Veterans with PTSD: The VA Way or the Highway

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It is easy to find fault with the Department of Veterans Affairs (“the VA”), particularly when it comes to Veterans with PTSD.

Department of Veterans Affairs

Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, tried to employ body count statistics to assess our progress in the war in Vietnam.  Similarly, the VA has erected a statistical house-of-cards to deceive Veterans and their loved that the VA has the answers for Veterans coping with PTSD and TBI.

Like McNamara, the VA “knows what is best for Veterans” and has erected insurmountable statistical barriers to prop up their failed strategies.  In effect, the VA is telling Veterans:  “It is my way or the highway!

Paraphrasing a joke: “The VA uses statistics as a drunk uses a lamppost — For support rather than illumination.”

Sadly, it is no laughing matter when we consider the thousands of combat Veterans suffering from PTSD and TBI.  More importantly, reflect on the often tragic consequences for their families and loved ones.

While Congress and the public continue to be seduced by the steady stream of assurances that the VA provides the best possible care to Veterans with PTSD and TBI, the FACTS tell a far different story.

FAKE NEWS from the VA on Veterans with PTSD

Found below is a video of Dr. David Cifu, Senior TBI Specialist at the VA, testifying before a Congressional Committee:

The VA continues to push a stale and failed agenda that states that the only two effective treatment therapies offered by the VA are:

– Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (“CBT”)and,

– Prolonged Exposure Therapy (“PET”).

As these “therapy” programs have failed miserably according to independent studies (see below), the VA has “coped” with the problem by prescribing a lethal concoction of prescription drugs which treat the symptoms of PTSD rather than deal with the underlying problem.

And we wonder why we have an opioid epidemic in this country?

REALITY CHECK at the VA

While Dr. David Cifu continues to entertain a Congressional Committee on the efficacy of the VA’s protocols, experience for yourself one woman’s harrowing experience with the VA which eventually led to husband’s suicide:

The story of Kimi Bivins is not the exception to the type of treatment Veterans with PTSD receive at the VA. Based on many similar stories, the VA is failing our Veterans and their loved ones.

I encourage readers to read Kimi’s harrowing description of what actually takes place at a VA facility.

While the folks at the VA casually dismiss anecdotal stories, VA claims that Veterans receive the best therapy possible is simply not supported by the evidence.

No less of an authority that the National Academies of Sciences (Medical Division) reported in a 2014 study entitled “Treatment for POSTTRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER in Military and Veteran Populations,” that CBT and PET barely made a statistical dent in providing Veterans with PTSD any lasting improvement in their condition.

Consider Maj. Ben Richards‘ compelling evidence documenting the failed experiments at the VA in helping Veterans with PTSD.

Standing behind a well-entrenched bureaucracy of statistical inaccuracies and dogma, the VA goes out of its way to discredit other treatment alternatives. Consider this bitter “scientific” debate between Dr. Cifu and Dr. Paul Harch on the efficacy of hyperbaric oxygen therapy or HBOT in treating PTSD and TBI.

Finding a Middle Ground for Veterans with PTSD?

With so little known about the brain and how to treat trauma, it seems absurd for the VA to insist that they have all the answers.  The evidence clearly suggests that the VA doesn’t have a clue.

Nevertheless, the VA argues that “alternative therapies” that do not pass scientific scrutiny and FDA approval will not be endorsed by the VA.  As we have seen countless times – from body armor testing to hyperbaric oxygen studies – the DoD uses test protocols that deviate from accepted standards.

If the tests are flawed, one is likely to draw the wrong conclusions!

For the vast majority of Veterans with limited economic means, the VA is effectively making life and death decisions based on flawed testing and a reluctance to embrace other treatment alternatives.

This is probably done with the intent of protecting Veterans from charlatans and snake oil peddlers, but doesn’t it also block Veterans from receiving promising therapies from legitimate sources?

When dogma or “approved” therapies become the LAW, then it seems unlikely that much progress will be made to help our brave Veterans recover their lives.  The VA would do well to encourage Veterans to seek alternative therapies and provide an interactive sounding board for Veterans to voice their opinions on these programs.

Honesty and transparency and a willingness to accept mistakes is the sign of a responsive institution.   Today, the VA hides behind a dogma based on self-delusion and falsehood.

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Vietnam: The Right Side of History?

