Janet's Conner

This Blog tell the Truth and will never not tell the Truth. Impeach Bush

Monday, August 14, 2006


About 300 U.S. soldiers who just weeks ago returned home to Alaska after a year in Iraq are being ordered back to help bolster security in Baghdad, the U.S. Army said on Monday.

By: William Dunham
August 14, 2006

The soldiers are part of the 3,900-strong 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team from Fort Wainwright in Alaska. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on July 27 ordered the unit to remain in Iraq for up to four months past its scheduled departure.

The order provoked anger and disappointment among some of the soldiers' families in Alaska. It also made it clear that any significant reduction in the 135,000-strong U.S. force in Iraq was unlikely in the immediate future.

The brigade was so far along in the process of flowing out of Iraq after its yearlong tour that 380 soldiers had returned home to Alaska and 300 had arrived in Kuiwait en route home, the Army said.

All of the brigade's soldiers who had reached Kuwait were sent back to Iraq, the Army said. And now, 300 of the 380 who made it to Alaska will be sent back to Iraq within the next couple of weeks, said Paul Boyce, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon.

Those 300, mainly infantry soldiers, are needed in Iraq "to maintain the cohesiveness of that unit as much as possible," Boyce said. Most of these soldiers returned to Alaska three weeks ago but some have been back for as long as five weeks, Boyce said.

Pentagon policy is for Army units to serve 12-month tours in Iraq and Marine Corps units to serve seven-month tours. Army soldiers kept longer than one year in Iraq get an extra $1,000 in pay per month, the Army said.

The 172nd had operated primarily in the Mosul area in relatively calm northern Iraq, but is being shifted into Baghdad, the site of unrelenting violence despite attempts at a security crackdown by U.S. and Iraqi government forces.

The brigade is now due to return to Alaska starting in late November through early January, officials said.

After some troops and families complained earlier in the war about lack of predictability in the length of tours in Iraq, the Pentagon instituted the rules on deployment duration. This was intended to reduce emotional stress for troops serving in a hostile and unpredictable environment.

Lt. Col. Wayne Shanks, an Army spokesman, said military leaders in Alaska are working with soldiers and their families to address hardships brought about by the extended duty.

The Army said the brigade has not received any assurances it will not be extended even further, but said Rumsfeld would have to approve any such move.


Baghdad (Reuters)---There is no evidence the Iranian government is stirring trouble in Iraq, a U.S. general said on Monday, playing down suggestions that Tehran will retaliate for U.S. backing of Israel's war on Hezbollah.

***Then why is this government and the mainstream media trying to ram this down our throats?

Augyst 14, 2006

"There is nothing that we definitely have found to say that there are any Iranians operating within the country of Iraq," Major General William Caldwell, the top U.S. militry spokesman in Iraq, told a newsconference.

***The why is Cheney telling the American people that there are Iranian troops and weapons in Iraq?

U.S. officials have previously said the war between Israel and Iran-backed Hezbollah might encourage Tehran to make mischief in Iraq to pressure the United States, which has some 130,000 troops in the country.

***That's what this government wants you to think. Iran has better things to do than fight in a civil war. Cheney just wants to keep his perpetual war going because the Republicans are losing at the polls!

"Iran has got Hezbollah in Lebanon. Iran has got some forces here. There is the possibility they might encourage those forces to create increased instability here," U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad told reporters last week.

***I wonder if Khalilzad got his talking points from FOX Bews!

Caldwell said recently---manufactured Iranian weapons and munitions had been found in Iraq.

***These insurgents are smart enough to go across the border and buy them!

"We do believe that some Shiite elements have been in Iran receiving training. But the degree to which this is known and endorsed by the government of Iran is uncertain," he said.

Several powerful Shiite militias, including the Badr Organization and the Mehdi Army, supporters of radical Shiite Moqtada al Sadr, have long-standing ties with Tehran.

***They always have but that doesn't mean that Iranis coming into this war like Cheney would want you to believe.

Calswell said the contacts were via "third elements associated with Iran."

