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DO US soldiers know what they sign up for? Horror? Mass murder? Burn pits? PTSD. Disability. Homelessness. Viagra.

It was a crass thing for Trump to say to a recent war widow, but of course it's also fundamentally said in praise of brave men. They knew what they signed up for. But do American soldiers know what they sign up for? Not just the risk, but the horror and culpability? Did Trump voters know what they signed up for? I'll put it to you they did not.

POW-MIA. Not forgotten or forgiven.

The POW-MIA flag used to represent a renegade popular sentiment that our military wasn't taking seriously the American soldiers left behind in Vietnam. Now the same flag flies from the flapoles of federal buildings like VA facilities. I think the cultural fixation on foresaken warriors is a Freudian reflection of our nation's moral conscience. Indead our better self is a Prisoner Of War. Likewise Missing In Action. America you ARE forgotten, and I'll add not forgiven.

Wilfred Owen: Spring Offensive & PTSD

You wont find a more haunting depiction of battle induced PTSD than the last two stanzas of Wilfred Owens Spring Offensive. Youll be curious no doubt to double back on the setup: troops being marched to the frontline, the idyllic lull before battle, the unceremonious charge, and the moment a stealthy sprint turns to mayhem. The next stanza speculates about the fate of those who fall in battle: to bullets, to explosive shells, and to shrapnel. The last stanza is about the "too swift" survivors who "out-fiend" death to come through, and don't want to, or can't, talk about it. 47158

Confederate flag still flies over Denver

DENVER, COLORADO- All eyes have been on South Carolina, Bree Newsome, and the White Supremacist rallies which have percolated since, but Colorado indignants could note that a Confederate battle flag does still fly over Denver. The historic Riverside Cemetery commemorates Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and notable Civil War anniversaries with flags honoring American soldiers. They don't fly Old Glory over the Confederate vets and the manager assured me they don't plan to dishonor the Rebels with a Union flag anytime soon. On the graveyard's Northwest side, nearest to the Evans crypt there's a cobblestone patch where the bricks are engraved with the names of Colorado veterans who served the Confederacy. Over the gathering is a flag pole which was dedicated in 2003. It's a discrete affair visible to only visitors touring the cemetery's historic tombstones or dog-walkers heading out to the Riverside's wetland conservation area.

Iwo Jima, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and Memorial Day

There appears to be no more popular symbol of American patriotism and resiliency than the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima. Do Americans think Mount Suribachi overlooked Pearl Harbor? (As if Hawaii in the mid-Pacific was even US manifest destiny). Of the USA's far flung "possessions" Iwo Jima was not among them. As usual the US Marines were laying claim to lands of others, of the Japanese. It had as much to do with protecting our freedom as Montezuma and Tripoli.

Because you supported the troops, today we have to f-ck the police

If there's a chant that unites protesters across America it is "FTP!" No matter the issue, from BLM to GMOs, excessive use of force by police against dissenting citizens is the common grievance. The UN has even condemned US human rights abuses, this time police violence and racial discrimination. Our emergant police state may be the business end of the New World Order, but its troubling conduct is directly traceable to US military rules of engagement. These violent cops are our vets! 42755

WWII vet, age 92, finally diagnosed with PTSD why, because we care?

Sgt. Stanley Friedman, a 92 yr-old veteran of the WWII North African campaign, was finally diagnosed with PTSD. Pro bono lawyers couldn't even verify his service records, but after sixty years of denying his claims, the VA has at last been forced to grant Friedman compensation. Is this really the result of crafty legal work, at long last, or of a PR climate now overrun by Big Pharma, whose PTSD drug market windfall needed a poster boy for the baby boomer set, the type of veteran Americans favor over those from less "good" wars?

Here’s another one for ANZAC Day…

So, it was on or just before ANZAC Day four years ago, the last veteran of Gallipoli died. And I truly do get a bit sad and angry, betimes, when these guys are held up as a reason FOR more wars, more militarism, more police state bullshit. Sometimes I choke when singing Eric Bogle's song, "The Band Played Waltzing Matilda". There were 2 sections of the song: "I looked at the place, where me legs used to be" and"But as year follow year / More old men... disappear / Someday no onewill march there at all." 32613

Another battle looming for the Very Rich vs. Very Poor?

The Gag-zette, our local Right Wing Extremist "newspaper" ran a fluff piece as a headline Sunday. Saying that draconian laws forbidding poverty to be seen within the walls of Emerald City had "positive results". Translation: The Rich Bitches are about to sick the Colorado Springs and El Paso County Gestapo departments on anybody who even looks poor. 19957

GI quadruple amputee’s hobby: guns. Army needs a prosthetic for PTSD.

Wounded Army Specialist Brendan Marrocco was this weekend's NYT front page testimonial to the resilience of US soldiers. The VA is finally acknowledging amputee-counts apparently, so we now learn that 988 veterans have lost limbs in Iraq and Afghanistan. Specialist Marrocco lost all four, but is learning to get around. He can walk for stints of up to 15-minutes, and his favorite pastime? Shooting guns.

