Military Families Speak Out!


    WAR WEARY FAMILIES // 'Get my son home':[SOUTH PINELLAS Edition]
    SUZANNE SATALINE. St. Petersburg Times. St. Petersburg, Fla.: Jul 13, 2003. pg. 1.A
    Abstract (Article Summary)
    President Bush's decision to invade Iraq has created doubters in the gung-ho world of the military. Some soldiers' families were fervent believers in Bush's plan to root out Saddam Hussein's hidden trove of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons until the mission turned up dry. Others immediately dismissed that rationale, but trusted that America was helping people under a repressive, vindictive regime.

    It's a difficult admission. Her son, First Lt. Brandon Shell, graduated from West Point Academy and is the fifth generation of American fighters in their family. Before Brandon's Marine Corps dad, Brandon's grandfather served in the Philippines during World War II and a great-grandfather marched into France in WWI. One of Brandon's great-great-grandfathers fought along with Gen. Robert E. Lee at Appomattox.

    [Dan Withers] and Emma Withers, whose son [Josh] is in Iraq, are having second thoughts about the war.; [Ron Shell] and [Donna Shell] worry about their son, Brandon.; U.S. soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division burn bushes along a road near Baghdad.; Photo: PHOTO, CHRIS ZUPPA; PHOTO, Photo by WAYNE SCARBERRY; PHOTO, Associated Press

    Full Text (1861 words)
    Copyright Times Publishing Co. Jul 13, 2003


    Even if they blocked out Fox News, stopped devouring the newspapers, and shut off the Internet, the mothers of this war would still know the toll of the desert. They would hear it in their children's voices.

    Kathy Carter's son Brian, of Bluefield, W.Va., left for Kuwait in March. From the start the machine gunner brayed: "America's gonna kick butt and take names!"

    He thought he'd be back for summer. But after the statues tumbled and the desert switched to broil, once the water bottles grew scarce and the body bags mounted, her 21-year-old son called a few weeks ago from Kuwait to say he didn't know when he'd be heading back. His voice was worn and flat and it scared his mother to tears.

    Carter served in the Army and considers herself a loyal, patriotic Republican. But at that moment she transformed into an angry, defensive mom who realized that postwar Iraq is as terrifying and chaotic and endless for her boy as it seems from the states.

    "Of course I'm conflicted," she says, her voice trailing off in frustration. "I'm a mother. I'm a veteran. I want to support what our country does, but I want to do right by my son.

    "These poor guys have seen it. They've done it and they want to come home," Carter said. "I want to get my son home."

    Many mothers have joined her cry. They're writing senators. Giving interviews. Marching in protests. Families that backed their president at the war's start now say their children have been tossed into a thorny conflict they have no business in.

    "I'll get my son back - I pray to God," said Deborah Britto of Hollywood, Fla., a Vietnam-era veteran, who opposed the war in Iraq from the start. "But it won't be the son I sent."

    Support shifts

    President Bush's decision to invade Iraq has created doubters in the gung-ho world of the military. Some soldiers' families were fervent believers in Bush's plan to root out Saddam Hussein's hidden trove of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons until the mission turned up dry. Others immediately dismissed that rationale, but trusted that America was helping people under a repressive, vindictive regime.

    The war's toll in recent weeks has altered those views. Parents and relatives wonder whether Iraq ever wanted America's help. They find themselves fretting that the United States has embroiled itself in a tendentious and endless conflict.

    All the while, military families dance a careful minuet: Some would like to throttle the politicians who led the military into battle, but don't want to offend or discourage their children who have chosen the military life.

    "You're in two different emotional worlds," said Ron Shell, of Richmond, Va., a former Marine and retired Secret Service agent who has a son in Iraq. "He has no idea what's going on. He has no idea what the reaction is. Our goal is to make sure he feels as good as possible.

    "However you hang the phone up, you have to realize he could be killed any day."

    A Gallup poll conducted at the end of June found that 42 percent of Americans thought the war in Iraq was going badly or very badly. Two months earlier, Americans who thought that totaled just 13 percent.

    Lately, Americans also appear more divided by their country's decision to go to war. Another Gallup poll released July 1 found that 56 percent of Americans said the situation in Iraq was "worth going to war over," while 42 percent disagreed. (In mid April, 73 percent found the mission worthwhile.)

    Public opinion has shifted as the media reports the rising number of soldier fatalities since Bush declared major combat over on May 1. The Department of Defense as of Friday tallied the toll in the Iraqi conflict as 216 dead. One-third of those soldiers, or 78, were killed since May 1.

    Many of those 78 died in accidents such as discharging weapons and truck rollovers. In recent weeks, though, Iraqi militants have struck back at Americans. Thirty soldiers have died in hostilities.

    Two soldiers were kidnapped and found dead. A Gainesville National Guard soldier was shot at close range July 6 while buying a soda. A television cameraman was executed in similar fashion, worrying some Americans that all Westerners could be targets.

    Gen. Tommy Franks did little to reassure a nervous public on Wednesday when he told a Senate committee that it was unlikely the administration would cut the contingent of 145,000 troops "for the foreseeable future," an effort costing the United States $3.9- billion per month.

