MAJ GEN John Batiste (US Army Retired) Elected President of SFTT Board

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MAJ GEN John BatisteEilhys England, Chairperson of Stand For The Troops, is pleased to announce that MAJ GEN John Batiste, US Army (Retired)  has been elected President of the Board of SFTT, a nonprofit 501(c)3 educational foundation based in Greenwich, CT.  General Batiste, President and CEO of Klein Steel, brings to SFTT the benefit of three decades of military service, organizational leadership, and advocacy for America’s frontline warriors. Six years to the day after the passing of Col. David ‘Hack’ Hackworth on May 5, 2005, the legacy foundation that he co-founded with his wife Eilhys England continues to build on his life work of safeguarding the physical, mental and emotional well-being of America’s frontline serving and returning troops.

General Batiste is the product of a military family, (the son and son-in-law of veteran career soldiers), a graduate from West Point who served for over 30 years and a two-time combat veteran who led troops in two war zones, including Iraq.  In 2005, as a two star General, he refused to accept his third star that would have promoted him to become the second-highest ranking military officer in Iraq.  Instead, he resigned in principle, in protest at the prosecution of the Iraq war.

In the tradition of SFFT founder David Hackworth, John Batiste made headlines again in 2006 when he and six other senior retired generals (Batiste was the only General who had  held a high level position in the Pentagon and had commanded troops in Iraq) went public with their condemnation of the prosecution of the war in Iraq and called for the immediate firing of then Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld.  It was dubbed the ‘Night of the Generals’ by the media.

In the Army, General Batiste rose from infantry officer to commanding general of the 1st Infantry Division -the “Big Red One”- which conducted successful peace enforcement operations in Kosovo and combat operations in Iraq (Operation Iraqi Freedom II). His deployments, assignments and commands took him from Fort Benning to Bosnia (Operation Joint Endeavor), NATO, the Joint Staff at the Pentagon and the Department of Defense. His final assignment in the US Army was commanding general of the 1st Infantry Division, the “Big Red One,” from August 2002 to June 2005.  After retiring from active duty in 2005, he joined Klein Steel, a Rochester, NY company as its president.  He is a graduate of West Point, the Army War College, and the financial management MBA program at Naval Postgraduate School.

General Batiste’s support of veterans and their families includes service as a board member of the Rochester-based Veterans Outreach Center, founding president of the Rochester Regional Veterans Business Council, and a member of the board of advisors of the First Division Museum at Cantigny. As Committee Chair of SFTT’s PTSD Initiative prior to his election to Board President, he has been instrumental in focusing attention and resources towards prevention and treatment of the PTSD epidemic (on average 18 veterans every day commit suicide in the United States).

General Batiste succeeds Fred Tanne, P.C., a senior corporate partner in the New York office of Kirkland & Ellis LLP. Tanne is stepping down as President to co-chair SFTT’s critical new PTSD initiative that is working to establish diagnosis and treatment protocols, remove the stigma of PTSD that prevents many from seeking treatment, and get those most at risk into appropriate treatment. A resident of Mt. Kisco, he will continue to be available to the Foundation as a member of SFTT’s Advisory Board.

Continuing their service as SFTT Board officers, with Ms. England and General Batiste, are:

SFTT Vice Chair/Secretary Roger Charles, a Peabody award winning investigative journalist who’s been singled out for recognition for his coverage of the Oklahoma City bombings for ABC News and CBS 60 Minutes II – Abuse at Abu Ghraib – to mention just two.  At SFTT, he was also the driving force behind the May 2007 NBC Nightly News, Dateline and MSNBC investigative reports by Lisa Myers on inferior body armor.  Combined with Roger and Eilhys’ reaching out to US Senators, it resulted in a call for Congressional Hearings and further independent testing.  An Annapolis graduate, Roger Charles is a retired USMC Lt. Col. who commanded an infantry platoon in I Corps during the Vietnam War.

SFTT Board Treasurer Bob Evans, a national market manager for 3M in its Washington, DC office.  The son of a career Army Officer, Bob served as a division artillery aviation officer, artillery battery executive officer and troop commander at Fort Hood, Texas.   Bob is president of the prestigious National Order of Battlefield Commissions. It counts Audie Murphy and the late SFTT founder David Hackworth among its 1000 by invitation only members.

SFTT ( is a non-partisan apolitical organization chaired by Eilhys England, a Greenwich resident who co-founded the organization with her late husband Col. David Hackworth, America’s most valor-decorated soldier.  SFTT is unique in its mission and uniquely qualified to carry out its mission to give a voice to our troops. SFTT provides a platform and voice for the brave men and women defending us on the frontlines, by educating the public and policy makers in Washington D.C. on the need to send our country’s brave warriors off and to welcome them back with the best available equipment, training and support to make it home alive in body, mind, and spirit.

