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Veterans protect the American way of life. They lay down their lives for us every day BUT America has never treated them with the dignity they deserve. Veterans ask for very little--and they deserve much more.

USAF Soldier Loses Legs in Medical Mistake

Posted By cheekyredhead on Jul 20, 2009 at 7:41PM


Jessica Read is still stunned about what happened to her husband. "It's very hard for us to understand."

Last week, 20-year-old Colton Read, who grew up in Arlington and who's now in the U. S. Air Force, went to have laparoscopic surgery to remove his gall-bladder at David Grant Medical Center at Travis Air Force Base near Sacramento.

His mother, Shelly Read-Miller says he wasn't worried. "He said 'Mom, this is routine, it's no big deal.'"

But what happened during surgery turned out to be a very big deal.

Jessica Read says around 10 a.m., about an hour into the procedure, "A nurse runs out, 'We need blood now,' and she rounds the corner and my gut feelings is, 'Oh my God, is that my husband?'"

She says his Air Force general surgeon mistakenly cut her husband's aortic valve, but waited hours to transport him to a state hospital which has a vascular surgeon. "It took them until 5:30 to get him to UC Davis. I don't understand."

Because Read lost so much blood during that time, doctors had to amputate both legs. His mother sobbed, "I watched him take his first steps, and now his legs are gone."

Read is still in intensive care, and doctors can't remove his gall bladder for fear of infection.

Now, his wife says they must keep his spirits up because he knows what happened to him. "When we've been in there he'll say, 'They're gone,' and we say, 'It's okay though. You made it through the surgery we have your life, thank God.'"

In a statement, Lt. Holly Hess, chief of public affairs at Travis Air Force Base says, "We are conducting an exhaustive review with experts from outside David Grant Medical Center, as well as an internal investigation with the goal of ensuring patient safety and quality care at the center."

Read's wife says the doctor admitted it was human error. "All my husband ever wanted to do was to deploy, all my husband ever wanted to do was serve his country. He used to tell me when we had flyovers and they played the national anthem, the chills he would get from the pride that he felt from being an American airman, and this is something an Air Force doctor has taken from him."

But because of an old federal law called the Feres Doctrine, Read, his wife, and his family members can't sue the military over what happened to him.

Until last November, retired Lt. Colonel Colby Vokey served in the U. S. Marine Corps for 21 years, the past 11 as a judge advocate, or attorney. "To me, it's disgraceful."

Vokey says the original thought behind the law was, "The military would make someone whole. That if you're hurt in the line of duty, hurt in battle, the military would take care of their own. That's certainly not the case, and certainly not the case with this young man."

A bill is pending in congress that would end this law.

For now, Read's wife says the military may place him on medical retirement, in which he'll likely receive less than half his $1600 monthly salary. "I can't understand why they won't help him when they did this to him."

Friends who serve with Read at the Ninth Intelligence Squadron at nearby Beale Air Force Base have sent him a get well card.

Jessica says she knows she must keep it altogether. "I've made up my mind. I can cry later, because right now he needs me. He needs me to be strong."

(© MMIX, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

Value in Death: Soldiers pay the price daily.

Posted By cheekyredhead on Jul 8, 2009 at 10:28AM

Re-post of my original article.

Mourning those who stood bravely and gave their lives for our freedom and liberty is not something which is merely reserved for Veteran's Day every year. They are mourned daily when we are faced with that empty place setting at our tables each day. They are mourned every time we vote, sing our anthem, and pledge our Allegiance to our flag.

However they are among the faceless millions which are ignored for being "unpleasant" to think about, and appear meaningless to those that have never lost a family member, friend, or colleague that served our country.

When our soldiers come back in boxes or perhaps worse, return with images of agony they cannot escape from, our great nation typically turns it's back on them. Sure we give them medals. We drape flags over the boxes. But more often than not these broken soldiers return to a reality which places them into a position of being liability.

Veterans are often that "inconvenient truth" our media glazes over and our politicians view only as chess-pieces. Our citizens demand protection and the promise that our beliefs, freedoms, and values be upheld at any cost--as long is it one that they do not personally have to pay.