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Like many readers, I am of a certain “vintage” (sounds a hell of a lot better than “age”) that clearly recalls the war in Vietnam.  The Ken Burns series on Vietnam has resurrected many of these memories and feelings of a war that was _____________________ (readers are invited to add their own phrase).

As a young 2LT in the Pentagon – about as rare as a tick on a spaceship – I “experienced” Vietnam from a privileged penthouse many miles from a bloody battlefield in southeast Asia that cost the lives of many brave warriors.

I struggled then, and I struggle now, with trying to understand the “why” and the “why nots” of a war that took place some 50 years ago.

Like others who were in their early twenties in 1968, I didn’t have much of a choice in choosing to be on the “right side of history.”  In fact, I would argue that most youngsters today would have a difficult time deciding “right” or “wrong” life choices based on such a pretentious and silly litmus test:  i.e. the proper side of history.

There are many strong and well-founded opinions of the Vietnam war.  I have no wish to discredit anyone’s views of this cataclysmic event on the American psyche, but merely to share some of my experiences while serving at the Pentagon from February, 1969 to February, 1971.

I worked in a relatively small group of “analysts” that provided daily intelligence briefs to the Army General Staff.  While my specialty was Latin America, 7 or 8 officers in our 28 person office were focused on Vietnam.   At the time of my arrival, General Harold Johnson was the U.S. Army Chief of Staff.

General Johnson took intelligence briefings very seriously and would often spend an hour or so reading the “Black Book,” which contained summaries of key intelligence analysis from “hot spots” from around the world.     The “Black Book” would often run to 55 pages and featured important intelligence on the Soviet Union, China and the Middle East as well as Vietnam.

General WestmorelandIn March, 1968, President Johnson appointed General William Westmoreland as U.S. Army Chief of Staff.  Instead of the extensive intelligence briefings requested by General Johnson, the Black Book was reduced to 10 or so pages with a heavy emphasis on Vietnam.

As General Joseph McChristian (Westmoreland’s G-2) required, the “Black Book” briefings were to be more like Kiplinger summaries than serious “intelligence analysis.”    For those unfamiliar with Kiplinger:  read “sound bites” rather than “analysis.”

From my perspective, inconsequential minutiae was far more important than the big picture.  For instance, I recall a rather heated debate over the terminology of:   “a drum of kerosene”; or a “kerosene drum” that was dropped from an airplane over the palace in Port au Prince, Haiti.

The fact that the “drum of kerosene” or kerosene drum” exploded seems to have been far more important that the event itself:  An isolated attempt at resurrection against Francois Duvalier or Papa Doc.

While it is relatively easy to find fault in our military and political leadership, the arrival of General Westmoreland at the Pentagon signalled a major change in the way information was used to influence decisions.

Under Westmoreland, intelligence became little more than snippets of information of questionable value designed to help the General Staff respond to the latest media sensation.

Form was far more important than substance.  I recall a LTC giving me (a lowly 2LT) instructions on how to properly staple a two page report:  The staple should be at a 45º angle in the seal of the Department of the Army.   Clearly, far too many staffies at the Pentagon looking for something to do.

While I found this amusing at the time, something far more sinister was happening at the Pentagon.  Intelligence was being manipulated to prop up questionable policies and strategies.   In fact, constructive debate within the E-Ring was supplemented by sycophant officers who simply parroted a self-serving agenda, which ultimately proved totally indefensible.

When looking at the war in Vietnam dispassionately – i.e. from the perspective of history – one can see that many mistakes in judgement occurred.

Vietnam leaves lasting scars and those that are so inclined should make up their own mind about the effects of this tragic war after viewing Ken Burns’ documentary.  Personally, I find his narrative riveting and an accurate recreation of a pivotal event in American history.

 

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SFTT Military News: Highlights for Week Ending Sep 15, 2017

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Found below are a few military news items that caught my attention this past week. I am hopeful that the titles and short commentary will encourage SFTT readers to click on the embedded links to read more on subjects that may be of interest to them.

If you have subjects of topical interest, please do not hesitate to reach out. Contact SFTT at info@sftt.org.

North Korea Reportedly Seeks Military “Equilibrium” with the U.S. 
North Korea said on Saturday it aims to reach an “equilibrium” of military force with the United States, which earlier signaled its patience for diplomacy is wearing thin after Pyongyang fired a missile over Japan for the second time in under a month. “Our final goal is to establish the equilibrium of real force with the U.S. and make the U.S. rulers dare not talk about military option,” North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was quoted as saying by the state news agency, KCNA.  Read more . . .

