Iraq Soldiers

Bush's Disgrace: GIs Lack Armor, Radios, Bullets
Iraq Soldiers

CBS News: "But 18 months after President Bush declared an end of major combat, the Pentagon is still struggling to provide the equipment needed to fight the war. Oregon Congresswoman Darlene Hooley, a Democrat whose district includes Gen. Byrne's National Guard, complained to the secretary of defense. She says she thinks the vehicles are not fully armored yet because military planners didn't anticipate an insurgency. 'We didn't have enough armored vehicles,' she says. 'They weren't manufactured'... There have been more than 9,000 U.S. casualties in Iraq so far -- more than 8,100 wounded and 1,100 killed. Nearly half of those casualties are the result of roadside bombs, known as improvised explosive devices or IEDs in military jargon. Yet the U.S. military still lacks thousands of fully armored vehicles that could save American lives."

Thanks to Insufficient Troop Strength, Soldiers' Tours of Duty in Iraq Won't Be Shortened
Iraq Soldiers

AP: "The Army will not shorten combat tours in Iraq next year from 12 months to six or nine months, as some had hoped, because that would undermine the war effort, the Army's top general said Tuesday. Gen. Peter Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, told a group of reporters that he would prefer shorter combat tours in Iraq but believes that cannot happen as long as the U.S. military is required to maintain roughly the 135,000 troops there now to fight the insurgency." So much for Bush and Rumsfeld's phony "hints" that they might start rotating troops home "right after the Iraq election"! Like most of Bush's campaign tactics, it's promise 'em anything, then screw 'em over later!

1,000 Soldiers Died for Bush's Lies
Iraq Soldiers

"Four U.S. troops died in Iraq on Tuesday, bringing the total of Americans killed in the 18-month-old war to 1,002. More than three-quarters of those killed, 756 of them, have died in combat, and 647 of those have been killed since President Bush declared an end to major combat operations in Iraq on May 1, 2003. According to a CNN tally, 1,129 coalition troops from 15 nations have died in Iraq. Three of the soldiers who died Tuesday were killed in fighting in the Baghdad neighborhood of Sadr City. A fourth soldier died of wounds suffered in a roadside bombing Monday, the military said. Two other deaths were reported by the military." What do the Busheviks say? Here's Rummy: "This week, of course, on September 11, 2004, we remember the 3,000 citizens of dozens of countries who were killed on September 11 in 2001." September 11, OF COURSE, had NOTHING to do with Iraq. Impeach Bush Now!

Former Soldier Says Soldiers in Iraq Have Not Been Dishonored by Bush's Lies
Iraq Soldiers

Former reconnaissance scout Alan Penney writes: "Almost 1000 soldiers have now been killed in Iraq, and to think that they have died for something dishonorable is too much to bear for most. That's understandable. Who wants to believe that their son died because of oil and war profiteers? And I don't criticize the perspective that these soldiers' lives haven't been wasted. A soldier following orders in Iraq, solid in the belief that he or she is helping to bring a better life to the people of Iraq, is an honorable person. What is dishonorable is the practice of sending these soldiers into battle before the facts are clear and all peaceful means of conflict resolution have been exhausted."

US Deaths in Iraq for 2004 Now Exceed 2003's Death Toll
Iraq Soldiers

Tom Schaller blogs, "It happened this week almost without notice: The number of Americans killed in Iraq during 2004 now exceeds the number killed in 2003. More remarkably, the 488 killed thus far this year died in just 239 days (2.04 daily average), while the 482 killed last year died during fully 287 days (1.68 daily average), which means that not only has 2004 been bloodier than 2003 in absolute terms, but in relative terms as well. Is this progress? Is this stability and safety? Now, here's the question I really want to ask: How long will it take the media to report this indisputable fact? I mean, can they take even five minutes time from the latest, breathless Swift Boat twist to report the fact that more Americans have died in Iraq this year than last?"

