Monday, August 24, 2009

This Is Where We Stand: Broken Soldier

The latest piece is out from Zeiger and Displaced films, This Is Where We Stand I highly recommend that everyone check out the website itself, because there's a lot of great stuff there, and information about the individuals.

Their latest installment contains some of the testimony about veteran mental health issues that came out of Winter Soldier. It also contains some footage of one of the most gruelling processes of the event-obtaining testimony. As I may have mentioned before, I was a part of the Verification team, the crew of IVAW members who did interviews about testimony and helped to confirm it and get evidence. I can't talk about individual details, but there were so many soldiers who had not expected some of the questions..they had stories, but not ones they were ready to testify about yet. We respected that. But the testimonial experience itself was very difficult, just hearing all of the stories and seeing these guys was painful.

Best to Zollie Goodman.

Broken Soldier from Displaced Films on Vimeo.

I also realized that I completely forgot to promote the last webisode, as well, so here it is. The first stage showed here is a Winter Soldier planning session, far in advance of Winter Soldier, still hammering out all the details.

Why We Fight 7/21 from Displaced Films on Vimeo.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Warrior Writers Website is Live!

Some of you may have experienced the incredible experience which is Warrior Writers. Veterans and servicemembers, getting together to turn their experiences of war in a positive and healing direction.

Some videos of past Warrior Writer times:

But really, what you should do is go check out the new stuff which is complete and ver impressive, at You won't regret it. Also if you are an IVAW member and are interested in writing or other forms of art, I highly encourage you to get involved with them, they're great.

Monday, August 17, 2009

"Now that we're in a recession, we can afford to be picky about the terrible NCOs we tolerated for years.."

Today's issue of the Stars and Stripes really made me laugh. Some of us have been complaining for years about the poverty of leadership in senior NCO slots, and about how in time of war, the military seems uninterested in ensuring that those who sit over our troops are actually competent-or as Stars and Stripes puts it, not just 'marginal'.

Well, now that the recession's going on, and people are signing up like crazy because the unemployment rate is up, apparently the Army has decided that it can afford to get rid of senior NCOs with "driving under the influence, sexual harassment charges, drug abuse and alcohol problems".

The Pentagon official in charge of carrying out the program said, "We're trying to target those NCOs who don't understand by looking in the mirror that they are not what the Army needs."

Really? I'm honestly amazed it takes an actual program, but I can't say I'm surprised. After all, I've seen a good chunk of senior leadership not living up to the Army values and/or behaving inappropriately. Usually they don't even get to the level of being 'removed for cause'. Usually, unfortunately, they stay right where they are.

But I have to say, that, amused as I am that just two years after denying that there had been any 'military breakdown' because of the Iraq War the Army is now admitting they have some dirtbags in charge of troops, I fully support this program.

Yes, that's right. You heard me. I fully support a Pentagon program and stand 110% behind it.

In fact, I stand so much behind it that I'm ready, willing and eager to help the Pentagon out. You see, they may not be aware of some of the poor examples of senior leadership they have within the ranks. So I'm going to provide a space for both poor examples I've seen, and also open it up to my fellow soldiers. Have you seen examples of poor leadership? Please, comment on it here!

Now, I encourage everyone to be careful of getting in trouble for disrespect. Cite only specific examples. I.e. /not/ "My first sergeant is an asshole" but rather "First sergeant X sent a suicidal soldier to work in the arms room. I think this may be an example of poor leadership."

I'll start, of course.

I think a first sergeant Hudson I once served under should certainly go on the consideration list for being encouraged to retire. The specific examples of poor leadership I cite include: 1) discouraging soldiers to seek mental health counseling, as a result of which we had an avoidable suicide in the unit 2) Denigrating a soldier under his command who died by saying "He came from the ghetto and returned to the ghetto", 3) Refusing protection or assistance in obtaining protection to a domestic violence survivor, because "if he had meant to kill you he would have done it already".

Anyone else feel like contributing?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

And why's our healthcare substandard again?

This week I found myself dealing with one of life's unexpected expenses. Unexpected, because being used to the Army covering all of /my/ healthcare, I never expected to have to pay out the nose for dependent healthcare for something non-cosmetic.

What is it, you ask? Something really simple. Something covered in most company insurances under medical care. Something that seems to be covered by really..everything except Tricare.


See, while other healthcare providers recognize that being able to have accurate vision is kind of important, Tricare figures that eyesight is just a luxury. Have a spouse who can't see well enough to drive? Well, clearly they should have gotten a job with their own health insurance, don't you know? What about a kid that keeps bumping into things? Hazard of the profession. You shouldn't have married someone nearsighted.

I'm putting it wide open here. Can anyone figure out exactly why soldiers need to be the only people out there with ridiculously crappy health insurance for dependents? You can't even /buy/ vision insurance as an add-on. Or, anyone have a tricare horror story they'd care to share? Go for it.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

We Have Always Been At War With Eastasia

There have been a lot of self-congratulatory puff pieces going on in the newspapers of the past few months about how the Army is becoming so much more tolerant of social networking, and how they're taking it off the blocked list. That the Army wants everyone to tell the Army story, blah blah blah, etc etc etc ad nauseum.

I knew it was BS. My own experience of being treated like an unperson for my thoughtcrime while supposedly fighting for the right for other people to express their ideas freely has taught me that the Army is not tolerant of other people's views. CJ, over at Soldier's Perspective, expressed some doubts, though he's got a lot more faith in the higher ups than I do.

Right now the pieces coming out are Orwellian doublespeak. Just months afterwards, Stars and Stripes reports that...

Defense officials are looking into a military-wide ban on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook because of security concerns..

"Security concerns". What, security concerns that magically materialized in the past three months? Security concerns that managed to evade everyone's notice until somehow they realized that not everyone in the Army was marching in lockstep?

I have to believe instead that, not having the luxury of a Winston Smith to sort through newspapers and throw unflattering articles down the memory hole, the Army politicians (and oh, they do exist) decided to come up with an alternate excuse that wouldn't be questioned, and wouldn't make them look like too big an idiot if they decide to change their mind later.

The part I'll wonder about is, if this ban goes through, does that mean the military will stop using facebook and twitter to recruit? I imagine the military official Facebook pages and Twitter feeds are just as susceptible to hacking as soldier's personal accounts, if not more so. Or are the rules about social networking sites that they're safe enough to use to sucker people, but not for actual soldiers?