    A Defense Department spokesman said soldiers are being rotated out when their commanding officer deems it safe for new troops to move in. Overall the country is stable but there is a dangerous triangle, inside the area of Tikrit, Baghdad and Aramadi.

    "Iraq, in certain areas, is a dangerous place. These attacks are at the local level and concentrated in North Central Iraq. They don't seem to be organized beyond the local level. For every convoy attacked, a lot more convoys move without incident."

    Venting to Capitol Hill

    "We are either embroiled in something compared with the Israel- Palestinian conflict," said Donna Shell, Ron's wife, "or we are in a Vietnam."

    It's a difficult admission. Her son, First Lt. Brandon Shell, graduated from West Point Academy and is the fifth generation of American fighters in their family. Before Brandon's Marine Corps dad, Brandon's grandfather served in the Philippines during World War II and a great-grandfather marched into France in WWI. One of Brandon's great-great-grandfathers fought along with Gen. Robert E. Lee at Appomattox.

    But those earlier generations of soldiers didn't have to contend with two parents who disagreed with their child's marching orders.

    Ron Shell worries about what's being asked of his son. Here's a young man, he said, who has been living in the desert, then in combat and then is asked to flip a switch and become a peacekeeper.

    "You've got to consider after 10 months there's got to be emotional fatigue, physical fatigue," Ron Shell said.

    "You feel they've been abandoned," Donna Shell said.

    "Abandoned's not the right word," her husband cut in.

    "Used," she offered.

    "Abused," he decided.

    To vent, Donna Shell has sent 40 letters to members of congress. To keep up her son's spirits and weight, she and a company of friends ship packages of sustenance. Yoo-hoo drinks and Gatorade, canned mandarins and baby wipes. And anything to make him laugh. Shell packed orange-and-black-striped tights and a flaming wig for Halloween.

    Her son sent back his thanks: a snapshot of himself, wig on, tights sagging toward his knees, posing with his semiautomatic weapon in his Kuwaiti tent. That cracked her up.

    With no cause to rally around, other parents take comfort in odd victories.

    "He hasn't had to shoot anybody and he hasn't been shot at," said Dan Withers of Dade City. His enlisted son Josh, 22, is working in transport support with the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force.

    His wife, Emma, admits she feels snookered by the whole international venture.

    "I gave (Bush) the benefit of the doubt," she said. "Because I felt they might have intelligence information that was not available to me. I guess I hoped if they were going to make the leap, they would base it on something I didn't have knowledge of. I'm not sure of that anymore.

    "You just don't want to think you're being led down the garden path by the president and Colin Powell. I think I'm tired of being lied to."

    It's hard for her to admit, because she's a registered Republican. Dan Withers voted for Bush in 2000 "to my regret."

    Both say the war is pushing them left in their politics, but around their neighbors they keep such thoughts to themselves.

    Like the other families struggling with this conflict, they both come with a military pedigree, but with a tragic cast; her brother was a POW in Korea for nearly two years.

    The couple think this wartime experience might discourage their son from becoming career military. But they haven't heard from him in three weeks to ask. When he does get home, perhaps this fall, they'll all have a long talk.

    Recently, after letters sent to Capitol Hill yielded no response, Carter, the West Virginia mom, enlisted her stepson to help draw attention to her family's concerns. Henry Wolfgang Carter, a Palo Alto, Calif., lawyer who made his riches as a dot-com entrepreneur, is showing up at Democratic conferences and fundraisers, buttonholing presidential contenders for help.

    "I feel embarrassed," he said he told Democratic Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts at a Los Angeles fundraiser at the Getty mansion. "I've got the money to meet you. I'll ask you point-blank for a family that needs help."

    Those with less clout are resorting to faxing their members of Congress, joining antiwar efforts, or logging on to the Web site Military Families Speak Out (, a forum for peaceniks and newly agitated relatives that claims to have 500 members.

    The group is diverse and has grown since May 1, said Charley Richardson of Jamaica Plain, Mass., father of a Marine and one of the co-founders.

    "We have pacifists and those who are trying to figure out why their kids are in the military and people who supported the war and then said, 'There were no weapons of mass destruction. This is not going to make the country safer and it's not going to bring stability to the Middle East.' "

    With all this talk, word will no doubt trickle back to the Middle East. Some parents fear what effect all this antiwar sentiment will have on their children's morale.

    Britto, of Hollywood, has a 23-year-old son, Ashley, who is with the 82nd Airborne. "He jumps out of perfectly good airplanes," she likes to crack. Ashley liked to reassure his mom that jumping at night wasn't that dangerous. "The bombs will light up the sky for us."

    But in recent weeks she's detected a change in the tone of his letters. He seemed sensitive to the opinions the American public had of their work.

    "We don't want to come back like in Vietnam and be told we're baby killers," she remembers him writing.

    In another letter he mentioned he was living in a house without doors or windows and the sand clogged their throats in the 105- degree heat. He told her a lot of the guys were getting discouraged because they had been told they would be shipped home, only to be told later those plans were on hold.

    The main idea now is keeping our sanity. I'm here taking it one day at a time. I can't wait to get home.

    Your baby is doing good. I love you, Mom.

