MADISON: Obama manipulates disabled veterans over sequester

President Obama was correct to highlight failures of Congress, but the government healthcare resources for veterans are inadequate, disorganized and in some cases corrupt, and are therefore incapable of providing for our nation’s veterans. Obama could have addressed this and proposed definitive action instead of exploiting his audience for a petty political agenda.

If President Obama wants to save this nation’s veterans from further slashes to budgets, he should never again propose destroying their healthcare while Washington continues to waste. Pretending current or future failures are a result of sequestration and not bureaucratic neglect is a shameful distortion.

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Support the troops? Read veteran Daniel Somers’ viral suicide note

On June 10, 2013, Daniel Somers, 30, a seasoned veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom wrote a chilling, heartbreaking address to his family before ending his life. His last words swept the Internet this week. Every American, particularly those that supported the wars of the last decade, should read it. 

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Feinstein exempts police, not "PTSD" vets from gun ban

U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) offered an amendment to exempt all U.S. military personnel and veterans from a proposed ban on “assault weapons”. The committee briefly discussed the future of American gun ownership. Cornyn highlighted the contradiction and inequality of the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013. The sponsors had deemed assault weapons too dangerous for civilian self-defensive purchase over safety and training concerns. But under the Feinstein Law, government employees and retired law enforcement are exempt from the assault weapons ban while hundreds of millions of Americans are not.

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VeteranCentral.com helps military with Veterans Affairs chaos

DALLAS, April 23, 2012 – Wading through the chaotic world of veteran’s affairs is no easy task, but a promising venture aims to revolutionize the online veteran support community. By merging passion with innovation,VeteranCentral.com, is set to achieve what no other entity has accomplished by empowering the soldier in transition with unprecedented tools. The site was founded by Jonathan Lunardi, a talented Internet entrepreneur, and Dr. Paul McDonald, an accomplished scientific consultant for the Department of Defense; it was inspired by the McDonald’s experience with drafting the Army Health Promotion, Risk Reduction and Suicide Prevention Report. Studying the details of the military’s suicide epidemic allowed him to observe issues that were largely preventable.

“As I became involved in researching the trends for suicide rates and integration issues for veterans, it was clear that the primary factors preventing a successful civilian transition were access to employment opportunities, resources for assistance and positive social support,” says Dr. McDonald, “It became apparetheynt the support system was broken.”

The Department of Veterans Affairs is often a frustrating institution with the quality of care varying greatly from entity to entity. Exasperated by the experience, many veterans next seek help online, but the process of wading through a sea of deceptively similar organization names and jumbled niche websites is a daunting process.

As a Google search of “veteran resources” showcases, the sheer volume of disorganized information is staggering. Many give up.

“When I came back fromIraq, I didn’t want to ask anyone for anything. But eventually, I needed help,” says Paul, a former Airborne Ranger who served three tours in various combat zones, and endured panic attacks and debilitating flashbacks after his first year out of the Army. Paul’s first attempt to access information regarding Post Traumatic Stress nearly jaded him permanently.

“I went to some site and put in my information and my symptoms, and then it asked me for my credit card. They wanted to sell me a self-help kit. They wanted to profit off of my suffering. I gave up for six months after that until thoughts of suicide forced me into the VA, which was almost worse. Something like this can help people in ways I can’t even explain.”

Stories like Paul’s are all too common, as McDonald observed. It is estimated that a veteran ends their own life every 80 minutes. Although suicide is a complicated subject dependent on a myriad of factors, a competent support system gives those struggling a higher likelihood of finding ways to cope.

Veteran Central hopes to change this experience entirely by becoming the mortar between the bricks of veteran resources, particularly employment opportunities.

When Michael Barrett, a Navy veteran, joined the Veteran Central team, he was eager to jump in. After deployment, his transition was rough and he knew firsthand the issues facing veterans seeking post-deployment opportunities in the civilian world. “When I came home, I had this vision of returning to anAmericanawhere a job opportunity would be waiting for me. I was wrong and finding resources was half the problem.”

Barrett is far from alone. Unemployment for Gulf War II veterans aged 18 to 24 jumped from 2010’s 18.4% to 30.4% in October 2011. This is partially due to the complicated process facing those attempting to translate military achievement into civilian language, and partially because reliable, organized information from job postings to resume advice is scattered throughout the Net.

