Saturday, March 18, 2006

3 Years and Counting WAR IS PERSONAL


This morning I picked up the latest issue of THE NATION Magazine and found this very poignant article about the life of just one of the many casualties in this Bush/Neocon Ideological, Illegal war in Iraq. A very personal story from one member of the military who made it out alive but is condemned to live a life-sentence of misery.

The body count will strike hard at our collective core of sensibility bringing pangs of pain, but rarely do we hear from the thousands of sons and daughters who escaped death only to live out the
remainder of their existence on this earth with debilitating injuries and psychological scars. A lifetime of bleakness and misery instead of hopefulness and well-being.

This is Photo Nation: telling a story with pictures and it was so apropos, they used black and white images to tell such a sad and depressing tale.

Look at each picture hard and long, try and feel this young man's pain. Bush sent him to fight in an unnecessary war and he returned broken, fractured and un-fixable just like his war.

Thank you, thinkingblue

Photo Nation (March 27, 2006 issue)

War Is Personal: Tomas Young/Age 26/Kansas City, Missouri by Eugene Richards
Their house, a suburban ranch with a wheelchair ramp running up to the front door, was, as far as I could see, the only one on the street flying an American flag. It had to be Brie, not her rebellious and haunted husband
of seven months, who was responsible for this. It had been Brie who put Tomas's Purple Heart on display in a corner of their living room.

After one ring Brie let me in, then said something about being tired after waitressing the night before and padded back toward the bedroom, leaving us alone. Tomas was sitting slumped over at the dining room table, eyes half closed, smoking a cigarette amid what he had dismissed as "my clutter"--newspapers, protest buttons, pamphlets from a veterans' support group that he planned to hand out, cigarette lighters, cigarette wrappers, bills to be paid.

Struggling to sit upright, Tomas began forcing his thin, angular body as far forward and backward as he could. "Here I am wanting a conversation," he said, "and it's not working for me. I'm feeling kind of dizzy and thinking it must be the meds." Tomas recalled that the night before he'd taken a prescribed dose of Valium, along with his regimen of pain pills, anti-anxiety pills, antispasmodic pills and laxatives, only to awaken earlier than usual. At that time he took his morning dosages of morphine and Wellbutrin, and a half-dozen other drugs, before falling back to sleep. When Brie woke to remind him to take his morning pills, he forgot, in the confusion from a troubled sleep, that he already had. He'd "doubled up." Then again, maybe he hadn't.

He struggled to explain that ever since his return from Iraq, it's been a kind of magic act for him to stay upright when the only parts of his body that will obey him are his shoulders and his arms. Plus, there are the days when his body is totally uncooperative, the days when he starts "bawling for no real reason."

Tomas attempted to light another cigarette, since the last one had fallen on the floor, the one before that into his lap. His hand shook, he burned his thumb, but he wouldn't be deterred. "It's the nicotine, I guess. I need it to keep going, but I know I've got to quit. I'll be smoking in bed, even with Brie beside me, have a hand spasm and the cigarette will end up rolling under my back or legs, and, though I can't feel the burns, they can become pressure sores, can make you very ill..." Here his voice trailed off. Increasingly irritated with himself, with the room already adrift in smoke, he finally managed to light up a cigarette, dropped it and began searching for it, plucking at his clothing like he had this itch, this terrible, unreachable pain.

Just then, as the two of us grew silent, Brie walked in. "What are you doing with your shirt off?" she asked him. Tomas had pulled it off, knowing that
I needed to take pictures. He had yanked it up. In three tries he had it over his head. I could see the tiny entry wound the bullet had left in front just beneath his collarbone, the much larger exit wound in back below his shoulder blade, the wide, pale, zipperlike scar along his spine.

