Our Armed Forces


New generation of homeless vets emerge…

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In from LEEDS, Mass., Peter Mohan traces the path from the Iraqi battlefield to this lifeless conference room, where he sits in a kilt and a Camp Kill Yourself T-shirt and calmly describes how he became a sad cliche: a homeless veteran.

There was a happy homecoming, but then an accident, car crash, broken collarbone. And then a move east, close to his wife’s new job but away from his best friends.

And then self~destruction: He would gun his motorcycle to 100 mph and try to stand on the seat. He would wait for his wife to leave in the morning, draw the blinds and open up whatever bottle of booze was closest.

He would pull out his gun, a .45~caliber, semiautomatic pistol. He would lovingly clean it, or just look at it and put it away. Sometimes place it in his mouth.

“I don’t know what to do anymore,” his wife, Anna, told him one day. “You can’t be here anymore.”

Peter Mohan never did find a steady job after he left Iraq. He lost his wife, a judge granted their divorce this fall, he lost his friends, he lost his home, and now he is here, in a shelter.

He is 28 years old. “People come back from war different,” he offers by way of a summary.

This is not a new story in America: A young veteran back from war whose struggle to rejoin society has failed, at least for the moment, fighting demons and left homeless.

But it is happening to a new generation. As the war in Afghanistan plods on in its seventh year, and the war in Iraq in its fifth, a new cadre of homeless veterans is taking shape.

And with it come the questions: How is it that a nation that became so familiar with the archetypal homeless, combat addled Vietnam veteran is now watching as more homeless veterans turn up from new wars?

What lessons have we not learned? Who is failing these people? Or is homelessness an unavoidable byproduct of war, of young men and women who devote themselves to serving their country and then see things no man or woman should?

For as long as the United States has sent its young men and later its young women, off to war, it has watched as a segment of them come home and lose the battle with their own memories, their own scars, and wind up without homes.

The Civil War produced thousands of wandering veterans. Frequently addicted to morphine, they were known as “tramps,” searching for jobs and, in many cases, literally still tending their wounds.

More than a decade after the end of World War I, the “Bonus Army” descended on Washington, demanding immediate payment on benefits that had been promised to them, but payable years later, and were routed by the U.S. military.

And, most publicly and perhaps most painfully, there was Vietnam: Tens of thousands of war weary veterans, infamously rejected or forgotten by many of their own fellow citizens.

Now it is happening again, in small but growing numbers.

For now, about 1,500 veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan have been identified by the Department of Veterans Affairs. About 400 of them have taken part in VA programs designed to target homelessness.

The 1,500 are a small, young segment of an estimated 336,000 veterans in the United States who were homeless at some point in 2006, the most recent year for which statistics are available, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

Still, advocates for homeless veterans use words like “surge” and “onslaught” and even “tsunami” to describe what could happen in the coming years, as both wars continue and thousands of veterans struggle with post-traumatic stress.

People who have studied postwar trauma say there is always a lengthy gap between coming home, the time of parades and backslaps and “The Boys Are Back in Town” on the local FM station, and the moments of utter darkness that leave some of them homeless.

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In that time, usually a period of years, some veterans focus on the horrors they saw on the battlefield, or the friends they lost, or why on earth they themselves deserved to come home at all. They self medicate, develop addictions, spiral down.

How or perhaps the better question is why…is this happening again?

“I really wish I could answer that question,” says Anthony Belcher, an outreach supervisor at New Directions, which conducts monthly sweeps of Skid Row in Los Angeles, identifying homeless veterans and trying to help them get over addictions.

“It’s the same question I’ve been asking myself and everyone around me. I’m like, wait, wait, hold it, we did this before. I don’t know how our society can allow this to happen again.”

Mental illness, financial troubles and difficulty in finding affordable housing are generally accepted as the three primary causes of homelessness among veterans, and in the case of Iraq and Afghanistan, the first has raised particular concern.

Iraq veterans are less likely to have substance abuse problems but more likely to suffer mental illness, particularly post traumatic stress, according to the Veterans Administration. And that stress by itself can trigger substance abuse.

