Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Currently, the ICCC count for the total number of US service members killed in the illegal war is 3470 and the number killed in May (thus far) is 119. On Monday, Free Speech Radio News used their half-hour broadcast for a special Memorial Day look at the some of the costs of the war in US with reporter Aaron Glantz in the role of reporter and anchor.  Glantz spoke with Muriel Dean whose husband was killed last Christmas.  James E. Dean wasn't shot dead in Iraq, he was shot dead in Maryland.  Having served 18 months in Afghanistan, suffering from PTSD and with an Iraq redployment coming up (January 14, 2007), James E. Dean went to his father's farm and holed up there, alone, with the possible intent to kill himself.  Muriel Dean strongly believes that, at some point, her husband would have gotten tired, gone to sleep and, when he woke up, and left the farm.  Instead, the police decided the thing to do in a situation where the farm was empty, where no neighbors were close by and where the only person James E. Dean could have hurt was himself, the thing to do was to use tear gas to force him out and then shoot him dead.  The report from the review conducted by Maryland's State Attorney office deemed the police behavior "assualtive and militaristic." 
Aaron GlantzPentagon doctors estimate that 12 percent of the 1.5 million veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Other studies put that number higher at closer to 30 percent.  As the war drags on the military is increasingly sending soldiers back to Iraq for second and third tours even if they suffer from the same type of mental illness as Patrick Resta.
Glantz also spoke with Melissa and Patrick Resta who served in Al Anbar Province in Iraq and spoke of Iraqis approaching US service members with ill children but, Resta explains, that they were threatened with court-martial if they used medical supplies on anyone other than US service members.  [This point is echoed in Camilo Mejia's  Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia.]  When he returned from Iraq at the end of 2004, he was angry, unable to sleep, drinking, avoiding everyone.  At Christmas, Melissa Resta asked her husband "if he wanted to split up and he told me he didn't care" which was her clue that there was something seriously wrong. 
Patrick Resta has now been diagnosed with PTSD and is receiving treatment and attending college.  He states: "I'm definitely not the person I was before.  I was always laid back, you know relaxed, always cracking jokes and now I'm anxious and tense and have bouts of anger, have some pretty severe insomnia, have some bad nightmares  and I think it's pretty standard for the men and women that have been over there.  All of the people that I've talked to, it's pretty much the same -- the same set of symptons and the same problems."
Melissa Resta:  There are so many of these things that I never would have thought would be a problem and now I have to think them through.  The grocery store's too crowded.  We also live in a city with a very high Muslim population and there are a lot of women in traditional Muslim dress and sometimes I notice that that can be unsettling for him to see that just because I think it brings back these feelings.  I mean there are a lot of things that you have to take into consideration and at 27 it's not really where I had pictured myself.
Glantz also interviewed Kristy Kruger whose brother, Eric Kruger, was killed in Baghdad by a roadside bomb November 2, 2006.  [Kristy Kruger, a singer-songwriter, often performs concerts to benefit her brother's four children.  Donations can be sent to: The Memorial Fund for Children of LTC Eric Kruger, 6460 Crystal Mountain Rd., Colorado Springs, CO 80923.]
And Glantz interviewed doctors who treat PTSD including Dr. Col. Vito Imbascini who was stationed in Germany for four months last year where he treated US service members wounded in the war and discussed how body armor meant service members who might have lost a limb in Vietnam and suffered wounds to their chest and abdmonen that led to their deaths are now likely to survive "but be severely disabled for life" allowing "an extremely high number of wounded American soldiers are coming home with their arms or legs amputated" and, during his four months in Germany, he "amputated the genitals of one or two men every day."
Again, that is the Memorial Day special of Free Speech Radio News. Today the Daily Mail reported on Martin Packer, a British soldier who had self-checked out, and killed himself (Monday) in front of Joanne Hepple (his girlfriend) and her two songs as a result of being "tormented by what he had witnessed in" Iraq.  War resisters Darrell Anderson and Joshua Key are among those who have disclosed their own PTSD.  From Key's book, The Deserter's Tale (pp. 209-210):
A Canadian psychiatrist told me that you never truly emerge from post-traumatic stress disorder, that you simply learn to live with it.
There are certain things that I avoid these days, such as alcohol and crowds, because I fear they will trigger more of my own blackouts.  I know that thousands of American soldiers have abused drugs or committed suicide after returning home from war.  It would be easy to follow in the steps of many in my own family and drown my shame and my sorrows in alcohol.  Alcohol, however, could lead to the very problem of suicidal depression that have plagued vets for generations. 
Joshua Key is part of  a growing movement of war resistance within the US military that includes Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.
Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights HotlineIraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

Today, in Iraq, the violence continues as does the breeding of hostilities.  Alexandra Zavis (Los Angeles Times) reports that the raids to find the 5 British contractors is even more violent than the search to find the 3 missing US soldiers (and remember, only the corpse of one of the 3 US soldiers is confirmed found) by crashing into one Iraqi police officer's "home about 2 a.m. using an armored vehicle, cuffed and blindfolded those inside, and pointed lasers at their chests.  'They were hitting us, asking, "Where are the kidnapped British?" said the man who asked that his name not be published for fear of retribution by Western forces.  'I told them that we are five brothers in the police force.  How could we do that?  They said OK, then tell us where are they?"  Also today, the US military has confirmed what CNN reported yesterday -- remember the days when reporting was reporting and official government statements were official government states?  Rest easy outlets, you can now report what CNN did yesterday: A US helicopter was shot down Monday in Iraq (which led to the death of 2 US soldiers and 6 died while attempting to rush to the scene of the crash).  Repeating, the US military has confirmed what CNN reported.  Read AP here and wonder why news outlets not only wouldn't report the helicopter was shot down but they also wouldn't even report it by couching it with "CNN is reporting that . . ."  In other air news, Turkey, which shares a border with Iraq, has issued a request.  Turkish Daily News reports the government of Turkey "formally asked the United States not to repeat any airspace violation, following an incident last week where two US F-16 fighters infringed the Turkish air corridor."  And that comes as tensions continue to mount between Turkey and the Kurdish northern Iraq.  CBS and AP report, "Turkey has sent large contigents of soldiers, tanks and armored personnel carriers to reinforce its border with Iraq amid a heated debate over whether to stage a cross-border offensive to hit Kurdish rebel bases.  Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday urged the United States and Iraq to destroy bases of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, in northern Iraq as the Turkish military depoloyed more tanks and soldiers on the border."

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