“We constantly hear that there is a lack of trusted resource centralization and the level of quality and direction can vary greatly from one state to another. We are here to help by simply providing a community-driven platform for Vets to recommend services and programs together from not just the web but soon on every mobile device a Vet could have. When we can provide content and resources that are inputted by hundreds of our volunteers and heavy hitting partnership network to every mobile device, then we will see real change happen,” says Jonathan Lunardi.

This centralized database, at its heart a social network rich in emotional support and understanding provided by shared experiences, will exist as it does in most sites: with organized internal and external links, but tailored to the unique needs of the veteran community.

“Veterans move around and though some don’t own computers, most have cell phones. Between mobile applications and geo-tagging technology, we will showcase available resources at the local, state, regional and national level for veterans based on their needs and wants as well as location,” Lunardi explains.

Mobile applications containing “geo-tagging” technology will intuitively lead users to relevant local, regional and national sources. Additionally, instead of an endless back-linking structure with pages leading to an elaborate network of additional pages, the user will experience a human touch when seeking access to information.

“When you visit our site, you’re welcomed via chat by a site greeter that is an employee or an intern, many of which are veterans. We will guide them to the services they need. We feel this is a unique approach which eliminates the confusion relevant, personalized guide, referrals to other sites, etc,” explains Lunardi.

This personalization, they hope, will build a human connection between the veteran and their support structure and enrich the user’s experience by treating the veteran’s time as valuable. Respecting users hesitant to reach out in the first place encourages them to continue seeking connections. This approach also builds trust; something the administrators understand is a paramount concern for the military community, especially to those accessing online resources for the first time.

“I didn’t have much of an email address inIraq. I deployed four times and then came home to a world run by the Internet. It was intimidating at first because I didn’t like the idea of some online company knowing everything about me and doing whatever they want with that information,” says Thomas, a former Marine that served in bothIraqandAfghanistan. “A place where we can access what we need without sacrificing our privacy is the only way to get veterans to jump on to the grid, which is where all of the information exists.”

Other communities have made grand attempts to build a centralized network, but received tepid responses due to lack of privacy. The most notable is Google’s foray into the veteran community, Google for Veterans and Families.

For critics, what appeared at first to be a unique network powered by Google’s infinite resources turned into an olive-colored marketing scheme to lure veterans into joining the Google mega-network in order to track, sell and mine their data. The last thing most veterans enduring symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress need is a paid advertisement for therapy appearing in their email window.

Veteran Central has stated they will avoid this route, not only to build a trustworthy community that puts people before profits, but because they understand the veteran mindset. “We will not sell personal data of our users. We will advertise and partner with relevant organizations, but we will not mine data for the purposes of making a profit. We may use information to create innovative tools to better align users with resources, but we will grow through advertisers, not through selling personal data. Any data that is stored is protected on the most secure network available,” says Lunardi.

Through the creation and growth of this advanced centralized network, unlimited networking and outreach opportunities are a dream-come-true for the charity community. What the government cannot manage, private citizens take on with compassion and patriotic duty.

These non-profit organizations and their citizen volunteers exist all over the country, they raise millions annually and organize hundreds of thousands of people in order to do everything from building homes and host career fairs to granting wishes for those that have served. Their resourcefulness and dedication have become indispensable resources to tens of thousands of veterans and their families, yet millions in transition don’t know they exist.

Veterans Affairs administrators are understandably prohibited from connecting needs-based charity organizations with veterans and without a centralized database within VA facilities, service organizations have few methods of meaningful outreach unless they’ve grown into a mega-charity.

Veteran Central is in a position to become this nucleus of information, potentially connecting these citizens with one another in unprecedented ways. A comprehensive database of charity profiles on the open Internet would help veterans find these organizations that exist to serve them. Uniform mission statements, contact information and a list of services based on location would make a tremendous difference.

In the pipeline is the potential creation of a database with enabled user reviews and rankings, as well. What Trip Advisor or Yelp did for travel or restaurants, Veteran Central could do for veteran service organizations. Once implemented, this database with user-generated, publicly-rated ranking systems would allow veterans to share experiences. Fostering a connection between veteran and the organization also prevents fraud and promotes transparency, accountability and much-needed trust.

