There was a black-out and a white-out Thursday and Friday as over a hundred US veterans opposed to US wars in Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world, and their civilian supporters, chained and tied themselves to the White House fence during an early snowstorm to say enough is enough.
Washington Police arrested 135 of the protesters, in what is being called the largest mass detention in recent years. Among those arrested were Ray McGovern, a former CIA analyst who used to provide the president’s daily briefings, Daniel Ellsberg, who released the government’s Pentagon Papers during the Nixon administration, and Chris Hedges, former war correspondent for the New York Times.No major US news media reported on the demonstration or the arrests. It was blacked out of the New York Times, blacked out of the Philadelphia Inquirer, blacked out in the Los Angeles Times, blacked out of the Wall Street Journal, and even blacked out of the capital’s local daily, the Washington Post, which apparently didn't even think it was a local story worth publishing.
In 2009 there were 160 active duty suicides, 239 suicides within the total Army including the Reserves, 146 active duty deaths from drug overdoses and high risk behavior and 1,713 suicide attempts. In addition to suicide, other out-of-character behavior like domestic violence is known to erupt from the drugs.
More troops are dying by their own hand than in combat, according to an Army report titled "Health Promotion, Risk Reduction, Suicide Prevention." Not only that, but 36 percent of the suicides were troops who were never deployed.
The unprecedented suicide rates are accompanied by an unprecedented rise in psychoactive drug rate among active duty-aged troops, 18 to 34, which is up 85 percent since 2003, according to the military health plan Tricare. Since 2001, 73,103 prescriptions for Zoloft have been dispensed, 38,199 for Prozac, 17,830 for Paxil and 12,047 for Cymbalta says Tricare 2009 data, which includes family prescriptions. All of the drugs carry a suicide warning label.
In addition to the leap in SSRI antidepressants, prescriptions for the anticonvulsants Topamax and Neurontin rose 56 percent in the same group since 2005, says Navy Times -- drugs the FDA warned last year double suicidal thinking in patients.
In fact, 4,994 troops at Fort Bragg are on antidepressants right now, says the Fayetteville Observer. Six-hundred-sixty-four are on an antipsychotics and "many soldiers take more than one type of medication."
by Camillo "Mac" Bica,
Since the beginning of the 20th century, some 650,000 Americans have died fighting this country's many wars. Regardless of political affiliation and ideology, every American ought reverence such selfless sacrifice and understand and share the grief that this tragic loss of life entails. Though those of us who have known war hear the cries of the dying forever in our mind and suffer the pain and loss each day of our lives and need no holiday to remind us, Memorial Day is the occasion our nation sets aside to remember, to grieve and to honor those who have sacrificed their lives on behalf of "freedom."
Air shows, "exciting" demonstrations of the high tech, billion-dollar implements of war have become an increasingly popular way to "celebrate" Memorial Day in many parts of the country. The Southern Wisconsin Air fest and Missouri's Salute to Veterans 2010 are just two examples. Attracting thousands, in some cases tens of thousands, these extravaganzas have become prime locations for military recruitment. The Army's "Strength in Action Tour" regularly exploits such events "entertaining," "informing" and ultimately motivating young people to enlist. With its enormous budget, Army recruiters set up what is, for all intents and purposes, a mobile military circus and amusement arcade. Passersby, some as young as ten years old, need only provide their contact information into the Army database to receive an array of Army recruitment material and souvenirs - personalized dog tags, T-shirts, hats, footballs etc. Once registered, students are encouraged to become "Army Strong," that is, participate in interactive physical fitness events such as climbing the "US Army Rock Wall" ("strength of body," "rock strong"), "perform virtual music" on a stage in front of their peers ("strength to lead"), operate small remote control robotic devices known as Packbots through an obstacle course ("strength of technology"), "pilot" an Apache helicopter flight simulator ("strength to soar") or "participate in a fully immersive, adrenaline-pumping, highly realistic (Humvee) experience" in which they conduct a "virtual mission," engage "insurgents" and kill them ("strength of team").
by Aaron Glantz
by Aaron Glantz
PLEASANTON, California - More than 400 homeless veterans from across northern California relaxed in comfort at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton.
The occasion - a "Stand Down", where the homeless veterans were given access to good food, clean clothes, showers and beds.
A group of veterans stayed in camouflage canvas tents, met with employment counselors and even made their case to superior court judges, who prescribed modest penalties in exchange for dropping charges related to failed appearances on old warrants. Such warrants often started as unpaid traffic tickets, but the charges escalated as they were ignored.
"The good thing about the East Bay Stand Down is they can get the services they need," said Army Reserve Capt. Tonya Pacheco, who helped handle logistics for the event.
"If they need counseling – whatever they need it's available to them," she said. "A lot of veterans will have the opportunity to turn their lives around."
100,000 Homeless Vets