Assessment of Russian Zapad Military Exercise
The large-scale Russian military exercise known as Zapad, which started in Belarus on Thursday, is already a propaganda success: It has alarmed Russia’s North Atlantic Treaty Organization neighbors and garnered so much Western media coverage that one might think it was an actual combat operation. But it has also provided an important insight into the fears of the Russian and Belarusian rulers, fears that are not necessarily groundless. To Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, the exercise is meant to “frighten” her country. To Finnish Defense Minister Jussi Niinisto, it’s about “information warfare” (“Western countries have taken the bait completely, they’ve plugged the exercises so much,” he said recently). To military experts, the quadrennial exercise is a chance to see how much the Russian army has progressed since 2013, when the last Zapad was held. To me, the most intriguing part of the exercise is its storyline.   Read more . . .

North Korea Kim

Is there a “Military Option” for North Korea?
President Trump’s top national security aide said Friday there is a military option for handling North Korea’s missile and nuclear testing, even though it’s an option the Trump administration does not want to employ. White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster said at the White House that the administration again wants new sanctions against North Korea to work. But he warned that the regime’s stepped up testing means that “we’re out of time.”  Read more . . .

Secretary James Mattis Warns on Budget Stopgap Measures
Defense Secretary James Mattis is warning Congress that a long-term continuing resolution to fund the government will lead to irrecoverable lost training time, delayed ship maintenance and critical personnel gaps. In a letter to defense committee leaders obtained by CNN, Mattis detailed the effects of a continuing resolution, which Congress frequently uses to keep the government funded at the previous year’s spending levels.  Read more . . .

Veteran Suicides Higher in the West and Rural Areas According to VA Study
Suicide among military veterans is especially high in the western U.S. and rural areas, according to new government data that show wide state-by-state disparities and suggest social isolation, gun ownership and access to health care may be factors. The figures released Friday are the first-ever Department of Veterans Affairs data on suicide by state. It shows Montana, Utah, Nevada and New Mexico had the highest rates of veteran suicide as of 2014, the most current VA data available. Veterans in big chunks of those states must drive 70 miles or more to reach the nearest VA medical center. The suicide rates in those four states stood at 60 per 100,000 individuals or higher, far above the national veteran suicide rate of 38.4. The overall rate in the West was 45.5. All other regions of the country had rates below the national rate.  Read more . . .

Vietnam War Documentary by Ken Burns May Be Too Intense for Some
“The Vietnam War” documentary – produced by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick – is being billed as a rare cultural milestone. The filmmakers have been planning the series since 2006, meaning their production process was about as long as America’s involvement in the war. The series is designed to be intense. Each episode if preceded by a warning about strong language and graphic violence. But people who work with veterans say the documentary may be too intense for some of those who fought in Vietnam. “Some are going to watch it. Few will,” said Henry Peterson, a chaplain at the Department of Veterans Affairs in San Diego. He counsels people with PTSD.  Read more . . .

 

Drop me an email at info@sftt.org if you believe that there are other subjects that are newsworthy.

Feel you should do more to help our brave men and women who wear the uniform or our Veterans? Consider donating to Stand For The Troops.

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Afghanistan: A Grim Reminder of the Never-Ending War

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In yet another grim reminder of the never-ending war in Afghanistan, a U.S. service member was killed in Helmand province this week after his patrol triggered a roadside bomb. The blast also wounded another American and six Afghan soldiers.

Taliban

As reported in the Washington Post:

According to a statement released by the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan, U.S. troops were accompanying their Afghan counterparts near the province’s capital of Lashkar Gah when their unit came under attack.

“On behalf of all of U.S. Forces — Afghanistan, as well as Resolute Support, our deepest sympathies go out to the families and friends of those involved,” Gen. John W. Nicholson, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said in a statement.

Despite repeated promises by President Obama to end the war in Afghanistan, this never-ending war continues to drag on as more servicemen continue to die on foreign soil for reasons that many no longer understand.

Afghanistan has been invaded many times, but only Alexander the Great around 330 B.C. had the common sense to bypass this mountainous tribal region to move on to greener pastures.  Sadly, his intelligence and grasp of tribal realities was not as well understood by British, Russian and our U.S. military and political leaders.

As of October 1, 2015, more than 2,200 U.S. military personnel have perished in Afghanistan and over 20,000 have been wounded.