In terms of government services, VA facilities are the primary service centers for veterans, but their websites are overwrought with detail and bureaucratic language most veterans find frustrating to translate. Many are unaware that hundreds of smaller satelitte VA offices exist and instead wait for hours at the main facilities. Often, once veterans finally locate a VA for their need, the experience is negative and they never return.

If veterans could submit reviews and grade each facility publicly, other veterans would know prior to visiting which facilities have a reputation for successful management. Just as a restaurant or a hotel or any other service with poor standards would no longer enjoy new customers, VA facilities with poor reputations may finally experience pressure to raise their standards. Additionally, those facilities that tirelessly strive to maintain high standards may finally be acknowledged.

On a larger scale, true reform for the VA is long overdue. If changes are to take place, the expectations for excellence must be removed from the hands of unaccountable legislators and bureaucrats and given to the public. Citizens must become aware of the egregious abuses and shameful neglect taking place in facilities across the nation. Currently, the scandals, negligence and lack of results are not a focus of public attention because the abuses are blips across a news screen, while veterans feel powerless to create change. If a worldwide database existed in which users could rate these facilities and share their tips and feedback for receiving proper care, effective reform could finally begin.

Veteran Central is utilizing the power of the Internet, social media, and technology to change the state of emergency that is veteran’s care. They seek to become a venue for change, to become the nucleus of online resources for the military and veteran community, and ultimately provide the venue to set a standard for how the Internet will serve 20 million American veterans in the 21st century.

As the human cost of a decade of war becomes apparent, veterans and concerned Americans must understand that government resources for veterans are woefully inadequate and disorganized, and in some cases embarrassingly corrupt, and are therefore incapableof providing for our nation’s veterans. In the coming years, citizens, non-profits and veterans must unite and work together if we are to avoid the mistakes of previous generations.

Veteran Central understands this and they deserve our support. At this point, we have had decades to perfect the system of veteran’s care and have failed. For the sake of this next generation of warriors, if organizations like Veteran Central don’t harness the power of the World Wide Web to tackle these shameful societal problems, who will?

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Civilian couple honors children of fallen warriors; helps families heal

DALLAS, April 11, 2012 – Thousands of special American citizens dedicate their energy to supporting and honoring military families, but a uniquely talented Ohio couple has placed an original spin on this institution. Fueled by profound patriotism, Trish and Scott Snyder founded Hero’s Rock, a non-profit dedicated to honoring America’s fallen warriors by crafting exquisite, custom-designed rockers for their children left behind. As the Hero’s Rocks website describes, “Losing a loved one is always hard. Losing someone who makes the ultimate sacrifice in service to us all is purely heart breaking. We want to do something for the innocent who suffer the most from the loss: the children. How do you tell a child you appreciate the sacrifice? Maybe a rocker, made with love, honoring their loved ones service will help give them comfort and show we care. They may not understand it’s meaning, but with time they will come to see that their hero was very special to us all.”

The foundation, established just last year, hopes their loving tributes will convey the nation’s gratitude for the sacrifices made by our military families, while providing a comforting heirloom for the children whom these sacrifices affect most.

Scott, a self-described “hippy” is a master carpenter while his wife Trish is a talented painter. Together, they have crafted several personalized rockers for the children of fallen heroes in their spare time. “At first, I thought people would think we’re weird, but we’ve received so much support,” says Scott.

This is partially because such heirlooms are rarely exchanged in the age of technology and plastic toys, and partially because the couple has no connection to the military. “At first, we set out to make them for children of other public servants, like police officers and firefighters until we heard the story of Christopher Thibodeau.”

CW2 Christopher Thibodeau, an Apache helicopter pilot, was killed in action during the final month of his year-longAfghanistandeployment. Thibodeau was a newlywed expecting his first child.

Known as a loyal friend, exceptional soldier, and a perpetually kind, positive person, his loss was devastating for his family, the closely-knit Apache community and to the nation as a whole.

“These things just aren’t supposed to happen to people like Chris. When he was killed, we lost a true patriot; a man willing to put himself on the front line to protect God, country and family. He was the poster child of patriotism and sacrifice. He conquered every obstacle in his way. He was living his dream,” says CW2 Donny Rafford, a fellow aviator and close friend of the Thibodeau family.

Chris’ wife, LeeSandra Thibodeau, also a military veteran, gave birth to their son Liam in January of this year, 9 months after Chris’ passing. Moved by the tragic circumstances and bittersweet arrival of baby Liam, the local media shared the story. The Snyder’s were watching.