"We do know that weapons have been provided and IED technology has been made available to these extremist elemets," he said.

***This is all planned by the Republicans. They want to make you think that we are in grave danger from terrorists. You can pinpoint the day that they start their campaigns to the day that they stop campaigning. People who believe that things are getting so bad, better start thinking that it is all getting so bad under this Republican-run government and Congress. We need to be protected by a different party, because the more that these Republicans tell us how scared we should be with their scare tactics, the more people are beginning to believe that it is "just talk" from the Republicans to get reelected. The polls are showing that their scare tactics no longer work!


Waco, Texas---At the beginning of this month, among the dozen or so congressional seats Republicans are hoping to pick up this fall is the district that includes President Bush's Crawford ranch, U.S. House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL), said while campaigning for its GOP candidate.

KRISTV dot com
Associated Press
August 2006

Hastert (R-IL), said businessman Van Taylor would make "a great addition" to Congress because he is an Iraq war veteran who understands sacrifices and family values.

***Instead of Hastert going to Texas, he should be in his own state debating John Laesch, his Democratic oponent! What is Hastert so afraid of?

"I think this race has a lot of wheels," Hastert said after a private fundraiser for Taylor attended by about 100 people. "Van is one of those stars that we have that we see on the horizon. I think he has a reay story to tell. I think he has the energy to run this race, and I think he has the credibility to get his message across."

***Those in Illinois are hoping to see Hastert come home and debate John Laesch instead of trying to avoid him. John has a lot to say to this guy! He wants to let him know how bad things are going for the "real" people, since Hastert only allows Republican legislation to come to the floor of the House. And we all know who the Republicans work for and it's not the everyday person. It's that upper 1%!

Taylor, is trying to unseat eight-term U.S. Rep Chet Edwards (D-Waco), said he was pleased with Hastert's support. Taylor declined to say how much was raised at the fundraiser.

***Having Hastert's support behind you is just like having Bush supporting you. Hastert is a lapdog for the Bush administration!

Hastert, who said he is "playing offense" by campaigning in 42 districts nationwide throughout August, said Republicans are targeting some Democratic districts in Georgia, South Carolina, Vermont, West Virginia, Ohio, Illinois, Iowa and Washington.

***What about your own district Hastert? Don't you think that your constituents would like you to answer a few questions for them?

Hastert said the GOP also is eyeing Texas congressional District 17 as "a district that we see promise in."

***Like, I said, what about your own district? When do you think we can expect Hastert to give some of precious time there?

"It's a district that's Republican leaning," Hastert said. "People expect...at least whoever they elect, even if they pretend to be an independent, to vote for Republican issues, and quite frankly that's not being done right now."

***That's because the Republicans aren't doing a good job! Especially those like Hastert, part of the Republican leadership!

In a statement issued by Rep. Edwards that said: "I respect Speaker Hastert, but no amount of partisan endorsements from Washington, D.C., will change the fact that just 13 mon ago, Van Taylor had never lived or worked in our district."

Taylor, who moved from Dallas to Wst a year ago, said he plans to focus on the issues that matter to residents of Central Texas.

***It's not local issues the people are worried about. The Republicans have screwed up this country so badly, that the people are more worried about national issues!

***So, Mr. Hastert, Republican from Illinois, when will you be coming home to debate John Laesch? I want to make sure that I have a front row seat!


New treatment model used on veterans shows promise.

VA Watchdog/Larry Scott
emaxhealth dot com
August 12, 2006

A new treatment model for bipolar disorder tested in veterans across the nation reduced their manic episodes and improved their quality of life, according to research led by a psychiatrist with the Providence Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Brown Medical School.

The randomized, controlled trial also showed that the model did not add to the treatment costs for bipolar disorder, which affects nearly 6 million American adults a year. Results appear in two reports published in Psychiatric Services, a journal of the American Psychiatric Association.

"We applied the same symptom management approaches found in the interventions for diabetes and asthmas to the treatment of bipolar disorder and found that people with serious mental illness can help take control of their care," said Mark S. Bauer, M.D., staff psychiatrist with the Providence VA Medical Center and professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown Medical School. "The finding should reduce the stigma of helplessness that so often is associated with these disorders, and it will open new avenues for the treatment of bipolar disorder."

