Thursday, March 01, 2007

Support The Troops

A recent tactic of those who - for some unfathomable reason- actually support the Iraq War, has been to get military personnel to tell us that "if you don't support the war, you don't support the troops." Well, sorry, but I'll continue to be an evil liberal and stick with the original line. I most certainly do NOT support the war. It is abundantly clear that the justifications given for the initial invasion were complete lies and that nobody took the time to understand the political and cultural issues that would arise after once we reached "mission accomplished." Nevertheless, I do, in general, support the men and women who have been forced to take part in the war. I support them by wanting them to be home with their families and other loved ones. I support them by wanting those who serve to be able to do so without being subject to discrimination. And I support them by wanting those who have been injured in the course of this ridiculous war to be able to receive only the best of care when they arrive back in the US. On the other hand, I don't particularly support the Special Forces guy I met while living near Fort Benning who loudly proclaimed "all the hajii's loved us!" He was just a moron.

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Reprentative Martin Meehan (D-Mass.) has introduced H.R. 1246 to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." His bill has 109 co-sponsors, even some fairly high-profile Republican representatives, such as Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.). More details of the bill can be found by searching THOMAS.

We are lucky now to have a high profile Marine coming out and bringing attention to this fight. Read the story of Eric Alva here. Or read the stories of others who have been discharged from the military at the Servicemember's Legal Defense Network.

It is incredibly easy to contact your own congressperson using the forms at the Write Your Representative page. You don't even have to know who he or she is (although, of course you should); if you know your address, the page will direct your message to the right person.

Here is the text of the message I sent this morning to my congressman:

To The Honorable Eric Cantor

I have just read that Rep. Meehan of Massachusetts has presented H.R. 1246 to repeal the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. In researching the bill, I see that over one hundred of your peers have signed on as co-sponsors, including several in the Republican party.

Ideally, I would like to see you become a co-sponsor as well; at the very least I urge you to support the passage of this bill to end discrimination. At a time when the need for qualified military personnel is perhaps greater than it has ever been before, discharge of soldiers under this policy is simply indefensible. There is a fundamental dichotomy in asking gay and lesbian soldiers to fight for our rights and freedoms and then to deny them their own freedom to live without fear of discrimination.

If for any reason at all you do not plan to support this bill, I would like to know the reasons why.

In other military-related news, The Washington Post is reporting that Top Officials Knew about the deplorable conditions at some parts of Walter Reed hospital (as previously reported in the WaPo on 18 February). It was stunning to read that not only have officials apparently known of the problems, but even now they are seeking to continue the cover-up -- "This week, in a move that some soldiers viewed as reprisal for speaking to the media, the wounded troops were told that early-morning room inspections would be held and that further contact with reporters is prohibited."

Since I'm on a roll today in writing to people in Congress, I chose to address this issue with both of my Senators, Warner and Webb.

Here is that text:

Senator [Webb/Warner]:

I was quite shocked to read the Washington Post's recent stories about the deplorable conditions that some veterans have to endure at parts of Walter Reed hospital. It seemed, however, that appropriate steps were being taken to address the issues. This morning, though, I have been even more shocked to read the latest in the Post, indicating that top ranking officials have known about the problems for years and seem to have actively ignored them, possibly even worked to cover up detection of these issues.

From what I've read, I see that low-ranking personnel have been discharged, while the upper ranks do all they can to shirk responsibility. It is all to reminiscent of Abu Ghraib. A culture grows that allows these things to happen, but the people in command won't take any blame.

I urge you to push hard for investigations into what has been going on. The soldiers who have been injured in fighting for our country deserve no less.

Thank you.

UPDATE: After I wrote this post at work this morning, it was announced that the general in command at Walter Reed had been relieved of command. Still not enough in my eyes, as the guy they've put in place temporarily is one who seems to have been trying to whitewash the whole issue. Nonetheless it's a small step in the right direction.


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