    Love, Ashley

    Caption: Dan and Emma Withers, whose son Josh is in Iraq, are having second thoughts about the war.; Ron and Donna Shell worry about their son, Brandon.; U.S. soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division burn bushes along a road near Baghdad.; Photo: PHOTO, CHRIS ZUPPA; PHOTO, Photo by WAYNE SCARBERRY; PHOTO, Associated Press
  2. 154 Comments

  3. by   Brownms46

    Kimberly, the wife of a deployed reservist, writes:


    My name is Kimberly. My husband was deployed in late Feb. of 2003. He is a reservist. His unit has already lost one soldier. That soldier was killed AFTER President Bush declared the major fighting to be over. I have been opposed to this war since day one. I have not been shy about saying so either. However, not a lot of people want to hear that. My husband supports my opinions though, just as I support him. I support all of our troops and want to speak out as much as possible to bring them home,... as soon as possible. Please let me help. our unit is currently scattered through out various regions of Kuwait and Iraq. They are rotated every so often. And yes, I DO jump each time there is a knock at the door. I want my husband home, and I want all our troops over there to come home, safe and very soon. How can I help? Please let me know. I will become involved however I can to help in this cause. They need to come home! Our unit has no redeployment date in sight, and we are constantly told that they may even be extended. Please tell me how I can help "Military Families Speak Out." I want to be involved,.. ASAP.

    Sincerely,... Kimberly

    Carol Korreck sent the following letter to President Bush in May:

    May 6, 2003

    President Bush
    The White House
    1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
    Washington, DC 20500

    Dear Mr. Bush,

    As I write this letter I feel a certain amount of futility. I received no acknowledgment when I first wrote in October, or with any of my subsequent correspondence.

    But I realize I am not the only one that was shunned because of conflicting opinions on war with Iraq.

    Almost 1000 combat veterans signed a letter sent to you March 10 requesting a personal meeting as they had experience in conflict and combat and you do not. They hoped you would be open to their wisdom and knowledge and freely offered their time and expertise but they received no response.

    The Conference of European churches representing 125 Christian Churches also sent a letter dated February 19 and they never received a response to their request for a meeting.

    As I watched footage of your landing on the U.S.S. Lincoln last week and listened to the speech about major combat being over, I found myself nauseated. While your political theatrics are being launched in hopes of getting the popularity polls up, paving the way for re-election, my son is still in danger in Baghdad.

    Your feeble attempt at camaraderie with returning soldiers was patronizing in my opinion.

    My son spent days pent up in a Bradley rushing across the Iraq desert and spent weeks on adrenaline, MRE's and very little sleep trying to keep himself and his fellow soldiers alive.

    My son will come back a 20-year-old combat veteran. Do not even try to pretend to have any regard for what he and his comrades have been through - the sights, the smells, the sounds they will have etched forever in their memories.

    If research proves correct, from 1972-1973 when our country was at war and you were supposed to be an active member of the Texas Air National Guard there is an unexplained absence of over a year on your record of service? I believe that is called desertion.

    A day after Congress passed a "Support the Troops" Resolution, you proposed a budget cut that slashes veteran benefits and health care. How dare you call yourself a supporter of the troops.

    Your lack of support is pathetically obvious when you are betraying the very soldiers you have sent into combat. You call them heroes and try to stir up patriotism but tomorrow they will be forgotten heroes.

    Why isn't Sgt. Joe Hooper a household name? He earned 37 medals in Vietnam- the most decorated soldier of that war.

    He is a forgotten hero, just like the veterans in the VA hospitals and those now suffering from the effects of agent orange or Gulf war syndrome and the soldiers who have been exposed to depleted uranium and who have sustained injuries that have left them with permanent disabilities.

    Will they feel like heroes when they cannot get basic health care? It will soon become painfully clear to our new combat veterans how little value their commander in chief really places on the sacrifice they made for their country. Your actions speak much louder than your words. Your budget cuts show where your priorities are.

    You will close your eyes at night and see $$$ as you reap the "back door" benefits of all the corporations making millions off this war. My son will most likely see images of mangled bodies, wounded children and major devastation. Army surgeons have come back to their troops to get supplies for the children's hospital in Baghdad-collecting soaps and toiletries from the soldiers to take back to the doctors.

    Where were the priorities placed? Bechtel, Carlysle, Halliburton- I guess there is no profit in humanitarian relief or basic aid would be further along.

    People in the US are guilty of misplaced trust- in their political leaders, and in the media. Misguided ignorance may have put you in office, but my hope is that the American public begins to see itself as responsible for searching out the truth of the war in Iraq and the lies and manipulation we are being subjected to while covert agendas are being carried out by our country's leaders.

    To quote Andy Jacobs Jr., combat veteran and retired congressman in Indiana, " To die for one's country's politicians as a campaign gimmick is to be victimized by a cold blooded atrocity etched in eternity."

    There is still no solid connection between Hussein and September 11. There are still no weapons of mass destruction. Anti American sentiment is growing stronger?while we are supposed to believe that our government is not "prepping" Iraq for leadership we can bribe and control. This administration seems to think it does not owe the American people, or for that matter, the world any explanation for what it does.