Some advocates say there are also some factors particular to the Iraq war, like multiple deployments and the proliferation of improvised explosive devices, that could be pulling an early trigger on stress disorders that can lead to homelessness.

While many Vietnam veterans began showing manifestations of stress disorders roughly 10 years after returning from the front, Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have shown the signs much earlier.

That could also be because stress disorders are much better understood now than they were a generation ago, advocates say.

“There’s something about going back, and a third and a fourth time, that really aggravates that level of stress,” said Michael Blecker, executive director of Swords to Plowshares,” a San Francisco homeless-vet outreach program.

“And being in a situation where you have these IEDs, everywhere’s a combat zone. There’s no really safe zone there. I think that all is just a stew for post traumatic stress disorder.”

Others point to something more difficult to define, something about American culture, that while celebrating and honoring troops in a very real way upon their homecoming, ultimately forgets them.

This is not necessarily due to deliberate negligence. Perhaps because of the lingering memory of Vietnam, when troops returned from an unpopular war to face open hostility, many Americans have taken care to express support for the troops even as they solidly disapprove of the war in Iraq.

But it remains easy for veterans home from Iraq for several years, and teetering on the edge of losing a job or home, to slip into the shadows. And as their troubles mount, they often feel increasingly alienated from friends and family members.

“War changes people,” says John Driscoll, vice president for operations and programs at the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. “Your trust in people is strained. You’ve been separated from loved ones and friends. The camaraderie between troops is very extreme, and now you feel vulnerable.”

The VA spends about $265 million annually on programs targeting homeless veterans. And as Iraq and Afghanistan veterans face problems, the VA will not simply “wait for 10 years until they show up,” Pete Dougherty, the VA’s director of homeless programs, said when the new figures were released.

“We’re out there now trying to get everybody we can to get those kinds of services today, so we avoid this kind of problem in the future,” he said.

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These are all problems defined in broad strokes, but they cascade in very real and acute ways in the lives of individual veterans.

Take Mike Lally. He thinks back now to the long stretches in the stifling Iraq heat, nothing to do but play Spades and count flies, and about the day insurgents killed the friendly shop owner who sold his battalion Pringles and candy bars.

He thinks about crouching in the back of a Humvee watching bullets crash into fuel tanks during his first firefight, and about waiting back at base for the vodka his mother sent him, dyed blue and concealed in bottles of Scope mouthwash.

It was a little maddening, he supposes, every piece of it, but Lally is fairly sure that what finally cracked him was the bodies. Unloading the dead from ambulances and loading them onto helicopters. That was his job.

“I guess I loaded at least 20,” he says. “Always a couple at a time. And you knew who it was. You always knew who it was.”

It was in 2004, when he came back from his second tour in Iraq with the Marine Corps, that his own bumpy ride down began.

He would wake up at night, sweating and screaming, and during the days he imagined people in the shadows, a state the professionals call hypervigilence and Mike Lally calls “being on high alert, all the time.”

His father in law tossed him a job installing vinyl siding, but the stress overcame him, and Lally began to drink. A little rum in his morning coffee at first, and before he knew it he was drunk on the job, and then had no job at all.

And now Mike Lally, still only 26 years old, is here, booted out of his house by his wife, padding around in an old T~shirt and sweats at a Leeds shelter called Soldier On, trying to get sober and perhaps, on a day he can envision but not yet grasp, get his home and family and life back.

“I was trying to live every day in a fog,” he says, reflecting between spits of tobacco juice. “I’d think I was back in there, see people popping out of windows. Any loud noise would set me off. It still does.”

Soldier On is staffed entirely by homeless veterans. A handful who fought in Iraq or Afghanistan, usually six or seven at a time, mix with dozens from Vietnam. Its president, Jack Downing, has spent nearly four decades working with addicts, the homeless and the mentally ill.

Next spring, he plans to open a limited equity cooperative in the western Massachusetts city of Pittsfield. Formerly homeless veterans will live there, with half their rents going into individual deposit accounts.