After Being Told of Son's Death, Father Torches Marine Van
Iraq Soldiers

"A distraught father who had just been told his Marine son was killed in combat in Iraq set fire to a Marine Corps van and suffered severe burns Wednesday, police said. Three Marines went to a house in Hollywood to tell the father and stepmother of Lance Cpl. Alexander Arredondo that their 20-year-old son had died Tuesday in Najaf, family members said. The father, Carlos Arredondo, 44, then walked into the garage, picked up a propane tank, a lighting device and a can of gasoline he used to douse the van, police Capt. Tony Rode said. He smashed the van's window, got inside and set the vehicle ablaze, despite attempts by the Marines to stop him, Rode said... Luz Marina Arredondo, Alexander's grandmother, felt the government was at fault for her grandson's death. 'I blame them a lot,' she said. 'They send them like guinea pigs over there.'" Of course Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld et al will NEVER know this kind of grief. But couldn't they at least attend the funeral?

Iraq War Vet Paul Rieckhoff Launches 'Operation Truth'
Iraq Soldiers

"Operation Truth will educate the American public about the truth of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan from the perspective of the soldiers who have experienced them first-hand. We will provide returning veterans with national, regional, and local podiums from which they will expose the preventable hardships that they endured as a result of failures at the top levels of leadership. We intend to publicize how poorly-planned policies and approaches have manifested themselves as problems on the front lines and back at home. We will act domestically to protect our troops and to aid them in their fight to protect us. Operation Truth's battle does not end when all of the warriors come home. Our relevance will continue indefinitely, addressing the ripple-effects of this war on the Servicemembers and their families for decades." Iraq War vet Paul Rieckhoff delivered a powerful Democratic response to Bush's national weekly radio address on 5-1-04.

PBS News Reports More than 16,000 Wounded and Injured from Iraq War
Iraq Soldiers

Veterans for Common Sense: "The national press missed this blockbuster on June 18: the Pentagon confirms more than 16,000 U.S. service members have been wounded or injured in the Iraq War. DoD failed to report 11,000 soldiers who were wounded or injured. The TV networks and newspapers failed to follow-up on this major scoop. As Steve Robinson of the National Gulf War Resource Center said, 'They [the military] believe that by putting this information out, it's somehow going to affect public opinion." Donald Rumsfeld must believe that good public relations is far more important than medical care for our wartime wounded.' "

US Soldier Death Count over 800; Combined Total for April and May: 200
Iraq Soldiers

In May, US soldiers, including "citizen soldiers" (i.e., mercenaries) died at a rate of more than two per day, with the National Guard/Reservist troops and mercenaries bearing the brunt of the death toll. In May, the youngest (18) and oldest (59) soldiers to die in the war were killed. Altogether 61 were killed in May. AP's Robert Byrnes wrote on May 31: "In total, the Iraq conflict has taken the lives of more than 800 American troops so far, and last week the Pentagon reported that the number wounded in action is approaching 4,700." Roadside bombs have taken an especially heavy toll. "Others have been killed by snipers and suicide bombers, as well as mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and other weapons. Accidents, including two electrocutions, also have taken a toll."

'I Killed Innocent People for Our Government'
Iraq Soldiers

Staff Sgt. Jimmy Massey was a Marine for 12 years. Then he was sent to Iraq. What he saw there, and was ordered to do there, turned him against the war, and he left the Marines so he wouldn't have to go back. Bush's War is destroying Iraq, destroying the souls of good people like Jimmy Massey, and destroying the foundations of our country.

When The Call to Duty Comes a Second Time
Iraq Soldiers

Christian Science Monitor: "After a year crisscrossing Iraq and dodging ambushes in Army convoys, truck driver Sgt. Michael Kunzelman was supposed to reunite with his family this month. But while in Kuwait awaiting a flight out, the Washington National Guard soldier was ordered back into Iraq along with more than 4,100 other National Guard and Reserve members whose terms of service had been extended...On and off the battlefield, National Guard and Reserve members and their families are bearing a particularly heavy burden as the Pentagon expands the US force in Iraq to 138,000 troops through 2005 ...Already, 51 percent of the 350,000-strong Army National Guard has been activated since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks."