    Might makes right may be how the bullies in the grade school parking lot justify their aggression, but is that how we now run our country? Political policy seems to be dictated by those with power and big pocketbooks. We don't even have a democracy here any more, how can we help Iraq to create a democratic society?

    I think Korean War veteran Wilson Powell spoke for many veterans and active duty soldiers when he said, "Wrapping myself in the flag and blindly following the lead of a man who has never served into the morass of an endless war is not my way of loving and serving my country."

    I am an American, proudly supporting the men and women who are and have served this country, but I will no longer cower to the fallacy that I must support my president as well.

    Carol Korreck

    An Air Force mother talks about lies and secrecy:

    I am 70 + yrs old and never have I ever seen such corruption of our country in such a shot time. Thanks to all who are working hard to bring us some truth (I hope) about this mess to bring our troops home. I have a son in the air force. I have lived through 5 wars in my life time. Never have I seen such lies and secrecy. Here is a partial quote:" It is easy to get people to follow you into a war, all you have to do is tell them they are being attack" from Herman Gering at the Nuremberg (SP) trials after WW2. Hum-m ?? Cheney must have read the trials report.

    Please read David Kortens book 'When Corporations Rule the World'. You will not sleep well but here we are. Halliburton Oil is at the front. This all has been coming on for years while we were concerned over who would win the Super Bowl and which new computer game were you going to get. WE have not DEMANED HONEST, FACTUAL NEWS. WE have become an ignorant brainless fat society. WE have lost our civility, questioning minds and the ability to reason, introspect, discernment and engage in honest open discussions.

    WE are at a fork in the road, YOU decide which way we are to go.


    A mother writes about her fears for her son and concerns about repiratory illnesses:

    Hi, All,

    My son called me this morning early from Baghdad. The connection was quite poor. He told me he is sick -- once again he's ill. This time it's a respiratory illness, a *cold.* I told him to go to the doctor. And he said he would. But our call was cut short when we lost the connection.

    According to (this article from the Springfield News-Leader,) other soldiers in Baghdad are suffering respiratory problems. And Keane says there are no investigations yet.

    My son's breathing sounded labored and he sounded weak. I emailed the commander's wife with the article and my concerns. Unlike the previous commander who led them in the invasion, the new one seems to be a flag-waving Bushie; and his wife makes no effort to communicate when contacted. The previous commander's wife relayed my concerns, and they were dealt with promptly by Cmdr XXXXX.

    This war is a logistical nightmare. It is baffling to me how so many years of military experience could be so easily discarded by these sorry politicians that clearly is costing lives unnecessarily.

    Sharon from Texas

    Read a followup article on the military's investigation of 12 cases of severe pneumonia among military personnel deployed in Iraq, including 2 deaths.

    The wife of a reservist writes about the pain of separation:

    I would like to stay in touch with this organization. My husband is one of those who has just been deployed for an undetermined amount of time. He is an M.P. with the 351st out of Ocala florida. Although I would love the opportunity to express both his and my views in a public forum, my doing so would jepordize his safety so while I can work behind the scenes, I cannot publically decry this insanity and support my husband at the same time. He left me and his son and unborn child Sunday. It was so far, the worst day of my life. As he said goodbye, my son who is 14 months old and has seen his father 3 times in the last 3 months, raised his tiny hand and smiled from his car seat to wave bye bye to daddy. It almost killed me. As I stood there in the rain and the muck at Fort Stewart, I was overwhelmed with more emotions than I can put on paper. Love and Pride in my husbands ability to stay focused on his job regardless of how he felt about this craziness personally, are part of it. Fear, for his saftey and in my ability to carry on without my best friend and confidante also ways in. Saddness that my love will not be with me when his new baby arrives in August is also a major player. I light a candle for his safe return to us every night when I go to bed. Alone. I do not even know how long it will be before he can write to me and I can tell him how much I love him. He will not have an APO address until they land. I find that alone absolutely unconsicionable. I mean really, first to rip people away from their families and then to cut off communcations, it is disgusting. I have never been through this before and I am really adrift.

    My husband suffered through me having a terrible anxiety attack the morning before he left us. I am sure this did little for his morale, but I could no more stop the wracking sobs that shook me than I could stop the tide from turning. I pointed out to him that the lack of connection to other familes in this position, to which I could turn for comfort and support is a huge factor in my terror. I am quite cut off. I know no one in his unit, and in fact until Saturday afternoon, had never met any of the other children or wives.

    This is the lot of a Reservist. To be called upon to serve, while their familes are left quite bereft and unconnected to others in the same position. Why you ask? It is because although the people serving meet regularly for drill and short deployments, their families are scattered from pillar to post. In this case, we are scattered all over the state of Florida and southern Georgia. there are no grand send offs, or company get togethers where we can meet. For us, there is only short alliances made in the moments waiting for the serving members to tell us wether or not they will be confined to base or released for liberty after morning muster. At the end of it, we are all facing the same result. Months of being alone and not knowing when or where we will see our loved ones again.

    Please, feel free to post this in whole or part if you feel that it will help your cause.

    Doug Nelson is a Vietnam Veteran whose son recently separated from the military:

    Someone Else's Sons and Daughters

    Why are we Americans not outraged at the situation in which our government has placed our service people? Is it because they are someone else's sons and daughters? Did we learn nothing from the Viet Nam experience?