Bauer oversaw the clinical trial and is the lead author of both journal articles.

The new model was developed and tested in veterans with bipolar disorder at the Providence VA Medical Center. During the trial, 306 veterans were enrolled at 11 VA centers located in Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas. Each veteran was randomly assigned to a study group. One group got usual care through their psychiatrist. The other group received treatment for bipolar disorder under the new model.

Developed by Bauer and colleagues, the model brings together psychiatrists and nurses as a team to treat the patients. Psychiatrists monitored symptoms and handled medications. Nurse care coordinators worked with veterans during group education sessions.

During the weekly group sessions, nurses discussed topics such as medication side effects and early warning signs for symptoms, which in bipolar range from racing speech, bursts of optimism and impulsive behavior during manic episodes to fatigue, social withdrawal and suicidal thoughts during depressive episodes. During the sessions, patients discussed coping skills, got feedback from the group and created personal action plans.

The intervention was tested for three years. The results: Under the new model: patients saw a significant reduction in symptoms, including five fewer weeks experiencing mania during the three-year study period. Patients also felt happier and healthier, reporting more productive time at work, better relationships with family, and more satisfaction with their care.

The new model was less expensive---an average of $61,398 for three years of direct bipolar disorder treatment costs compared with $64,379 for usual care---although the difference was not statistically significant.

"The bottom line is that we saw improvements in patients' symptoms, function and quality of life with no change in net costs," Bauer said.

The results mirror those from a simultaneous trial tesing a similar team-based treatment approach for bipolar disorder that Bauer also helped to develop. That approach was tested in 441 patients enrolled in a Washington state mental health maintenance organization. Results from that trial were published in May in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

"We now have results from more than 700 patients, cared for in very different health systems, that show this collaborative approach works," Bauer said. "Just like anyone with a chronic illness, people with bipolar disorder can work with medical professionals to manage their symptoms and manage their lives."


The number of soldiers dismissed from the army for desertion or classified as long-term absent without leave (Awol) has more than doubled since the start of the Iraq war three years ago.

Times On Line-UK
The Sunday Times
By: Michael Smith
August 13, 2006

New figures released by the Ministry of Defence last week show that 2,030 soldiers went missing from their units between 2003 and 2005 and were later dismissed by the service. A further 740 are on the run but have not yet been kicked out.

Over the previous three years there were 1,130 dismissals.

Military Families Against the War, the organisation set up by parents of soldiers killed in Iraq, said the figures were a clear reflection of disenchantment brought about by the war.

Rose Gentle, a spokewoman for the group, whose son Gordon was killed in Iraq, said: "Half of these boys are little more than kids. They've not got the right equipment. They see their friends killed. It's affected a lot of them mentally. That's why they're not going back."

Rather than finding the deserters, the army tends simply to write off the missing soldiers and dismiss them in their absence. The new figures show that only 11 have been court-martialled since the war began.

"There can now be no doubt about the serious impact of the disastrous war and occupation of Iraq," said Nick Harvey, the Liberal Democrat defence spokesman. "With demanding commitments in a number of theatres the army is already overstrectched. We cannot afford to lose soldiers at such a rate."

The number of soldiers dismissed each year for going Awol indefinitely, effectively deserting, averaged 375 in the three years preceding the war. It rose to 495 in 2003 and to 815 in 2004 and was 720 last year.

The total number of Awol soldiers has remained relatively stable despite the war but the number going Awol indefinitely has increased. A soldier who fails to report to his unit but intends to return is deemed to be Awol, a less serious offence than desertion.

Most go Awol for personal domestic reasons as a break-up with a girlfriend, or to avoid an exercise, and return to their units within days.

Soldiers who go absent indefinitely or who go absent while serving overseas are deemed to have deserted. The army's land command headquarters, which is responsible for equipping troops, is facing budget cuts of more than 40M pounds over the next eight months, according to a financial report ordered by the incoming chief of the general staff, Sir Richard Dannatt.