For information on SFTT, visit the foundation’s website at or phone 203–629-0288.


SFTT targets PTSD: Interview with Eilhys England Hackworth

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I recently had the opportunity to sit down with SFTT Chairperson, Eilhys England Hackworth the wife, partner, co-author, and muse of Stand For the Troops (“SFTT”) founder, the late Colonel David H. Hackworth—America’s most valor-decorated soldier—from the late 1980s until his death. Since the passing of this great American hero in May 2005, Ms. England Hackworth has kept her deathbed promise to her husband to continue SFTT’s mission to protect America’s frontline troops.

The purpose of the meeting was to hear from SFTT’s Chairperson on why post traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”) has become such an important “hot button” for SFTT.  What follows below is are key excerpts of the interview:

SFTT:   Eilhys, thank you for your time.  I am continually peppered by questions from readers as to why we changed the name of our organization from Soldiers For the Truth to Stand For the Troops.  Can you explain the reason?

Eilhys:  Happy to do so.  Our new name speaks more easily to what we do on behalf of concerned Americans—stand for the troops—and more specifically, stand for our frontline troops, who stand tall for us and our country.  Our mission to ensure that America’s frontline troops get the best available personal combat gear and protective equipment, including body armor and helmets, remains a priority. But recently we’ve been fielding a horrifying number of cries for help pointing to a lack of adequate care for veterans of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from symptoms of PTSD.

SFTT:  Yes.  PTSD has certainly become a serious problem for returning veterans.   How bad is it?

Eilhys:  Horrific!  Especially when every day in the United States, an average of 18 vets take their own lives – about one every 80 minutes!

 STTT:  That statistic is staggering. So exactly what is post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD?

 Eilhys: The causes or origins of PTSD vary significantly according to psychological, genetic, physical, and social factors but in shorthand:  PTSD changes the body’s response to stress. It affects the stress hormones and chemicals that carry information between the nerves (neurotransmitters).   While the military is trying to cope with the growing problem – now reaching epidemic proportions –  proper treatment is too often beyond the capabilities of our stretched VA hospitals.  Statistics suggests that at least 1 in 5 of our serving men and women suffer from PTSD and this has terrible side-effects on their families and friends.

SFTT:  When did you recognize the seriousness of PTSD for our returning veterans?

 Eilhys:  You know we’re always very connected to what’s going with our warriors.  And early this year, the stories kept hitting the radar just as the suicide and homicide stats were becoming inescapable!  We announced a new PTSD Initiative headed up by Major General John Batiste, U.S. Army (Retired) and then he arranged our close collaboration with a new treatment program, CDS Warrior Salute, with CDS President/CEO Sankar Sewnauth and Major General Robert Mixon, U.S. Army (Retired). But the full tragedy of the effects of PTSD struck home when the heart-breaking story of 36-year old veteran Staff Sgt. Brad Eifert who tried to commit suicide by firing on police officers became a front page New York Times story a few months ago.  Fortunately, Sgt. Eifert didn’t kill himself or anyone else, but it could have been a tragedy.  But then, in spite of the efforts of a compassionate judge, tireless lawyer and inspired Vet Court, who agreed that untreated combat stress disorder or PTSD had  motivated his behavior, he still was about to be sentenced in the absence of any recourse.

 SFTT:  What did you do?

Eilhys:  Within a day or two, I was able to speak with the trial judge, the lawyer representing Sgt. Eifert, the Vet Court Rep and his probation officer and then together John Batiste and I got him admitted to Warriors Salute to serve his probation there – in treatment.  A goal achieved because of inspired teamwork on every level from Michigan, Connecticut, and Rochester, New York.  I’m thrilled to report that Sgt. Eifert will graduate from the program next month with a second chance at life. And all of us are now in the process of delivering several more candidates from the court system to Warrior Salute – and their rightful chance to regain their interrupted young lives.

 SFTT:  You must be so pleased to have rescued this young man?

Eilhys:  “Pleased” is not the right word.  It is our “obligation” to help our returning heroes.  For each person that we’ve been able to reach out to, there are hundreds – if not thousands – of others that need the specific hands-on sanctuary that we’ve been able to offer.

SFTT:  What’s the answer?

Eilhys:  Well, SFTT is assembling a panel of leading experts in this field to determine “best modalities” for treating PTSD and hopefully eventually replicate the Warrior Salute state of the art and science program that evolves at strategically located regional treatment centers. In fact, Dr. Henry Grayson is hosting a seminar for Warrior Salute clinicians on December 3rd in New York City to introduce his highly effective treatment. Hopefully, SFTT   will be sharing highlights on the SFTT website.  And we’ve started developing a national/local resource with several Senators and Congressional representatives to provide an interactive list of public and private treatment options in their states.

SFTT:  This sounds very exciting, but the task seems quite overwhelming.  How can people help?

