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  • Morning Bell: Ready to Honor Veterans' Sacrifice

    Americans would do well to ponder the unrelieved strains on the nation’s military readiness on this Veterans Day, one short week after the election of a new president and Congress.

    The Army’s readiness is particularly low. Seven years of combat overseas have exacted a grinding toll on all our military services, including the National Guard and Reserves. Among the symptoms: compromised training, shortfalls in deploying personnel and equipment, less maintenance for worn-out weapons, and truncated downtime at home before troops must redeploy.

    Despite the economy’s woes, President-elect Barack Obama and the bolstered Democrat majority in the new Congress must not shrug off the Pentagon’s pleas to hold defense spending at current levels for at least three years after major combat operations in Iraq subside, Heritage national security analyst Mackenzie Eaglen argues in a new paper. She writes:

    Even with the budget increases of recent years, the U.S. military is essentially living paycheck-to-paycheck. … Congress must prevent the military from crossing any ‘invisible red line’ of dangerously reduced readiness that would likely be detected only after the fact.”

    Defense Secretary Robert Gates — whose retention is urged upon Obama by some admirers — recently warned of “important lessons learned” from deep cuts to the defense budget following the Cold War.

    Interestingly, military subjects account for five of 13 “urgent issues” on a list the Government Accountability Office released two days after the election to identify priorities for the new administration and Congress. Fleshed out on a new GAO website along with non-military topics are these challenges: caring for service members; defense readiness; defense spending; protecting the homeland; and Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    The public is open to arguments for improving military readiness, a new Rasmussen poll suggests. One out of three Americans, or 34%, say close friends or relatives gave their lives in military service. Fully 79% have a favorable opinion of the military, and nearly half — 45% — consider Veterans Day to be one of the country’s most important holidays. The military’s favorability rating climbed 8 points from a Rasmussen Reports survey a year ago. Only 9% hold an unfavorable view. Among Republicans, 96% favorably view the military; among Democrats, 69% do. (For unaffiliated voters, the favorability rating is 72%.) The older the voter, the more favorable his view tends to be.

    Although 43% of those surveyed say they planned to do something special today to honor veterans, 36% say they did not. In any case, Congress can do something special by taking decisive steps to provide relief and begin to restore military readiness, including:

    • Reset, replace and modernize aging, worn-out equipment.
    • Resume emphasis on training for conventional as well as irregular (such as counterinsurgency) missions.
    • Increase live-fire training and reduce reliance on simulation in training.
    • Continue to increase Special Operations forces at a rate that emphasizes quality, not expediency.
    • Reduce reliance on the Navy and Air Force for ground missions.

    “It is crucial that Congress and the next administration commit now to providing defense funding at current levels of roughly 4 percent of gross domestic product for the next several years,” Eaglen concludes. “The security of the country depends on it.”

    And what a fitting tribute to our veterans.

    Quick Hits:

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    13 Responses to Morning Bell: Ready to Honor Veterans' Sacrifice

    1. Doris Morgan, Oklaho says:

      Let's just all agree on one thing; Defense is a

      man-made problem….let's quit throwing rocks and

      get it done. Get to the Pakistani problem and bring the rest home for R & R. We have wasted too

      much time and too many lives.

    2. S S Haden says:

      Is anyone else wondering why this is of no interest, not only to the print media, but to radio/television news casts and journalists all over the US? Does anyone else sense a mass cover-up by anyone who might be able to shed a little light on this?

      Is the questionable eligibility status of the person just elected to the highest office in the land none of anyone’s business?

      I recommend this

      (http://www.newswithviews.com)

      article — NWV News — Lawsuit Continues Over Obama's Birth Records. You should check this out at,

      http://www.newswithviews.com/NWV-News/news107.htm

    3. Ken Jarvis - Las Veg says:

      Support the Troops

      End the War

      and bring the troops HOME.

    4. Joshua Poulsen says:

      On the 11th Day of the 11th month each year, Americans come together to honor those in uniform, the ones who sacrificed for our nation, on Veterans Day. As a veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan, War on Terror, I urge everyone to take this day to not just thank a veteran, but to talk with veterans. Learn about how our experiences have shaped our lives and what issues we face as we make our transitions back to civilian life. I would like to explain my side of the story, my own experience.

      When I joined the military I was a young, confused kid, who did not know much about life, due to being sheltered for most of my life by my over protective parents. I did not know much about the war, just that I was enraged at the hatred those terrorists had for all Americans and me. I wanted to help my country, to protect it at all cost, even giving up my life to do so. It may sound funny but when I initially tried to enlist in the military, I was to be a military post-man, but the job had already been taken. Since I am color-blind, I wasn’t able to have a range of opportunities in the military. My placement was therefore in Mortuary Affairs Specialist. I felt that I grew up quicker in my years in service than most people do in their whole lifetime.