Current estimates suggest that the direct cost of maintaining just under 10,000 troops in Afghanistan is about $20 billion a year.   But with all the subsidies to the corrupt Afghan government, the indirect costs “could easily end up being $3 billion higher and nobody’s going to blink an eye,” according to Doug Ollivant, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation.

For those who grew up during the Vietnam War, it is difficult to fathom how the U.S. can once again be involved in “nation-building” or simply providing security service for a corrupt and self-serving regime that represents few of the values of a democratic society.

While some may construct an argument that our continued presence in Afghanistan serves as a testament to “American resolve,” it is hard to get one’s head around a war that is now almost 14 years old.

Unlike the Vietnam war, sustained troop deployments in Afghanistan, Iraq and other hostile locations in the Middle East seems to be little more than a footnote in this year’s presidential election campaign.

As one who is not privy to the President’s security briefings, it would not be appropriate to second-guess the Commander-in-Chief, but the threats to our national security must be grave if the lives of servicemen (and women) are at risk and we plan to spend $3 billion a year to prop up an ineffective government in Afghanistan.

The deployment of yet another 100 troops to the defense of Lashkar Gah, the capital of embattled Helmand province, is yet another clear sign of instability in the country.  According to Military.com, U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Charles Cleveland, chief spokesman for U.S. commander Army Gen. John Nicolson, the U.S. troops are in a training and advisory role to provide “a new presence to assist the police zone.”

Assuming this is the threat to the stability of the Kabul government, the U.S. “training and advisory” role is likely to continue indefinitely until the U.S. clearly articulates a strategy to either end the war or terminate our presence in Afghanistan.

Continuing to prop up the Afghan police force doesn’t seem to me an appropriate use of our military forces.   The $3 billion allocated to Afghanistan could be used to rebuild our military or help injured Veterans deployed to the Middle East recover their lives.

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Veterans with PTSD – Insights by Dr. Henry Grayson

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Dr. Henry Grayson, one of SFTT’s distinguished members of its medical task force always points that there are no two identical cases of Post Traumatic Stress.   In effect, each individual brings a set of prior conscious and unconscious experiences – dare I call it “baggage” – that is often triggered in totally unpredictable ways during periods of great stress.  Many veterans have suffered traumatic events in combat and this battlefield stress is almost impossible to overcome when these brave warriors return home.

Dr. Grayson touches on many aspects of this in this lengthy but informative video which discusses his book “Use Your Body to Heal Your Mind.” Dr. Henry Grayson is a scientific and spiritual psychologist who founded and directed the National Institute for the Psychotherapies in New York City. He is the author of Mindful Loving, The New Physics of Love, as well as co-author of three professional books. Dr. Grayson integrates diverse psychotherapies with neuroscience, quantum physics, subtle energies with Eastern and Western spiritual mindfulness. He practices in New York City and Connecticut. SFTT is indeed fortunate to count on Dr. Grayson in our efforts to support our brave Veterans.

Retired Veterans Seek Help

While many focus on Post-traumatic stress disorder for Veterans returning from our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Sadly, many traumatized Veterans from Vietnam were largely ignored and many still suffer from the invisible wounds of that war.  Found below is an excerpt from an article which describes how these Veterans cope with these recurring “nightmares.”

This is a common story among older combat veterans, who have contended with both the stigma of appearing weak and the lack of knowledge about the mental effects of combat. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) — characterized by hyper-vigilance, intrusive thoughts, nightmares and avoidance — wasn’t a formal diagnosis until 1980, and effective treatments weren’t widely available until the 1990s.

“They came home, stayed quiet and tried to muddle on as best they could,” says Steven Thorp, a San Diego psychologist with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. “They worked really hard as a distraction, 70, 80 hours a week, so PTSD didn’t really hit them full force until they retired, or the kids left the house, or they’re reminded of loss through the deaths of their friends.”

Dillard didn’t know how to right himself, but he knew exactly what had changed him: one long, terrible night in the jungles north of Saigon during his first tour, when Delta Company, his unit from the 101st Airborne Division, was nearly overrun by hundreds of North Vietnamese soldiers. That night he witnessed heroics by his captain, Paul Bucha, and waited with Delta Company buddies like Calvin Heath and Bill Heaney for a dawn they feared would never come.