Downing is convinced that ushering homeless veterans back into homeownership is the best way out of the pattern of homelessness that has repeated itself in an endless loop, war after war.

“It’s a disgrace,” Downing says. “You have served your country, you get damaged, and you come back and we don’t take care of you. And we make you prove that you need our services.”

“And how do you prove it?” he continues, voice rising in anger. “You prove it by regularly failing until you end up in a system where you’re identified as a person in crisis. That has shocked me.”

Even as the nation gains a much better understanding of the types of post-traumatic stress disorders suffered by so many thousands of veterans, even as it learns the lessons of Vietnam and tries to learn the lessons of Iraq, it is probably impossible to foretell a day when young American men and women come home from wars unscarred.

At least as long as there are wars.

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But Driscoll, at least, sees an opportunity to do much better.

He notes that the VA now has more than 200 veteran adjustment centers to help ease the transition back into society, and the existence of more than 900 VA connected community clinics nationwide.

“We’re hopeful that five years down the road, you’re not going to see the same problems you saw after the Vietnam War,” he says. “If we as a nation do the right thing by these guys.”
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Thank you CNN and AP News, ERIN McCLAM, AP National Writer and http://www.army.mil
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As most of my readers know “I do support our troops,” but NOT THE WAR!

My Step~Father still has not gotten paid for being a Merchant Marine from WWII.

If we have the money to fight a war…we should have the money to take care of our troops and soldiers!

Try to hire a VET.

AND bring back our men and women who are over seas!

Make love not War…remember that one, Baby Boomers???

WAR has NEVER been the answer.
~The Baby Boomer Queen~

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IN BAGHDAD, Iraq…in the waning sunlight hour of a chilly winter afternoon, a chorus of Hebrew prayer rises from a small, fluorescent lit room on the outskirts of Baghdad.

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Chaplain Andrew Shulman leads a Jewish service in Iraq.

Leading the Shabbat service is Chaplain Andrew Shulman, one of just three ordained American rabbis serving hundreds of Jewish~American troops stationed throughout Iraq.

“Being deployed away from home brings people to the chapel,” says Shulman. “You don’t have a lot else going on a Friday night here. Back at home, you are competing with the movies and the long weekends and everything. Here, people are really looking forward to breaking up the monotony of the week.”

U.S. Army officials estimate that fewer than 1 percent of the some 16,000 service members in Shulman’s 3rd Infantry Division identify themselves as Jewish. But the chaplain often travels by Black Hawk helicopter to perform Jewish rites for troops who request them anywhere in the country that was once home to ancient Babylon.

“Hanukkah was a really busy time around here,” Shulman says. “Babylon had a very special place in Jewish history. This is where we were exiled 2,400 to 2,500 years ago. To come back and have the Hebrew language wafting through the halls of the chapel, it is special.”

The U.S. military has followers of Judaism, Christianity and Islam serving in Iraq. This December, all three faiths observe major holidays within weeks of each other. For some troops, it is not just difficult celebrating these holidays away from home. They are also turning to their faiths that espouse peace to cope with the reality of the war in Iraq.

Muslim-American Army Spc. Lamia Lahlou was born in Morocco and was living in New York in 2001. On September 11, Lahlou’s best friend was in one of the trains below the World Trade Center and was killed.

“I needed to do something [in response to the attacks],” Lahlou says. She eventually enlisted in the U.S. Army.

Lahlou is approaching eight months serving in Iraq, monitoring Arab media with a classified unit linked to U.S. military intelligence. “My parents, it is hard for them to understand. Not a lot of people understand, especially Arabs or Muslims. [They ask,] ‘How can you be a Muslim and you are fighting for America?'” she says.

The Muslim soldier says she has no problem reconciling her religion of peace, with fighting so-called Muslim jihadists. “I love America, so I fight for it, that’s my jihad,” she says.

At nearby U.S. Army Camp Liberty, Chaplain Felix Kumai says he counsels Christian soldiers who see complications with biblical commandments like “Thou shalt not kill,” as they serve God and country.