Eilhys:  Well, it’s key that we both destigmatize PTSD and raise public awareness of the terrible problems faced by our returning warriors.  The social and economic consequences to our society are staggering should we let our brave heroes down.   While many people have given truly valuable time to get our PTSD initiative off the ground, funding is required at this point for a meaningful impact.  Hopefully enough concerned citizens will join the effort by contributing anyway they can. The more members and active volunteers the greater SFTT’s ability to affect change.

SFTT:  Thank you Eilhys.  I am sure SFTT readers will flock to help our brave warriors in their hour of need.

PTSD has alarming social consequences.  If you want to help, please consider becoming a member of SFTT.  Our brave warriors will need your support long after the smoke has cleared from the battlefield.

Richard W. May for SFTT





“Close Hold” A new feature on SFTT

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I am delighted to introduce SFTT’s new commentary, “CLOSE HOLD” dedicated to the late Colonel David “Hack” Hackworth, our co-founder and my comrade-in-arms.  

Ram-rodded by a master intell-evaluator, “CLOSE HOLD” will feature what’s really going on with America’s frontline troops—from the ground up and from the top down, for better or worse, on the killing fields, in garrison or at home.  Hack taught me the importance of “bitching” and the value of carefully sifting through it. For sure, feedback direct from our warriors down in the mud, the sand and the blood should be brought to the folks who can set things straight. 

So please feel free to chime in and contribute confidentially in the safety and anonymity that was always fiercely protected by Hack and by me and that continues as an inviolable tribute to his legacy here at SFTT.  It’s an honor and a privilege to wield the torch of truth that Hack passed on to us.

Eilhys England Hackworth


The Cost of Endless Deployments to US Troops: “…stretched and tired…”


The resounding theme emerging from my constant commo with those serving in either Iraq, Afghanistan or stateside is a sense of exhaustion that permeates all levels of our Army—coupled  with its debilitating effect on morale and capability.   The impact of almost a decade of grinding down the force through under-resourced “persistent conflicts” is sapping the institutional core and increasingly manifest in the daily operations that on-the-ground commanders, non-commissioned officers and the privates struggle to sustain whether deployed or in garrison.  In one account an infantry officer describes the Army as “stretched and tired” and that “no one believes, no one cares,” which seem to characterize the issue best.  I am told that most senior military leaders discard these frustrations with status quo responses like “stay in your lane” or “your tactical disillusionment will pass,” giving these highly relevant observations little credibility or thought, while those few senior officers who do take them seriously are too often muzzled.  When unit leaders tell me “I’ve been telling higher for months about the dismal shape we’re in…they simply don’t listen” or “nothing changes, it never gets any better,” and these frontline reports come in unsolicited from battlefield leaders held responsible for our sons and daughters in harm’s way, I would suggest that senior leaders who ignore these insights, no matter from whom or where it comes, do so at great peril to our national defense.

I.  Redeployment

Imagine for a moment that you are an officer, sergeant, or a private strapped onto bench seats in either a C-17 or a C-141 leaving Bagram or Kandarhar finally en route to Transit Center Manas in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan after a year long deployment (the same scenario applies for those leaving out of Baghdad or Kirkuk for a short hop to Kuwait or some other transfer point to switch planes out of theater).  Maybe this is your first deployment, or second, but let’s just say this was your third deployment, which is the average for units since 9/11.  And then you reflect on the last 96 hours, which you spent shuttling out of FOB’s, outposts, and compounds on rotary or fixed wing support.  Each aircraft that arrived deposited new unit personnel while those departing clambered aboard.  You did your best during the lead up to the Transfer of Authority with the incoming unit to prepare them for their tour of hell.  You’re also a bit anxious because you’ve turned in your basic load of ammunition.  You chuckle to yourself remembering how agitated the First Sergeant got the other day when he was told that everyone in the company had to turn in their ammunition before leaving the FOB, “…that is just flat-ass stupid, Sir”, and it was, but everyone turned it in.  And the thought that you were in country somewhere technically unarmed is still disconcerting, but you understand because now it’s someone else’s mission to give up a pound of flesh, yet the fact of having no ammunition still doesn’t square with your intuition.  You realize that your unit is stretched out in competing flights somewhere in transit across the region and accountability at this point is really a joke because some poor personnel sap in the movement control shed keeps arguing with the rear detachment about everyone’s flight status, which remains a mystery.  You wait for your aircraft and you hear from someone in the hanger that the unit that replaced you in sector already’s suffered casualties.  And this bears on you.  You ask yourself “did we do enough?”  This will torture you for the next year or so.  You’ll also reflect on your comrades that aren’t on the manifest.  You pray for them and their families.  You reach into your pocket and feel the bottle of Ambien the medics handed out.  You’re fully aware you need to regain some sense of rest-normalcy but fear that you might not wake up after the initial four hour flight when you’ll really need your wits about you.  You’re simply exhausted to the point of pain.  At the final transit point you’ll be shuttled from one aircraft to a hanger to wait on cots for a contracted commercial flight back stateside.  There are sensitive items to account for, customs inspections, last minute after action reports to file – all of it ad nauseum and necessary.  But you risk operating in a trance fog and pop an Ambien anyway.

