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Ask a Vet
Author: TriSec    Date: 03/13/2012 10:21:22

Good Morning.

Today is our 3,810th day in Afghanistan.

We'll start this morning as we always do; with the latest casualty figures from our ongoing war, courtesy of Antiwar.com:

US Military Deaths - Afghanistan 1,909
Other Military Deaths - Afghanistan 1,005

We find this morning's cost of war passing through:

$1, 311, 459, 175, 000 .00

You've no doubt seen the news this past weekend. More fuel on the fire, IMHO. President Obama, who was so forceful and eloquent in opposing the war on Iraq, seems to have a tin ear on this one. We need to get out, now. I won't spend a lot of time on this, but one thing has come out....the soldier's home unit has a multitude of problems.

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. — A soldier suspected of killing 16 Afghan villagers Sunday comes from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, one of the largest military installations in the U.S. — and one that has seen its share of controversies and violence in the past few years.

The base, home to about 100,000 military and civilian personnel, has suffered a spate of suicides among soldiers back from war. The Army is investigating whether doctors at Lewis-McChord's Madigan Army Medical Center were urged to consider the cost of providing benefits when reviewing diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Most famously, four Lewis-McChord soldiers were convicted in the deliberate thrill killings of three Afghan civilians in 2010.

The military newspaper Stars and Stripes called it "the most troubled base in the military" that year.

"It's another blow to this community," said Spc. Jared Richardson, an engineer, as he stood outside a barbershop near the base Sunday. "This is definitely something we don't need."

Catherine Caruso, a spokeswoman for Lewis-McChord, said she could not comment on reports that the soldier involved in Sunday's shooting was based there. A U.S. official speaking on the condition of anonymity told the AP that the shooter was a conventional soldier assigned to support a special operations unit of either Green Berets or Navy SEALs engaged in a village stability operation.

It wasn't immediately clear if the soldier was with Lewis-McChord's 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, which sent about 2,500 soldiers to Afghanistan in December for a yearlong deployment. The brigade had deployed to Iraq three times since 2003; this is its first deployment to Afghanistan.

And in one of those jarring transitions that seems to be the hallmark of Ask A Vet, we'll go immediately to the home front. Students of WWII are well familiar with the story of the USS Juneau and the Sullivan brothers...all five serving aboard, and all five lost when the ship was sunk on 13 November 1942.

Since there is no draft in these United States, our all-volunteer force is there by choice. For some families...it's a way of life. But by extension, those families often carry a heavier burden than the rest of us with no direct involvement. One family has paid the ultimate price twice. Since the Sullivans, the military has changed their policies regarding siblings serving together in combat, so another member of the family in uniform won't be going back to war.

PRESCOTT, Ark. — When their older brother Jeremy died in Afghanistan, Ben and Beau Wise did what loyal brothers and soldiers do. They stood solemnly in uniform at his memorial, laid red roses in front of his picture, and Ben spoke bravely to a chapel full of loved ones who came to mourn.

Soldiers themselves, Ben and Beau knew what their fallen brother had experienced and seen. They knew the difficulties of being a warrior and a devoted husband, and what a testament it was to Jeremy's character that he had excelled at both.

"Jeremy, I miss you and I love you, brother," Ben said. "And see you again."

Two years later, Ben died at a hospital in Germany after an insurgent attack left him with injuries that first cost him his legs, then cost him his life. He was 34, a year younger than Jeremy was when a suicide bomber killed him at a CIA base where he was working as a defense contractor.

For a family that had already paid the highest price of war, it was time for another funeral, another eulogy, another grave.

The eldest Wise boys are two of the thousands of Americans who have died since the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan began. But they share a link that most do not: They were brothers.

"They laid down their lives, both of them, so that others could live," their mother, Mary Wise, said.


They moved Jeremy's grave so that the brothers could lie side by side in Suffolk, Va.

"To lose Jeremy was devastating," his widow, Dana, said. "To lose Ben was just ... you throw your hands up in the air."

Each brother's tombstone cites part of the Bible. Jeremy's points to a chapter that's often read at happier times: 1 Corinthians 13. Part of it reads: "When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me."

The family still calls them boys.

The youngest, Beau, is planning to move closer to Ben's family. Later this year, his mother says, he'll transfer from his base in Hawaii to one on the mainland. He'll remain in the military, at least for now.

At what point do we say, "enough"?

59 comments (Latest Comment: 03/13/2012 23:58:51 by TriSec)
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