      I was nineteen years old on February 8th, 2002. It was kind of cold for Phoenix as I reached the Airport headed to Fort Jackson, in South Carolina for basic training. Upon reaching Fort Jackson, referred by some in the service as relaxant Jackson, I found that the life I had chosen would not be as easy as I thought. Those first couple of days I got a hair cut, issued uniforms, and learned the waiting line for training was long. During this time, since 9/11, there was a mass influx of new recruits; the Army had problems finding them units to train in. For me I was lucky kind of, since I had a school date that did not come around very often, they tried to offer me another job, but I turn them down, I was shipped from Fort Jackson, then to Fort Lenderwood Missionary. The Ozark Mountains are cold and during winter, it was unbearable. It was an extreme change for me because I was mostly familiar with the hot weather in Phoenix, AZ. Exercising and running in extreme weather with being out shape was horrible. There was no special treatment for anyone but the drill sergeants made me work twice as hard. The treatment I received was something similar to a movie, where the fat kid got picked on and abused, but it was some thing I needed in order to become who I need to be. Despite this, I worked hard, did everything I was ordered to do, and eventually I graduated from boot camp with a new physique. During graduation, my fellow recruits honored me with “The Most Changed Person” reward, the Order of the Dragoon.

      I was off to my next challenge, training for my MOS. When I reached Fort Lee, Virginia, I missed my start date and had to wait for the next one. This meant that I couldn’t get a pass to go anywhere; I had to just sit at the barracks, clean the floors, and do KP duty. After awhile this routine got incommodious. I was so happy on Memorial Day 2002, because the next day I was scheduled to start school. Then all of a sudden, I had horrible stomach pains, and could not figure what it was. So I was sent me off to the ER, the doctors initially diagnosed appendix problems. The one-hour surgery was then scheduled immediately, however it took five hours to complete. Apparently, my appendix had been ruptured for over a month including basic training. The surgeons said I am so lucky to be alive. I got a month off to recover and relax. When I got back to Fort Lee, I had to wait another month for class, so eventually when I got to school; I did my best to learn about my job and almost graduated at the top of my class. The reason why I did not graduate at the top of my class was due to my stomach muscles not fully recovering, which made doing sit-ups very hard. I did it because I wanted to join my unit at Fort Lee.

      My feelings of excitement and wanting to serve were still in tact even after months of prolong waiting and recovery. In order to be all that I could be, to be the best, I exceed my own abilities by 120%. The mindset I had, came a long way (physically from Phoenix and mentally from the first story I heard about the terrorist attacks), I had really changed for the better. In the first year, I received my first (minor) medal, the Army Achievement Medal. With this acknowledgement from the Army, I wanted to speed up my deployment overseas to Afghanistan, but that wasn’t going to happen until March 18th 2003. According to orders, my team that I was assigned to from my unit wasn’t schedule to arrive in Iraq first. Instead, I worked in the Theater Mortuary Affairs Evacuation Point, a place that went nonstop for the first three months.

      Sleep was limited to when I did not hear a helicopter, and when body’s slowed down coming in. In the states I had worked at the Richmond Morgue, but war was different. Instead of just seeing some one you did not know in the states, in Kuwait you learn to know every one, due to them wearing the same uniform, and inventorying all their personal effects, you knew who they wear when they left. Not only was our job to process Americans, but we also helped process British, and any other Allies. During this time I saw the mistakes we made, such as shooting British helicopter down with Sam missiles, and killing Brazilin journalist when we hit the wrong building, during that time I saw the horrors that mankind was possible of. I start experiences, problems, and tried to seek medical help, but I was deferred and told I would be fine. My excitement had come to an end, and I start to get in trouble, pretty soon my 1st Sgt, thought that I was not experiencing enough of the war, so he sent me to the Iraq, Camp Alsad. In Camp Alsad, was slow, but became difficult. Some of the soldiers I ate with at the chow hall, and knew were head on a rest and relaxation mission, but instead of making it, their helicopter was shot down. My team had to go clean the site, recover the bodies, and inventory their belongings. Man life is tough, but even tougher if you know the people. There were two other tough missions. The first were, when three Special Forces soldiers had been killed, when they were given orders not to shoot into a crowd even if they were receiving fire, not only did we have to process their bodies, but we also had to process the bodies of the people who had killed them. We are mortuary affairs first, and as such we have a moral obligation not to look at uniform, or lack of one, but to look at the person and understand their journey had come to a end, and it was our job to treat them with respect because every one has family and friends that care for them, it was not are job to judge right or wrong, which is very hard. The second tough mission was when we went with a convoy head to a site, that they had reportedly killed Sadam Husain, but in fact the compound was filled with animals and women and children. I do not think the Air Force meant to kill them, they were trying to do there job in following cell phone singles, and when they split, they went after the most likely target. On this mission two things had happened. One back in Alsad I was having bad night terrors, but the person in charge of my team figured the answer was not sending me back, but instead was to put me on night duty, and to change the location I slept on, in the location I was, this almost spelled disaster for me and my friend, when I woke up and started to scream at the top of my lungs, the people sleeping around the truck react and were about to shoot in the back of the truck, when my Sgt yelled stop he is just dreaming, oh thank god. The second thing is as I stated before, we are trained to respect the dead, and their belongings. This did not transfer to the people there, instead they were ordered to bury everything, destroy all evidence and move on. That pretty much covers Iraq.

