Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Veterans Day Is “A Coming” But Never Gets Here – Buzz Davis

Veterans' Day 2009 is coming November 11th. But for most vets it never gets here.

World War I, a tremendous slaughter, ended 11 AM, November 11, 1918. The United States Civil War was one of the first highly mechanized wars in the world where the killing power of soldiers was multiplied greatly from times gone by. The machine gun was new. That war was a slaughter also.

After WWI, the war to end all wars, we just keep on having wars. We have two and a half wars going now that are bankrupting our nation and ruining million of young people and killing so many men, women and children.

In 1924 Congress passed a bill that US veterans would receive $1.50 per day for each day they served during WWI. They were to collect the money in 1945. Congress probably figured most would be dead by '45.

The stock market crashed, the Depression hit and in 1932 over 15,000 poor vets and their families, many homeless, struggled to D.C. asking Congress and President Hoover for early payment of their $1.50 per day.

They never got it.

The House passed a bill giving them immediate payment. The Senate voted 62 to 18 to deny the early bonus. The vote wasn't even close. Vets and their family members tent camped just across the Anacostia River from the Capitol. A month later the Bonus army was still in DC marching. They stayed, wanting the bonus, and many had nowhere to go. A conflict with police occurred, guns fired, two marchers were killed.

Hoover ordered the Army to "remove" them. General MacArthur, Major Eisenhower and Major Patton's cavalry on horses and in tanks, and soldiers with fixed bayonets throwing tear gas did just that. They pushed the vets, women and kids from the Capitol to their camp across the river. Hoover ordered a halt. MacArthur disobeyed. Soldiers tore through the camp of 10,000 families, families fled, it was burnt, two babies died, many were wounded -- the bonus army was defeated by fellow military members and their own government. Small wonder Roosevelt won the November election.

Makes you sick? It does me.

As a member of Veterans for Peace, we try to work as hard to help make peace in this world as we did to help make war. We fail just like the Bonus Army did - but we keep trying.

My friend's son is back from the Middle East wars with serious injuries – PTSD and others. The NAACP ad says, "A mind is a terrible thing to waste." Well, it is also terrible to have your mind turn on you and try to "waste" you. I have another friend who is very active in progressive movements and I asked her one day what makes her so active. She said he husband came back from Vietnam with PTSD and has been afraid of leaving their home for the last 30 years.

These wars cost too much. But corrupt politicians and the military industrial complex, which President Eisenhower identified but did not have the courage to fight - just as he did not have the courage to fight MacArthur so many years ago at that camp of poor vets and their families, have us in their claws.

When will we ever throw them off? "When will we ever learn?" The nearly 10,000 members of Veterans for Peace in our nation do not intend to be blown away by the wind. We, and you, must fight to make our nation work for peace harder than we work for war.

We need to have every young person and all the 15 million unemployed serve our nation in a national service corps, trained, equipped and paid to work for peace in our own communities and across the world. Two or three years of paid hard work to help build a better world is what is needed from each of us.

We need a Department of Peace twice as big as our Department of War and cut military spending in half as a starter. We need to bring the troops home from the fiascos in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. We need to ask and empower the United Nations to come in and help clean up our mess in the Middle East. We need our Senate to not double cross us on healthcare for all as they double-crossed the millions of vets and their family members during the Great Depression. We need a president who leads us out of lost wars, back to the rule of law, helps our people rather than corrupt bankers, and punishes those who plan and conduct illegal wars and torture.

The call is great. Not answering the call will be a disaster for our nation.

Buzz Davis is a former VISTA Volunteer, Army officer, elected official from Stoughton, a retired state government planner. He trained as an Army infantry officer during the Vietnam War and served in S. Korea 1969-'70. dbuzzdavis at aol.com. Buzz is a member of the Clarence Kailin chapter of Veterans For Peace.

Looking Back At Our Future? – Elton Tylenda


This is the 40th Armistice (now called Veterans) Day since my return from the war on Vietnam. It's disheartening to note the similarities between Vietnam and the "quagmires accomplished" in Iraq and Afghanistan. The same patterns are being repeated but the numbers and costs are higher:

  • psychological trauma is more pervasive and active duty suicides are steadily increasing;
  • the number of brain injuries are exponentially higher and the cost of treatment will be staggering;
  • the chemicals and depleted uranium used today will be more devastating to civilians and to US soldiers than was "agent orange" which killed and continues to maim millions;
  • today's war profiteers are more numerous and getting richer. A KBR mercenary confided to me that he expects to leave Iraq as a millionaire. KBR (Kellogg Brown & Root) is a subsidiary of Halliburton, which got "no bid" contracts for sending mercenaries to Vietnam as well. At nearly a quarter million today, mercenaries may soon outnumber our comparatively low paid, barely equipped, "poverty drafted" troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other clandestine venues.

