we still must go. For example—Economic justice is denied to millions who work hard each day and still don’t earn a living wage and who can not afford health insurance for themselves and their families.

Here is all that Amnesty has to say about the U.S.

The bottom line is that even in countries that some in the world may associate with the advancement of human rights, that there is much more to be done.

(Above–The great warrior Tecumseh. Tecumseh lived 1768-1813. He fought to the last against the taking of his land.  Here is a timeline of American history.)

Match Summary—In this battle of mother country against former colony, let’s all root for each of these global powers to meet the hopes of the world’s people in terms of human rights and global peace. The unlawful invasion of Iraq was an “own goal” of self-inflicted harm for both these nations. Hopefully the lessons learned from Iraq will force both America and the U.K. to choose diplomacy over war in the years ahead. One way the U.S. can learn from the U.K. playbook is to continue the drive towards universal health care.  With some sense of decency and human concern returned to the White House in 2009 after 8 years of George W. Bush, progress has been made on this front. Yet there is still more to be done.

Here is the link to the British government.

Here is the link to the White House where Barack Hussein Obama serves as President of the United States.

(Below–Stonehenge. Who the hell knows why it was built? Here is a history of England.)

June 9, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Obama Press Conference On BP Spill And Other Topics—Full Texas Liberal Coverage!

President Obama is holding a press conference today at 11:45 Central Time.  I’m going to watch that conference on C-Span.org and blog about it as it is taking place.

Above is the famous press conference where a man tossed a shoe at former President George W. Bush.

11:40—Watching the CNN coverage leading up the press conference.  Blah. Blah. Blah.

11:49—The press conference has begun.

11:52–The President is saying that the Federal Government has been been strongly involved in addressing the spill and that BP is under the direction of the government. This may be so, but why are we hearing this strong assertion of the government’s role 35 days into the crisis. Why does Mr. Obama seem to wait until political trouble has begun to say tough things?

11:56—Mr. Obama says that the Gulf Coast is still a good place to visit. He says that only a small number of beaches in Louisiana are impacted by oil. I’d encourage  you to visit Galveston, Texas on the Gulf Coast. It is a great place to take a walk and have dinner.

12:00—President Obama is making the case for regulation of the oil industry. By extension, he is making the case for government regulation in a number of regards. How can people look at this disaster and feel that private firms can be left to regulate themselves?

12:02–Mr. Obama says that this spill is a clear call for new sources of energy. But what about conservation? Don’t the people themselves bear some fault for our need for all this oil?

12:06—Just got up to get some macaroni salad for lunch. The macaroni salad package was open and I had to e-mail my wife to make sure that she was the one who had opened it rather than some crazy person at the supermarket.  She replied and said that she had indeed opened the package.

12:09—Question asking if all possible has really been done when many are saying this is not the case. The President says our response has not been perfect, but does reflect the fact that all that can be done in a realistic sense has been done. I suppose you could say that about just about anything in life.

12:15–Question is about calls that the government take command of the spill response from BP. By that logic, which I have no problem with, the government could take over a number things that the private sector can’t seem to get right. Health care would be a good start.

12:18–The Texas Observer has a great story about how the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is a friend of industry rather than a friend of the people of Texas. Some people in Texas live in a kind of oil slick of bad air each day. These folks need a disaster response plan as well.

12:22—The President is again saying that oil companies have not been well-regulated for offshore drilling. The next thing the President could better regulate is overfishing in the Gulf of Mexico that is being conducted by some of the very same people now upset that they can’t fish.

12:25–A question was asked if “heads should roll” over this spill. Below is Francisco de Goya‘s The French Penalty.

12:32–Helen Thomas wants to know when we are going to get out of Afghanistan. I was wondering a few days ago why opposition to our two wars seems to have become silent with Mr. Obama in office. It could have to do with the fact that the Iraq War is winding down. It could also be that some of the opposition was politically motivated and left-of-center political groups don’t want to criticize Mr. Obama. Helen Thomas is 89! Good for her.

12:38–Questions now about how Mr. Obama could have ever thought that the oil companies would do the right thing in the Gulf. Yeah–I agree. I don’t know how he could have thought that at anytime before or after the spill.

12:41—The President just referred  to Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina by his first name. I bet the Tea Party in South Carolina already has a press release up calling Senator Graham a socialist for being buddy-buddy with Mr. Obama.