“It is a really sensitive and difficult question,” Kumai, a Roman Catholic priest, says.

It is a question that gets more complicated in the face of accusations that the invasion of Iraq is a mission led by a conservative Christian commander-in-chief.

“I’ve had soldiers who have come up [to me] with those issues. In terms of their faith and then, what pertains to reality out here,” Kumai says. “I tell them, ‘Morally, we can not leave this place without stabilizing it.'”

Before the Shabbat service, Jewish~American Army Spc. Thomas Forsyth says he thinks God is looking out for him in Iraq. The 30 year old says his faith helps justify his actions in the war zone: “As a Jew, even on Sabbath, what we do is defensive.”

Shulman says the Jewish troops he counsels have a similar mind set. “These are highly professional volunteer soldiers, who knew what they were getting into,” Shulman says. “On the Jewish side of things, there is such a thing as a justifiable war.”

Not everyone may agree. But in the midst of combat, American soldiers, Jewish, Christian and Muslim alike, say their faith will help them see their deployment through.
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Thank you CNN News and Alphonso Van Marsh
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HAPPY HOLIDAYS to our troops who are deployed near and far…

~The Baby Boomer Queen~

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At Walter Reed, Care for Soldiers Struggling With War’s Mental Trauma Is Undermined by Doctor Shortages and Unfocused Methods

On the military plane that crossed the ocean at night, the wounded lay in stretchers stacked three high. The drone of engines was broken by the occasional sound of moaning. Sedated and sleeping, Pfc. Joshua Calloway was at the top of one stack last September. Unlike the others around him, Calloway was handcuffed to his stretcher.

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When the 20 year old infantry soldier woke up, he was on the locked down psychiatric ward at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. A nurse handed him pajamas and a robe, but they reminded him of the flowing clothes worn by Iraqi men. He told the nurse, “I don’t want to look like a freakin’ Haj.” He wanted his uniform. Request denied. Shoelaces and belts were prohibited.

Calloway felt naked without his M-4, his constant companion during his tour south of Baghdad with the 101st Airborne Division. The year-long deployment claimed the lives of 50 soldiers in his brigade. Two committed suicide. Calloway, blue-eyed and lantern-jawed, lasted nine months, until the afternoon he watched his sergeant step on a pressure plate bomb in the road. The young soldier’s knees buckled and he vomited in the reeds before he was ordered to help collect body parts. A few days later he was sent to the combat stress trailers, where he was given antidepressants and rest, but after a week he was still twitching and sleepless. The Army decided that his war was over.

Every month, 20 to 40 soldiers are evacuated from Iraq because of mental problems, according to the Army. Most are sent to Walter Reed along with other war wounded. For amputees, the nation’s top Army hospital offers state of the art prosthetics and physical rehab programs, and soon, a new $10 million amputee center with a rappelling wall and virtual reality center.

Nothing so gleaming exists for soldiers with diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder, who in the Army alone outnumber all of the war’s amputees by 43 to 1. The Army has no PTSD center at Walter Reed, and its psychiatric treatment is weak compared with the best PTSD programs the government offers. Instead of receiving focused attention, soldiers with combat-stress disorders are mixed in with psych patients who have issues ranging from schizophrenia to marital strife.

Even though Walter Reed maintains the largest psychiatric department in the Army, it lacks enough psychiatrists and clinicians to properly treat the growing number of soldiers returning with combat stress. Earlier this year, the head of psychiatry sent out an “SOS” memo desperately seeking more clinical help.
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Thank you The Washington Post, Anne Hull and Dana Priest
Washington Post Staff Writers
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If you do not believe that this condition exists…go to any VFW Post and talk to anyone there…! You can see it in thier faces, their eyes and in thier stories…WAR IS HELL!

And if you have a story to share about your experience with the military or VA health care systems…here is the contact information:
The Washington Post at (202) 334-4880 or by Email at militarycare@washpost.com.
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Your stories need to be heard, so we can stop this war and bring our men and women home.

For those of you who don’t know Ernie Pyle was my Uncle, he died geting the soliders stories back to the states.