I wasn't surprised to hear that KBR mercenaries were being investigated for defrauding the US government, stealing from the Iraqi government and running a prostitution ring there. I witnessed the same pattern in Vietnam. A Halliburton mercenary, paid many times more than I to supervise our engineering unit in Vietnam, never showed up for work. He did, however, stop by to promote one of his business enterprises. The US military ran an open prostitution camp near Ahn Khe called "Sin City" and he wanted us to know his girls were on the left when entering the camp. He assured us they were the best girls money could buy, checked once a week by military doctors and so on. More examples of the fraud, Black Market activities, and payoffs to the enemy that I witnessed in Vietnam are described in the award winning book "Long Shadows: Veterans Paths to Peace" edited by David Giffey – intro by Howard Zinn.

The cost to those we savagely attack increases as well. If we experienced casualties in the US proportional to those in Iraq, it would mean that:

  • every person in the cities of Baltimore, Boston, Dallas, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle would be dead;
  • every single person in the states of Delaware, Idaho, Nebraska, Nevada, New York and Oregon would be wounded;
  • the entire populations of Ohio and New Jersey would be homeless; and everyone
  • in the states of Michigan, Indiana and Kentucky would be refugees in Canada or Mexico.

That's what our blood and treasure and nearly eight years of effort have accomplished for Iraq. Recall the military assessment following nearly total destruction in Vietnam: "We had to destroy the village [city, country] in order to save it." Once again the lion's share of hundreds of billions is directed toward killing and destroying. Very little is effectively channeled into reconstruction except for permanent American military bases. Nonetheless, we hear again the idle chatter about "winning the hearts and minds" of the people – people we called gooks and slants back then - people our troops call rag heads and sand niggers today. The working version was/is: "grab 'em by the testicles and their hearts and minds will follow."

Once the masters of war get the gravy train and propaganda machine up to speed, it's hard to stop. Many of the influential power mongers and war profiteers in America are violent Christian fundamentalists. Bush was speaking to them when he called his wars of aggression "a crusade." The founder of Blackwater USA, the world's largest mercenary army, Erik Prince, called his kill-for-profit mercenaries "crusaders for Christ." Watergate felon Chuck Colson and other leaders of the "End Times" movement speak openly about a hundred years war against Islam. Their rhetoric is chillingly similar to that of the German Christians who supported Hitler's "holy war" against Jews. We are given a scapegoat over there to distract us from the enemies at home - those who deceptively start and orchestrate wars of aggression.

A different future will require greater awareness of the "big lies" used to start wars. We need to recognize the pattern and address the right questions to officials before rushing into war. The pattern is plain:

  • the "Tonkin Gulf incident" which ignited the Vietnam War, was fabricated by US officials;
  • the "Polish attack" on Gleiwitz, Germany which Hitler used as pretense for invading Poland and igniting WWII, was staged by SS Chief, Heinrich Himmler, using concentration camp victims;
  • a declassified archival document lists eight "provocations" secretly initiated against the Japanese. The Pearl Harbor attack could not have been a surprise to those who formulated that list nor to those who implemented those "provocations" prior to 12/7/41. Perhaps they WERE surprised that it took the most extreme provocation listed (cutting off Japan's oil supply – an undeclared act of war) to goad Japan to react to US aggression.
  • The lies told to us in the lead up to the illegal attack on Iraq are too numerous to list but the biggest lie of all is what we've been told about the "New Pearl Harbor," or, 9/11 attack that started the pre-planned war of aggression against Afghanistan.

Confronting so big a lie will be extremely difficult but absolutely necessary if we are to break the repeating pattern of official deception. The power of the big lie was described by Adolf Hitler: "…in the greatness of the lie there is always a certain potency of believability…they more easily fall victims to the big lie than the small one…Even when faced with the facts in such a case, they will still linger in doubt and waver and continue to suppose that there must be some truth to it."

