Generals Gone Wild

General Petraeus - gone wild  :   http://mariopiperni.com/

I’ve been reluctant to write on this Petraeus stuff and wasn’t sure why that was so. I am now. I just don’t care. I really don’t.

Maybe there’s something I’m just not seeing in this story of cheating 4-star generals and their equally unfaithful email-loving women…but whatever it is, I still don’t care. That said, and without any attempt to excuse the behavior of any of the players in this sordid tale, here’s something to think about.

That’s the thing about Petraeus. He isn’t some sort of paragon of virtue as people on the right want to claim, nor is he just business as usual in his abuse of power and position as some on the left seem to believe. There is something unique about him and what he’s done, and I just wish people would look at the situation essentially sui generis rather than as confirmation of one worldview or another.

There is a perception, I think, that general officers are  swinging dick, alpha-males, screwing, boozing, and brawling their way through life. And sure, there are some like that, but in my experience, general officers are about as far from that stereotype as possible. They are usually driven, hard-working, introspective, and bookish. Whether they went to the service academies or ROTC, they rarely had time to party even as undergrads. They often marry young, have kids young, and spend much of their time either deployed or struggling to pay attention to their families when they are home.  They are, in short, often nerds (in a good way), and they are not always well-equipped emotionally to deal with the kind of attention they begin to attract as they rise in rank, and particularly as they pin on stars. General Allen, for instance, has a reputation as a serious, bookish guy. Now maybe he’s a serial cheater, and Jill Kelley was just another actual or potential conquest, but more likely, in my estimation, is that he just didn’t quite know how to handle her attention. I dunno, but I think it worth keeping in mind that possibility.

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Caregiver Bill for US Veterans Still Stalled

With more troops committed to overseas conflict, an overwhelming number of US Veterans and caregivers are currently left in a state of limbo waiting for the programs associated with the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act to get started. Even though the act was signed into law last May and included a January 31st 2011 deadline for programs to begin, that date has since passed without any start or benefits for veterans and their caregivers.

The bill is directed toward getting better support for primary in-home caregivers to severely wounded veterans. This would include a stipend to be given to a spouse, parent, child, friend, or hired caregiver based on the amount of hours worked and care provided.   The program also contains initiatives to pay lodging expenses and meal costs for caregivers who may need to accompany injured veterans on trips for VA healthcare monitoring and treatment therapy.

The growing cases of veterans and soldiers with traumatic brain injuries (TBI) have made the program crucial, as many military families have been put under some extreme financial burdens. This is because many spouses or children of veterans have been forced to quit their jobs so that they can care of their loved ones who have returned home from Iraq or Afghanistan.

The major increase and growth of TBI cases in soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan was the catalyst for the program when the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act was first drafted. Because of this, it was outlined to support only veterans of the current wars (post 2001).

One of the reasons that programs specified in the bill have yet to be implemented is possibly due to the fact that the VA is debating opening up the program to all veterans.  Veterans and caregivers from previous wars are campaigning for the provisions of the bill to apply to them as well. Veterans with mesothelioma are some of the most supportive of this campaign.  This is a type of cancer caused by asbestos exposure and extremely prevalent among older veterans because of the military’s heavy use of asbestos before it was discovered to be dangerous.  Because the symptoms of the disease are often left undiagnosed until victims are in their late 60’s and the side effects are so debilitating, many of the veterans diagnosed with the cancer can be extremely difficult for caregivers to take care of. Unfortunately, because the mesothelioma life expectancy is only a little more than a year, many of these veterans currently pressuring for the VA to include them may not be alive to see the program implemented. Hopefully, not only will the act be pushed through sometime soon, but it could possibly include these provisions for older veterans.

Although the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act was a major step forward for VA benefits, the hurdles and obstacles in getting the bill started have prevented veterans from reaping its benefits and support.  With Congress’ goal of having the program up and running by summer, there is hope that this bill will finally allow veterans and caregivers to take advantage of the support they so very much deserve.

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Taylor Dardan is a dedicated advocate of veteran’s benefits. He currently resides in the southeastern United States. You can contact him at dailydardan @ gmail dot com

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War and the Fickleness of News

Military Coffin - War  http://mariopiperni.com/

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One of our readers and contributors wrote this piece back in July. With the holidays and festivities soon upon us and American soldiers still fighting two wars, Janine asked if I’d repost her article in tribute to friends and family in Iraq and Afghanistan and to all brave men and women fighting for peace and freedom everywhere.

Janine, gladly.

-mario

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A close friend told me he joined the Army to see the world and joked he didn’t realize how much of the world was covered in desert. His comment brought to mind the beginning of the War on Terror and resulting 24/7 news channels’ courting of War. There were ceaseless maps, diagrams, experts, embed reports, and when war casualties ensued– reports of how many died that particular day complete with a profile or two of selected fallen. All other news was relegated to bottom screen crawls or sound bite news seconds.

Over the last six years News has lost interest. It’s taken more glamorous mistresses than old ugly conflicts and relegated its war maps, diagrams, experts, and embedded sweethearts to the country house. News’s most recent 24/7 paramours have been a celebrity death complete with medical and death experts, familial gets, and a grave expert (huh?); the Sotomayor hearings with legal and reverse racism experts; the Dem/Repub health care reform stalemate with health care and political experts; the policeman/homeowner incident with legal and racism experts; and the most gleaming inamorata of all, News consorting with its own self. Did it over cover a story? Is its reporting balanced? All these stories are absolutely newsworthy but should news of troop and civilian war casualties be consigned to bottom screen crawls or sound bite seconds?

Our troops have been dispatched around the world by this Nation to defend her interests. Sometimes these individuals are in mid-desert with no amenities or hygiene products, living with sand in their eyes, mouth, ears and soul. When they do return to Base the store shelves are often empty and some of our troops have no mail, no pedestrian news of home. When these individuals die, their deaths impact whole families and towns. We can but imagine the impact on significant others who have had their lives fragmented in a roadside bomb instant, on now motherless/fatherless children who are either too young to understand anything beyond Mommy or Daddy won’t be home to push them on a swing anymore or old enough to understand one parent can no longer attend their life events.

No matter your feelings about war, about violence, these enlisted men and women deserve our everyday thanks and recognition. They deserve to be more than a news afterthought or statistical crawl at the bottom of the screen. They deserve to know our Nation’s people appreciate them. Hence, if moved to do so, adopt a soldier if you can, or send the occasional anonymous care package or write letters, anything to let these men and women who fight and die to protect how we live know we acknowledge their sacrifice, that they aren’t an afterthought, they are lead stories in our hearts and prayers, let them know they will never be reduced to a news crawl at the bottom of our thoughts.
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