It was on April 4, 2004, his fourth day in Iraq, that his Army unit was ambushed. The place was the insurgent stronghold of Sadr City. The truck he was riding in, Tomas recalled ruefully, was unarmored and so crammed full of soldiers--twenty-five men in a space meant for eighteen--that he couldn't even point his weapon outside. Bullets began flying everywhere, splintering metal, striking almost everyone, when all of a sudden his whole body went numb and he saw himself dropping his M-16 and being unable to pick it up. There was no pain. It took only a few seconds more for him to realize that the thing that had just happened to him was something he would have to deal with for the rest of his life. He tried screaming for someone to kill him, but all that came out was this tiny whisper.

If you like this article, consider making a donation to The Nation.

Spc. Doug Barber: PTSD - A Soldier's Personal War!

Thursday, 12 January 2006, 10:59 am
Opinion: Guest Opinion
PTSD - Every Soldier's Personal WAR!
By Spc. Doug Barber

Published By Coalition For Free Thought In MediaIn the last month I have been working with Jay Shaft, the editor of Coalition For Free Thought in media regarding my experiences in Iraq and since coming home from the war. We have only touched on some of the struggles of being a soldier, however we have not dug deeply into the personal war that Operation Iraqi Freedom has caused for returning soldiers.

Donald Rumsfeld and President Bush do not want to reveal to the American
people that this war is a personal war. They want to run the war like a
business, and thus they refuse to show the personal sacrifices the soldiers and their families have made for this country.

My thought today is to help you the reader understand what happens to a
soldier when they come home and the sacrifice we continue to make. This
may be lengthy, it may be short; but no matter how long it is, just close
your eyes and imagine a flag draped coffin.

Inside that coffin is the body of a man or woman who will never get to live their life to the fullest, yet they bore the total cost so that we could live free. Their soul is somewhere else and all we have is their memory which over time will be forgotten by other events of greater importance. The families of these soldiers have a hole in their hearts that will never be replaced, even though they have pictures and happy memories.

Some families will refuse to believe they are gone, but still their sons and daughters are the hero's of a country that sent them to war. This war on terror has become a personal war for so many, yet the Bush Administration does not want journalists or families to photograph the only thing that is left of our soldiers who have died. They do not want the people to remember that image of a flag draped coffin as the last memory this country will ever have of our fallen men and woman.

They say that America will raise their voices and demand a stop to the war, but my question is why should we not show the results of war? For us as a country, we send these soldiers to war and we see their faces while they are alive. I say let their memories live on in every photo, even when they do come home in a flag draped coffin. Let their sacrifice be forever etched in the memory of America. We owe their families this at the very least.

All is not okay or right for those of us who return home alive and supposedly well. What looks like normalcy and readjustment is only an illusion to be revealed by time and torment. Some soldiers come home missing limbs and other parts of their bodies. Still others will live with permanent scars from horrific events that no one other than those who served will ever understand.

We come home from war trying to put our lives back together but some
cannot stand the memories and decide that death is better. They kill themselves because they are so haunted by seeing children killed and whole families wiped out.

They ask themselves how you put a price tag on someone else's life? The
question goes unanswered as they become another casualty of the war. Hero's become another statistic to America and they are another little article relegated to the back of a newspaper.

Still others come home to nothing, families have abandoned them: husbands
and wives have left these soldiers, and so have parents as well. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has become the norm amongst these soldiers because they don't know how to cope with returning to a society that will never understand what they have had to endure to liberate another country.

PTSD comes in many forms not understood by many: but yet if a soldier has it, America thinks the soldiers are crazy. PTSD comes in the form of depression, anger, regret, being confrontational, anxiety, chronic pain, compulsion, delusions, grief, guilt, dependence, loneliness, sleep disorders, suspiciousness/paranoia, low self-esteem and so many other things.

We are easily startled with a loud bang or noise and can be found ducking for cover when we get panicked. This is a result of artillery rounds going off in a combat zone, or an IED blowing up.

I myself have trouble coping with an everyday routine that deals with other people that often causes me to have a short fuse. A lot of soldiers lose multiple jobs just because they are trained to be killers and they have lived in an environment that is conducive to that. We are always on guard for our safety and that of our comrades. When you go to bed at night you wonder will you be sent home in a flag draped coffin because a mortar round went off on your sleeping area.