Later when you’re somewhat refreshed and on the final leg home, you become consciously aware that you know something others may not know.  Somehow in the final days of the deployment you were one of the unlucky few who has been given access to the “Patch Chart”, a term of art for the Army Force Generation models that confirm future unit rotations and mission cycles.  Maybe you found out during a unit announcement or a trusted headquarters friend whispered it to you in the chow line.  But in your case, you actually saw the document with your unit patch on the matrix and it was perfectly aligned to Month X in Year Y.  And the exhaustion just sinks in further because “X” means at a minimum 12 months.  Although it might be more, say 15, or if your unit’s really lucky, 18.  The bottom-line is that you’ll soon find yourself back in theater and you know deep down that your unit will be hard pressed to be prepared for the next deployment no matter what the leadership has decreed.[1]  

II.   Reintegration

At some point your flight ends and you find yourself in the arms of a loved one, parent or friend while flags wave and bands play – here, people care, and so do you again for awhile.  Later, after you return from an initial three-to-four day weekend leave, a few weeks are consumed with briefings, counseling, inspections and equipment retrieval from different ports and destinations.  You really need a long break.  To get away.  By now the Ambien’s run out just when you need it most.  Your sleep cycle’s way off, still set on Kabul or Baghdad time, so you figure out how to get some more “A” and promise yourself that tomorrow night you’ll take your last one.  And you’re good on your promise, but you’ve replaced the sleep aid with a six-pack of beer.  And why not, you deserve it.  Since redeployment the unit experiences an increase of indiscipline – alcohol and drug related and also a few domestic incidents.  Some units lose troops in preventable tragedies involving vehicle and motorcycle accidents.  Eventually, you’re released for a 3-to-4 week leave period with money flush in pocket.  And just as you begin to relax and forget, it’s time to report back for duty. 

Eventually everyone returns from leave – some are newly married, some are newly separated – things settle down, sort of.  Then orders begin arriving for leaders and individuals that are being reassigned to the training base, recruiting duty, or to attend a career course or school. Units form up in formation and honor their service, and then they’re gone.  Someone steps up into the empty position leaving a gap until a new arrival fills it in.  Then the commanders begin to switch out – they tear up at the podium and inspect their charges one last time – they’re plumb worn out too.  The new command team comes in chomping at the bit, and for the time being they’ll be the only rested souls in the formation.  New command guidance is slapped up on unit kiosks – everyone groans when they read it.  More platitudes and directives about the mission and the upcoming training schedule.  The garrison indiscipline rates increase.  Mass punishment because the norm – weekend formations, no-notice inspections, briefings, training holidays curtailed – you name it, and higher tries it, but nothing works because Joe is Joe and he’s going to screw up after everything he’s been through.  The best thing for the unit is to hold the individual accountable but higher is normally afraid to act in swift justice because every foxhole has to be filled, so the malcontent remains in formation and further burden the unit.  The constant flow of departures and arrivals continues, but the unit manning roster is being depleted faster than it can be adequately filled.  Within 90 days the unit barely resembles the manifest that recently left theater and marched proudly on the tarmac into the waiting arms of their loved ones.  The grind continues and the exhaustion never goes away. 

“X” month is published and now every one knows.  The countdown for the next deployment begins.  Soon the training guidance is published and it directs field training.    Each training event conducted never matches the manifest of the previous training event – old and new mix in together to fill the gap and make the training worthwhile even when proper manning is never achieved.  New energetic company commanders are assigned and charged with fixing the indiscipline and improve training proficiency.  The First Sergeant is still saying “…that is the stupidest thing I ever heard…”, and he is right, but the unit continues to march on.  Crash course ethics and team building exercises fill the calendar.  Crisis management sessions are in order to control the indiscipline, but to no avail.  More and more mind-numbing meetings are held at headquarters and they last for hours on end.  The Power Point gods are very pleased at the volume and rate of production.  The countdown continues.  Families of the fallen from the previous deployment find time to visit.  They want to meet you and talk about their loss – to get answers to impossible questions; they search for closure.  And so you replace the six-pack with a twelve-pack.  

