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Ask a Vet
Author: TriSec    Date: 12/29/2015 11:10:48

Good Morning.

We've got an awful lot going on, so we'll dive right in.


Let's go back in time a few days to Christmas. A small number of folks posted the usual "thank you" memes on Facebook, but most of the photos were of civil servants like police, fire, nurses, and the like. Of course we know our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines didn't get the day off, either. So what's it like to have Christmas in Kabul?




KABUL, Afghanistan -- In a sign of how long America has been at war, Navy Chief Tiffany Voels, 35, has to go way back to 2002 for her first of four Christmases downrange. Back then, she was on a ship in support of operations in Afghanistan.

"I knew I'd still be in the service in 2015, but I didn't think I'd be in Afghanistan," she said on Friday after sitting down to Christmas dinner at Operation Resolute Support headquarters in Kabul.

Voels was one of hundreds of troops and contractors from all over the world who dug into turkey, ham and prime rib at the base of the international military coalition that remains in Afghanistan more than 14 years after the U.S. invasion of the country shortly after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The toughest part is being away from her husband and four children back in Fort Worth, Texas, Voels said.

"But I think for the most part, we've created our own little family, so it's alright," she said. "I don't think anything can replace the hugs from your significant other or kids, but there are worse places to be."


Not really ask a vet - but perhaps that "worse place to be" might be right here in these United States. I saw and saved this story, not quite expecting to work it into AAV. Tell me where the war zone is again?


In a grim reminder that violence in America never takes a holiday, 27 people were killed and 63 injured in shooting incidents on Christmas Day this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. This tally does not include people who shot themselves in suicide.

The number of Americans killed in gun homicides on Christmas Day is comparable to the number of people killed in gun homicides in an entire year in places like Australia or Britain. The 27 people killed by guns in America on Christmas this year is equal to the total number of people killed in gun homicides in an entire year in Austria, New Zealand, Norway, Slovenia, Estonia, Bermuda, Hong Kong and Iceland, combined.

The dead included the parents of a young child who were shot during a robbery in Columbus, Ohio; a Texas grandfather, whose 73-year-old wife says she shot him for “continuous marital issues and infidelities;” a young couple killed in their vehicle in the early morning hours near Augusta, Maine; and the owner of a barbershop in Alabama who was known as "a strong voice against crime" in the community, according to local news reports.

At least two of the Christmas Day shootings qualified as mass shooting incidents with four or more people shot. In one, a two-year old girl and three teenagers were injured in a shooting in a high-crime neighborhood in Jacksonville, Fla. Later that night in Mobile, Ala., four teenagers were shot by two gunmen outside a movie theater.

So far this year, we've averaged roughly 36 gun fatalities and 73 gun injuries each day, according to the Gun Violence Archive. So the Christmas Day tally represents something of a temporary de-escalation in the violence, but not a huge one.


Of course, guns aren't the only reason Americans die most days. We've also got the weather, too. You've heard about the massive storm that swept through the central and southern part of the country? (and is now taunting the Northeast?) In any case, four soldiers were also caught in the carnage, and regrettably did not survive.


Intense rain and flooding are expected across much of the state Monday, along with snow and freezing rain in the northern part of Missouri.

Over the weekend, eight people died in flash flooding, including four international soldiers temporarily stationed at Fort Leonard Wood for training.

A witness reported the soldiers' car driving onto a flooded road and immediately getting swept downstream, the Pulaski County Sheriff's Office said.

Authorities found their car several hundred yards from the road, entangled in some brush, the sheriff's department said.

Two soldiers found in the car Saturday night had drowned. The bodies of the other two soldiers were found Sunday morning.

"The possibility of a fifth occupant of the car exists, since an acquaintance of the above men is still missing," the sheriff's office said.

The names and nationalities of the four soldiers have not been released.

Two other people in Pulaski County also drowned when their car drove onto a flooded road and was also swept several hundred yards away, authorities said.

Pulaski County Sheriff Ron Long said flash flooding can be particularly dangerous at night.

"Streams turn into rivers, and people sometimes don't see the road has flooded over when they are driving at night," he said.


And since we're far off-track this morning, we'll finish up with a story from WWII. It's not really about veterans, or even Americans. But it is important nevertheless. Japan did many horrid things during the conflict - in some ways worse even than the Nazis. But thanks to a rapid rehabilitation, many of the stories were swept into the dustbin of history. I'm sure you know about "Comfort Women", an episode Japan has long denied. They deny it no more; and have finally recognized and compensated the victims. Alas, they almost waited too long, as only 46 confirmed victims remain alive these many decades later.


TOKYO — Japan and South Korea said Monday that they had “finally and irreversibly” resolved a dispute over wartime sex slaves that has bedeviled relations between the two countries for decades.

In something of a surprise development, the two countries’ foreign ministers met in Seoul to finalize a deal that will see Japan put $8.3 million into a South Korean fund to support the 46 surviving “comfort women” and to help them recover their “honor and dignity” and heal their “psychological wounds.”

The move was welcomed in Washington, which has been both concerned and annoyed by the tensions between its two closest allies in Asia. This year marks seven decades since the end of World War II and the end of Japan’s occupation of the Korean Peninsula.

Independent historians have concluded that as many as 200,000 women and girls — from occupied countries including Korea, China, the Philippines and other Southeast Asian nations — were coerced by the Japanese Imperial Army to work as sex slaves during the war.

“We made a final and irreversible solution at this 70th anniversary milestone,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters in Tokyo after speaking to his South Korean counterpart, President Park Geun-hye, on the phone.

Earlier, in Seoul, his foreign minister had said Abe “expresses anew his most sincere apologies and remorse to all the women who underwent immeasurable and painful experiences.”

“I feel we’ve fulfilled the responsibility of the generation living now,” Abe said after his call with Park. “I’d like this to be a trigger for Japan and South Korea to cooperate and open a new era.”


I could keep going, but I'll stop here for now.

It's almost 2016; Let's be careful out there.

7 comments (Latest Comment: 12/29/2015 18:24:32 by Scoopster)
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