10% of Military Personnel in Iraq are Mercenaries Beyond the Reach of International and Military Laws
Iraq Soldiers

BBC: "One academic study says the ratio of private contractors to US military personnel in the Gulf now is roughly one to ten, ten times the ratio during the 1991 war. In Abu Ghraib prison - where contractors are reported to have run interrogations - that means unclear lines of legal responsibility...So whose law then applies - British, Iraqi or American? Do the Geneva Conventions protect private employees if they are captured?" Or, more to the point, do they protect prisoners from private contractors? "Peter Singer of the Brookings Institution, the authority in the field, says, 'There's no international law that controls [mercenaries] right now - that's a gap that needs to be filled.' "

A True American Hero Emerges from the Chaos: Spc. Joe Darby
Iraq Soldiers

Joe Darby is just the sort of person most of us would like the rest of the world to identify as representing the "real America." Raised in a working class family without much money, Darby worked nights in high school to help his struggling parents out. After school, he got a job as mechanic, married, and enlisted in the Reserves. When he blew the whistle on the abuse at Abu Ghraib, he did not care what others might think because, as his friends say, "Joe knows right from wrong." Even now, when told that he has become a celebrity, Joe thinks people are just putting him on. For him, doing the right thing is just part of being a good soldier. We love you, Joe!

Iraq War Veteran Asks Bush: 'When Will You Take Responsibility'?
Iraq Soldiers

In his powerful Democratic Radio Address on Saturday, OIF veteran Paul Rieckhoff said, "I am not angry with our President, but I am disappointed. I don't expect an easy solution to the situation in Iraq, I do expect an admission that there are serious problems that need serious solutions. I don't expect our leaders to be free of mistakes, I expect our leaders to own up to them. In Iraq, I was responsible for the lives of 38 other Americans. We laughed together, we cried together, we won together, and we fought together. And when we failed, it was my job as their leader to take responsibility for the decisions I made-no matter what the outcome. My question for President Bush - who led the planning of this war so long ago - is this: When will you take responsibility for the decisions you've made in Iraq and realize that something is wrong with the way things are going? Mr. President, our mission is not accomplished."

Bush Wants all Evidence of Death Deleted - After all, it's an Election Year
Iraq Soldiers

White House spokesman Trent Duffy says Bush has seen the photos of the coffins of service members killed in Iraq arriving at Dover Air Force Base and says he believes they should be suppressed from the public. "We must pay attention to the privacy and to the sensitivity of the families of the fallen," Duffy said. "And that's what the policy is based on, and that has to be the utmost concern." Yeah, right. If Bush gave a damn about the "sensitivity" of the fallen, he would never have lied to the fallen and to their families about the reasons for war. He would not, through heavy-handed, medieval tactics, be creating situations in Falluja and elsewhere where US troops pay the price for his bad judgement. The only reason he wants to suppress the pictures is the reason that drives everything else he does : SELF INTEREST.

Not an Invasion of Privacy -- But the Reality of War Karl Rove Wants to Hide
Iraq Soldiers

M. Christine Breedlove writes in a letter to the Washington Post: "It would have been intrusive and disrespectful to have made public any photos of our wounded soldiers in transit to the United States [front page, April 23]. But photographs of unidentified flag-draped caskets? I see no disrespect or offense here. With a universal draft policy no longer in effect, for an entire class of citizens, especially those inside the Beltway, this war is far from home and from our loved ones. Perhaps such pictures are necessary to remind us all what is really happening in Iraq. Perhaps this is why the present administration is trying to keep this reality from us."

Like Father, Like Son: Bush Sanitizes Stain of Death
Iraq Soldiers

The Toronto Star: "As a mother who had lost a son to a brain tumour, Tami Silicio wanted mothers who had lost sons and daughters in Iraq to know the remains of their loved ones were being treated with respect and dignity. So she took a photo of rows of flag-draped coffins being loaded on to a cargo plane in Kuwait awaiting return to the U.S. and had a friend deliver it to her hometown newspaper, which put it on the front page. And then she was fired... The media blackout of such photos has sparked debate in this country, with opponents of the Iraq war arguing the Pentagon is trying to sanitize the war by banning photos of a type that were so hugely symbolic of the Vietnam War... The policy banning photos of arriving coffins was established by former president George H.W. Bush [no doubt to help 'kick the Vietnam Syndrome', as Bush Sr. boasted], but had been relaxed under president Bill Clinton. It was reaffirmed by the George W. Bush White House on the eve of the Iraqi war."