III.  Pre-deployment and Preparation

By now your PT has become manic as you realize you are in fact going to the show again – no reassignment, no new orders, no change in direction – it is what it is, but this time your new sector “over there” has a spiked elevation change that will  require increased foot patrols with burdensome weight.  And so you lead your charges on longer runs and marches with heavier loads.  They grumble, you tell them to suck it up.  Equipment that was lost or damaged in theater gets replaced and often times is a new upgrade or model requiring specialized training that is limited or requires a contractor to effectively operate it.  And when it’s unveiled for the first time you just know the contractor explaining the procedures won’t be deployed with you outside the wire – so you ask yourself, what’s he doing here?  The grind continues.  Your rucksack gets filled with cultural mumbo jumbo and reading lists.  Some braino talks the unit into opening a Rosetta Stone language center and you have to march your charges into the room three times a week to learn the dialect.  The overnight training increases in length and frequency.  The squad and platoon are still only manned at 50% — but the unit expends itself dutifully in training exercises.  There’s no other choice or relief from the head shed.  At some point in time, the directive comes to deploy to a training center for a month-long mission rehearsal exercise, which becomes a mantra for the battalion, brigade, and division leadership.  Everything counts on how well the unit will perform – it’s an indicator on how the unit will perform in combat.  And so there is a train-up period for the training exercise and the nights away from home in the field increase.

The mission rehearsal exercise profile is established with tasks to be performed, but the problem of personnel manning persists and the equipment required to conduct the training is still not back from maintenance and refurbishments.  There’s a shortage of everything.  The unsung heroes of the unit, the logisticians and mechanics, work the longest hours trying to maintain an acceptable operational equipment rate.  So your platoon conducts a very long meeting addressing this problem.  Then the company has an even longer meeting addressing three platoons’ lists of similar problems.  Then the battalion has an extremely long meeting addressing five-to-six companies worth of similar problems.  No solutions are agreed to.  You don’t even know if these issues have been briefed to the Brigade or Division leadership because no fix is in sight.  But it really doesn’t matter because now there are two clocks everyone is monitoring – the deployment clock and the mission rehearsal exercise clock, so in effect more time is added into every day.  The mission rehearsal exercise comes and goes – it’s your third or fourth mission rehearsal exercise at this particular training center so you think you have an advantage, but the unit does poorly.  The evaluators create the worst day in Iraq or Afghanistan and project it over a three week period.  An underlying problem in the performance of collective training tasks is the inadequate manning at every level and specialty and lack of equipment.  The exhaustion gets worse and the commanders are now fully high strung.  While First Sergeants continue to attribute stupidity to everything that comes out of the headquarters, they remain professionals and lead their charges to perform burdensome tasks and complete every assigned mission and detail as required and ordered.

IV.  Deployment

The last vestiges of new recruits and replacements arrive, are matched with units and begin unit level in-processing, “Hey Joe, welcome to your unit, we deploy later next week…”  Most of them get into trouble immediately, but no one is held accountable because there’s no time left.  The initial roster of non-deployables and rear-detachment personnel is published with much angst amongst the formations because the deployment manning requirements are still valid and need to be filled and the initial manifest can’t cover them.  A second roster is quickly published to much more angst, but this time it comes from the previously non-deployable personnel because some have been ordered to deploy in order to perform administrative tasks in the FOB.  Less and less time is spent with loved ones, while more and more recycle bins at the curbside are overfilled with empty “twelvers”.  You hear from a friend who was reassigned to a training unit and he tells you that the base he is on has a tactical unit that is short on personnel for his deployment and so now he is in that unit redeploying again even though he reenlisted to be in a training unit.  You tell him “tough luck” and “good luck”.  What else can you say?  Hoohah? 

Family support and readiness groups form – contact lists and information are distributed.  Then the marshalling of equipment begins and longer days and nights at railheads and ports are required.  Barracks are emptied of personal gear and shipped into storage.  Personally owned vehicles are stored.  Deployment briefings and final preparations take hold while everyone is trying to maximize time with their families.  PTSD and TBI assessments are documented.  Yet single soldiers continue high risk behavior, because the married leadership is at home during the evenings hanging onto their personal lives.  Everyone is high strung.  No one sleeps. 

Eventually the last clock counts down and you find yourself back in the same hanger where you found yourself a year ago when you returned, and before that when you departed on your previous deployment.  All the bleachers or hanger benches contain piles of sensitive items and assault packs.  It’s a familiar eerie place.  The dread creeps in because everybody knows that someone in the hanger won’t be on the return manifest but will precede the unit draped in a flag.  You switch your watch to read Zulu time.  The family readiness groups have brought in snacks for everyone.  You can’t eat.  You talk as long as you possibly can with a loved one on the cellular phone you brought with you which you’ll give to the rear detachment personnel just before you walk to the flight line.  You’re already exhausted.  The medic hands out Ambien to control your sleep cycle during the transit period.  The commanders huddle in the corner of the hangar distressed because they just discovered that the geographical location everyone prepared for “over there”, the place with the memorized district names and studied tribes, has been changed “by higher” and the unit will now occupy a different sector and have a different mission.  They begin planning new troop dispositions and missions – for them they won’t rest until they redeploy and change command.  The Rossetta Stone dialect you learned is useless now in your new sector – good riddance, you had difficulty saying “we are your friends” anyway.  The word spreads of the new change in location and mission, more angst, more resignation to the fact that nothing ever changes.  The First Sergeant again claims stupidity – and he’s right. 

