Today is our 236th day back in Iraq.
There have been no new US casualties in either theatre.
And we find this morning's Cost of War passing through: $ 1, 602, 673, 700, 000 .00
Of course the big news today is that the President is going to sign the Clay Hunt act!
Since nothing happens in Washington these days without undermining the President, of course our friends in Congress are going to upstage him by having a formal "enrollment" ceremony, including members of IAVA, but this time, who cares?
Speaker Boehner to formally enroll veteran suicide prevention bill
Washington D.C. (February 9, 2015) – Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), Susan and Richard Selke, parents of Clay Hunt, and members of Congress will join House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) as he certifies passage of the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act on Tuesday, February 10 at 5 p.m. during an enrollment ceremony. The event, open to the press and public, will take place in the Rayburn Room just off the floor of the House Chamber in the U.S. Capitol building.
After Speaker Boehner’s signature, the bill will go to the President’s desk to be signed it into law. Click here to visit a timeline of IAVA’s work on combating suicide.
“IAVA thanks Speaker Boehner for holding this ceremony certifying passage of this historic bill honoring the life of our friend, Clay. This is a rare moment when both Republicans and Democrats have put partisanship aside and united to help our veterans and it is worthy of this formal ceremony. IAVA leaders, our veteran members, and Clay’s parents Susan and Richard Selke look forward to being inside the Capitol to witness their hard work coming full circle. On Tuesday, Clay’s legacy will become the passage of a bill to help save other veterans. The Clay Hunt SAV Act ensures that not one more veteran will face the barriers Clay did by increasing access to the quality mental health care they desperately need. We also look forward to standing with President Obama at the White House soon at a public signing ceremony that will make this bill a law.”
We'll dive right in to other news this morning. There's been an awful lot of chatter about vaccines of late. Perhaps you've seen vintage photos of new recruits getting a battery of immunizations during the WWII-era. Of course they still do that today, and it seems to me that there's a couple of vaccines that troops get
that we as the general public do not. Funny how we don't have an army of zombie-recruits, or whatever the alleged side effects are.
The Japanese encephalitis vaccine is now mandatory for all airmen stationed or temporarily assigned for more than 30 days to Japan or South Korea, the Air Force said in a news release.
The vaccine requirement went into effect Sunday, Feb. 1. Airmen currently stationed or on extended TDY in the two countries will have a year from that date to receive the two-dose vaccination series.
“Because of the serious consequence and nature of the disease, we think it’s important to get people vaccinated,” said Lt. Col. Randy Langsten, the Pacific Air Forces Surgeon General command public health officer.
The virus that causes Japanese encephalitis, or brain inflammation, is spread to humans by infected mosquitoes. Symptoms include high fever, headache, disorientation, coma, tremors and convulsions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and about a quarter of the cases are fatal. Those who survive can be left with cognitive and neurological problems, Langsten said.
The vaccine is recommended but not required for family members and Defense Department civilian employees, the Air Force said.
But then we'll circle back to our first topic today. Soldier suicide is one thing, and hopefully the legislation being passed today will do something to address it. But there's still a negative culture surrounding all wounded warriors, whether it's mental or physical. Stories like this just disgust me
. Perhaps you'd like your leg blown off by a mine there, bucko?
A top Army official confirmed to Congress on Tuesday that hundreds of wounded warriors at three Texas treatment centers had been harassed and abused by staff who considered them "slackers" as was reported by the Dallas Morning News and a local television station.
Col. Chris Toner, head of the Army Transition Command, acknowledged that there had been a incidents of "disrespect, harassment and belittlement of soldiers" at Warrior Transition Units (WTUs) at Fort Bliss, Fort Hood and the Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas from 2009-2013.
Toner singled out abuses at the WTU at Fort Bliss during a hearing before the House Armed Services' subcommittee on military personnel.
"There were challenges at Fort Bliss without a shadow of a doubt," Toner said.