Deaths of Scores of Mercenaries Not Reported
Iraq Soldiers

Robert Fisk and Patrick Cockburn write: "At least 18 000 mercenaries, many of them tasked to protect US troops and personnel, are now believed to be in Iraq, some of them earning $1 000 (about R6 300) a day. But although many of the heavily armed Western security men are working for the US Department of Defence - and most of them are former Special Forces soldiers - they are not listed as serving military personnel. Their losses can therefore be hidden from public view. The US authorities in Iraq, however, are aware that more Western mercenaries lost their lives in the past week than occupation soldiers over the past 14 days."

Take Action: Support Brave Soldier Who Has Spoken Out Against the War in Iraq
Iraq Soldiers

Code Pink: 60 Minutes II will be airing a segment on Camilo Mejia, a 28-year-old Florida National Guard Staff Sargeant who did not return to Iraq from R&R leave. Camilo has taken a public stand of conscience against what he calls an illegal and immoral war. We recently received a call from Camilo's mother, Maritza Castillo. She told us that Camilo is now being held at Ft. Stewart in Georgia, where he is charged by the Army with desertion. He will be tried by a Special Court Martial, and can receive one year in prison and a Bad Conduct Discharge. Maritza is asking you to write two letters: one to Camilo expressing your support and another to the Commanding General asking that the Army accept Camilo's conscientious objection application.

Ssg. Mejia Camilo
A Company USAG MED-HOLD 865
Hase Road
Ft. Stewart, GA 31315

Commanding General:
Major General William G. Webster, Jr.
Commanding General, Fort Stewart
42 Wayne Place
Ft Stewart, GA 31314

Half of All British Recruits Read at an 11-Year-Old Level
Iraq Soldiers

The Telegraph/UK reports, "A confidential study into the educational standards of soldiers has revealed that half of all new infantry recruits only have the reading and writing skills of 11-year-olds. The study commissioned by the Ministry of Defence, which the Telegraph has seen, also discloses that a fifth of recruits have the literacy and numeracy levels of seven-year-olds. Four per cent are at the standard of the average five-year-old. Among the problems uncovered were one soldier who admitted that he struggled to write letters to his young daughter and another who wrote 'riht' for write, 'cepe' instead of keep, and 'rifel' for rifle." The right-wing Telegraph sees the true tragedy of this story: "The findings have raised fears among defence chiefs that soldiers of the future may not be able to operate the new generation of 'smart' weapon systems that will dictate how battles are fought. Officers, who are more highly qualified, were not included in the study." Boo-hoo!

Families of Soldiers Not Amused by Bush's Comedy Routine
Iraq Soldiers

"Bush got some laughs at a Washington dinner when he spoofed the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, but some family members of dead G.I.s said Thursday there was nothing funny about it...George Medina, 43, of Orange County, who lost a son in Iraq, heard about Bush's remarks when his outraged daughter, an Army sergeant, called him Thursday. 'She was very upset,' Medina said. 'This is disgraceful,' Medina continued. 'He doesn't think of all the families that are suffering. It's unbelievable, how this guy tries to run the country."

Suicide Rate of GIs in Iraq Higher than Army Average
Iraq Soldiers

CBS News: "A sudden increase in suicides among U.S. soldiers in Iraq last summer turned out to be a brief spike, but the overall suicide rate there last year was much higher than for the entire Army. Those are among the conclusions of a mental health assessment team that met with soldiers in Iraq and Kuwait between August and October last year, according to officials familiar with the results. The Army is to publicly announce the team's findings and recommendations on Thursday. There were at least 24 suicides among U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Kuwait last year, according to the Army's count. That number may increase because the circumstances of some other deaths are still in doubt. That equates to a suicide rate of 17.3 per 100,000 soldiers, compared with a rate of 12.8 for the entire Army in 2003 and an average rate of 11.9 for the Army during the 1995-2002 period, according to officials familiar with the mental health study. They spoke on condition of anonymity."