The official 9/11 Commission Report, spoon fed to us by Bush/Cheney insiders, is replete with lies, misinformation and whopping omissions (e.g., the collapse of tower # 7 that same afternoon is not even mentioned). It claims to be an investigative report but 571 pages later we're left with magic, miracle and mystery. Magically the massive center columns of the towers were made to disappear. Miraculously, the laws of physics were suspended with the claim that near free fall speeds were attained without the aid of explosives. And, we're left with the unexplained mystery of the molten steel and inextinguishable fires that burned for weeks at ground zero. As of this writing, nearly 1,000 architects and engineers have publicly voiced opposition to this particular example of Bush administration pseudo-science.

Reality based science offers a simple but chilling resolution to the magic, miracle and mystery of the official report. Physicist Steven Jones reported finding traces of nanothermite (the US military's most advanced incendiary explosive) on a piece of steel recovered from ground zero. In controlled demolitions, core columns are sliced into sections (no magic needed); a building can attain actual free fall velocity (no miracle needed); and the signature ending includes molten metal and inextinguishable fires which eliminates even the "deepest mystery" reported by the NY Times. Regarding tower # 7, the lease holder of all three collapsed buildings, Larry Silverstein, admitted that # 7 was taken down by controlled demolition (America Rebuilds – PBS 2002). As we all witnessed that day, there were no signs of pancaked layers. Everything was reduced to fragments and swirling dust clouds, no bodies were recovered but bone fragments were found on surrounding building tops – ditto, controlled demolition.

Instead of hiding our heads in the sand, let's take a stand and demand a credible investigation of this horrific crime. Together we can prevent the future becoming a repeat of the past – yes we can!

Elton Tylenda Member – Veterans for Peace


Elton is a member of the Clarence Kailin Chapter of Veterans for Peace.

Take health care burden off backs of industry – Gail Price

The Capital Times

Gail Price | Posted: Wednesday, November 11, 2009 5:00 am

Dear Editor: Thank goodness this health care issue has finally gotten past some of the misinformation and just plain foolish fear that people have been subjected to about it. I was so relieved and grateful to get old enough to be able to get Medicare -- it has saved me about $6,000 a year! To spend on other things -- to help the economy! My medical service has been fine.

I also believe that in order to improve our economy in the long run we need to re-establish our manufacturing base in this country and we need to take the burden of health care off the backs of industry in order to be competitive with the rest of the world that already provides universal health care.

Gail Price, Madison

Gail is an associate member of the Clarence Kailin Chapter of Veterans for Peace.

Health care OK makes history – David Couper

The Capital Times

David Couper | Posted: Wednesday, November 11, 2009 5:00 am

Dear Editor: It's great making history! This historic accomplishment occurred on Saturday, Nov. 7, when the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3962 — the Affordable Health Care for America Act. I think these efforts go back to when I was a lad in high school when Harry Truman was our president.

Our representatives who voted for this bill deserve our praise and thanks. I am sure the lobbyists for the insurance and pharmaceutical industries put on a full court press -- yet House members withstood it and took the right action because it was the right thing to do.

I now urge the Senate to continue the fight, which is to provide secure and stable coverage for all Americans with insurance, to expand coverage for those who do not have insurance, and to lower cost for families and businesses! Finally, we are on the right track.

David Couper, Blue Mounds

David is a member of the Clarence Kailin Chapter of Veterans for Peace.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Wisconsin Veterans: Information for Policy Makers on the Availability of Clinical, Social, Legal, and Preventative Services

What a title, only when you combine a legislative bureaucracy and an institutional bureaucracy.

Today I attended the Assembly Veterans and Military Affairs Committee on PTSD, I will be abbreviating as PTS since this is not a disorder and as mentioned by one of the speakers it is a normal result of the abnormality that the person deployed had been exposed to. The hearing was held due to the representatives valid concerns about 3200 members of the Wisconsin National Guard returning to the state around January. Although traditional veterans groups like the VFW and American Legion were personally invited I found out about the event from a fellow Veterans For Peace member who works in the media and was most likely alerted via press release. The stated purpose at the hearing was so that legislators had a firm understanding of the help available for PTS.

The first speaker was Dr. Dean Krahn who has this bio posted on the UW Psychiatry website: Professor of Psychiatry; Chief, Mental Health Service Line at VA-Madison and Director, Mental Health Service Line for the Great Lakes Network of VA. According to him due to recent outreach efforts and budget efforts years after the War of Terror began the VA mental health personnel around the country has increased 42 per cent since 2005. There are now double the people in Madison at 130.