“That night marked all of us,” says Dillard, 66, who now lives on a ranch in Livingston, Texas, and assists other veterans with their disability claims. “It’s been the source of lots of nightmares.” via: PTSD, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – Retired Veterans Seek Help – AARP

Military Suicides and PTSD

Our military leadership is rightly concerned about the rate of suicide among military veterans.  SFTT has been reported on this growing problem for some time, but little substantive change has occurred over the last several years.  Sure, the government has announced many measures to deal with the problem such as the “Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention Act for American Veterans,” but suicide rates continue to be high.  Found below are some of the recent government initiatives, but the even more compelling arguments why these token actions are not enough to stem this epidemic problem.

Suicides by active-duty troops and veterans are at levels that would have been unthinkable a generation ago. Each day, on average, a current service member dies by suicide, and each hour a veteran does the same.

In response, President Obama signed the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act in February. The act aims to make information on suicide prevention more easily available to veterans; it offers financial incentives to mental health professionals who work with vets; and it requires an annual evaluation of the military’s mental health programs by an independent source.

The law is commendable, but it won’t come close to ending military suicides. That would require radical changes in the policies, procedures, attitudes and culture in two of our biggest bureaucracies: the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.

Fifteen years ago, the suicide rate among patients in a large HMO in Detroit was seven times the national average. Its leaders decided to try to end suicides — not just reduce them but end them. In four years, the incidence of suicide at the HMO was reduced 75%; with more tinkering, the rate went down to zero, and has stayed there, at last count, for 2 1/2 years. The difference was an all-out commitment to the cause.

The HMO also implemented measures to provide timely care by enabling patients to get immediate help through email with physicians, to make same-day medical appointments and to get prescriptions filled the same day too.

A similar commitment by the military could achieve dramatic results, at least among active-duty troops. These troops are in the system now, their activities are being monitored regularly, so there are plenty of opportunities for assessment and treatment.

Then there is the matter of stigma. It’s not the military’s responsibility alone to destigmatize psychological problems, but there are steps the military can take.  Service members with PTSD who are able to manage it should be strongly considered for promotions just as though they had recovered from physical wounds. Their ability to overcome mental injury should be recognized, so it inspires others.

To keep its troops mentally healthy, the Defense Department must reduce the number and duration of combat deployments and do more to prepare troops for assymetrical warfare. It must help them adjust to life when they come home — with jobs, housing, loans and legal assistance. It must enforce, not just approve, a policy of zero tolerance related to sexual harassment and assault.

Each element has a price, and collectively the cost will be astronomical. We must be prepared to pay it if we are sincere in our commitment to support our troops.

John Bateson was executive director of a nationally certified suicide prevention center in the San Francisco Bay Area for 16 years. His latest book is “The Last and Greatest Battle: Finding the Will, Commitment, and Strategy to End Military Suicides.”  via: Support our troops? Dealing with PTSD requires commitment

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The Battle of Dai Do, Republic of Viet Nam (May 1968)

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In his reflections on this battle along the north bank of the Cua Viet River when one Marine infantry battalion (2d Battalion, 4th Marines) went nose-to-nose with a North Vietnamese Army division, a Marine wrote today (May 3, 2013):

AN ENDURING RECOLLECTION WAS A SCENE AT THE MOST DISTANT POINT OF MARINE ADVANCE. AMONG THE NVA BODIES THERE LAY A SHORT LINE OF DEAD MARINES, LIKELY OF FOX COMPANY. ONE MARINE WAS SPRAWLED HEAD FIRST ACROSS THE FORWARD EDGE OF AN NVA GUNPIT. THE BAYONET OF HIS EMPTY RIFLE WAS BURIED IN THE GUNNER’S CHEST.

FORTY FIVE YEARS AGO THIS MORNING.

Captures the essence of what “close combat,” and the U.S. Marine Corps, is all about,

And raises the question facing every generation of Americans: “Where do we get such men?”

(As Hack would point out, not a Perfumed Prince was to be found on this killing field.)

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Remembering our Vietnam Veterans and those who made the ultimate sacrifice

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I recently received the following letter from American Legion Post #184 which is quoted below in its entirety.   I think it is fair to say that rarely a day goes by when those in SFTT to not think about Vietnam and the valiant warriors who sacrificed so much.   We applaud your inspired effort to honor these heroes and hope that we as a society have the same resolute passion to honor those who serve in uniform today.    Our respect for the men and women in uniform of all wars is manifest by SFTT’s relentless pursuit to provide our troops with the best combat equipment and protective gear possible and our latest “You are not Alone” campaign to help draw attention to the chronic need of those suffering from PTSD.