      When I got back to the states, I faced many hardships under the care of the Army. I am like millions of other veterans dealing with mental and physical scars of war. Most Americans will never know about these issues because it is not covered in the news or articles. The Army has become a two-sided issue for me; it was once a place where I wanted to succeed at being a great solider and fight for our rights and our country. Now that I came home I am still fighting another battle, however, this fight, I fight alone. I am trying to cope with sudden flashbacks, traumatizing combat events, hyper-vigilance to the recurrence of danger, feelings of numbness, low self-esteem, rage, and lapses in concentration. All of these have caused me to descend in my quality of life. I thought the Army and my unit would continue to care for me, treat me as a fellow solider, and assist me with finding resources for coping and healing. However, this was not the case, my unit classified me as a troublemaker, an unfit solider. As a result, they discharged me out of the Army abruptly without taking responsibility for the causes of my PTSD illnesses. Like other soldiers, I tried to reach out for help but once the system failed, I tried to commit suicide twice during my service. Luckily, both times, one of my few friends stopped me. This incident put me in a mental hospital involuntarily, where they doped me up on strong medicines, and no one cared to seek the reasons behind the action. I wasn’t allowed to receive my care at the Army hospital, because if procedures were followed, there would have been a long investigation and no one wanted to take the time to take care of their wounded soldiers with PTSD. Instead, I was discharged immediately with personality disorder. This seems to be the common practice for the Army, not just in my case but also 20,000 other veterans. At 5 P.M. September 16, 2004, my last official orders from the Army were, TO GET OUT!! Heavily medicated, I received my car keys, and was told to drive over 5000 miles, all the way home to Phoenix, Arizona. My feelings that proscribed afterwards are indescribable.

      Even though I am still in my own body, this whole experience has shaped my life. Following my physical return home to Phoenix, AZ, I, however, didn’t return home with my state of mentality. My homecoming wasn’t what I imagined, that is because it was based on tv and movies I’ve seen about returning soldiers as hero’s. I became hospitalized time and time again.

      Don’t worry, my story gets better and does have a great beginning. This new chapter in my life begins with the chance meeting the love of my life, my wife. With her continued support, I am able to handle some things on my own. A great support system, love, understanding, and patience, is what I think all soldiers should have and receive upon their return home. After all, the important issue is that we are all humans! With the good and the bad, we will always have our memories.

      So on this Veterans Day and every day the best way to honor our veterans is to connect with them. So please remember and honor our fellow humans, our veterans. Without recognition from our family and friends, it doesn’t seem like all of our efforts make a difference. Many of us new veterans are being left behind, we have honored you by defending your rights, and all we ask is to welcome us home.

      Sincerely,

      Joshua C. Poulsen

      Iraq and Afghanistan Veteran

    5. Walt in El Paso, TX says:

      Great information and all useful to all Americans. Can you periodically run and add in a major news paper or magazine showing this information?

    6. David Moynihan, Poto says:

      A timely and balanced posit. With the perspective of a retired military officer, I strongly agree with the priority of the steps proposed in this article. Recent optempo has frazzled personnel, taxed military families, and trashed most equipment and weapons systems.

      A bottom-up approach is warranted. In today's conflicted world, strategic systems consume a disproportionate piece of the Defense budget. The needs at the tactical level must be addressed first, and immediately.

    7. christopher g scott says:

      i am so proud of our men and women who have served and continue to serve our nation,but one thing we must remember is their families who also sacrifice, so on this veterans day thank a mother or a father or a spouse because they are on the front lines of support for our brave men and women. ALSO VISIT YOUR LOCAL V A HOSPITAL AND SAY THANKS.