Soldiers live in deplorable conditions where burning your own feces is the
order of the day. Where going days on end with no shower and the uniform
you wear gets so crusty it sometimes sticks to your body becomes a common
occurrence. We also deal with rationing water or even food for that matter. So when a soldier comes home to what they left they are unsure of what to do being in a civilized world again.

This is what PTSD comes in the shape of--soldiers can not often handle coming back to the same world they left behind. It is something that drives soldiers over the edge and causes them to withdraw from society. As Americans we turn our nose down at them wondering why they act the way they do. Who cares about them, why should we help them?

Talk show hosts like Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh and so many others act like they know all about war; then they refuse to give any credence to soldiers like me who have been to war and seen the brutality of war. These guys are nothing but WEAK SPINELESS COWARDS hiding behind microphones while soldiers come home and are losing everything they have.

I ask every American who reads this e-mail to stand up for the soldier who
has given their everything for this country to stand up to these guys in the media; ask them why they don't pick up a weapon and follow in the steps of a soldier. Send this e-mail to as many people on your e-mail lists and ask them to do the same.

There needs to be a National awareness for every Veteran who has ever served in any war. Send e-mails to the Big Mouths on TV and ask them to have soldiers like me on their programs. I am asking you as Americans to BOYCOTT every TV show or host/journalist that refuses to tell the real truth.

PROGRAM TO SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT. Otherwise you are nothing but dirt
under every soldier's boots!

SPC. Douglas Barber

To all crooked government officials that is reading my e-mail, I hope you
are enjoying yourself and maybe one day your eyes will be opened to the
master who enslaves you. I know how to fight warfare and am prepared to
fight it as well. LET THIS BE A WARNING!! I am watching and I know you are
watching me but I don't care. LET FREEDOM BE HEARD.

A Soldier For Truth Has Fallen: In Memory of Specialist Doug Barber
by Jay Shaft CFTM EDITOR Wed Jan 18, 2006 at 02:21:03 PM PDT

Today I come to you with a heavy and troubled heart. I have the
unfortunate task of giving you some very tragic news. Yesterday afternoon
(written on 1/17/05) Specialist Douglas Barber, an Operation Iraqi Freedom
veteran, took his own life after struggling with the demons and nightmares
of PTSD for over two years.



