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Archive for the ‘veterans’ Category

No, this is not a joke. It is estimated that there are thousands of veterans who have been deported. They qualify for benefits but can’t get them because they’re not allowed back in the United States. They fought for this country but have been banished to Mexico or other countries because they were not U.S. citizens.

Wishing a Happy Veterans Day to veterans who have been deported is like wishing Merry Christmas to a rape victim that was just raped. It ought to raise some eyebrows. Alas, it doesn’t, because they’re just unseemly brown people, after all.

SIGH.

– Badtux the Celebrating Veterans Penguin

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So the New York Times has a headline, “Soldiers Struggling to Repay Enlistment Bonuses Issued in Error“. Talk about burying the lede! Because these re-enlistment bonuses weren’t issued in error. Nope. They were issued fraudulently in order to entice soldiers into re-enlisting. Now the victims of the fraud — the soldiers — are being required to pay them back. How is that fair, or right?

And don’t tell me that “the law requires it”. Yes, the law, until it is changed, says that the soldiers were not eligible for these bonuses thus the bonuses must be re-paid. However, the law doesn’t say when they must be repaid. The Pentagon could have said, “you know, we’re just going to forget about collecting these debts.” The law doesn’t say who must repay these debts. The Pentagon could have said, “you know, we’re going to go after the perpetrators of the fraud to get these debts repaid, not the victims of the fraud”. There’s a lot of things that the Pentagon could have done. Instead, the Pentagon / National Guard Bureau is going after these soldiers with a viciousness and venality that must be read — multiple times — to believe. They have lied, they have cheated, they have threatened, they have added interest payments to the debts that are *not* required by the laws, they have behaved dishonorably and disgustingly at every turn. Don’t tell me that the law requires them to behave with such appalling disrespect for people who put their life on the line for this nation, because it does not. They (the collections department of the NGB) did this willingly and of their own volition with the full support and concordance of their superiors, who are more interested in getting promotions for getting a better “uptake rate” than their competitors than they are in the well-being of the people they conned into re-enlisting with fraudulent bonuses.

the same people who committed the fraud in the first place (the NGB) are going after our soldiers with all the glee of a pack of wolves slashing at the flanks of an elderly wounded elk. It is disgusting, appalling, and shameful, and not at *all* required by the law. And somebody needs to put a stop to it — whether it requires an executive order to immediately cease collecting the debt, or Congressional action, I don’t care, it needs to stop. Period.

– Badtux the Irate Penguin

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Cheetoh Mussolini apparently thinks PTSD occurs only in “weak-minded” people.

The reality is that incidence of PTSD mostly depends upon the intensity and duration of the hell that you were subjected to, not how “strong” you are. This is the biggest problem we have with getting veterans to get the treatment they need — even if their local VA has openings in their PTSD program, they can’t get veterans to come in because many veterans think admitting they have PTSD means admitting they’re “weak”.

It’s a big problem, and having people like Donald Trump spreading the nonsense that PTSD just happens to “weak” people doesn’t help.

Donald: If you don’t know what you’re talking about, please, just shut up. Especially when you’re spewing things that could cause a lot of people who need help to say “nah, I’m too strong to need help”, and then a few months later we find them hanging underneath the railroad bridge…

– Badtux the “That ain’t how it works Donald” Penguin

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Stonekettle Station has a nice rant.

Meanwhile, I think about veterans I’ve known, and they joined the military for a number of different reasons. Some were drafted, like many of the Vietnam vets. Others volunteered for a service they felt was “safer” rather than wait to be drafted, like my father, who signed up for the Navy during the Korean War because he realized that neither North Korea nor Communist China had a Navy and thus the chances of someone shooting at him were far less on a Navy ship than if he was an Army grunt being sent up Hamburger Hill. After a failed attempt to do a Ted Nugent and convince the psych screener that he was crazy, he settled down and did his duty and even got a promotion before figuring out a better way to get out of the Navy during the after-war demobilization, which was to get a hardship discharge because his mother was sick (true) and needed him to take care of her (not true, she had several other sons).

And then there’s the people who sign up for the military because being shot at by Iraqis is preferable to rendering chickens — less chance of losing limbs, better health care if you do. We’ve made life so miserable for so many people that it’s a backdoor draft of sorts, where people are basically given a chance of either joining the military or living in such misery that the military looks like nirvana. They didn’t join up to serve their country. They joined up because the choice was join or a misery so horrible that it makes being shot at seem like nothing. Then there’s the people who join up to get away from a bad home life, and the people who join because they know they’re going to end up in prison if they don’t because the ‘hood where they are growing up, that’s where young men end up if they don’t get out. Then there’s people like me at age 19, who’ve tried a couple of things, failed miserably at them, and figure the military is a good place to spend a few years learning how to be an adult while maybe learning a few skills.