Meanwhile the reports of endemic exhaustion and how it’s ramped up even higher by the harsh scheduling our fighting force endures during their “dwell time” from combat—described as “an experience as grueling as being outside of the wire” — keep rolling in. When you add the fatigue level to the lackluster gear and ineffective equipment being issued (as reported by SFTT), the indignity placed on our warriors’ mantle of honor is appalling. Even though the expected drawdown of forces in Iraq and Afghanistan in the coming months and years may increase the dwell time at home, it’s too little too late in terms of decreasing the overall burden and its terrible toll. It’s time to report the truth and finally jump-start open discussion the Service leadership has been avoiding for far too long.

[1] Marine doctrine and mission dictate a cycle of seven months deployed then seven months in garrison then seven months deployed.  Air Force deployments are based on Air Expeditionary Force cycles that may be shorter in length, but oftentimes more frequent, and maintain a relatively constant deployment cycle.  Navy deployment cycles are planned around carrier group deployments and missions.  Both the Air Force and Navy have numerous personnel and detachments forward deployed in theater to meet specialized manning and mission requirements.  The National Guard and Reserves has comprised approximately 15% of the deployed force since 9/11 with units and personnel experiencing multiple deployments.


SFTT featured in Greenwich Newspaper

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The Greenwich Post featured a front-page article in this week’s edition describing Eilhys England Hackworth’s heroic campaign to help insure that our frontline troops have the best body armor, helmets, combat boots, rifles and sidearms available.  In an article entitled “Col. Hackworth: Soldiers’ Group Notches Victory,” staff writer Chris Davis describes some of the successes that SFTT has achieved to make sure that our brave heroes have the best combat gear possible.   It is a cause worth fightling for and, I am pleased to reprint the article in its entirety.


May is a special month for Eilhys England Hackworth, chairman of the Soldiers for the Truth Foundation (SFTT), which she co-founded in 1997 with her late husband Col. David “Hack” Hackworth.

Col. Hackworth is “America’s most valor decorated soldier,” according to the SFTT Web site.

“This month marks the fifth anniversary of David’s death,” she said at her home in Greenwich recently, “and the fifth anniversary of my promise — my deathbed promise — to him to continue on with our fight to protect America’s front line troops.”

Her mission is to get them the best available basic five critical pieces of combat gear that give them the best chance possible to get home alive and in one piece — helmet, rifle, sidearm, boots and body armor. And Ms. England has the lowdown on them all, thanks, she said, “to years of brainwashing by my husband.” She says the equipment we send our troops into harm’s way with is lethally substandard.

The helmets our troops use in Iraq and Afghanistan, she said, are not up to the technology that exists today. Not only that, she added, they are also “so grotesquely uncomfortable that soldiers tend to not want to wear them.

“To me, as an American citizen,” she said, “it is extremely offensive that our football players have more effective and more comfortable helmets than our front line troops — 18- and 19-year-old kids, out at the tip of the spear, protecting our cushy good life. These kids deserve to come back and enjoy it too.”

The standard issue rifle is “a jammer,” Ms. England said, a variant of the rifle issued in Vietnam. Ask Jessica Lynch, the West Virginia private who was taken prisoner during an ambush in Iraq in 2003. In 2007, she told Congress that her M-16 rifle had jammed and she was never able to fire it.

As for side arms, the bullets that standard issue pistols shoot “can’t stop a determined opponent,” Ms. England said. “People can fire five shots into a determined opponent and they’ll still keep coming at you, perhaps take you down.”

Boots should be appropriate to the mission and the terrain. An infantry army travels on its feet.

“You can do the math,” she said. “If they don’t have the right shoes, they can’t make the distance to do their missions. Clearly you don’t give somebody the same footwear if they’re in the mud somewhere than if they’re in the sand. And that’s what they do. They tried to develop an all-purpose thing. There’s no such animal.”

She said SFTT would be reaching out to Nike to see if it could develop “the right foot stuff.” Then would come the business of swaying the Department of Defense (DoD) procurement system to use it, a chore that takes “time and public outcry,” she said.

“It’s not a question of money,” she said. “That’s ridiculous. We pay $400,000 to families for the death of a soldier. And that’s a drop in the bucket compared to taking care of people when they come home missing half their brain or both legs.”

“There’s no way that one organization — or 50 organizations — could raise the money and buy our own equipment and send it to the troops.”