The next speaker was Jean Bromley, MSW, OEF/OIF VISN 12 Lead and Milwaukee Program Manager. She highlighted the outreach done to reach veterans on campuses, at drill weekends, WDVA events like the Supermarket held in Marshfield recently. She also discussed the Post Deployment Health Reassessment (PDHRA) (Est. 2005) that is done 90 to 180 days post deployment to address concerns and provide care for the veteran. This is mandatory for all active and Reserve members, not for the Guard because of the dual role they have other assessments that I will discuss later and other speakers talked about. For Wisconsin there is the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration program that is 30, 60, and 90 days post deployment. At these events the veteran can enroll in VA health care. The USMC since this year has been holding IRR musters, which I couldn't find in any media but there is media of IRR musters for other reasons, to let them know about signing up for the VA and providing other important information for them. The focus of these different programs and gatherings is to provide tools and skills for reentry into civilian life. It seems that the word on the street that the Navy TAPS program is very good compared to Army and Marines is right otherwise they would only need to provide info on VA benefits and help getting them at these events. She went on to say that over 280000 service members/veterans had completed the PDHRA and over 104000 service members/veterans have been referred to a Vet Center of the VA. The top five diagnoses for servicemembers at these events, both men and women, are PTS, depression, back pain, knee/joint pain, and excessive tobacco usage. The ranking changes for the sexes but not the issues they are facing. To wrap up what I recorded for her comments, she mentioned that only half of those who were found to have PTS and referenced to a Vet Center or VA were getting care for PTS.

After these two speakers there were a few questions which were interesting. According to Dr. Krahn there are three ways that a veteran can receive care: Inpatient, Outpatient and via residential services. As part of inpatient care there are Community Based Outreach Centers or CBOCs, which he quipped is a popular acronym on CSPAN (too bad I don't have cable anymore since it is the only way to find out what is actually said nowadays with all of the news commentators instead of reporters). These CBOC can provide assessments and basically the same services as the VA for veterans who are not near a VA center just by billing the VA. There is also a rise in telemental health services being offered at CBOCs which was a concern in this 1999 report. This is a system where a $3000 camera/CPU device is used at a CBOC, and now at college campuses, which links the veteran to a VA where they can receive treatment without the trip from the rural area to the VA center. They said there was data that telemental health works as well as in person meetings but didn't say where it came from. The Uniform Services Package for Mental Health document mandates what the CBOCs must provide in terms of mental health help. From the new head of the VA, Shinseki, a directive has been created to determine whether the PTS treatment is working and making the symptoms lessen or worsening each time the veteran is seen. He is also directing outreach similar to that in Wisconsin to get veterans into the VA and building bridges with veterans. One concern with his directive on PTS and evaluating whether treatment is working or not is the BATTLEMIND program the Army is currently using. This training teaches resiliency and claims to be a way to avoid PTS but may be a way to teach military members how to shut down their brain when it comes to trauma just like they have been taught to do when it comes to killing. One comment at the end was a link between Porchlight and per diem housing to get a 20 unit place in Madison in the near future to serve homeless veterans.

Tracey L. Smith was the next speaker and described complex PTS as PTS from the childhood which is compounded by further trauma later in life. She said that there is no data on multiple deployments and the rate of PTS but only that the number of firefights is the factor which PTS increases and once a certain number is reach the PTS rate levels out. Also mentioned was that the high number of suicides but that they primarily occur in one or zero deployment members. She referenced an Institute of Medicine study from Oct. 2007 but all I can find online is that it was rather inconclusive regarding treatments for PTS. The VA is using large scale psychotherapy trainings and follow-ups for its personnel. Two therapies used are Cognitive Processing Therapy which is 12 - 1 hour session including where the veteran must write in detail their most traumatic experience and Prolonged Exposure Therapy which wasn't described that well. Their results show that OEF/OIF veterans get better results from the treatments than Vietnam veterans. She offered that it may be because they are receiving treatment sooner after the trauma. 7 out of 10 veterans refuse mental health services even if they are offered due to the stigma which besides the rural problem is a main concern when gettinng vets to come to the VA.