Wounded Soldiers May Be Billed Again for Hospital Meals
Iraq Soldiers

James Ridgeway writes: "Hard as it is to believe, Donald Rumsfeld's Pentagon is once more getting set to charge soldiers $8.10 every day for meals while they are in military hospitals recovering from combat injuries. Last year, after an uproar, Congress inserted a special provision into the $87.5 billion supplemental appropriation for Iraq and Afghanistan to make sure wounded soldiers didn't have to pay for their meals while laid up... And now the special provision covering the $8.10 fee is about to run out."

600 Troops Classified as Deserters
Iraq Soldiers

In this story about the reporting of the Chicago Tribune on Sgt. Mejia, a deserter, it is revealed that there are 600 others classified as Iraq War deserters. Something you won't find in any of the many stories on Sgt. Mejia. Mejia's lawyer said they will use the Bush defense. What if 600 others do too?

GI Accused of Desertion to Invoke Bush's AWOL as Defense
Iraq Soldiers

"Last April, freshly promoted Staff Sgt. Camilo Mejia led squads of Florida National Guard soldiers in the fight against insurgents in the deadly Sunni triangle...when he went on leave in the autumn, he decided not to come back. The staff sergeant--one of about 600 soldiers counted as AWOL by the Army during home leaves from Iraq--eventually was labeled a deserter. ..Mejia'slawyer..Font plans to compare the Iraq conflict to Vietnam and even refer to political accusations about President Bush ... 'We are asking the military to treat [Mejia] the same way that the military treated President George Bush when he was in the Texas National Guard. That is, his alleged AWOL or desertion and failure to report to Alabama."

Slow Return of State's Guard Troops Criticized
Iraq Soldiers

"Florida's top National Guard officer, echoing the frustration of many South Florida soldier families, lashed out Tuesday at delays in getting National Guard troops back to the United States now that their mission in Iraq is over. 'The nation wasted no time mobilizing these soldiers, sometimes in 24 hours, taking them from their jobs and their families,' said Maj. Gen. Douglas Burnett, commander of the Florida National Guard. 'I want them to feel this nation didn't forget them on the last mission -- of bringing them home.' More than 1,500 Florida National Guard troops have returned or are on their way back from Iraq. Some have endured near-freezing nights in unheated tents because they left their encampment to go to a staging area to fly home, only to have the flight canceled. Many had to buy blankets just to keep warm, Burnett said."

More Guard Units Alerted for Iraq Duty
Iraq Soldiers

"About 18,000 National Guard soldiers from four major units have gone on alert for likely deployment to Iraq late this year or in early 2005, the Pentagon said Monday. The announcement underscores the deepening involvement of Guard and Reserve forces in U.S.-led efforts to quell the insurgency in Iraq and stabilize the country. So far 45 Guard and Reserve members have been killed in action in Iraq and 42 more have died of nonhostile causes. ...The Pentagon said additional Guard forces will be alerted and mobilized for Iraq duty, but did not say how many or from which states."

The Unseen Cost of the War in Iraq
Iraq Soldiers

The UK Channel 4 News reports: "The true extent of US casualties in Iraq are still unknown. This has fuelled suspicion that the administration may be hiding the true human cost of the war and its aftermath... More than 11,000 medical evacuees have come through Andrews in the past nine months, the Air Force says... But that's 8,000 more than the Pentagon says have been wounded there... The Pentagon lists 2,604 wounded in action and just 408 'non-hostile wounded'. But the Army says many thousands more have been medically evacuated... Why the discrepancy? Well, the Pentagon doesn't count as victims soldiers who come back with brain injuries or psychiatric disorders, those hit by friendly fire or those who've crashed in their military vehicles. You could call them 'the missing wounded' of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Some suspect the government's been deliberately massaging the figures."

The Permanent Scars of Iraq
Iraq Soldiers

"Robert Shrode can't sleep. At night, in the fly-speck town of Guthrie, Ky., in the rented farmhouse he shares with his 20-year-old wife, Debra, he surfs the Internet, roams the house. He lies down and gets up again. He drinks a beer and stares out the window at the black fields beyond. Hours pass. He can't sleep. Before the war, he could have six beers and sleep like a baby, but now that works against him. Drinking may help get his head to the pillow, but it also ratchets up the nightmares. For a while, he sweated out his bad dreams on the living-room couch, and it drove Debra crazy. She would come down from the bedroom, touch his shoulder, ask what the problem was. Shrode would just turn his back to her and not say a word. Now she knows better than to ask, though occasionally when the silence between them gets too deep, she'll put it out there, What're you thinking about? 'Iraq,' he'll say. And then the silence falls again."

