Janet's Conner

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

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Afghanastan: AMERICANS' SUPPORT FOR AFGHAN MILITARY ACTION DROPS IN CNN POLL



The number of Americans who approve of U.S. military action in Afghanastan dropped to 56% in a CNN poll last month, down from 92% in November 201.

Bloomberg
By: Kerry Young
September 2, 2006

CNN today released results of a poll of 1,047 adult Americans, which Opinion Research Corp. conducted by telephone on Aug 2 and 3. The poll's margin of sampling error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.

The U.S. invaded Afghanastan in October 2001 and ousted the Taliban regime that harbored the al-Qaeda terrorist forces that claimed responsibility for the Sept. 11 attacks. Many Taliban fighters have now returned or come out of hiding.

Violence has increased as a U.S.-led coalition, troops of the North Atlantic Treaty Orgnization and the Afghan military have cracked down on insurgents in more remote areas of the country. Hundreds of rebels have been killed in battles, mainly in the south and the east, and insurgents have carried out suicide attacks and bombings.

The CNN poll found 28% of respondents said the U.S. is winning the war in Afghanastan, while 10% said the insurgents are. The poll found the majority of respondents, 58%, said neither side is winning.

A CNN poll in December 2003 found between 71% of Americans approved of U.S. military action in Afghanastan, and 83% did in September 2002.

The D.O.D. said that there were 329 U.S. casualties in the Afghanastan War as of Aug. 31.





VA Issues: VA SPENDS $348M ON TRAVEL IN 2005



Air fares, hotels, rental cars, meals and other expenses total more than one-third of a billion dollars.

I'm not sure how the VA can justify all of this travel expense. With teleconferencing easily available this figure could be cut way down. VA doctors use telemedicine to communicate with veterans about their healthcare...an "electronic" example that could be used at every level of the VA. Perhaps our VA employees should take advantage of the electronic marvels at their fingertips instead of jumping on a plane.

govexec dot com
By Daniel Pulliam
September 3, 2006
via: VA Watchdog-Larry Scott

Driven by Defense Dept expenditures, agency spending on travel boomed in fiscal 2005, up to $2.2B to $15.4B, according to the Office of Management and Budget.

Travel buying increased significantly at the Homeland Security Dept, rising from $849M to $940M. But even that was small change compared with the Pentagon's increase---from $8.9B in 2004 to $10.9B in 2005. The $2B rise is rivaled only by a $1.7B gain between 2002 and 2003. Travel spending by the military is now more than double that of all other federal agencies combined.

The 2005 governmentwide increase is nearly double the $1.3B rise in 2004, but travel expenditures were for the most part outside Defense and Homeland Security.

Other top travelers include the Justice, Agriculture and VA departments. Justice, at $395M, spent less than half than Homeland Security. Agriculture and VA have been battling for the No. 4 spot on the top travelers list for several years with Agriculture reclaiming the position it lost in 2004, spending $366M in 2005, up from $329M in 2004. VA spending increased $18M to $348M in 2005.

This and much more information about federal spending patterns is included in the Aug. 15 issue of Government Executive, which features a complete list of the Top 200 Federal Contractors.

The largest drop in travel spending occurred at the Transportation Dept, which spent $231M in 2004, but only $206M in 2005. Three other departments---Housing and Urban Development, Interior and Labor---saw spending slump by a combined $12M. The Securities and Exchange Commission, at the bottom of the list, dropped $11M on travel.

According to the General Services Administration, agencies spent more than $3.4B on their travel money on airfare, just under $2B on hotels and $378M renting automobiles in 2005. United Airlines managed to hold on to its spot at the top of the market with $846M in sales, followed closely by Delta Air Lines with $718M. American Airlines again came in No. 3 with $491M in sales. Combined, the three companies dominate the federal market, with 24.8%, 21% and 14.4% shares, respectively; American's percent slipped slightly from last year.

Marriott hotels, Holiday Inns, Residence Inns and Hilton hotels were the most popular destinations for federal travelers in 2005. The four chains accounted for a quarter of the $1.99B federal hotel market. Marriott International Inc. held on to the top spot with $146M followed by Holiday Inn with $142M. Residence Inn by Marriott brought in $125M followed by Hilton Hotels Corp. with $114M. No other hotel chain exceeded 4% of the market.

Hertz Corp. remains the preferred auto rental shop, netting $76.4M---20.2% of all cars. Enterprise Rent-a-Car, Avis Rent-a-Car, Budget Rent a Car and National Car Rental followed.