The abuses were limited to the 2009-20013 time frame, Toner said, and he was now "confident that we have the programs going in the right direction" at Hood, Bliss and Brooke.
The mistreatment of wounded warriors at Texas bases was first reported in a joint investigation by NBC 5 and the Dallas Morning News relying on Freedom of Information Act documents detailing the official complaints of soldiers and others involved in the WTU programs.
The documents quoted Dr. Stephen Saul, a psychiatrist hired to train staff at Fort Hood's WTU, as saying that many leaders at Fort Hood lacked an understanding of mental health issues and refused to believe that post-traumatic stress disorder was real.
Those suffering from PTSD were told to "man-up and move on," Stahl said. "The idea is that you're weak, you're cowardly, you're worthless, you're not strong and it's your fault."
The result was that those with PTSD would doubt the worth of the treatment prescribed, Stahl said.
"The same Army that's telling you you're a slacker or a dirt bag gives you treatment and medication. Are you going to take it?" he told Congress.
Toner and representatives of each military service testified at the first hearing called by Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nevada, the new chairman of the military personnel subcommittee.
Heck, a physician and an Iraq veteran who holds the rank of brigadier general in the Army Reserve, has made it clear that one of his priorities as chairman will be to focus on problems in the Military Health System.
Heck said that the Army's WTUs and similar programs in the other services "still serve a need" even as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have wound down, but he added that "it has not been without fits and starts, it has not been without problems."
The military's wounded warrior programs began in 2007 with the goal of assisting troops to either stay in the military, if that was their desire, or to ease their transition to civilian life.
Finally today, and not related to any American military, it's thought that perhaps ISIS has finally crossed a line
with the recent execution of a Jordanian pilot. Now, if the Middle East could focus that outrage and do something with it, maybe the battle would start going a little differently.
CAIRO — The horrific fate of a captured Jordanian pilot, burned to death by the Islamic State group, unleashed a wave of grief and rage on Wednesday across the Middle East, a region long riven by upheavals and violence. Political and religious leaders united in outrage and condemnation, saying the slaying of the airman goes against Islam's teachings.
The gruesome militant video of the last moments in the life of 26-year-old Lt. Muath Al-Kaseasbeh, whose F-16 crashed in Syria in December during a U.S.-led coalition raid on the extremist group, crossed a line - beyond the beheadings of Western hostages at the hands of Islamic State extremists.
From the world's most prestigious seat of Sunni Islam learning, Cairo's Al-Azhar Mosque, Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayeb said the IS militants deserve the Quranic punishment of death, crucifixion or the chopping off of their arms for being enemies of God and the Prophet Muhammad.
"Islam prohibits the taking of an innocent life," al-Tayeb said. By burning the pilot to death, he added, the militants violated Islam's prohibition on the immolation or mutilation of bodies - even during wartime.
Under many Mideast legal systems, capital punishment is usually carried out by hanging. In Iran and Pakistan, stoning to death as punishment for adultery exists in the penal code but is rarely used. Beheadings are routinely carried out in Saudi Arabia, and Gaza's militant Hamas rulers have on occasion publicly shot to death Palestinians suspected of spying for Israel.
But burning to death as a punishment proscribed by an Islamic court - such as the self-styled tribunals set up by the Islamic State militants in areas under their control - is unheard of in the contemporary Middle East. The IS extremists captured a third of both Iraq and Syria in a blitz last year, proclaimed their caliphate and imposed their harsh interpretation of Islamic law.
In Saudi Arabia, prominent cleric Sheik Salman al-Oudah cited on Wednesday a saying attributed to the Prophet Muhammad, which reserves for God alone the right to punish by fire.
In Qatar, cleric Youssef al-Qaradawi - respected by the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists - issued a five-page statement listing Quranic verses and sayings, also attributed to the prophet and telling Muslims to not mistreat prisoners of war.
But on the other hand, an eye for an eye ends up making the whole world blind. There really doesn't seem to be any easy answers on this one.