Tanks, missile systems and artillery will have repair budgets slashed. Bases will have to close and military exercises may be canceled.


A WOMAN'S FIGHT---Women often return home from war with different problems and less support.

VA Watchdog/Larry Scott
Story By: Raquel Rutledge
August 14, 2006

Susan Sonnheim has thrown away her shorts. It doesn't matter that it's a searing hot summer in Milwaukee. It's pants only from now on, a full-body wet suit when she goes to the beach. The former National Guard member from Franklin keeps her legs covered.

"They're ugly," she said.

Blown up in Baghdad at the beginning of the war by a raodside bomb, Sonnheim's body was peppered with shrapnel. Hundreds of pieces remain lodged in her legs and throughout much of her body. Her left eye is fully blind. She has shrapnel lodged in her "good" eye, and her hearing is dulled. She underwent multiple reconstructive surgeries on her face and ear during a 19-month stay at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

Sonnheim, 47, is home now, but she's hardly comforted. She and many other women returning from war often are finding difficulty in the transition from warrior to wife, mom, student or simply civilian.

More than 1,500 women have returned from Iraq and Afghanstan and sought some type of help from veterans hospitals in Wisconsin, northern Illinois and Iron Mountain, Mich., ranking the region third-highest in the country. Milwaukee's Zablocki Veterans Affairs Medical Center alone has seen more than 200 women since March 2003.

"Women are the fastest growing veteran population in the nation," said Gundel Metz, coordinator for female veterans' issues with the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs.

Some deal with problems that parallel those of their male counterparts. They've lost limbs, eyesight and hearing. They have digestive disorders, nightmares, anger and relationship problems.

But female veterans returning home from war face ailments and traumas of other sorts:

* More than 400 military women working in Iraq, Afghanastan and the region have reported they were victims of sexual assault from 2003 through May, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.

* More female soldiers reported mental health concerns than their male comrades: 24% compared with 19%, according to a Pentagon study released in March.

* Roughly 40% have musculosketal problems that doctors say likely are linked to lugging too-heavy and ill-fitted equipment.

* A considerable number---28%---return with genital and urinary system infections.

* There are gender-related societal issues that make transitioning tough, psychologists who work with female veterans say. Women are more likely to worry about body image issues, especially if they have visible scars, and their traditional roles as caregivers in civilian life can set them back when they return.

"Men come back and they have women fluttering around them taking care of them," said Molly Carnes, a professor in the department of medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and director of the women veterans health program at the William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital in Madison. "Women come back and suddenly they're thrust into the caregiving role, taking care of their children and supporting their husbands.

"Who takes care of the woman veteran?"

Needs long ignored

Carnes remembers when she started working at the veterans hospital in the 1970s. A female patient got her period and there were no sanitary products anywhere in the building. Even in the late 1990s, when the women's clinic opened, tables in the exam room faced the door, exposing women's bodies to anyone who walked in.

"So you could be spread eagle to the door," Carnes said. "Nobody thought about 'Oh, we're going to be doing pelvics on women veterans. They might like some privacy,'"

Today, curtains circle the tables. The Madison facility runs one of six clinics for women in the country, perhaps one reason the area treats so many women, doctors said.

The Woman's Stress Disorder Treatment Program, operated jointly with the VA hospital in northern Illinois, was launched in 1999 to respond to women suffering effects of rape and other sexual trauma. Although that still is among its missions, the program recently has shifted its focus to serving women who have been in combat.

Although federal law bars women from ground combat, the chaotic nature of the Iraq war and lack of conventional front line make everyone vulnerable. Fifty-three American military women have been killed in Iraq, more than the number killed in Korea, Vietnam and the first Gulf War combined. Four were from Wisconsin.

Almost 400 women have been wounded in action in Iraq. Eleven women have lost limbs in recent operations there and elsewhere.

"Every single day at every moment, people are afraid they are going to die," Carnes said. "That has long, enduring effects on the central nervous system, the immune system, hormone systems, the whole body...It can restructure the way the body works."