VA Issues: IRAQ WAR VETS BATTLE WAR'S SIGNATURE WOUND: BRAIN INJURIES



"It's really hard to let go of the person you were before."

And now D.O.D. is cutting funding to the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center.

Is there no shame?

Is the no sense of responsibility?

The most seriously wounded will be getting less for treatment and research.

Mercury News
via: VA Watchdog
By: Jordan Robertson (AP)

PALO ALTO, Calif---Lance Cpl. Sam Reyes survived three horrific attacks in Iraq. An insurgent shot him in the chest with a machine gun. He took a shotgun wound to the back during an ambush. And a suicide bomber blew apart a lightly armoured 18-wheeler Reyes was riding in, killing 12 of his fellow Marines and leaving him with severe burns and broken ribs.

But Reyes' lasting injury is one that cannot be seen, and it continues to cripple him long after he arrived home with a clean bill of health.

***Maybe if Reyes' vehicle wasn't so "lightly" armoured, he wouldn't be like he is and 12 Marines might still be alive! If Bush wants our troops to fight a war for him, something that he was too afraid to do himself, then he should sent our troops into battle with the right equipment to do so!

He suffered an undetected traumatic brain injury when the explosion sent a powerful shock wave through his brain tissue, bursting blood vessels and smacking his brain against the inside of his skull.

"I thought I was a mess-up, just damn near dumb," Reyes, 22, said about the mysterious fogginess that plagued him long after his physical wounds healed. "I thought I was just a failure at this. I was recognized before as being the best. I knew my stuff real well. It made me feel like I wasn't a Marine no more."

Medical experts say traumatic brain injuries are the signature wound of the Iraq war, a byproduct of improved armor that allows troops to survive once-deadly attacks but does not fully protect against roadside explosives and suicide bombers.

They have become so common that special brain injury centers are being set up at VA hospitals to deal with it. So far, about 1,000 people have been treated for the symptoms, which include slowed thinking, severe memory loss and coordination and impulse control problems. Some doctors fear there may be thousands more active duty and discharged troops who are suffering undiagnosed.

"People who were hit by lightning, a lot of energy goes through their systems and their brains are cooked," said Dr. Harriet Zeiner, lead neuropsychologist for the polytrauma unit at the VA hospital in Palo Alto. "A lot of that happens in (improvised explosive devices) blasts. Your brain is not meant to handle that energy blast going through it."

The injury is a physical loss of brain tissue that shares some symptoms with but is markedly different than PTSD, which is triggered by extreme anxiety and permanently resets the brain's fight-or-flight mechanism.

Battlefield medics and military supervisors often miss traumatic brain injuries. Many troops don't know the symptoms or won't discuss their difficulties for fear of being sent home.

"Most of us are used to the Vietnam War, where people didn't trust the government," Zeiner said. "That's not going on here. A lot of these guys want to go back, they want to go help their buddies."

***Most of these guys want to go back to help their buddies, yes! But! Who in the hell said that the Vietnam Vets didn't want to do the same? This government is trusted "LESS" than the administrations that served during the Vietnam War! And you can take that one to the bank!

The most devastating effects of traumatic brain injuries---depression, agitation and social withdrawal---are difficult to treat with medications, said Dr. Rohit Das, a Boston Medical Center neurologist who treats injured troops at the VA Boston Healthcare System.

Certain symptoms, such as seizures, can be treated, but after that "we just draw a blank," Das said, adding that docotrs are just beginning to cope with the mounting volume of brain injuries as the war drags on.

"We're just unlocking the secrets of the brain," he said. "And when they have memory problems, leg weakness, arm weakness---there's no quick fix for that. We're probably decades away from regrowing brain tissue. Once you lose that, it's permanent."

In Reyes' case, the Purple Heart recipient didn't recognize his dad and his closest friends when they picked him up at the airport.

His math and reading skills had deteriorated to a child's level.

A machine gun operator in the war, he was demoted from his position teaching young recruits while healing at Camp Pendleton after he began forgetting the differences between weapons.

After his injury was discovered, he was sent to Palo Alto VA hospital, where his treatment includes exercises to improve his speed and attention and control angry outbursts.

But his memory may never fully recover: He'll watch a movie halfway through before remembering he has already seen it multiple times. He forget basics tasks without Post-it notes and alerts programmed into his cell phone and personal digital assistant.