Shaken Father Writes to Bush
Iraq Soldiers

Published in the New Jersey Home News Tribune: "Dear President Bush, With heavy heart, tears in my eyes and a home full of sorrow, I pick up my pen to write you about a brave soldier, 2nd Lt. Seth J. Dvorin, U.S. Army. My son was killed in Iraq on Feb. 3, 2004... Burying a child will no doubt be the hardest task that his mother and I shall ever have to do. The one question I have, and the one question I would like you to answer, is, 'Why did my son and every other soldier that was killed, maimed and wounded have to suffer settling your vendetta?' Now, President Bush, his life has been snuffed out in a meaningless war. Where are all the weapons of mass destruction, where are the stock piles of chemical and biological weapons? Please President, pray for all our fallen heroes and as a tribute to these heroes get our boys and girls out of Iraq now, before too much more blood is shed. Since you waged this unnecessary war on Saddam Hussein the world has become a horrible place to live in."

Supporting the Troops - Bush Style
Iraq Soldiers

W. David Jenkins III writes: "So what was the news today? How did the senior officials who dance a macabre soft shoe say we did? How did we really do? What was today's body count? Was it a remote-controlled 'explosive device' or a round of RPGs or was it another mortar attack? How many flag-draped coffins will arrive tonight back here at home under the cover of darkness - far away from any cameras? Somewhere tonight, a mother weeps while her husband cradles her warmly in his arms while he fights back his own tears. Right now, this minute - they are the loneliest and saddest people on the face of this earth as they deal with the loss of a son or daughter. And sadder still, almost nobody will ever know who they are... Right now, hundreds of wounded soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan are lying in squalor somewhere in Fort Stewart, Georgia. The bathrooms are infested with insects and reek of urine."

A Soldier's View of the Iraq War
Iraq Soldiers

"I am a cavalry scout in the United States Army. I am stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas. We returned home Tuesday and I would like to comment on this war from a specialized soldier's eyes I honestly think the president lied to all of us. After seeing first hand what was in most parts of Iraq, my whole company could not fathom a threat of any means. I love America, and will defend her when called upon, but in this case there was not a real threat."

Number of Troops Sent Home for Health Reasons is Over 22,000 and Growing
Iraq Soldiers

Several corporate news outlets have launched a propaganda campaign designed to play down the real costs, in terms of troop suffering, of the Iraq war. The figures for these regular updates are apparently being supplied by Donad Rumsfeld's PR people and are, to say the least, highly misleading. They include only injuries and deaths caused directly by combat. They do not include deaths from illness or suicide. In most wars, the word "casualties" means soldiers knocked out of action for any reason. If you go by this criteria, the actual number of casualties among US soldiers in Iraq is well over 22,000 (soldiers evacuated for health reasons of any kind, from combat injury to severe depression).

Two Troops Tell the Truth About the Halliburton Oil War
Iraq Soldiers

Soldiers sick of Bush, Bechtel, Haliburton, and the devastation of the Iraqi people in this on-the-cheap corporate war tell the truth. Two US Soldiers ask: "When will we stop dying so senselessly?" And why do Halliburton employees get heavily armored vehicles and the best protective gear while the troops are sitting ducks with easily penetrated old equipment?

Returning Female GIs Report Rapes, Poor Care
Iraq Soldiers

"Female troops serving in the Iraq war are reporting an insidious enemy in their own camps: fellow American soldiers who sexually assault them. At least 37 female service members have sought sexual-trauma counseling and other assistance from civilian rape-crisis organizations after returning from war duty in Iraq, Kuwait and other overseas stations, The Denver Post has learned. The women, ranging from enlisted soldiers to officers, have reported poor medical treatment, lack of counseling and incomplete criminal investigations by military officials. Some say they were threatened with punishment after reporting assaults. The Pentagon did not respond to repeated requests for information about the number of sexual assault reports during the conflict. Defense officials would say only that they will not tolerate sexual assault in their ranks. Members of Congress said they are alarmed by the assault reports, confirming that they have learned of incidents as well."