Every program to help veterans in ANY way is always the first to be placed upon the budget chopping block. Soldiers continue to be victimized by their own country even after paying a price which many citizens would refuse to pay...their lives, their future hopes and their sanity.

Thousands of soldiers returning from war suffer from brain injury. This is from the impact of bombs bursting around them, heads recoiling from the surge of destruction, and this is permanent damage which never heals. Our military is discharging these men and stamping a category on them which pushes blame unto the soldier themselves...as if these millions of soldiers were injured prior to their service...and as unlikely as that may be, it allows our country to walk away.

These soldiers may appear to look normal and functional but they aren't. This is not merely post traumatic syndrome...this is actual brain damage. They have been dumped into society without medical care, often left to wander our streets in despair.

It is the mentality of those that refuse to look into those faces and honor the life which they left behind in some sand in a far away country...which perpetuates the continued abuse of our soldiers. Yes this is abuse. To continue to ignore them today is the equivalent of defecating on the graves of those we have buried.

Our nation has a history of bailing out on veterans. There is a history of ignoring the damage, refusing to help, and ultimately turning away for the unsightly mess forced upon a soldier who gave that ultimate price few are willing to pay. We are allowing our government to demand that sacrifice without supporting the broken ones which come home.

Many Americans today take their freedom for granted. If you have never traveled abroad then you probably have no idea just how precious that freedom is. Our forefathers died for us to have that freedom. Our soldiers today continue in that fight. We may not agree with why they are in another country fighting...but they represent America and they stand tall in their mission as ordered by our government. We simply cannot allow them to be forgotten, pushed aside as if they are unworthy of valor.

Americans have been looked down upon by all those who are not American--viewing us as being selfish, superficial, spoiled, elitist, and forcefully superior. When our country and its citizens put more effort in mourning the loss of any person above that of someone who gave their lives to protect our freedom; we cheapen that price paid by a soldier. That very act perhaps confirms those views by others when placing judgement on all Americans and seeing us critically.

Any life lost any place in the world is precious. Human life is not trivial. We never place one life above another. We view each person as unique and valuable.

The difference between a citizen and a soldier is the reason they died. While a person may accomplish great and wonderful things, entertain and foster change; when we mourn them passing it is normal to acknowledge those things...and ultimately...at what price have we have paid when loosing them--or what price they paid with their life. It is at this point we view a soldier's death a greater value because it was a life SPENT to protect and serve others. It was not a death at the hands of an accident, an abusive history or a tormented past.

A soldier's death preserves our rights, beliefs, and freedoms---a price freely offered and given. It is obviously a life we cannot allow to be trivialized. Soldiers are forever changed by the price they pay. Their families continue paying that price their entire life. It is a price BEYOND any comparison.

Mr. President---Listen to the Voice of America!

Posted By cheekyredhead on Jun 14, 2009 at 7:19PM

The following is a letter to copy and paste, fill in the bottom, and send to the URLS at the bottom. Takes 3 minutes or less--BUT will help us get what we all deserve...educational credit/units we have earned and protect the credit/units we will in the future.

Mr. President Our Voice must be heard!

By sending this document I am notifying you that as a citizen of America my voice must be heard.

There must be legislation to change how colleges and universities view transcripts.

America needs to empower our citizens with the ability to pursue an education without the fear and worry that one educational facility will disavow transcripts from one facility to another.

There must be an end to “your credits/units are no good here” and the attitude that real education is situational.

In today’s economy people are relocating in order to work or support families.

We should not lose educational credits/units because we have to change colleges/universities due to relocation or any other means.

The America dream demands this essential change.

The credits/units we earn MUST be recognized at all educational facilities, rather than repeating classes at the whim of some monetarily motivated college/university.

Military transcripts should be validated by ALL educational facilities that receive government funding.

Military personnel have earned those credits/units while also defending our country.

Our tax dollars have already paid for that education and all colleges/universities must recognize and validate that training.

There has to be a standardization of units/credits within the college/university system nationwide, where all credits transfer from one educational facility to another.

I support legislation to make these changes:

* standardization of unit/credit system nationwide within ALL colleges/universities
* FULL transferability of ALL credit/units.
* Military transcripts MUST be validated and accepted at all educational facilities and when applicable, BE degree-equivalent.