Of the veterans I know, a couple served in combat. Most did not, even in the Vietnam era. I have to give my father credit for telling me the truth there, he wasn’t one to glorify his military career, he served an awful lot of slop to a lot of sailors while spending a lot of time standing over vast vats of potatoes. That kind of truth isn’t always the case, like the guy who was a cook on base in Vietnam who claimed to be a Navy Seal and have medals for combat and all that, but really wasn’t / didn’t, seems there’s some people who were in the military who like to, let us say, gild the lily, when it comes to talking about their military career. But “thank you for your service” for someone who spent his entire military career standing over a vat of potatoes? My father would have laughed if you’d said that to him. He was in the Navy to avoid being shot at, he wasn’t in the Navy to serve anything except slop to other sailors. For that matter if I hadn’t been in a motorcycle accident between taking the ASVAB and the physical, I probably would have laughed at you. My notion was to learn how to work on jet engines and avionics in the Air Force while figuring out what to do with my life, not any grandiose idea of “service to country”.

So anyhow, there’s lots of homeless veterans out there, and lots of depressed veterans with PTSD who are killing themselves every hour, so “thank you for your service” besides being a bit much (really? thank my father for serving boiled potatoes and carrots and pot roast to sailors? Wow!) really seems like empty words. You don’t thank people with words. You thank people by putting your actions where your words are. If you didn’t make a donation today to organizations that help veterans, if you did not swear to elect politicians in the upcoming elections who support veterans, then “thank you for your service” is an insult, because you’re not thanking people, you’re just muttering empty words.

But empty words are what we’re good at, which is why every single Republican in Congress voted against the latest bill to improve veterans’ health care while at the same time loudly exhorting “we love veterans!” So it goes. So it goes.

– Badtux the Not-veteran Penguin

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The Republican candidates for President are outraged, outraged I say, that Donald Trump attacked a veteran, that Trump disparaged his service. Trump’s attack on John McCain has led to every major Republican candidate strongly condemning him.

Yet where were they when Donald Trump was making racist statement after racist statement? They were nowhere, that’s where. Apparently, from what I can tell, they agreed with his racist statements. Because clearly if they’d been offended they could have come out with the same sort of breathless prose that they’re coming out with today about Trump’s attack on a veteran. But hey, Republicans aren’t racist, right?

To his credit: Lindsey Graham did blast Trump for the racist statements, and after a few days of silence, Rick Perry came down on Trump too. Credit where credit is due. Jeb Bush was pretty much a weathervane. Yay. The rest? Crickets.

– Badtux the Music Penguin

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Happy BBQ day!

On this day, we commemorate the lives of all the pigs and cows that have died so we can have that most American of foods: barbecue! Nowhere else on the planet are giant slabs of meat placed onto grills and slathered with spices and sauce like we do it here. Whether your favorite is North Carolina pulled pork (mystery gray meat) with a vinegar-pepper sauce, South Carolina pulled pork with mustard-pepper sauce, Mississippi-Louisiana chopped beef with a sweet-spicy tomatoey sauce, or Texas BBQ rubbed with spices and smoked over a wood fire, or even California “barbecue” which has no sauce at all and is just meat cooked outdoors, this is the day to celebrate meat, meat, MEAT!

So enjoy your barbecue, boys and girls, enjoy it well. Oh, and there’s some dead folks we’re supposed to be commemorating today too, but who cares about them, right?

– Badtux the Bitterly Snarky Penguin

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So. American Sniper. The movie. There’s been a lot said about it. Iraq-era veterans who’ve seen the movie have two things to say about it. First, the scenes of Chris Kyle coming home and trying to deal with life after horror resonate with them as something they, too, faced. Secondly, the scenes of military life and military combat were Hollywood bullshit, the lingo was wrong, the way people looked and behaved when shot was wrong, flying helicopters in sandstorms and making satellite phone calls in sandstorms was wrong (nothing will down a turbine engine faster than ingesting a lot of sand, and satphone signals won’t penetrate clouds of water vapor, much less clouds of sand), even the flash of M-4 carbines being shot at night was wrong (the flash suppressor at the nozzle of the M-4 does a *very* good job of suppressing that flash in order to keep you from being blinded by your own weapon at night). Their biggest beef was that it made war look exciting, rather than like long hours of utter boredom punctuated by occasional bursts of utter terror. It simply did not capture the reality of warfare, in their opinion.

So what’s my opinion of the movie? I don’t intend to see it, actually. I’ve read the story of Chris Kyle. He tried to find meaning in his life through the military. When that failed, he tried to find meaning in his life through helping his fellow veterans. He died, murdered by one of those fellow veterans. It is a tragic story, and one that I have no desire to replay through an unrealistic Hollywood movie at this time.

So, why is the war part of the movie the way it is, anyhow? Why did director Eastwood handle the coming-home part so well, but the actual military experience part so poorly? Well, my guess is that it’s simple: If the reality of the military experience was accurately depicted, nobody would go to the movie. And if nobody went to the movie, Eastwood could not have presented to them the second half of the movie, where he depicts Chris Kyle coming back home.

Truth i not what we want from movies. We want lies, beautiful beautiful lies, lies that tell us we’re good people, that we’re not bad people, that when we send people to war for stupid reasons we’re not exploiting our soldiers, we’re just using them the way they want to be used. We want lies to make us feel good. We don’t want truths that make us feel like we’re horrible people. We want lies.

And, unfortunately, lies are what we get.

– Badtux the Lie-detector Penguin

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