Her strategy is to “take truth to power,” she said. Get senators and congressmen to initiate inquiries.

And as of last week, that strategy has started to pay off with the fifth item of vital gear — body armor. “We’ve accomplished what corporations pay lobbyists billions of dollars to do with just our outreach of who we can go to,” Ms. England said, “because they know we talk the truth.”

Body armor has been an issue with SFTT since day one. SFTT takes credit for bringing the issue under scrutiny by alerting the media, leading to a five-part NBC News investigative report and a pro bono Freedom of Information lawsuit against the Pentagon requesting access to autopsy reports on soldiers who died from chest wounds while wearing body armor that should have protected them. The Pentagon has refused to honor the request and the case is now before a federal judge.

Meanwhile, thanks in no small part to the advocacy and influence of SFTT, the chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates questioning the DoD’s acquisition, testing and quality assurance of its body armor and armored vehicles and inviting the DoD to the Hill for a briefing.

The letter cites a report from the Defense Department’s own inspector general that found “that body armor that was recorded as having passed testing had actually failed.”

“That’s more than an intellectual accomplishment,” Ms. England said. “It will result, we hope, in a lot coming out that should. Soldiers for the Truth is a little tiny engine that could.”

Ms. England calls herself “a big picture strategist. I created and ran a top 50 marketing and PR agency on Madison Avenue. I ran it for decades until David kidnapped me and demanded that he be my only client and that I help him with protecting the troops.

“I loved my husband so much I would have followed him anywhere. I told him that I thought he was brainwashing me every night: ‘You will help me help the troops,’” she said with a smile, with Hack’s original rifle resting on the mantle above the fireplace in her living room. “Who else would extort on their death bed a promise from their wife who adored him to do this?”

At high noon on Saturday, May 22, friends, family and supporters will gather at Arlington National Cemetery to place wreaths at both the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and at Col. Hackworth’s graveside and launch a year-long celebration of America’s most decorated hero.


Soldiers for the Truth is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit and apolitical educational foundation dedicated solely to help bring our troops home alive and in one piece.  If you find our mission compelling, please consider becoming a member or volunteer your efforts to this worthwhile cause.  Let our troops know that you stand behind them.

Richard W. May


Colonel David Hackworth 5th Anniversary Celebration

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SFTT Chair Eilhys England Hackworth Announces 5th Anniversary Celebration

Colonel David “Hack” Hackworth, my dear late husband, died in my arms five years ago this month. As of May 1st, to celebrate Hack’s unique life and legacy, Soldiers For The Truth is launching a year-long 5th Anniversary Celebration  to honor his lifelong dedication to America’s frontline troops.

Our first event will be a public wreath ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery planned for May 22 to honor Hack’s legacy.  I will be joined by Soldiers For The Truth board members and distinguished guests as we first honor him at his gravesite and then present a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This event is open to the public and I hope you consider joining SFTT as we commemorate Hack’s life and his many contributions to America’s greatest treasure, its fighting men and women.

More immediately, in conjunction with introducing our newly-reconstructed website ( the Foundation is kicking off our tribute year with the appointment of Richard May, Director, Communications and LTC (R) Jaime Martinez, Director, Hackworth Legacy.

Richard (“Rick”) W. May, who served in Military Intelligence at the Pentagon from 1969 to 1971, joins us after an extensive career in international banking; he presently both runs several internet businesses and has joined his wife Sheila in Therese Saint Clair, a stationery store located in Greenwich, CT.  A self-taught computer-technology specialist, Rick has already leveraged his extensive business acumen and computer-tech skills to manage a host of communications across the digital spectrum including—fortunately for SFTT—ramrodding our site reconstruction as a volunteer. “It is an honor and a privilege to continue on with my ‘service’ to SFTT.  Supporting the brave young men and women who defend our freedoms,” Rick told me, “is an easily acquired addiction.”

LTC (R) Jaime Martinez is joining SFTT after recently retiring from 25 years of service in the Army as a career Infantryman.

While SFTT has captured the attention of the Beltway military procurement community and the US Congress and engaged with them in the urgent need for improving the equipment issued to our often-embattled frontline troops, we still have a long way to go to get our warriors the right stuff to make it home alive and in one piece.

So we’re also launching our first membership drive. First, because our wonderful pro bono lawyers at Kirkland & Ellis have re-written our by-laws to allow for members. At last you can officially support SFTT’s noble efforts either by joining up – or, of course, otherwise contributing to our critical cause. Only by standing together can we ensure that America’s sons and daughters, those brave heroes who daily risk their lives on forgotten and desolate battlefields, have a better shot at returning safely to their beloved country.