Veterans hospitals everywhere are changing their ways to be more welcoming to the growing number of women, who make up about 15% of the active duty force and 17% of the National Guard and Reserve. Recruiters say those percentages continue to climb.

This spring Zablocki formed a women veterans support group for those who recently served in Iraq and Afghanastan.

At North Chicago VA Medical Center, the walls are being redecorated, the staff retrained and the literature in the waiting rooms updated to reflect women's needs, said Katherine Dong, women veterans program manager.

"We're making sure there is no gender bias in the signage and that the military artwork on the walls include men and women," Dong said.

The hospital also tries to segregate the waiting room so women aren't alone among a mass of men, she said. Receptionists are being taught to never assume that the man in a couple is the patient, a seemingly small but important observance that can make women feel valued, Dong said.

Perhaps most importantly, the hospital is making sure the doctors treating female veterans are proficient in women's health issues. For example, many of the women in the war said they had to hold their bladders for long periods of time because they had no adequate alternatives.

"I had a women tell me she would not drink liquids because she didn't want to have to worry about having to go to the bathroom," Dong said.

The North Chicago VA made one doctor responsible for all female vets, Dong said. That doctor then becomes familiar with issues and behaviors specific to women deployed to a war zone and can better treat them.

A Part of Her Life

Sonnheim regularly passes through the revolving door at Zablocki. She ignores the small poster to the door that reads, "The price of freedom is visible here."

The 5-foot-3, 118-pound former military police officer doesn't need the reminder. She's paid the price. It's part of her now, from the time she wakes up to an empty bed until the time she swallows her anti-depressants and falls asleep at night. Even then, images of Iraq weasel their way into her dreams, replaying the destruction it has wreaked on her world.

She and her husband of 20 years, Dennis Sonnheim, divorced within months of her medical discharge from the military in May 2005. He didn't return calls seeking his perspective on their relationship.

"He blames me for everything," she said. "He blames me for joining the military. He blames me for getting blown up."

Her parents and siblings don't know how to talk to her, often avoiding any discussion of Iraq, she said. She has no children, and her friends have distanced themselves.

"They say they found me difficult," she said.

On a couple of occasions when Sonnheim has gone out to socialize, she's gotten into trouble.

On May 20, 2005, several days after returning to Milwaukee, Sonnheim was arrested for drunken driving. Sonnheim said she's never been a big drinker, and records show the incident was her first of its kind. On March 7, 2006, she was arrested again for driving while intoxicated.

Sonnheim blamed her behavior on post-traumatic stress disorder and medications she takes to help alleviate the symptoms.

No drugs can stop the constant plugging and popping in her ears, which were injured in the explosion.

"I feel like I'm at high altitudes all the time," she said.

'Whose pin is that?'

Sonnheim is clearly proud of her service and said she is frequently frustrated by a lack of respect paid to female veterans.

She was disappointed at a recent event when a woman noticed her Purple Heart hat and said, "Oh, you're the ones always calling me to donate my old clothes."

"My heart sank," Sonnheim said.

Even the Purple Heart pin she wears everyday draws rude reactions from an unlikely group: veterans themselves.

Sonnheim works as a licensed practical nurse at Zablocki---the same job she held before she was deployed in 2003.

"They (patients at the hospital) will ask me, 'Whose pin is that?' 'Why are you wearing that pin?'"

When Sonnheim went to get her flu shot at the VA, "The clerk was asking everybody 'What's your name? What's your name?' Then when I got up to the table she said, 'Are you a veteran?'

"They just don't acknowledge women," she said.

Sonnheim hopes to be more visible once she gets her driver's license back next year. She bought a purple Mini Cooper and ordered license plates the read "SGT MP."

"I want people to be aware," she said.

Sonnheim goes to biweekly counseling sessions and attends a women's support group at Zablocki to help female veterans readjust to civilian life.

She spends much of her free time alone, with her two baby cockatiels, teaching them to sing and obey commands.

"They're pretty much my life," she said.