    We have put our young people and our military professionals in harm's way based on flawed intelligence, and, perhaps, outright lies. The time-tested principle that war should be undertaken only as a last resort was ignored. Against the advice of our friends in the world, we and Britain went in alone, foregoing the credibility we would have had with the United Nations taking this action. We apparently have no real plan for restoring clean water, electrical power and basic law and order in Iraq. Our soldiers and Marines must hold on until we figure it out.

    To add to the insult to our service people, we find that they are subject to disciplinary action for expressing their frustration to the press. To tell these young people they are "fighting for freedom" while denying them the right of free speech is ludicrous. Soldiers expressed their feelings freely in the Civil War, both world wars, and in Viet Nam. My own questioning of our policies in Viet Nam probably cost me a promotion, a price I was willing to pay. Never, however, was I disciplined or harassed for my views. It is the soldier's right to gripe and express frustration. He or she is not less of a soldier for doing so. To be a soldier is not to give up one's rights as a citizen.

    Like us in Viet Nam, these people did everything our government asked them to do and did it well. America owes them respect, honor, and full affirmation of their rights as American citizens. To give them less is disgraceful.

    Heed well, America. Your son or daughter will be next.

    Douglas Nelson

    371st Radio Research Company, Viet Nam, 1968 retired from a civil service career in the Veterans Administration and the Department of the Army

    We received the following from a mother who asked that her name not be used:


    Just heard about your group on the radio last night. I am glad I am not the only one trying to fight this battle! I was trying to hold it together until yesterday, and then I read in the Kuwait Post that our soldiers have been "pleading for reinforcements" and I just lost it. I began to e-mail any senator from any state that I could get an e-mail to, along with congressmen, etc. I have a couple of good sites for their e-mail addresses. I can forward you the sites if you want. Maybe if we ALL wrote to these people on a daily basis and told them that it may be our sons and daughters who are dying , but it will be their careers, we can at least shake them up. What do you think, or have you tried this already?

    Anyway, I sure am glad to know that my setiments are shared. I cannot travel, but if there is anything I can do to promote this cause (that doesn't cost money) I am willing.

    My son went over to Iraq last Feb/Mar. He has lost 15 pounds, when he didn't have any to lose. His letters, which are far and few between, sometimes sound confused, with unfinished sentences, thoughts going here and there. I know he is exhausted, and every time he gets to call, I get more worried. He finally got a 3 day leave, which came after a worrisome letter was sent to his girlfriend, but the depression hasn't left his voice. I am very worried and want to hurry this process along as soon as we can, before we lose them all. My heart aches for anyone who has lost a loved one in this senseless war. In a way, I fear we are all losers, as I fear that anyone who is there will never be the same.

    Well, I guess I got carried away. It's been a while since I had anyone to talk to about it that would understand. Thanks for being there, and thanks for listening!


    Gertrude Treadway wrote this letter to her Senator, calling for a rethinking of America's policies:

    Dear Senator,

    With the death toll mounting daily in Iraq and with our troops facing increased demoralization, America's policies need to be rethought.

    I saw on CNN this morning a prediction by one of our senior generals that anti-American feeling is on the rise and will only get worse.

    What can we do? First, Bush should go "hat in hand" and request help from the U.N. in stabilizing that country. Obviously, post war plans were not well thought out. If the U.N. would authorize peace keepers , that would be a good first step.

    This administration is having to learn the hard way that "no man is an island."We are all interdependent to one degree or another.

    In the meantime our servce men and women are having to pay the price for failed policies. Our government should make every effort to bring our troops home as soon as possible.

    Gertrude F. Treadway

    Sarah Slocum of San Mateo California wrote President Bush and her Representatives about conditions in Iraq:

    Dear President and Representatives,

    The price tag on keeping our troops in Iraq is absolutely unbelievable - an estimate of 3.9 billion a month - and it is high time that we bring them home!

    Although they may be happy to be rid of Saddam, it is pathetic the way that we are managing the country. They do not have access to electricity, running water, their food is going bad and they are burning up the unbearable weather that necessitates air conditioning and refrigeration. And the Iraqi people DO NOT WANT US THERE. Furthermore, we have removed the Iraqi police of their weapons so they have no ability to do their job and serious looting, abductions, rape, and violence is spiraling out of control. Not only that but the FREEDOM that we have brought them is the ability to become alcoholics, which before was illegal since 1996 when Saddam outlawed alcohol. The people are now worse off then they were after the 1991 Gulf War and the average citizen is outraged about the way their society and their daily lives are encumbered.

    Why do we not have the electricity running yet? Why do they not have access to gas? Why do they not have telephone service yet? Because it isn't a priority of our government unfortunately, and it also isn't a priority of our government to provide the basics for its people either. This is obvious - ALL OUR SOCIAL SERVICES are being SEVERELY CUT!
  4. by   Brownms46
    Marianne Werz Obrien wrote the following letter after hearing President Bush's "Bring em on" statement:

    "I am horrified by Mr. Bush's arrogant remarks regarding attacks against our soldiers in Iraq. "Bring them on" Mr Bush said! How totally inappropriate at a time when at least one soldier is KILLED every day in Iraq. Mr. Bush is not the one in harms way, yet instead of reacting in the calm, measured way of an adult - instead of stepping up efforts to bring stability and basic services to Iraq, he chooses to toss fuel on the fire of Iraqi anger. This isn't leadership, and this isn't the behavior one should expect from our Commander in Chief. He should have more respect for the lives of our servicemen, and for the sacrifices they make for our safety."