Those of you who want to read more about Pfc. Joshua Calloway, here is a link for you to do so:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/17/AR2007061701351.html

The Twisted Sister is ANTI~WAR but PRO~Troops.

DON’T forget “Hire our returning VETS!” They need our support for the support they have given this counry.

~The Baby Boomer Queen~

A trio of old Veterans

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A trio of old veterans were bragging about the heroic exploits of their ancestors one afternoon down at the VFW hall.

“My great grandfather, at age 13,” one declared proudly, “was a drummer boy at Shiloh.”

“Mine,” boasts another, “went down with Custer at the Battle of Little Big Horn.”

“I’m the only soldier in my family,” confessed vet number three, “but if my great grandfather was living today he’d be the most famous man in the world.”

“Really? What’d he do?” his friends wanted to know.

“Nothing much. But he would be 165 years old.”

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In WASHINGTON, Frustrated by delays in health care, a coalition of injured Iraq war veterans is accusing VA Secretary Jim Nicholson of breaking the law by denying them disability pay and mental health treatment.

VA Secretary Jim Nicholson announced last week he’s returning to the private sector.

The class-action lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, filed Monday in federal court in San Francisco, seeks broad change in the agency as it struggles to meet growing demands from veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Suing on behalf of hundreds of thousands of veterans, it charges that the VA has failed warriors on several fronts — from providing prompt disability benefits, to adding staff to reduce wait times for medical care to boosting services for post-traumatic stress disorder.

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The lawsuit also accuses the VA of deliberately cheating some veterans by allegedly working with the Pentagon to misclassify PTSD claims as pre-existing personality disorders to avoid paying out benefits. The VA and Pentagon have generally denied such charges.

VA spokesman Matt Smith said Monday he could not comment on a pending lawsuit. But he said the agency is committed to meeting the special needs of Iraq war veterans.

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“Through outreach efforts, the VA ensures returning Global War on Terror service members have access to the widely recognized quality health care they have earned including services such as prosthetics or mental health care,” he said. “VA has also given priority handling to their monetary disability benefit claims.”

The lawsuit comes amid intense political and public scrutiny of the VA and Pentagon following reports of shoddy outpatient care of injured soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and elsewhere.

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“Unless systemic and drastic measures are instituted immediately, the costs to these veterans, their families, and our nation will be incalculable, including broken families, a new generation of unemployed and homeless veterans, increases in drug abuse and alcoholism, and crushing burdens on the health care delivery system,” the complaint states.

It asks that a federal court order the VA to make immediate improvements that would speed disability payments, ensure fairness in awards and provide more complete access to mental health care.

Earlier this month, a federal appeals court in San Francisco issued a strong rebuke of the VA in ordering the agency to pay retroactive benefits to Vietnam War veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange and contracted a form of leukemia.

“The performance of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs has contributed substantially to our sense of national shame,” the opinion from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals read.

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Nicholson abruptly announced last week he would step down by October 1 to return to the private sector. He has repeatedly defended the agency during his 21/2-year tenure while acknowledging there was room for improvement.

More recently, following high-profile suicide incidents in which families of veterans say the VA did not provide adequate care, Nicholson pledged to add mental health services and hire more suicide-prevention coordinators.

Some veterans say those measures aren’t enough. In the lawsuit, they note that government investigators warned as early as 2002 that the VA needed to fix its backlogged claims system and make other changes.

Yet, the lawsuit says, Nicholson and other officials still insisted on a budget in 2005 that fell $1 billion short, and they made “a mockery of the rule of law” by awarding senior officials $3.8 million in bonuses despite their role in the budget foul-up.

Today, the VA’s backlog of disability payments is now between 400,000 and 600,000, with delays of up to 177 days to process an initial claim and an average of 657 days to process an appeal. Several congressional committees and a presidential commission are now studying ways to improve care.

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“While steps can and will be taken in the political arena, responsibility for action lies with the agency itself,” said Melissa W. Kasnitz, managing attorney for Disability Rights Advocates, in a telephone interview. Her group is teaming up with a major law firm, Morrison & Foerster, to represent the veterans.