Our Forgotten Wounded
Iraq Soldiers

"With the help of groups such as VetsFirst and the Wounded Warrior Project, injured veterans are beginning to make their way. 'When a military unit comes back, they get a parade, but a wounded guy coming back by himself really doesn't get a whole lot of attention,' said Al Giordano, an advocate at VetsFirst. The group helps the vets navigate the government benefits system and helps with transportation, employment and assistance to families. VetsFirst and soldiers are finding out about each other by word of mouth... Like most wounded arriving from Baghdad or Landstuhl, Germany, Presman landed at Andrews Air Force Base for the trip to Bethesda in a bloody hospital gown... He is one of some 30,000 foreign-born soldiers in the U.S. armed forces."

US Soldiers Blocked by Pentagon from Escaping the Hell of Bush's War
Iraq Soldiers

"The US Army, responding to commanders' concerns about unit readiness, has decided to extend the tours of thousands of soldiers in Iraq who were due to end their service or retire before their units' return home, an army spokesman said. Under a so-called 'stop loss/stop movement' order that is expected to go into effect soon, those soldiers will be required to remain in service for up to 90 days after their units return to their home base in the United States or Europe, the spokesman said. The order will affect about 7,000 soldiers currently in Iraq who were either due to end their service or retire before their unit was scheduled to redeploy, said Major Steve Stover. A similar order already is effect for members of army reserve units and for active duty soldiers who are scheduled to deploy to Iraq or Afghanistan."

Anthrax Vaccine: Poorly Tested and Dangerous
Iraq Soldiers

"I'm sure you've heard the old saying: If it smells like a skunk and looks like a skunk, then it's probably a skunk. And that includes the bigwigs at the FDA, the Institute of Medicine and the military and the vaccine manufacturer, Bioport, as they try to convince us that the current anthrax vaccine has been proven safe for use against inhalation anthrax, which would be the feature of a weaponized attack. No such science has ever been done in a convincing fashion. A bunch of mixed-message guinea pig studies and a few studies with a total of 65 monkeys is not classic science. In fact, what it amounts to upon close inspection is junk science. I would dearly love to be on the same podium with the military's medical brain trust as they stumble and fumble to explain the actual data surrounding the 'safety' and 'efficacy' of the anthrax vaccine. To score points, they would have to hypnotize the audience and induce some sort of brainwashing on the spot. It's that bad."

Parents of Guardsman who Refused Anthrax Vaccine Take Fight to State Government
Iraq Soldiers

The parents of Ohio National Guardsman Kurt Hickman, who refused to take anthrax-vaccination shots required for overseas deployment, have taken their fight to Governor Bob Taft and several state legislators. They have asked the state government to intervene for Kurt, who is scheduled for a special court martial hearing, when he could be sentenced to 100 days in jail. The Hickmans write, "My son, and others, are being forced by threats and coercion to submit to a drug against their will, a drug that is classified as an investigational new drug, i.e., experimental, for the purpose it is being used." So, in effect, the Pentagon is punishing soldiers with ruined records and prison time for refusing to take a dangerous drug that has never even been approved by the FDA. Bushfeld are risking OUR SOLDIERS LIVES for illegal pharmaceutical company profits. Rumsfeld is a former drug company CEO, after all!

Pentagon Can No Longer Suppress the Truth about Anthrax Vaccine
Iraq Soldiers

The Pentagon may deny the damage done by the vaccination "cocktail" it gives troops, which includes the anthrax vaccine. But now, the truth is coming out, thanks to outraged physicians and the families of the victims. Eight months ago his oldest daughter, 22-year-old Rachael, died in a Minnesota hospital from what Army doctors said was pneumonia. Instead, it's likely her body swiftly rebelled against the vaccinations the Army gave her, including an anthrax shot, on the eve of her deployment to Iraq. The result was an amazingly swift and unstoppable physical decline."