    That is the letter to the editor I sent to the NY Times, and with mionor variations to the wash post, msnbc, & cnn. I am OUTRAGED. I want military families everywhere to SCREAM about this at the tops of their lungs! He is taunting the Iraqis, practically DARING them to keep killing our people. Please forward this widely and get folks to speak out about this utterly inappropriate petulant outburst from he who would rule the world.

    thank you
    marianne werz obrien

    Susan Schuman wrote this letter to the editor about her son Justin who is in Iraq, and about the lies that were used to justify this war:

    6 July, 2003

    To the Editor:

    A warm welcome back to the Ashfield soldiers who have returned from the war in Iraq. Some are not so fortunate.

    Two months ago, President Bush declared the war over and stated, "The world is more peaceful...." This morning, an NPR reporter introduced her commentary with, "Now the war is over...." The Administration and much of the media would have us believe that the war in Iraq is over. For my son Justin the war is not over. He and 140,000 US troops are in greater danger now than during the much televised "shock and awe" bombings. They are mired in an insurgent, guerrilla war, subject to ambushes and frequent harrassment as Iraqi hostility and frustration against the American occupation rise. My son writes from Iraq: "the only way I can describe it is as a low grade desert city Vietnam. The U.S. doesn't understand, there are three or four attacks a night everywhere where there are US troops. There are an incredible number of attacks, 30 to 40 major incidents a day." The men and women sent by Bush and Rumsfeld to "liberate" Iraq are caught in a quagmire, helpless spectators of the suffering of the Iraqi people, unable to respond to basic humanitarian needs and targets of legitimate anger. The world is not more peaceful for Justin, nor for the troops still in Iraq, nor for the Iraqi people. The war is not over.

    Before the invasion, the Bush administration told the American people that Iraq was a threat to our national security. Congress passed the Joint Resolution authorizing the President to go to war based on "proof" that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and was prepared and ready to use them. Colin Powell's video show at the United Nations provided "evidence" of the imminent threat. During the months before the war, the shifting sands of discourse mounted public fear as the White House claimed Iraq harbor to El Qaida terrorists, placed Americans as liberators of the oppressed people of Iraq and codes switched from yellow to orange on a weekly basis. The American people were told that war - the most radical action any nation can undertake - was justified to disarm Iraq of its chemical and biological weapons which posed an urgent menace to our nation. Now it would appear that there was no more truth to any of this evidence than the statement that the war is over. Weapons of mass destruction have not been found. No evidence of an Iraqi link to al-Qaida has emerged.

    The American people were also told that the war would be over quickly. In April, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld assured us that, by fall, only 30,000 American troops would be left in Iraq. It is clear that while the Bush Administration was eager to invade Iraq, they were unprepared to deal with the consequences of restoring order and rebuilding that nation. Supplies and personnel are inadequate to deal with basic health needs and infrastructure reconstruction. US soldiers, unable to provide security and safety as looting and sabotage runs rampant, have become targets of understandable anger, frustration and hostility. The American "liberators" are now hostile occupiers in spite of Rumsfeld's claims that "we don't plan to function as an occupier." During a recent visit to Iraq, Richard Lugar, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said, "At least a five-year plan is required." Once again, it would appear that there was no more truth to the administration's claims of a surgical war with a clean entry and exit that the statement that the war is over.

    In the meantime, soldiers report that they lack basic equipment and personnel. My son, a sergeant in the Massachusetts National Guard, lives in a 12-by-14 foot room with five other soldiers without airconditioning. The temperature reaches 115 degrees. There is no running water and he washes in a small bucket. His unit is short of vehicles and radios, which means that when soldiers are on patrol they have no way to communicate with their base. "We are out here flapping." Rumours have it that his unit will probably be in Iraq until next July.

    The lessons learned in Afghanistan, in Haiti, in Somalia, in Bosnia, have not been learned by Mr. Bush and Mr. Rumsfeld. Bombing is easy, invasion is cheap: nation building is costly and arduous. Reconstruction requires diplomatic skill, political understanding and long-term financial commitment.

    I am angry. I am angry at the callousness of the Administration that sent my son to Iraq without the necessary support and planning. I am angry that my son is in danger. I am angry that my son is sacrificing his life to defend the lies and incompetence and rapaciousness of this administration. It is time the Administration tells the truth and faces the facts and provides real support to our troops. It is time for the American people to consider the truth. The Bush administration engaged the nation in a hugely costly war based on falsehoods, wasting the lives of our sons and our economy. It is time for a change.


    Susan E. Schuman
    Shelburne Falls, MA
  5. by   pickledpepperRN
    Thank you Brownie!
    All who care should not give up.
    We need to write, call, e- mail and visit our elected officials.
    We can take our democracy back.
  6. by   dreamon
    Thank you Brownms46.