“Chris’ story flashed across our nightly news. We were so moved. We didn’t justwantto do something for his family, wehadto do something for his family,” says Scott Snyder.

Passionate, honorable patriotism ignited their drive and soon, Americans were donating and the Snyder’s were able to raise funds for the project relatively quickly. After several months of communication with Chris’ wife and parents, Apache One, a custom Apache helicopter rocker for baby Liam, was born. Inscribed on the rocker are military emblems paying homage to Chris Thibodeau’s service.

Once complete, Hero’s Rock personally delivered the rocker to the Thibodeau’s and were greeted with heartfelt hugs, tears and sincere gratitude from one family to another. During a time of unfathomable grief, the loved ones of Thibodeau were smiling again thanks to the kindness and generosity of this civilian couple willing to reach out to the military community.

“When they gave us the rocker, we were crying happy tears for once. It was so beautiful and would be something Chris would want for Liam. He’s up there in heaven, thinking: look at what my son has. They [Hero’s Rock] gave me that,” says LeeSandra. “They showed me compassion and kindness by building something so beautiful and original for my son. They put a picture of Chris on the rocker and there is an engraving; they just went above and beyond dedicating hours and hours to create this heartbreaking, but beautiful gift for a child they didn’t even know.”

Citizens in both the military and civilian communities are often wary and intimidated to communicate with one another. The military community is a relatively closed culture and for civilians, they are a world apart with a separate language, hierarchy and customs, which can be overwhelming as an outsider. Both groups feel as if they do not understand one another, which sadly stifles communication and similar acts of generosity on both sides.

LeeSandra acknowledges this, but highlighted that she felt comfortable working with the Snyder’s because they were respectful and humble when reaching out to her, “They didn’t ask permission, they did it. They weren’t pushy. They didn’t use me or Liam to promote their cause by taking pictures and blasting Chris’ story. They didn’t have an agenda. They let their gift speak for itself.”

It is not just the families receiving the special gift that are touched, but also the comrades of these fallen warriors. Losing a brother in combat is devastating, but when military lives are lost, most of the focus is on the family. These fellow warriors grieve deeply, too. For Thibodeau’s fellow soldiers, observing how the civilian community responded to their grief reaffirmed love of country and community.

CW2 Jared Clift, a twice deployed Apache aviator and close friend of Thibodeau shared his thoughts, “Knowing that people care about the people we’re losing means more than anything. We don’t want parades or attention, we want people to care about us; that is crucial. We do what we do for the American people.”

Rafford mirrored Clift’s sentiments, “They brought a smile to Leesandra’s face and a bit of joy to her heart, and made the gap between Chris and Liam, a father who will never meet his son, that much smaller. God bless them for all they have done for the Thibodeau family and their willingness to help the fighting force sustain.”

Both Clift and Rafford were deeply appreciative of the healing impact Hero’s Rock made on their friend’s grieving family and hope the organization will inspire civilians to utilize their special talents for other military families, not as civilians, but as Americans.

“The people of Hero’s Rock are heroes. To know there are people out there who stand in the shadows, but do everything they can to support our fighting forces, to give all that they are and ask nothing in return, is amazing. These are true patriots in their own right! We, as a fighting force could not possibly sustain without men and women like them on the homefront.”

The Thibodeau family has not been the only recipient of the Snyder’s talents. Dawn Kahoun was touched by the Hero’s Rock mission and donated to the program, which is also a contest. The Thibodeau family drew the winning name and RayLee, a 2/12 year old daughter of a Marine Corps Sergeant won. Sgt. Kyle Kahoun, a Machine Gun Instructor at Quantico, VA has been twice deployed and should he go again, the heirloom serves to remind little RayLee that her father’s service is appreciated.

Hero’s Rock also intends to honor the family of SPC Jordan Byrd. The 19 year-old Army medic was killed in action by sniper fire after running into intense small arms fire, rocket-propelled grenades and mortar fire to save another soldier. For his heroism, Byrd was posthumously awarded the Silver Star and a clinical facility at Fort Campbell was dedicated in his name. Byrd’s wife Savannah delivered the couple’s first child three days before Byrd left for Afghanistan.