Other 5th Anniversary events already scheduled include our presenting former Senator and SFTT close advisor Bob Kerrey with our SUPPORT THE TROOPS WITH MORE THAN LIP SERVICE AWARD this October 15th and on Sunday November 14th we’ll be hosting our annual Veterans Day Rock & Roll Party (Vietnam era music in honor of the vets from that sad war—where we’ll also celebrate Hack’s November 11th birthday!) at the Second Congregation Church of Greenwich.

Hope to see you all everywhere.

Eilhys England Hackworth

SFTT Chair


Picking up the Torch for Col. David Hackworth

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My valiant, wonderful husband, Colonel David (Hack) Hackworth, one of America’s greatest heroes and most valor-decorated soldiers, died in my arms two years ago this past May (Editor’s note:  This was written by Col. Hackworth’s wife three years ago on the second anniversary of his death).  During the last weeks we shared, he thought not a wit about himself; and his love for me burned so brightly I still feel surrounded by that awesome warmth.  But he worried too about the frontline troops he spent his life protecting and particularly about Soldiers For The Truth (“SFTT”), the foundation we started together.  So I promised Hack I’d pick up the torch and keep SFTT viable – and continue our commitment to get the kids out at the tip of the spear the best leadership, training and equipment.

I knew it wouldn’t be easy.  In spite of the major stories we broke – such as the lack of up-to-date body armor or none at all when the troops first went back into Iraq or the unarmored hummers or Abu Ghraib, which pointed so clearly to flaws in both training and leadership – most people we addressed when we tried to raise awareness and funds found it difficult to accept that our soldiers and Marines weren’t getting the right stuff with which to wage war.  Even though we eventually came to expect the disconnect, we always found it hard to compute — but that was because for many years we were often first to report outrages like the Tillman cover-up in our weekly column DEFENDING AMERICA, which Hack would also discuss every week on TV and radio.  To disbelieving ears, of course, but he kept getting booked because he had better pundit credentials than most and good TV-Q, probably because he was as quick and deadly with words as he’d been in battle.

Only recently have I noticed that we’re gaining more traction and I suspect it’s mainly because the Walter Reed debacle so deeply shocked and touched the nation.  Suddenly we were all confronting what Hack had warned us about on Larry King when we first went into Iraq:  in spite of all our vows to the contrary, we’ve allowed ourselves to be sucked into another Vietnam with far greater potential fall-out.  Sure, because of medical and technological advances, we won’t have a black granite wall listing 58,000 fallen warriors; but depending upon how much longer we’re stuck in Iraq, we’re likely to have far more than 58,000 wounded, many grievously.

Excellent organizations offer countless services to take care of the troops, from entertaining them in Iraq to helping them and their families when they come home.  The USO, Wounded Warrior, Fisher House and so on.  But no organization except SFTT is dedicated day in, day out to being there for our stalwart warriors as they stand tall for their country out in the shifting sands of the Valley of the Shadow of Death — to try to prevent them from being killed or wounded in the first place.

As we entered last spring the fifth year of this terrible war, SFTT will formally announce the new Basic Five campaign to get America’s frontline troops the best available of the five most essential items of personal combat gear so they have the best possible chance to complete their assigned missions and make it home alive and in one piece in a plane seat instead of a body bag or on a stretcher.  Doesn’t it seem criminal that the richest nation in the world, which spends more than the rest of the world combined on defense, can’t budget responsibly enough to provide its sons and daughters with a helmet that will prevent many more of the endemic, life-altering head injuries?  With the same better body armor the generals choose – and wear hidden under their uniforms?  With a rifle that’s not a jammer like Jessica Lynch’s M-16 and that’s at least as effective as the AK-47, the terrorists’ weapon-of-choice?  With a sidearm that’s reliable and deadly in tight situations?   And with boots capable of going the bloody distance?

No wonder Hack died worrying about the troops.  But if more Americans stay mindful of the dreadful consequences of war and help SFTT carry Hack’s torch, we can together “SUPPORT THE TROOPS WITH MORE THAN LIP SERVICE” and make sure more of our brave volunteers survive whatever lies ahead.

Eilhys England


SFTT Website Now Live

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After several months of redesign, the SFTT website is now back online to spread the message that we can all help to ensure that America’s frontline troops get the best available individual protective equipment and combat gear. 

Soldiers for the Truth (“SFTT”) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit Educational Foundation founded by the late Col. David H. Hackworth and his wife Eilhys England to insure that our frontline troops have the best available leadership, equipment and training.   SFTT is a non-partisan, apolitical foundation to provide our brave defenders and those who care deeply about them with a national platform that spotlights critical issues directly affecting their chances of both winning battles and surviving combat.

We are deeply thankful to Inguna and Gvido Trepsa of Ante Merdiem Design for their tireless effort to design a compelling and state-of-the-art website to support SFTT’s campaigns to support our front line troops. 

Learn how you can add your voice to the thousands of other that care deeply about the enormous sacrifice these young men and women make each day to defend our country.