Sending this, I certify that I am a citizen of the United States, a college student, and/or a voter.

Zip Code:

Printed Name OR Email Address:

Copy and paste
To send your letter directly to the White House:

To send it to The American Legion: http://www.legion.org/national/contact?con=NatlCmdr

The Toll of Iraq on U.S. Soldiers

Posted By cheekyredhead on Jun 12, 2009 at 7:09PM

On Veterans Day, A Sobering Look At The Iraq War's Toll
Although average U.S. soldier in Iraq is older than average Vietnam soldier, those being killed and injured are disproportionately young.

In-Depth Coverage By Gil Kaufman

November 12 marks the observed Veterans Day — and also the 25th anniversary of the dedication of "The Wall," the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. And on the holiday, the enduring toll the battle in Iraq has taken on American troops can be summed up by one phrase: the Invisible War.

That's how Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and author of the Iraq memoir "Chasing Ghosts," refers to the war that has been raging since 2003 and has had a startlingly different effect on veterans returning than the war it's most often compared to, Vietnam.

"This is not a drafted army, it's a professional force, so folks are staying in longer, they're older and they're more likely to have families," he said of the average age of Iraq warriors, which is around 27. "But those who are being killed and injured are disproportionately young — the people you played soccer with and went to high school with."

Another reason Rieckhoff calls the Iraq war "invisible" is that while 12 percent of the U.S. population served in World War II, less than 1 percent have suited up for Iraq. "The numbers are less in terms of casualties [than Vietnam or World War II], because the numbers overall are smaller. That means less people are being impacted, so our generation is uniquely disconnected from the war and how it's affecting veterans."

Also, unlike Vietnam, where soldiers typically did one tour and were rotated back home, some Iraq troops are returning to the front three or four times for long stretches, with many of the fighters becoming disconnected from what's going on in society back home, making for a hard time re-integrating when they return.

"Here, people are worried about 'American Idol,' and over there they're ducking for cover in Fallujah," Rieckhoff said. Though medical advances and the use of body armor are helping to save the lives of Iraqi soldiers who might have died in previous wars, Rieckhoff said traumatic brain injuries could end up impacting 10-20 percent of veterans, a number that might end up between 150,000 and 300,000 people.

President Bush has often resisted comparisons between Vietnam and Iraq, but the two biggest wars fought by the United States in the past 40 years share at least one sobering similarity: the toll they've taken on American troops and their loved ones.

(The following figures are compiled from Globalsecurity.org, Time, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Combat Area Casualty File, National Archives, Walter Reed Medical Center, Discover, the Iraq Body Counts Web site, The New York Times, The American War Library and Defense Manpower Data Center.)

» Number of soldiers who have died in combat:
Vietnam: 58,148
Iraq: 3,859

» Average age of soldiers killed in combat:
Vietnam: 23
Iraq: 27

» Total number of soldiers deployed:
Vietnam: More than 9 million (1965-1975); 543,000 at peak
Iraq: 1.5 million (2003-2007); 162,000 at peak

» Wounded in action:
Vietnam: More than 300,000, with just over 150,000 requiring hospitalization
Iraq: 28,451

» Women killed in war theater:
Vietnam: 8
Iraq: 92

» Missing in action:
Vietnam: 2,300
Iraq: 4

» Mental-health problems:
Vietnam: 18.7 percent of Vietnam veterans suffer from a stress disorder
Iraq: One in three Iraq veterans will face mental-health issues or post-traumatic stress disorder; nearly a quarter of all U.S. troops serving in Iraq are coming home with problems requiring mental health or medical treatment.

» Civilian casualties:
Vietnam: Between 2 and 5 million
Iraq: Officially 76,000-83,000 since 2003, with unofficial estimates of up to 655,000

Another major difference between Iraq and Vietnam, according to Rieckhoff, is that Iraq veterans are returning even more confused than their peers when it comes to the mood in hometowns and bases.

"People say, 'I hate this war, how can I support the troops?' " he said of a phrase he hears often. "I say, 'You don't have to support the war, but support the warriors.'