    8. Gordon Jones, Cheste says:

      I totally agree with your assessment that the new administration must keep defense spending at 4% of GDP. Cutting back on defense at this time would be devasting. We need to equip and man the Services who fight so diligently for us.

    9. Pingback: Ready to Honor Veterans’ Sacrifice « Conservative Thoughts and Profundity

    10. Robert Washington says:

      It seems we have forgotten the lost battle of retired veterans medical benefits of 97/98 when our beloved government silently pulled the rug out from under us without so much as a whimper from veterans groups or the public. it is just a reminder that nothing is honored or sacred even our service. We gave and our government took away.

    11. Joshua Hwang, Gaithe says:

      In my estimation, Mr. McIntyre’s evaluation of the present state of the military is right on. Congress should heed the strategic considerations outlined here to bolster and protect the lives of the men and women in our armed forces. As one who has the utmost respect for the veterans of past wars and those men and women who currently serve, I would hope that the U.S. government would provide the proper funding for our troops. Not only for the sake of our soldiers but also for the security and welfare of our country.

    12. David H. Marshall says:

      VA sound pressure lessons?

      From 1956 is the Project 7210 known certain jet engine over pressure injury for ALL UNPROTECTED flight line and navy deck personnel. It is requested that you ask your congressional representatives to make sure that oversight and accountability is realized for all. This is for a 1948 required but ignored 95 decibels (dB) noise level, without protection injury. It is a sound pressure multiple (X) of 59 times that of a normal conservation. A then 1956 known certain disability from an unprotected sound pressure of 6,144 X (@ 135 dB) to 815,583 X (@ 177 dB) exposure.

      A mysterious disappearance of proof!

      A 2009 visit to the Project 7210 "contrails.iit.edu" site revealed that the under its "search", using "TR 54-401", the 130 page jet engine noise levels Report has disappeared! This is the proof of the U. S. Military’s unprotected jet engine very high noise levels that ranged from 135 dB to 177 dB. It was a then known certain injury in direct disobedience of the 1948 Air Force Regulation (AFR) 160-3. A follow on to the Harvard Univ. WWII V-51R hearing protection. This is the AFR 160-3 required protection at a 95 dB. maximum noise level with a sound pressure multiple (X) of 59. The USAF Wright Air Development Center (WADC) "contrails.iit.edu" site had the July 1956, Project 7210, Technical Report (TR) 54-401. Recorded, at a radius of 50 feet, are the noise levels for 27 versions of 10 jet-engines in 1947 to 1956 U. S. Military service. This previously received, now vanished from WADC site report is available on request. The sound pressure multiple (X) source is the American Medical Association (AMA) Family Medical Guide 3d. Edition page 365, also email available. Its 60 dB "Normal conversation" is the base line for the calculated AMA "….sound pressure doubles with an increase of 6 decibels". Accordingly, the 27 versions of the10 jet-engines have overall sound pressure multiples ranging from a low of 6,144 X (@ 135 dB) to a high of 815,583 X (@ 177 dB) vs. the ignored required 59 X (@ 95 dB) protection.

      TR 54-401 and this veteran’s in-hand documentation could help some so exposed, e.g., "Had some trouble with hearing while working on warm-up crew for F-86 D with very high noise levels." The physician’s 29 Jan. 54 USAF Cadet Wing Commander washout statement. At Tyndall AFB, Panama City, Florida the hundreds of flight line personnel were unprotected and subjected to the Project 7210 "very high noise levels". For F-86D personnel it is the then known certain J47-GE-1 jet-engine noise level injury, i.e., the TR 54-401 pages 68-75, "Test Group 10, Date of the Tests: 1952, Test Numbers 62-64". This is an at 50 feet 158 dB noise level with an 87,381 X sound pressure multiple. Fifteen (15) of the 77 were repeatedly exposed to a "warm-up crew" level of over 699,051 X at 176 dB plus afterburner sound pressurization! As with ALL UNPROTECTED flight line (USAF, Army & USN) and flight deck (USN) personnel, they worked much closer to the jet-engines than the at 50 feet recorded noise levels. Therefore, all were subjected to well over the 6,144 X to 815,583 X sound pressure multiples. An over 50 years of VA 815,583 X vs. 59 X sound pressure lessons learned.

      Your consideration is most appreciated. Thank you.

    13. Joe Copeland - St. L says:

      Is it possible to obtain a copy of the Air Force Report TR 54-401? I see some indication that the report is missing.

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