“We don’t believe the problems will be fixed by the VA if we wait for them,” she said. “In the meantime, it is veterans who risk their lives for our country who are suffering the consequences.”

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The lawsuit cites violations of the Constitution and federal law, which mandates at least two years of health care to injured veterans.

The veterans groups involved in the lawsuit are Veterans for Common Sense in Washington, D.C., which claims 11,500 members, and Veterans United for Truth, based in Santa Barbara, California, with 500 members.
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Thank you AP News.
************************************************Is this how we treat our troops who put their lives on the line daily…our troops, some of who are doing their 6 and 7 tour???
I am embarrased by how our government is treating them.

Just like my Dad who was a Merchant Marine and has never been compensated for his time that was served, as regular troops were. There are only a couple thousand {if that} left and still they have not passed a bill to repay them for their own moneys spent during the war.

I do not support any war, but I do support our troops!

Remember who you vote for Baby Boomers! It does make a difference.

Hoping for world peace,
~The Baby Boomer Queen~

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A picture says a 1,000 words!

From BAGHDAD, Iraq, U.S. Army Spc. Gerald Lee Meeks says all he wanted in Iraq was to “keep everybody alive, all my buddies.”

That hope was shattered last month when a roadside bomb blew up one of his best friends, and Meeks had to carry his slain buddy more than a mile back to base.

“I didn’t want to believe it until I actually had to carry his body bag, which was pretty bad,” he says, making a fist with his left hand and smashing it against a wall. “We had to carry him two clicks [kilometers] all the way back here.”

There’s a long silence as Meeks looks at two comrades. Finally, after a pause that seems like hours, he slowly says, “Those images will always be in your head. I’m sure many people over here got them, but I mean … it just sucks. … He has three kids and a wife.”

He pauses again, correcting himself: “A widow.”

His friend was Army Sgt. Robert J. Montgomery Jr., 29, of Scottsburg, Indiana. He was killed May 22 when a roadside bomb went off during a patrol not far from Fire Base Red, which is in Iraq’s “Triangle of Death” about 15 miles (25 kilometers) southeast of Baghdad.

Meeks still struggles with what happened, even as he fights to survive every day.

“There’s a bunch of mixed emotions going on in there,” he says. “You want to scream out loud, you want to go home. … You just hate seeing these people every day after one of your buddies dies.”

Soldier part of U.S. military ‘surge’
More than 3,500 U.S. troops have died in the war, including five more Thursday. Meeks is among the thousands of troops at the center of the U.S. military’s “surge” — the plan to put more boots on the ground, spread the troops out and get them into places where the military has not had a direct or consistent presence in the past.

He’s a young soldier who’s been worn down by the war and everything that comes with it. The 21-year-old from Spanaway, Washington, has been in Iraq for eight months, his first tour here.

On a hot day in mid-June, Meeks is planted on a corner “sniper’s nest” on the rooftop of Fire Base Red. He’s manning a gunning position — keeping a close eye on the palm groves and fields in front of him. He’s looking for any movement. Base troops have come under major attack already this week, and this spot is one of the most dangerous places in Iraq.

He takes his tour day by day, rarely thinking further than the next patrol, his next mission.

As Meeks speaks, Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, the commanding general of the 3rd Infantry Division, is nearby on the rooftop, talking with CNN correspondent Hala Gorani about the “surge” and the strategy behind it.

The military is working to establish small patrol bases such as this one and form alliances with Iraqi army units to patrol the volatile farmland and fight insurgents. But in this area, there are no Iraqi forces, Lynch says. (Watch the general describe the lack of Iraqi forces as “the problem” )

“We’re in an extremely risky business. This is indeed combat operations that we’re experiencing out here,” he says.

Peering out over the vast area, Meeks gives a soldier’s view. “To tell you the truth, it is one of the biggest s— holes in Iraq. There is an IED planted everywhere,” he says, referring to improvised explosive devices, or roadside bombs.