"I think the American public understands that, but there's still confusion, anger and anxiety around it and soldiers are coming back and saying, 'I just don't want to deal with it,' " he continued. "So they want to be around people who are like them and understand them, and that's isolating.

I walked around New York today and this doesn't feel like a country at war. I was at a Veterans Day parade on Sunday and there were 20,000 people there and 70,000 at the Giants game.

That's why this is an invisible war: When they come home and put that uniform on the shelf, there's nothing that tells anyone, 'I was in the war.' Not everyone comes back wounded, but they all come back changed."

Validate All Military Education Transcripts

Posted By cheekyredhead on Jun 9, 2009 at 2:10PM

Every day a United States Veteran walks into a college administrative office to have their military education transcripts evaluated and they are offered in return only credit for PE.

Colleges all over America are allowed to decide for themselves whether or not to give a veteran credit for classes taken while serving in our military.

I am here today to pull back the veil of silence which has strangled the ambitions of our veterans that have fought for this country, our freedom, and are merely asking for what they have earned.

I am here to persuade you to stand behind every veteran and help their voice to be heard, forcing colleges to give credit where credit has been earned

There is a misconception that a military education is somehow substandard or perceived as being a limited scope of a subject compared to college education.

Let’s compare the two side by side and determine the value of those educations.

Military Education is not merely focused on how to simply shoot a gun.

Every private civilian sector job has a military equivalent which requires a soldier to accomplish an educational goal. Some examples are nurses, physicians, accountants, scientists, engineers, firefighters and police.

We are all soldiers but we also have specialized education.

Our military education uses top of the line equipment often not seen in the private sector for several years after it is introduced, tested and perfected by the military.

Every emerging technology is fine tuned within our military long before it is introduced to the public. When I was active duty we had an imaging machine that the public sectors had never seen and only dreamed about.

It was almost 5 years before the private sector hospitals had them and even longer before they had someone competent to use them, needless to say our hospitals recognize how valuable a veteran education is---but our colleges DO NOT.

Colleges tell me: “Your education cannot be recognized by the college because we have no idea what guidelines were used.”

That is ridiculous. Do any of you actually think our country would train a force to defend and support it with substandard teaching?

Military textbooks and guidelines are written by the recognized experts in every field, and typically an improvement over what is found in colleges today.

Recently I applied for a job at a college for position which would be assisting ultrasound students in their "practical hands-on" actual scanning experience. They told me I didn't have the proper qualifications to do this.

They told me this while we stood in the middle of their "facility" surrounded by equipment outdated for over 15 years--equipment donated by hospitals that refuse to use such equipment on actual patients.

So I ask, "Are these college students gaining the valuable education they are paying for?" NO. They leave these college programs unprepared to use the equipment actually used in hospitals today, AND colleges are overlooking the quality of training I could have assisted them with.

Colleges award degrees to anyone that can obtain a “minimal” standard while the military will only take those who excel—they choose excellence over mediocrity.

Every soldier is expected to excel in their field or they are either moved to a less technical field, reclassified or simply discharged.

The military does not keep those that can only exhibit a “minimal” standard.

Colleges choose to focus on meeting minimal standards and then refuse to validate a military education which should be viewed as the gold standard.

The civilian job market recognizes this level of achievement by simply choosing a veteran over a new grad student because they know the value of actual working experience and the dedication required to be successful in the military.

Only 66% of college students complete a 4-years degree compared to 100% of military in high-tech fields.

Out of that 66% of college students, only 3.7% move on to complete a Master's Degree. Of those that complete a Master's degree, 20% request a waiver for the required capstone requirement AND actually get one.

Military that go on to a Master's Degree: 100% complete the capstone requirement--NO waivers!

So....colleges are receiving government funding BUT refusing to recognize military education? Yes! Why? Because it is more often than not--better than what they can offer a college student.

This is criminal.
ALL credits/units should be recognized between ALL colleges/universities. No more picking and choosing. No more "your credits are not good here."

Want to do something about it?

This link will take you to a letter to copy and paste to your e-mail, put your information into the bottom, send it to the links at the bottom of the letter.