Army Career “opportunities”

We've seen the ads, "Join the Military and get job training that employers want".. yeah right. One of my friends in El Paso was at the time a Scout for the Third Herd, 3rd Armored Cavalry. Stationed at Ft Bliss but spent most of his time (between the constant wars in which America has been engaged, unofficially) in this patch of Hell called MacGregor Range sandwiched between the limits of Ft Bliss, Biggs Army Air Field, White Sands Missile Range and Holloman AFB. His take on it was the job opportunities using his training would be either working as a cop or a hitman. (Personal aside, I don't make any distinction at all between the two jobs.) A double-digit percentage of the unemployed in Colorado are veterans. That's about twice the percentage of the population who are veterans. The TeeVee college ads, trade schools actually, because the Wealthiest don't want to spring for a real academic education, they want to keep us firmly planted in the Servant Class, make promises to recently discharged Veterans that strongly echo the lies of the Military Recruiters. "get training the employers are looking for". You know, it would be a Hell of a lot easier for

You have forgotten what to remember

Can someone please explain to me what it means to fly this flag? The POW-MIA flag is ubiquitous these days around veterans. Our town hall flies this black flag halfway below the Stars and Stripes. When the latter is at half mast, the former hangs indecorously low. Which reminds me of a pirate ship stalking a wavering Old Glory.   I understand POW and MIA, and "you are not forgotten." But there is no flag for the veterans, the dead or wounded, to whom does this lone flag speak and why? 11342

Last veteran of the War to End All Wars

IS THAT RICH? UK's oldest living veteran of the Great War died this weekend at age 111. Machine-gunner Harry Patch who survived Ypres and nearly not Passchendaele, was eulogized by Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles who explained "The Great War is a chapter in our history we must never forget." Prime Minister Gordon Brown added: "The noblest of all the generations has left us, but they will never be forgotten." What did Soldier Patch think of the war for which he was held in patriotic regard? "It wasn't worth it." 8271

Why no ticker-tape parade for veterans?

The IAVA ad depicts a lone soldier returning from deployment, and implies that Americans are indifferent and unappreciative of military service. Ignoring the empathy it solicits from ordinary viewers, for veterans' eyes I think it's a brilliantly subversive message.

Once an unrepentant soldier, always a…

A bumper sticker ahead of me read ONCE A MARINE, ALWAYS A MARINE. Next to it was LESS MEAN, LESS LEAN, STILL A MARINE. It got me thinking about the soldiers who come back from war, in light of later revelations of their true brutality. A suppressed investigation in the Mekong Delta 1968-1969, resurfaced in this month's Nation: "A My Lai a Month." Operation Speedy Express produced a casualty ration of 40:1, with Vietnamese civilians accounting for an estimated 92%. In view of atrocities which turn out to have been pervasive, what are we to conclude about our veterans? These men are still what? are always what? 5550

Colo. Springs celebrates underage vets

COLORADO SPRINGS- The average age of a uniformed participant in this year's Veteran's Day Parade was underage! The high school Junior ROTCs, the Young Marines, the Devil Pups, and the scouts, pulled the age downward against the ever diminishing number of retired combat vets. I think the Hussar-clad HS marching bands brought the mean down too. 5486

Avenge Vietnam among other things

The wait was long at the post office, prompting a gentleman ahead of me to remark "Soon this is what health care is going to be like. Get used to it." I might have agreed, if he hadn't gone on to expound with unsolicited details. "Socialized medicine like Obama has in mind will lead us to ruin -etc, etc." I had to chime in. "A good part of the population can only hope their health care will be as easy to get as walking into the postal office." 3704

Goodbye War Drum Major George

This is not about Freedom of Speech. No one is entitled to disrupt the speech of others for the sake of his own. What you are doing is simply interference jamming. That’s not protected speech. You’re not interested in discussion, only keeping your opponent covered. Go find your own soapbox.

Support Our Homeless Troops

COLORADO SPRINGS- I watched yesterday as a group of homeless men disbanded beneath an underpass. I remarked how their yet unbent frames and close-shaved heads made them appear more menacing than usual. Then I noticed one had a graphite prosthetic calf, and I thought about our vets who disappear themselves into being vagabonds. Homelessness is elective you could say, like despondency or suicide. If one in four of America's homeless are veterans, why not tell us what that fraction amounts to? They must know. 3238

Strong as steel and aircraft aluminum

Like Wonderbread before they were compelled to retract the false advertising claim, the Army builds healthy bodies 24 different ways. There are actually more permutations of disability defined by which limbs have been lost or paralyzed. If you think "healthy" is an affront to those vets struggling with therapy and their own will to live, imagine what they feel about the recruitment slogans Army Strong, or Be All You Can Be.   Army of One probably describes it.

Winter Soldier testimonies coming to DC

The IVAW are really pulling it together this year. And they've set upon an ambitious strategy that has precedent with Vietnam antiwar vets. Winter Soldier Redux, Washington DC, March 13-16, 2008.   In 1970 veterans of the Vietnam war convened in Detroit to share personal confessions of their part in atrocities perpetrated against the Vietnamese. The documentary made of these transcripts was kept from the US public and has only recently become available. Click here for some clips on YouTube.

A Veterans Day wheelchair parade

This year's Colorado Springs Veteran's Day Parade falls on Veteran's Day. The theme is "a nation at war, a community of support." Doesn't sound much to do with honoring veterans. Are we holding an active-duty support-the-war parade on honor-the-Veteran's Day?   There will be 92 entries and five helium balloons. There are no entry fees because the city business community is so supportive of our soldiers over there, fighting to make the war safe for the contractors. Lots of military profiteers in Colorado Springs. 370

Getting our re-fill of panhandlers

I spotted this panhandler at a nearby offramp. Is she really a veteran? I'm not sure her age matches the Gulf War camo. Itinerants do confess that WILL WORK FOR FOOD gets more support when you say you're a vet. Of course, as a result the public begins to look at "homeless veterans" with cynicism.   The pretend-vet ruse obscures the fact that an enormous proportion of homeless men have always come from the wars, and they are already emerging from this last.

Veteran’s Day parade, part 1

I should say that I had never watched a veteran's parade, I think. Wasn't it supposed to be a parade of veterans? This was a parade of mostly active duty soldiers and soldiers-to-be. It was very disturbing. 83

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