Topic the Army Refuses to Discuss: Soldier Deaths and Anthrax Vaccine
Iraq Soldiers

When 20-year-old Zeferino Colungo fell suddenly acutely ill in Baghdad shortly after being deployed there, he was transferred to a hospital in Germany, where he soon died with a fever of 105. His family was given an implausible string of explanations for his death: "acute leukemiaacute lung injury, and pneumonia), members of the Colunga family are still awaiting their copy of the final autopsy. There are a lot of questions they want to ask. Most of them are about a topic the Army doesn't seem to want to discuss: the series of anthrax vaccination shots Zeferino received right [as] he was deployed to the Persian Gulf."

Denial of Purple Heart Medals Raises Questions about Casualty Count
Iraq Soldiers

"An influential Mississippi congressman has raised the possibility that the Pentagon has undercounted combat casualties in Iraq after he learned that five members of the Mississippi National Guard who were injured Sept. 12 by a booby trap in Iraq were denied Purple Heart medals. The guardsmen were wounded by an artillery shell that detonated as their convoy passed the tree in which it was hidden, but their injuries were classified as 'noncombat,' according to Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss... 'How could no one have caught this?' Taylor said. On Nov. 20, shortly after visiting Sampson, Taylor brought the matter to the attention of Gen. Richard B. Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Purple Hearts quickly were awarded. But Taylor said the incident raised concerns that Iraq combat casualties had been understated."

US Troops Plagued by Parasitic Disease in Iraq; Blood Disqualified from Donation
Iraq Soldiers

Stars and Stripes reports: "The instant disqualification of potential blood donors returning from Iraq is putting a strain on Okinawa's blood supply. The Armed Services Blood Bank Center is in 'dire need' of new blood donors. Any servicemember who steps foot inside Iraq will be disqualified from giving blood from one to three years. They can be banned because of the possibility of exposure to leishmaniasis or malaria. Leishmaniasis is a parasitic disease transmitted by the bite of sand flies. The disease's internal organ form shows symptoms such as fever, weight loss, enlargement of the spleen and liver, and anemia. Symptoms can take months or years to develop after a person is infected. If untreated, it's typically fatal." The CDC reports that November is the peak period for infestation in Iraq. What a Thanksgiving present for our soldiers! Not!

Veteran Tells US Troops 'Your Enemies are The Suits'
Iraq Soldiers

Vietnam Vet Stan Goff writes to soldiers in Iraq: "Don't surrender your humanity. Not to fit in. Not to prove yourself... Not for some ticket-punching f***ing military careerist to make his bones on. Especially not for the Bush-Cheney Gas & Oil Consortium. The big bosses are trying to gain control of the world's energy supplies to twist the arms of future economic competitors. That's what's going on, and you need to understand it, then do what you need to do to hold on to your humanity. The system does that; tells you are some kind of hero action figures, but uses you as gunmen. They chump you. Your so-called civilian leadership sees you as an expendable commodity. They don't care about your nightmares, about the DU that you are breathing, about the loneliness, the doubts, the pain, or about how your humanity is stripped away a piece at a time. They will cut your benefits, deny your illnesses, and hide your wounded and dead from the public... They are your enemies - The Suits."

British Widow Bashes Bush
Iraq Soldiers

"The widow of a British soldier killed in Iraq called yesterday for George Bush to tell her he did not die in vain - by proving Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Lianne Seymour, whose 28-year-old husband Ian was one of eight Marines killed when their US helicopter crashed, is among relatives invited to meet Mr Bush on his state visit next week. The resident will tell them the men died for a 'noble cause'. But some relatives slammed the plan as a public relations exercise. Lianne, 27, of Poole, Dorset, who has a three-year-old son Beck, said: 'If he wants to reassure me Ian did not die in vain he'll come up with the proof of weapons of mass destruction. I don't want him to say, 'Yes, it was worth it' because anyone can say that. I want him to mean it and back it up.' "

Fallen Soldier's Mother Declares, 'George Bush Killed My Son'
Iraq Soldiers

In Genoa IL, "Army 1st Lt. Brian Slavenas - one of 16 soldiers killed in Iraq earlier this month when the Chinook helicopter he was piloting was shot down - was memorialized Thursday by family and friends in a service largely devoid of military trappings... Outside the church, Slavenas' mother gave a blistering attack on Bush. 'George Bush killed my son,' Rosemary Dietz Slavenas said. 'I believe my son Brian died not for his country but because of our country's lack of a coherent and civilized foreign policy.'"