    I was appalled at the "Bring it on" statement. Those Iraqi renegades are serious, weren't our soldiers already up against attacks??

    That man makes me sick to my stomach-- and I am not afraid to tell anyone!

    I saw a shirt that read: George Bush- International Terrorist

    I would like one that says:

  7. by   WashYaHands
    August 9, 2003
    3rd ID units begin heading home

    By Gina Cavallaro
    Times staff writer

    Major elements of the 3rd Infantry Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team, and other units, began returning from duty in Iraq today .Welcome home ceremonies were scheduled at Cottrell Field at Fort Stewart, Ga., for several flights that were to continue arriving through Aug. 14.The 2nd BCT's 4,500 soldiers served longer than any other unit deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom. The brigade first deployed to Kuwait on Sept. 11, 2002 ,for a routine training rotation. In March the brigade's soldier's crossed the border into Iraq and took part in the push for Baghdad in early April.

    Soldiers from the following units were scheduled to arrive:Headquarters 2nd Brigade; 1st Battalion, 3rd Air Defense Artillery; 1st Battalion, 9th Field Artillery; 1st Battalion, 64th Armor; 10th Engineer Battalion; 103rd Military Intelligence Battalion; 123rd Signal Battalion; 129th Postal Battalion; 26th Forward Support Battalion; 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry; 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry; 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry; 3rd Military Police Company; 3rd Soldier Support Battalion; 4th Battalion, 64th Armor; 92nd Chemical Company; 92nd Engineer Battalion; 703rd Maintenance Support Battalion; 4th Brigade (Aviation); Engineer Brigade; Division Support Command.
  8. by   WashYaHands
    August 10, 2003
    Home at last


    Dozens of people in the bleachers dabbed their eyes with tissues when the group marched in wearing desert camouflage.

    The solemn invocation and the colonel's brief speech probably will go unremembered.

    Even the Domino's pizza waiting for the 140 soldiers of the 43rd Area Support Group was ignored.

    The only thing of importance Saturday in Fort Carson's Field House was the first hugs in months for these soldiers. That first welcome-home kiss.

    Spc. Eddie Peoples held his wife close and kissed his 8-month-old son, Mekiya.

    "I've only seen him 20 days out of his life," Peoples said as he gazed at the child in his grasp.

    "His first word was 'Da Da'," said his wife, Abra.

    The young couple, like the rest of the soldiers, left the field house quickly after the brief welcoming ceremony.

    The soldiers of the 43rd have been away since January, serving in Kuwait, then Baghdad. The unit's mission was keeping combat soldiers fed, clothed and healthy.

    They set a record for logistics, coordinating 20,000 convoys during the brief war, soldiers said.

    "It was the first time in the history of the Army that many convoys have been handled," Peoples said before he took his wife and baby home.

    The short time in the field house was punctuated with joyous reunions.

    Sgt. Betsy Grim's three children swarmed her. Their grandmother had taken care of them since January when both soldier-parents were sent to Iraq.

    "We planned ahead," she said as she clutched her youngest, 20-month-old daughter Sasha.

    Their grandmother Madeleine Burris said her second stint as a parent of young children wasn't easy. "Trust me, there was a lot of praying," she said. "It takes a lot of patience."

    Prayer became a big part of Alicia McDonald's life while her son, Capt. Andre Johnson, served in Iraq.

    "I've been praying all the way," she said. McDonald and her husband, Darrell, flew to Colorado Springs from their home in Ohio to be on hand when Andre arrived.

    "My parents, they surprised me," Johnson said, smiling and surrounded by his family.

    As the troops reunited with loved ones, their commander gave them praise.

    "Under adverse conditions and in a fluid environment, the soldiers performed well," Col. Sharon Duffy said.
  9. by   pickledpepperRN
    Sorry but the Sean Hannity quote, "You've got to start asking yourself not 'What's America doing wrong to cheat me of my birthright?' but 'What am I doing wrong that's holding me back from a life of spiritual, emotional, and financial success?'"
    seems quite negative.

    Who can help with a positive way of putting it?
    What can we do right to improve our country?
  10. by   Q.
    Thanks for the articles Linda. The way most of the talk has been going, I was confused why some of the officers living in my neighborhood (who returned home in June) I talked to reported major units coming home mid-August. Turns out they were right.
  11. by   VivaLasViejas
    Thanks for the info, Brownie......the MFSO website is very informative, and has some great links to other groups that oppose GWB and his war. I'm heartened by the growing number of discontented Americans who are willing to risk being labeled "traitors" and daring to speak out against this administration's policies. Thank God there's still plenty of time before the next election; hopefully there will soon be an organized opposition force large enough, and LOUD enough, to get the attention of conservatives who think they can do whatever they want, and the Constitution be damned, in the name of "fighting terrorism" and "returning to traditional values".
  12. by   WashYaHands
    Sorry but the Sean Hannity quote, "You've got to start asking yourself not 'What's America doing wrong to cheat me of my birthright?' but 'What am I doing wrong that's holding me back from a life of spiritual, emotional, and financial success?'"
    seems quite negative
    Actually, Sean Hannity does put it a different way. But, if I used his other quote, I'd offend more people than I already have.