This next article can be found on the web at

Three Years and Counting
[from the March 27, 2006 issue]
On March 19, 2003, without the approval of the United Nations Security Council and against the advice of many of America's closest allies, the Bush Administration launched what has become one of the longest-running wars in US history. Now, on the third anniversary of the start of the war, we are just beginning to feel the full effects of the greatest catastrophe in American foreign policy since the Vietnam War. We are all familiar with the staggering costs in lives and money of the Iraq War: 2,300 Americans killed, more than 16,000 wounded or maimed; about 30,000 direct Iraqi deaths and more than 100,000 attributable to the war; upward of $300 billion in direct war expenditures and close to $1 trillion in estimated total costs.
We are also painfully aware of the longer-term damage to US foreign policy and to our standing in the world. The war has bred a new generation of religious extremists, dangerously heightened sectarian tensions in the Islamic world, strengthened Iran's hand in Iraq and in matters of nuclear diplomacy, and created the most serious threat to the world's oil supply since the OPEC embargo--all the while undermining American authority in the region and straining the US military to the breaking point.
But these facts and figures do not capture the full tragedy that Iraq has become or the horror that may yet befall that country and indeed the region. As recent events make clear, Iraq is now on the verge of a full-scale civil war, which US forces are helpless to prevent and for which they are increasingly blamed by all sides. The blood bath following the bombing of the golden-domed Shiite mosque in Samarra claimed more than 1,400 lives, as angry Shiite mobs attacked Sunni mosques and killed their Sunni neighbors. This outbreak followed months of low-intensity ethnic cleansing in many Iraqi neighborhoods and increasing targeting of Sunnis by Shiite militias, many of them operating under cover of the Interior Ministry and the Iraqi army the United States has been training.
Throughout the three years of the war, the Administration and its supporters have tried to create the illusion of progress by hyping one democratic "landmark" after another. But as this magazine has warned all along, each landmark was just another step toward the violence and misery that now engulfs ordinary Iraqis. Meanwhile, the only democratic landmark that really matters--establishing an accountable national unity government capable of keeping order and beginning the reconstruction of the country--still eludes the efforts of America's Ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad. Khalilzad may understand the importance of a national unity government better than his predecessors, but he cannot make up for the original sin of the invasion and occupation or for all the crimes and mistakes, from Falluja to Abu Ghraib to a flawed constitutional process.
Still, the effort to discredit those who would question American policy in Iraq continues with the usual attacks on the patriotism and steadfastness of those who argue for a US withdrawal or even for establishing a timetable for withdrawal. Vice President Cheney warns about "defeatists" who would have the United States leave Iraq before finishing the job.
Over the past three years, the Administration has offered us a succession of reasons we must "stay the course" to match the succession of rationales for the war itself. An American withdrawal, we were told, would embolden the insurgency, make Iraq a safe haven for terrorists and foreign jihadis and lead to civil war. One by one each of these predictions has come true. Not, of course, because we withdrew or even announced a timetable for withdrawal or redeployment but because we could not control the forces the war and the occupation unleashed or created.
Now we are told that if we leave, the civil war will get worse. And indeed it could. The past few weeks have offered a glimpse into the future: Sunni fighting Shiite, Shiite fighting Sunni, one Shiite militia fighting another Shiite militia--many blaming the United States for the violence and all eventually targeting American soldiers. Following the bombing of the Shiite mosque, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, head of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq and one of the most powerful Shiites, blamed the US ambassador for giving a green light to terrorist bombers by insisting that SCIRI-controlled Shiite militias be disarmed. Other Shiite leaders offered similar complaints, and, perhaps more ominous, the Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani called for tribal militias to guard Shiite shrines and personalities, a sign that he wants Shiite militias to take things into their own hands. Meanwhile, Sunnis quickly pointed the finger at US troops for not protecting Sunni mosques and worshipers from Shiite retaliation, even as Sunni insurgents vowed to continue their attacks on US forces. Thus in a worrying development, the American occupation has succeeded in turning both major sectarian groups in Iraq against the United States.
At this point, there may be little America can do to stop the sectarian violence or the momentum toward civil war. As Juan Cole noted in his blog, Informed Comment, during the latest violence, "the US military ordered the US soldiers in Baghdad to stay in their barracks and not to circulate if it could be helped," illustrating just how useless the American ground forces are in Iraq.
The best we can do is remove US forces and seek the help of other nations to keep the violence from spreading, in the hope that this will help change the dynamic in Iraq. As much as we would like to fix what we "broke," we do not have the legitimacy or the know-how. The American public, the men and women in uniform and the Iraqis themselves all seem to recognize this. Only 30 percent of Americans favor the Bush Administration's handling of Iraq, 72 percent of US troops serving in Iraq believe US forces should leave in the next year and, possibly most revealing of all, 87 percent of all Iraqis want an end to the US occupation while 47 percent support attacks on US troops. It is time to get US forces out of the untenable position the Bush Administration has put them in. The question is: When will our "leaders" in Washington come to accept that same conclusion and at least prevent the futile loss of more American lives?




James Blunt is a gifted British musician that has seen war himself. He wrote a song
called "No Bravery" while he was stationed in Kosovo. "Billy Pilgrim"
uses that music in this powerful animation that captures the anguish of
the war, and ends with the photo of Blake Miller. See it
. Another excellent flash animation, is done to the same song by the young
woman who created Check out Ava's work.



Warning very Graphic REAL PICTURES OF WAR


CAROLYNCONNETION - I've got a mind and I'm going to use
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