This last decade of perpetual war has strained communication, but as those controversial, divisive conflicts come to a close, Americans have a unique opportunity to heal together through exhibiting such kindness and generosity to one another. Such selflessness not only supports children that have lost a parent in war, but also demonstrates to the military community that people care, generating a ripple effect throughout the hearts and minds of those serving.

Veteran advocates and volunteers hope organizations like Hero’s Rock will inspire others to contribute to the patriotic partnership between the civilian and military communities that is crucial to the health of the country.

Hero’s Rock is currently designing, developing and raising funds for Ayden Byrd’s rocker. For more information on the program, to recommend a hero or donate, please visit their website.

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Senator Schumer's petition to reunite Marine Corporal Leavey and Sgt. Rex

Senator Schumer's petition to reunite Marine Corporal Leavey and Sgt. Rex, Citizen Warrior by Tiffany Madison for Communities @WashingtonTimes.com DALLAS, March 15, 2012 – Corporal Megan Leavey, a Marine dog-handler and combat veteran has been tireless in her efforts to adopt, “Sergeant Rex”, the military service dog that has followed her lead from Camp Pendleton, Calif., to Iraq. With recent support from Washington and the online community, Corporal Leavey may finally get her wish.

Since 2007, she has attempted to adopt Rex. At first her request was denied. Rex was still a valuable asset to the military. That changed when he was diagnosed with facial palsy, which prevents him from further service.

Currently, 10-year old Rex sits in an Air Force kennel at Lackland Air Force base awaiting his fate, which Leavey fears may be euthanasia.

Read more: Senator Schumer's petition to reunite Marine Corporal Leavey and Sgt. Rex | Washington Times Communities Follow us: @wtcommunities on Twitter

This article is the copywritten property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. Reprinting TWTC content without permission and/or payment is theft and punishable by law.

 

Veterans say war mismanagement may have contributed to Afghanistan soldier’s rage

Originally published in The Washington Times but their editors are scared of narratives they haven't crafted so you'll have to visit the Wayback Machinel

DALLAS, March 14th, 2012 – In southern Afghanistan, an Army Staff Sergeant on his fourth deployment left his base in the middle of the night and executed 16 Afghan civilians while they slept.

As the media analyzes the story and politicians apologize, the military community is reeling. To make sense of the situation, veterans, concerned citizens and active military personnel sought community online. Nearly everyone agrees the soldier is primarily responsible for his actions, but across social networks – peppered between rants, condolences, and questions – many combat veterans are also laying blame at Washington’s feet.

Most understand the war is won by “hearts and minds” and are grieved, angered and disappointed by the incident. They are quick to remind onlookers that the shooter doesn’t reflect the Army mentality. “He should’ve thought of the team and not his own sick path of revenge,” posted Mike Matthews on a U.S. Infantryman Facebook page. “This was one man acting alone. We are better than this and we are not homicidal maniacs. I hope he gets the death penalty.”

Many agreed with Matthews, pointing out that this lone shooter blackens the efforts of the 90,000 troops and Marines still in-country, many of which are building successful relationships with the Afghans. This angers civilians, too, particularly those who have a loved-one deployed and fear violent retribution.

Though the motive of the US soldier is unknown at this time, Afghanistan veterans charge that the rules of engagement established by the military, a sliding agenda from invasion to nation-building, and continuous Afghan partner betrayals creates conditions detrimental to the mission and the soldier’s mental health.

These flaws in the rules of warfare, they say, are the fault of leadership, and if not changed, are likely to breed more anger, resent and possibly, future outbreaks of violence.

Rules of Engagement

Consider the perspective of the deployed soldier in Afghanistan. Rules of engagement define every interaction with the enemy. They are determined by top military officials and all soldiers must abide by them with strict adherence, whether they are logical, practical or could result in American casualties and mission failure.

A year ago, the Washington Examiner painted a picture of how these extremely strict rules of engagement defeat the war effort and the soldier, “Several Taliban detainees who had been captured in February after being observed placing bombs in the culverts of roads used by civilians and military convoys near Kandahar were fed, given medical treatment, and then released by American troops.

[American troops] frustrated by a policy say it is forcing them to kick loose enemies who are trying to kill them. Despite what American soldiers say was a mountain of evidence, which included a video of the men planting the bomb and chemical traces found on their hands, there was nothing the soldiers who had captured them could do but feed and care for them for 96 hours and then set them free.”