12:46—Question about immigration and the Arizona immigration law. I think that the border of Texas with other states should be policed to make sure our ignorant textbooks don’t crossover to dumb down students in these other states.

12:50—The President says that the spill is what he thinks about when he goes to bed at night. He also says that he comes from Hawaii “where the ocean is sacred.”  Here is how the sacred ocean in Hawaii is being treated in regard to health of coral reefs in that state.

12:55—Over and out. Here is a NY Times report on the conference.

(Below–Gerald Ford holds a press conference in the Oval Office.  You see Helen Thomas dressed in black and taking notes, and a smirking Dick Cheney leaning on the President’s chair.)

May 27, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

People Believe Wild Things Because Nothing Is So Brutal Or Crazy That It Can’t Be True

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof recently wrote about conspiracy theories many people believe.  

For example, 30% of black people believe it’s possible AIDS was deliberately manufactured to kill black folks.

This is held out as a crazy thing to think.

I don’t believe it myself.

But if you asked me if many white people and white politicians don’t care if poor urban black people live or die, I would say that’s correct.   

And plenty of black politicians don’t care either.  

In my own experience as a city council aide in Cincinnati, Ohio, I read the files of black cancer patients who had intentionally been given extra doses of radiation to see how they would react.

Get this—They suffered.  

Poor black people in cities, blacks and whites in rural areas, our colonized undocumented labor force, and poor people of all kinds, get inferior hospitals and inferior care.

When you ask black folks if AIDS was the work of government, maybe what you’re really asking if the government would do things that would kill people who look like you do.

“Yes” seems to be a logical reply.  

Mr. Kristoff says it is crazy that 36% of Americans believe that government orchestrated 9/11 or knew about it advance.  

Well—I’ve always thought that was a mistaken belief .

George W. Bush was intent on going to war in Iraq before 9/11. He did not need any provocation. 

What people know is that we lied about why we went to war, we did not give our troops the right equipment to save their lives, we sometimes kill innocent civilians, and that the troops sometimes get terrible care upon arriving back home.   

Did the government or President Bush know about 9/11 in advance? No. Is the government as led by President Bush capable of terrible acts that cause people to die? Sure–All the damned time.  

Mr. Kristoff mentions two other conspiracy theories in his column. 

One is that the levees in New Orleans were opened on purpose in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

This is not so.

Yet it had been known for years that the levees might not hold during a bad hurricane and that much of New Orleans was vulnerable. Then, after it was clear the disaster response was poor, President Bush said his FEMA director was doing a “heckuva job.”    

So why not figure that levees were opened by design? Is that much worse than the truth of the matter? 

Another view held by many is that crack cocaine was deliberately introduced into poor neighborhoods.

Now that one is crazy

These communities were already so flooded with alcohol, cigarettes, overpriced grocery stores offering little or no produce, bad schools and a host of other urban afflictions, why would you have to introduce something new to harm people?  

The history books tell us that we won our land in good part by exterminating the native population, and that we built up the land with the frequent and longtime use of slave labor.  

Our own experiences in life show us that our cities are left to rot year after year. And the poor are getting more poor even as the rich get richer.

So when you ask if the people in charge of our country are capable of barbaric or even genocidal acts, why would many give any other reply than “yes.”

April 1, 2008 Posted by | Cincinnati, History, Hurricane Katrina, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Texas A & M Backs Up Talk With Service In Iraq

 

I’m not a big fan of the Texas A & M University in College Station, Texas. I find its culture to be both aggressive and insular.

However, it must also be noted that A & M students are backing up what they say with service in Iraq.

26 year old Jeremy Ray of Houston, a 2006 A & M graduate, was the 14th Aggie to die in the Iraq War. He was killed last week by a suicide bomber.

If 14 have been killed, than many more must be serving. And no doubt a number of those serving have been wounded.  

Regardless of whether I agree or not with the War in Iraq, with a volunteer army we need people who are willing to fight our wars. The next war, assuming it is not with Iran, may well be vital to our nation.

It’s clear that Texas A & M students are willing to be of service.  

( Below is the A & M campus in 1883)

December 23, 2007 Posted by | Houston, Politics, Texas | , , , | 5 Comments