  13. by   Brownms46
    Thank you for the posts about the troops coming home Linda, as that is good news at last..!

    But why all of sudden are they NOW coming home, after just being told that they stay would be indefinite just weeks ago?? Couldn't their leaders get their act together, or has the screams from their family members finally started to open some of the deaf ears?

    Has the number of suicides, and the growing outrage of those who no longer believe the lies of this administration, finally become more than they can handle, or put off??

    Many of those who feel this war was about nothing but oil, and vengence, say: BRING THEM ALL HOME NOW!!! All soldiers deserve better than this! Those still there are still suffering for nothing!
    ALLUJA, Iraq, July 17-Specialist Eric Martin sits on his bunk staring at the floor, his face a picture of despair.

    Earlier this week he and fellow soldiers in the Army's Third Infantry Division learned that their tour of duty in Iraq had been extended indefinitely.

    For the division, which engaged in some of the war's heaviest fighting when its tanks rolled into Baghdad in April, the news was almost too bitter to believe. Originally scheduled to be home by early June, they have been in the Persian Gulf region continuously since November and have had their return deferred three times.

    They are tired of patrolling hostile Iraqi towns in the punishing heat. They are tired of fighting an invisible enemy, knowing that a rocket-propelled grenade or mortar attack could come at any moment. Many are skeptical about the peacekeeping work they have been asked to do.

    "When I found out, I just went outside and broke down," Specialist Martin said.

    [One of them was killed on Friday, when a bomb exploded on the main Falluja bridge over the Euphrates, American military spokesmen said.]

    Specialist Martin has postponed his wedding, which had been scheduled for mid-September and in part paid for.

    His fiance, Kimberly Simpson, said from Milledgeville, Ga., "I'm disappointed, but at the same time, that is his job."

    For the 7,000 other Third Division soldiers based in and around this town 35 miles west of the capital, the news was almost equally bitter. Many are openly angry at the Army and the Pentagon, whom they accuse of dishonesty about the length of their stay or the nature of their mission.

    It is not just the length of the stay that hurts, several soldiers and officers said. Some other divisions have been in the Middle East almost as long as this division, which arrived in Kuwait on Nov. 26. In World War II the division was deployed for 563 days, as the senior officers here often remind their subordinates. Many are now resigned to the likelihood that they will stay here for a year or more.

    What angers the soldiers here is that they were never prepared for such a long tour of duty, and were repeatedly told they were on their way home.

    Adding to the frustration, several officers said, is that much of their equipment is in poor condition and that they are short on ammunition and food.

    "We feel betrayed," Sgt. Jeffrey Lujan said as he sat on his bunk in the middle of the afternoon, watching other soldiers play poker or Ping-Pong in the abandoned warehouse that houses the headquarters of the division's Second Brigade. "It was like a big, big slap in the face when we found out we were staying."

    Last week relatives of soldiers in the division began circulating an e-mail message complaining about conditions in Falluja, along with a letter from an unidentified soldier. "Our morale is not high or even low," the letter says. "Our morale is nonexistent."

    Virtually all of the soldiers here have stories about the damage their extended stay has inflicted on them.

    "We've got guys whose wives are leaving them, and children who are sick," said Staff Sgt. Charles Wooten, who had to cancel his own wedding plans because of his extended stay here.

    Others have had financial and legal problems, like a soldier sued for child support, who says he has the receipts to show his payments but is unable to show up in court with the proof.

    First Lt. Monica Casmaer, a medic at the warehouse, said 15 or 20 soldiers came in with complaints about depression or stress in the morning. Some, she said, have become clinically depressed.

    For some the crux of the matter is the Army's failure to prepare them adequately for the relief work that now occupies much of their time. The Second Brigade was sent to Falluja in early June after a number of attacks in the area. The brigade began doing intensive patrols, said Capt. Edward Ballanco, who commands a tank company, and before long the attacks began to dwindle.

    The brigade is now helping to rebuild local schools and hospitals, and offering free medical care to Falluja and the surrounding towns.

    Some soldiers say the work is rewarding, a chance to help rebuild this shattered country.

    But many others have found the shift in roles baffling. The brigade's commanding officers have sternly warned their soldiers to be cautious about drawing their weapons in encounters with local residents, and several soldiers said they felt less safe as a result.

    "We were told to come in and take Baghdad and kill," Sergeant Lujan said. "Now they want us to turn off the switch and go into peacekeeping. It's very hard."

    Adding to the strain, several soldiers said, is the fact that there simply is not enough to occupy them here. They cannot venture beyond the gates of their outposts, for fear of being shot. So they sit on their bunks, listening to CD's, cracking jokes, trying not to think about when they will go home.

    Recently a group of soldiers began renovating a dilapidated brick building that was built by the British Army in the 1920's. The project is largely an effort to distract the men, Captain Ballanco said, but it has allowed them to employ some Iraqis to do painting and masonry work.

    "Hopefully we won't end up living in it," the captain said.
  14. by   fergus51
    I really don't understand all the screaming about this. When you sign up for the military isn't it understood that you will be sent where you are needed for as long as you are needed? I understand how hard it must be for families, but I don't understand why they didn't see that this was a possibility.