Many believe the rules of engagement are the primary reason the war against the Taliban is ongoing as well as a contributing factor to feelings of anger, helplessness, frustration, failure and rage many deployed soldier’s experience.

An active-duty Army aviator preparing for his third deployment elaborated on this example, “War is an absolute. An armed combatant equals shooting. The soldier’s job is to break the enemy, to kill or to capture or be killed and captured. You don’t ask a man to go to war part-time, and that’s what we’re doing,” he says. “When you prohibit a soldier from acting in accordance with training, common sense and the goal of defeating his enemy, this breeds unfathomable stress. Couple that with asking these men to die for this war, but then feeding, clothing and releasing their enemy because irrational rules demand it; that’s the height of insult.”

A five-tour combat veteran of the Gulf War and Iraq explained that the rules of engagement are unlike any other theatre of combat. “These are rules for police officers, not soldiers. Imagine if we’d fought WWI, WWII or Vietnam this way! We’d have lost in a month. The problem begins with the top brass. They’ve created these conditions that hamper the soldier.”

When pressed further as to his theory on why the military continues these rules, “The rules of engagement are counterproductive to successful warfare against the Taliban. So why hinder our forces? They justify this ridiculous ROE as “civilian casualty prevention”, but that has always been doctrine. They created this restrictive ROE because we’re not in Afghanistan to defeat the Taliban. We’re biding our time so defense contractors can continue funneling tax dollars to their projects at record profits. Our soldiers aren’t eradicating the Taliban; they’re policing a hostile nation until the last bit can be extracted. That’s the only explanation I have.”

Most veterans do not doubt Washington’s commitment to helping Afghanistan stand on its own. In fact, this commitment is where some of their frustration lies.

Nation Building: A Sliding Agenda

Soldiers and Marines believe that a perpetual “sliding agenda” from the successful hunt for Bin Laden and unsuccessful eradication of the Taliban to occupation-style nation-building contributes to frustrations. Besides clinging to the hope their presence in Afghanistan keeps Islamic fundamentalists away from American shores, most see the capture and killing of Osama Bin Laden as the last reason to remain. They feel they’ve done what they can do by giving the Afghan citizens 10 years of infrastructure, training and preparation to resist succumbing to the Taliban. Most do not want to risk any more lives, treasure or resources building a nation they feel will not survive American withdrawal.

“It’s time to let the Afghans take over and defend themselves against the Taliban if that’s what they want. We’ve been training them for 10 years, if they can’t do it now, they never will; but to continue nation-building? Outrageous waste of resources when those dollars and soldiers are needed back home,” says a former Marine who returned from the theatre in June of 2011.

Peter, a Former Marine who started a thread discussing the situation on a Marine Corps fan page, also had thoughts on our nation-building endeavor, “I’ve been there three times and Iraq once. Iraq was modern compared to Afghanistan. These people don’t understand rights, they don’t understand a unified state of “Afghanistan”, and they aren’t capable of self-government. We are trying to force “democracy” on a state that doesn’t want it, wasting American lives, billions of dollars and our world reputation in the process.

You don’t ask a man to leave his family and his country to fight a war unless it’s absolutely necessary, but we do. If you think that doesn’t breed rage, you don’t know us very well. I’m angry and so are the men still on the ground. All of this frustration eats us alive. This is what we think about every night and every day.”

He argues that many soldier’s become consumed by the complexities of this nation-building and Taliban-defeating endeavor, only to determine it is futile, wasteful and purposeless. This triggers further feelings of dishonor, self-hatred, and eventually depression which can contribute to suicide or acts of violence. “We’re trained to protect our team, to defend America and to win battles. That’s not what we’re doing. They want us to build this corrupt, backward country into a functional entity for the next two years. Not possible. We’re risking our lives for them and they hate us.”

A Marine Corps Vietnam veteran and former consultant for a defense contractor in Iraq added to that view, stating that mismanagement is losing the war against the Taliban and in the process, hurting our soldiers. “Think of this man that went on this spree. We don’t know anything about him, but we do know he snapped, killed women and children and then turned himself in. That is a father, a husband, and a tenured American veteran. We’re not monsters, we’re people and to systematically kill that way shows he no longer distinguished between civilian and combatant, that he no longer valued life. This is what we’re doing to our men, and for what?”

