Today is our 4,020th day in Afghanistan. That is correct; we have entered our twelfth year at war.
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: 2,134
Other Military Deaths - Afghanistan: 1,065
We find this morning's Cost of War
passing through: $ 1, 380,964,400,000 .00
There's an awful lot going on this week, but with an election in the offing, I'll start with the IAVA voter's guide
. I try not to be a single-issue voter, but this is one of my leading concerns. It's certainly worth a look.
A major veterans group has issued a election scorecard for its members to use to decide whether candidates for federal office support initiatives important to returning combat veterans.
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, which released the voters’ guide Tuesday, is trying to push candidates to take positions on what the group says are important issues, particularly to post-9/11 veterans. These include employment, education, mental health, disability and benefits claims processing, and female veterans health care.
The scorecard can be downloaded at IAVA.org.
“Our country cannot afford to elect candidates who think a ‘thank you for your service’ is enough,” IAVA founder and executive director Paul Rieckhoff said in a statement. “Every single voter should look for commitment, leadership and transparency on behalf of the 2.5 million veterans of this generation, whether you have served or not.”
With cancer on my mind an awful lot these days, I've run across a couple of disturbing stories...one involving civilians in the US, and the other with our troops overseas. The Home Front is a mind-boggling story from the Cold War; apparently Uncle Sam gave cancer to poor neighborhoods in St. Louis.
In the mid-1950s, and again a decade later, the Army used motorized blowers atop a low-income housing high-rise, at schools and from the backs of station wagons to send a potentially dangerous compound into the already-hazy air in predominantly black areas of St. Louis.
Local officials were told at the time that the government was testing a smoke screen that could shield St. Louis from aerial observation in case the Russians attacked.
But in 1994, the government said the tests were part of a biological weapons program and St. Louis was chosen because it bore some resemblance to Russian cities that the U.S. might attack. The material being sprayed was zinc cadmium sulfide, a fine fluorescent powder.
Now, new research is raising greater concern about the implications of those tests. St. Louis Community College-Meramec sociology professor Lisa Martino-Taylor's research has raised the possibility that the Army performed radiation testing by mixing radioactive particles with the zinc cadmium sulfide, though she concedes there is no direct proof.
But her report, released late last month, was troubling enough that both U.S. senators from Missouri wrote to Army Secretary John McHugh demanding answers.
Aides to Sens. Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt said they have received no response. Army spokesman Dave Foster declined an interview request from The Associated Press, saying the Army would first respond to the senators.
The area of the secret testing is described by the Army in documents obtained by Martino-Taylor through a Freedom of Information Act request as "a densely populated slum district." About three-quarters of the residents were black.
Spates, now 57 and retired, was born in 1955, delivered inside her family's apartment on the top floor of the since-demolished Pruitt-Igoe housing development in north St. Louis. Her family didn't know that on the roof, the Army was intentionally spewing hundreds of pounds of zinc cadmium sulfide into the air.
Three months after her birth, her father died. Four of her 11 siblings succumbed to cancer at relatively young ages.
"I'm wondering if it got into our system," Spates said. "When I heard about the testing, I thought, 'Oh my God. If they did that, there's no telling what else they're hiding.'"
Although, as a country capable of the Tuskegee Syphillus Experiment, I really shouldn't be that surprised. Alas, our ladies in uniform aren't faring much better. There's been an alarming rise in breast cancer rates among the troops.
Some men have been affected too....so it's not entirely organic to the ladies.
If you think breast cancer is just something for your grandmother, mom and aunts to worry about, think again. Not only is breast cancer striking relatively young military women at alarming rates, but male service members, veterans and their dependents are at risk, as well.
With their younger and generally healthier population, those in the military tend to have a lower risk for most cancers than civilians, including significantly lower colorectal, lung and cervical cancer rates in certain groups.
But breast cancer is a different story.
“Military people in general, and in some cases very specifically, are at a significantly greater risk for contracting breast cancer,” says Dr. Richard Clapp, a top cancer expert at Boston University. Clapp, who works for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on military breast cancer issues, says life in the military can mean exposure to a witch’s brew of risk factors directly linked to greater chances of getting breast cancer.
Indeed, in a 2009 study, doctors at Walter Reed Army Medical Center found that breast cancer rates among military women are “significantly higher” — that military women are 20 percent to 40 percent more likely to get the disease than other women in the same age groups.
Researchers point to a higher use of oral contraception — also linked to breast cancer — among military women as a possible culprit.
“Military women are also more likely to be engaged in industrial jobs than females in the general population and hence potentially more likely to be exposed to chemicals that may be related to breast cancer,” researchers wrote in the study.
Circling back to the voter's guide I posted earlier....I wonder which candidate is going to make good on getting the troops out of harm's way, and try to make their lives back in the United States easier and healthier?