The next speaker was David Hosking, Global War on Terrorism Outreach Readjustment Counselor Madison Wisconsin Vet Center. He served for a total of 28 years and would probably still be in if allowed. He was in Vietnam and Iraq although was wearing a flight jacket with wings so I don't know what his MOS was. His talk was to read off the powerpoint slides and he seemed to like he had PTS or social anxiety, think Tom Smykowski from Office Space the people person. He talks to all units that demobilize through Fort McCoy to discuss the Vet Centers, CVSOs, Workforce Devlopment and other governmental programs available to veterans. One question from Rep. Hubler was about getting a call from a constituent who wanted help for a veteran loved one. He said that they should call the Vet Center and the Vet Center will set up and appointment for them in their locale.

Next up was Col. Kenneth Koon, Director of Manpower and Personnel at Wisconsin National Guard. He descibed a number of things including the Yellow Ribbon program, Battlemind, and resiliency Training as ways to help with trauma. In 2008 more National Guard members committed suicide thatn died in combat. According to him 60 per cent had never deployed.

The next speakers described the Veterans Court process, Krista Ginger (Public Defender) and Bil Klister (WDVA). These courts now exist in 7 states with New York the first in Buffalo started last year. In Wisconsin there is one in Rock County in VISN 12 and one to start in Eau Claire County in VISN 23 in the near future.

Following this there was questions about the telemental health services. They are springing up on campuses around the state. UW Plattteville was the pilot in Spring 2008 with 4 individuals receiving 7 sessions. In the Fall of 2008 there were 6 to 8 routine veterans receiving service. Later this fall UW Whitewater will start and UW Parkside and Oshkosh will follow. UW Eau Claire will be starting this fall but is under control of the Twin Cities VISN.

The session was then brought to a close.

My one question I jotted down early which was never answered except that we need to do more outreach is how to get past the VA stigma. When I first got into the VA and was getting physical therapy for my arm injury, thanks health insurance industry for forcing me to get socialized medicine, I was deeply depressed every time I had to go to the hospital. It is a very unwelcoming place to be. Also they never mentioned one alternative treatment that was available or that had been tested to be effective. One of their main talking points was that they want to focus on using what works as proven by research not what the practitioner thinks works or has been doing for a long time, so why no other methods besides their own?

Friday, September 25, 2009

F-16s' roar worse in Afghanistan, Iraq - Craig Fabian

Wisconsin State Journal
Posted: Wednesday, September 23, 2009 5:45 pm

Craig and Steve Books at the White House following the 2009 Veterans for Peace Convention.

At 3:25 a.m. Tuesday, the roar of F-16s taking off at Truax Field woke me and I assume many of my neighbors.

Many people in Afghanistan and Iraq probably hear the same noise, but they hear the explosions of the ordnance well before the roar of the engines. Death and destruction all around them, the survivors are displaced to tents and elsewhere, starving and dying slowly.

I ask President Barack Obama: Is it about the Taliban or is it about lining the pockets of the corporations that make the ordnance?

Gen. Stan McChrystal wants more troops to stop the Taliban. The Soviets had half a million and left defeated. The Brits tried three times and left. We, too, will leave without winning anything, except benefits for corporations.

Many economic conscripts fighting for unobtainable goals return to the United States with permanent damage. Amputations and mental health issues will cost the current generation years of their lives. Many may never recover. These vets will need assistance forever. Will this government provide for them? If history repeats itself, the answer is no.

Crimes against humanity is what I call it. Obama, stop this nonsense.

Craig Fabian, Madison
Craig is a member of the Clarence Kailin Chapter of Veterans for Peace.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Loss of Fitchburg Star disappointing

The Capital Times

9/01/2009 6:36 am

Dear Editor: We were shocked and disappointed when we learned that the Fitchburg Star will no longer be.

For the last several years, we have learned to look forward to the excellent, in-depth articles that Kurt Gutknecht has put into each issue. We can honestly say that he has provided in-depth coverage of goings-on in Fitchburg, as well as occasional coverage of other things occurring elsewhere in Wisconsin or the U.S. (or the world). The trends in eliminating newspapers in the U.S. do not bode well for an educated and illuminated citizenry.

We urge Kurt to continue his coverage of events in and around Fitchburg, and if he wants to start up an online newspaper, we will be the first to subscribe. Few things worth anything are free and the information Kurt provides is certainly worth our financial support. Go, Kurt!

John Fournelle and Judi Munaker, Fitchburg

John is a member of the Clarence Kailin Chapter of Veterans for Peace.