The conversation is quickly interrupted by the general, who walks over to Meeks and hands him a special military coin.

“Thanks for what you’re doing,” Lynch says.

“Wow,” Meeks responds.

Once the general walks away, Meeks looks at his two buddies in this netted fire position and adds, “That’s pretty cool.”

Quickly, the conversation picks up again about that fateful day when he lost his friend. Montgomery was in the lead. Meeks was five men behind him.

“The blast hit — sharp metal went up in the air and came down. I could hear my two buddies screaming, and they were yelling Sgt. Montgomery’s name,” he says. “I could tell from the screams of their voices that something bad had happened.”

Meeks’ face slowly changes — from remorse to sadness and slowly to anger — as he continues.

“Our medics came rushing up with our platoon sergeant … and, um, there was just utter silence out of him. And then I heard KIA [killed in action].”

A hero’s tribute in Indiana hometown
Back in southeastern Indiana, residents on May 31 lined overpasses hanging flags and banners to honor Montgomery as his flag-draped coffin made the 20-mile journey from Freeman Field in Seymour to Scottsburg, a town of about 6,000. Montgomery was the first soldier in Scott County to die in the war.

When the body arrived in his hometown, more than 2,000 people crowded the streets, and two fire trucks formed an arch for the procession to pass through, says Mayor Bill Graham, Montgomery’s uncle.

“It was overwhelming,” Graham says. “The streets were lined and people were crying. An unbelievable tribute.”

Montgomery was buried about a block and a half from where his mother raised him, Graham says.

“As low and as devastated as the family was, the outpouring of love and respect that the community showed helped carry the family through such a low, low time. I’m so proud of the respect shown,” he says.

Montgomery’s older brother, Micah, a master sergeant in the Army, came home from Iraq for the funeral, but he has since redeployed. “It was a great loss to Micah,” Graham says. “His mother told him he could not go back to Iraq, but his reaction was that all of his friends and brothers were over there and he must go back.”

Graham says troops in Iraq should know “that people over here support them.”

“We can never thank them enough for the sacrifice they are making for freedom.”
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Thank you Cal Perry from CNN
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We can thank them…I have a unique way to send gift cards to our troops! It is a gift card for cards…even the stamps are enclosed. With the click of a mouse they can send a card anywhere in the US and Canada. They have over 8000 cards to choose from and a I LOVE YOU or even a Sympathy card, can be sent in a blink of an eye.

You don’t have to guess about how can I help…what can I do to say thanks…just contact me for more information.

Thank you troops for fighting for freedom and putting your life on the line every day!

Smiles and world peace,
~The Baby Boomer Queen~

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Chopper attack, bombs kill 8 U.S. troops in Iraq…and the day is not over yet…help support our Troops [not the WAR]…contact me…you can make a difference to our Troops, deployed over sea.

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~The Baby Boomer Queen~
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In from BAGHDAD, Iraq, eight U.S. troops were slain in Iraq on Monday in a deadly chain of events that began when a U.S. helicopter crashed, apparently shot down by small-arms fire, according to a U.S. military official.

A military vehicle rushing to the helicopter crash site was hit by an exploding roadside bomb, and a second “quick-reaction force” vehicle also was hit, the official said.

The two pilots of the Kiowa helicopter were killed in the crash; six soldiers died in the bombings of the two vehicles, and three others were injured.

The eight Memorial Day deaths occurred in volatile Diyala province between Baquba and Muqdadiya, the U.S. military announced on Tuesday.

The statement said all of those killed were from Task Force Lightning, the force that patrols northern stretches of Iraq, including Diyala.

U.S. commanders have expressed concern about a rise in violence and the growing presence of al Qaeda in Iraq militants, who have fled to Diyala from other regions of the country.

The U.S. death toll for May has risen to 112, making it the deadliest month so far this year.

The highest monthly death tolls for U.S. troops occurred in 2004 — 137 in November and 135 in April.

Since the start of the war, 3,456 U.S. service members have died. Seven civilian contractors of the Defense Department also have been killed in the war.
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