QUOTE

To:  The Editor

From:  American Legion Post #184

Commander Harry J. Tweed

Subject:  1/2 Sized Permanent Vietnam Wall

Location: Wildwood, N.J.

Good Day,

I am writing to you mainly to plead with you for some help to  benefit a once mistreated and now still mostly forgotten group of United States Soldiers and Sailors, these men and women are known as Vietnam Veterans! You can call what happened in Vietnam a war, a conflict, a huge mistake, or whatever, but thousands of our men and women were sent there, and 58,267 came back breathless!

Wildwood Vietnam MemorialHere in Wildwood, N.J, a beautiful summer resort all the way at the south tip of New Jersey, the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter #955 and the American Legion Post #184 have built a stunning 1/2 sized permanent Vietnam Wall with all 58,267 names carved in black slate in the same order as the main wall in Washington D.C. It sits one block from the World Famous Wildwood Boardwalk and about 300 yards from the Atlantic Ocean. Besides Washington there is only one other permanent wall that we know of and that is another 1/2 version somewhere in Florida.

All we are asking from you is to please pick at least one, more would be great, of the pictures I am sending you and put it in your magazine with a brief caption saying what and where it is so our Vietnam Veterans here in the United States have yet another choice to visit their friends they had to leave and maybe never had a chance to say goodbye to. Wildwood is much easier for some people to get to than Washington is, and not to talk badly about Washington but you don’t want to make a wrong turn on some of their streets right now with the crime rate they have.

Wildwood Vietnam Memorial

I have included a that, there is a donation box but no one is there to jingle a cup.

I will leave contact info for myself and Vince DePrinzio who is the Wall Coordinator. Please please please consider doing this for our Veterans! Thank you!

I mentioned it in the Word Document but I wanted to repeat that dozens of out of work Union Carpenters, Roofers, Concrete Workers, and other trades showed up at 7 AM every morning and worked until dark and wouldn’t take anything from us but lunch! It brought tears to a lot of our eyes to see how proud they were to be working on the Wall!

For God and Country,

Harry J. Tweed

Commander – Post #184

Wildwood Vietnam Memorial Website

Address:  4500 Block Ocean Avenue, Wildwood, NJ

UNQUOTE

Thank you Commander Tweed for bringing this to the attention of SFTT and we salute you and the volunteers who honor our fallen heroes.

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Is Secretary Rumsfeld responsible for the lack of military leadership?

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As an Army 2nd Lt stationed at the Pentagon during the Viet Nam war, I still vividly recall the military brass scrambling to deal with one crisis after another while pretending that they were in control of a war that had already been largely lost. With Robert McNamara at the helm, competent military leaders were replaced by faceless  bureaucrats who were more adept at tabulating body counts than combat itself. Working at the Pentagon during that period was a surreal experience and one that has no doubt contributed to a somewhat cynical attitude toward our military leadership.

The emergence of Secretary Rumsfeld as spokesperson for the Iraq War reignited this cynicism as evidenced by his response to an young enlisted man requesting better protective gear: “You go to war with the Army you have – not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time.”  Many consider this to be a public admission that Rumsfeld was far more interested in military tech toys and hardware than the troops that were fielding this equipment.  Human resources – our frontline troops – were seen as little more than just another military asset to be deployed in  a way to support the overall mission as defined by our military leadership. In other words, how much firepower or protective gear does a soldier need to accomplish the mission the military leadership has set forth for them? With this vague philosophy and “value judgement”, our military leadership can justify providing our young men and women with  “adequate” equipment rather than the “best” equipment to have a chance to survive combat.

No where is this more evident than the US Army’s blatant disregard for the safety of our frontline troops in its testing and procurement practices for body armor. In October 2009, the Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) issued a 110 page report entitled “Independent Expert Assessment of Army Body Armor Test Results and Procedures Needed before Fielding.” This devastating report proved conclusively what many had been saying for years: Army and DOD test procedures were flawed and overwhelmingly skewed in favor of contractors rather than our brave young men and women serving in combat areas. Read senior investigative reporter Roger Charles’ insightful analysis of the GAO report on body armor on the Soldiers for The Truth.

The Soldiers for the Truth Foundation (“SFTT”) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit Educational Foundation established 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. In the past four-plus years SFTT’S active campaign has focused on ensuring America’s frontline troops get the best available individual protective equipment and combat gear.

Thanks to the persistent efforts of organizations like SFTT and concerned Americans, our military may soon get the leadership our troops deserve.

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