He also says American civilians must understand that these men are angry that their comrades have been dying to bring these people “peace” and “stability” they don’t feel is achievable, just like Vietnam.

Afghan Betrayal

Another situation many believe contributes to violence between Afghans and Americans is the lack of trust between both parties due to consistent betrayals. Recently, in three separate incidents, allies, most from the Afghan National Army (ANA), allegedly murdered six Americans after U.S. troops accidentally burned copies of the Koran. The true numbers are classified, but roughly 70 American troops have been killed by Afghan Security Forces since 2007.

U.S. soldiers told reporters just one week ago that the number of incidents was underreported as non-fatal incidents are not logged. “We’re being murdered by the same people we’re told to live near, work with, train and trust. Our nation clothes them, feeds them, provides them with shelter, and we’re rewarded by bullets in the backs of heads,” said a retired Marine that served as a trainer for the ANA forces in Afghanistan. “After so much hostility, betrayal and distrust, asking American soldiers to continue living, working, and training them when retribution has been promised will cancel out our successes.”

Active-duty soldiers speaking anonymously blame the administration and military leaders for their incompetence and illogical expectations that show that winning the war is not truly the objective. They reference common sense resolutions to these problems: namely not allowing Afghan workers in such close proximity to Americans. “The conquered don’t want us here, we don’t want to be here, America is broke and until we’re out, this isn’t going to stop. Most of us hate them and they hate us, and anyone that says otherwise hasn’t been beyond the wire. Trust is gone.”

Matthew Merrill, a retired Army officer had the following to say about the continued war and its toll on the mission and the soldier, “Our men can handle combat. Some of us have been to these places five or six times. It’s the lack of a successful end state that’s driving us crazy.”

He takes the trend of betrayals a step further, proposing this recent incident in Afghanistan may have been a form of “blowback” or retaliation for American soldier’s deaths. The phrase is attributed to political and military strategists, but was popularized in conjunction with Retired General Stanley McChrystal’s “math formula” for winning hearts and minds. The idea states that for every innocent killed, ten “terrorists”, or insurgents are created.

If McChrystal Math does not just apply to Afghans and Iraqis, perhaps “blowback” is a human condition, and therefore two-sided. For American soldiers, when one of their brothers is murdered, is it possible that 10 potential rogue soldiers are created? If that is the case, is the violence a circle fueled by mutual hatred for America’s continued presence in the nation? And, if so, is nation-building in Afghanistan worth the expense of American blood and treasure?

Going forward

The incident that occurred on Sunday is rare and beyond tragic. The murder of innocents blackens the name of the United States, makes it difficult for allies to defend our actions, and damages future cooperation. However, as new details emerge, instead of focusing intently on the mental-state of this particular soldier, the military community is hoping the media and American citizenry focus on the causes that could have contributed to this soldier’s heinous actions, not just the effect of his rage.

Many also believe that after condolences are given to the innocent victims, Washington should apologize to the American soldier in Afghanistan for keeping our troops operating within irrational and illogical measures counterproductive to defeating the Taliban, and as many of them feel, setting them up for failure.

Lastly, in light of this incident, perhaps now it’s time we, and Washington, listen to our military and take this opportunity to justify our “2014-2024 timeline”. The United States entered Afghanistan in 2001 first to catch Bin Laden, then defeat the Taliban, and now nation-build. At the moment this article was written, we the people have allowed our politicians to expend $509,396,055,806 dollars for this effort. We’ve buried 1823 of our countrymen and brought home 15,322 of our wounded in the process.

The year is 2012 and Bin Laden is dead. The Taliban are a religious faction that cannot be completely and wholly eradicated. The nation-building experiment cannot continue; America can’t afford it, our people don’t want it, the defense contractors have made enough money, and clearly the Afghan’s aren’t ready for democracy.

Perhaps it is time we accept that there will be no Cronkite moment for this conflict. Perhaps it’s time to care about the hearts and minds of our own soldiers over distant Afghan tribes.

White House sacrifices military community for budget cuts

So while Mr. Obama courts the military vote with fancy dinners and reminders that he ended the Iraq War and Bin Laden, teleprompter praise does not effect change. As the military community understands more than most, actions in the halls of power speak louder than words, and these acts are unnecessary harmfully to millions of Americans. The act of blatantly abandoning them in favor of the connected elite should concern all citizens, particularly from an administration touting the virtues of equality.

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