He feels "like I'm back to a little kid," he said. "I've got to go through the whole process. It's frustrating, depressing and very overwhelming."

Even in troops without documented brain injuries, the constant barrage of improvised explosives is taking a toll.

A recent study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that Iraq war veterans are more likely than other U.S. troops to suffer mild memory and attention lapses.

Researchers were split on whether the study---which did not look for traumatic brain injuries---revealed precursors to serious mental health problems, or reflected normal changes during the transition back to civilian life.

The spike in traumatic brain injury cases is forcing the Dept of VA to expand its treatment. The VA currently operates four hospital trauma centers specializing in treating traumatic brain injuries, and is now creating 21 smaller regional facilities, said Secretary of VA R. James Nicholson.

"This is very high priority," he said. "It's a very serious injury to those young heroes that suffer it. We're pulling out all the stops."

The patients need a combination of psychiatric, psychological and physical rehabilitation that can be difficult to coordinate in a traditional hospital, Nicholson said.

In troops with documented brain injuries, the loss of brain function is often compounded by other serious injuries.

Eric Cagle, a 26-year-old Army staff sergeant from Arizona, lost his right eye and was paralyzed on his left side when an IED exploded under his patrol Humvee two years ago.

A concussion he sustained in the balst left him with a brain injury that makes math difficult, triggers inappropriate outbursts, and led to his divorce.

He says treatment has improved his outlook. Though confined to a wheelchair, he began walking tentatively again last year, and wants to study forensic science to work in an FBI crime lab.

"I'm getting part of me back here," he said in Palo Alto. "I'm getting my life back."

Kristin Facer, 32, an Army first lieutenant, said the IED blast hit her armored 18-wheeler a year ago rattled her in her seat belt but didn't appear to injure anyone in her convoy.

"It was an adrenaline rush," she said.

But several doctors' visits later for back, vision and memory problems---she once was unable to name the president---revealed her brain injury.

She was treated this summer in Palo Alto and moved to Colorado, where she remains in the Army but will need continued therapy.

Despite her improvement, she fears she won't recover enough to fulfill her dream of learning Arabic and teaching at West Point, and has painfully readjusted her goals to suit her injury.

"It's really hard to let go of the person you were before," she said. "But it would be destructive not to. If I constantly compare myself to what my capabilities were before, I'm going to fall short of everything."


And now D.O.D. is cutting funding to the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center:

That story can be read on this blog:

08/20/06---VA Issues: STOP CONGRESS FROM CUTTING FUNDS FOR TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY (TBI)

***As usual, whatever Nicholson had to say in this article is a lie!



Veterans Issues: THE GOOD SOLDIER

Houston Chronicle editorial praises former Senator Max Cleland

Via: Larry Scott
VA Watchdog
September 3, 2006

The good soldier

Former Sen. Max Cleland shows the price that veterans pay, during combat and after.

Former U.S. Sen. Max Cleland (D-GA), is a living embodiment of what Americans owe veterans. Having lost three limbs in Vietnam, Cleland now bluntly, bodily and effectively advocates for fellow soldiers. Last week, in his latest act of public service, he announced he is being treated for PTSD. Though Cleland gave few details, he told the Associated Press he hoped his candor would encourage other veterans to get help.

PTSD, which is often commingled with depression, can manifest itself years after a trauma in anxiety, hypervigilance and flashbacks. The Dept of VA last year reported that PTSD cases rose from 120,265 in 1999 to 215,871 in 2004.

Cleland's original trauma presumably occured in the 1970s, when the decorated veteran served in Vietnam. But Cleland exemplifies the reality that war wounds, both physical and psychological, may never fully heal.

Yet Cleland is also a tonic example that disability should not exclude most Americans from public service. Since Vietnam, Cleland has plunged into the political fray, improving veterans' shoddy benefits as the VA administrator under jimmy Carter, serving in the U.S. Senate and supporting presidential candidate John Kerry and Iraq war critic Rep. John Murtha (D-PA).

Cleland surely knew politics was rough. Yet his honorable public work has exposed a SAVAGE STREAK IN REPUBLICAN POLITICAL OPERATIVES AND IN SOME ORDINARY AMERICANS. During the presidential campaign of 2004 and Cleland's senatorial race in 2002 and, incredibly, after he announced his treatment this month, POLITICAL OPPONENTS WHISPERED AND SOMETIMES BAYED ASPERSIONS ON HIS COURAGE.

The same attackers have maligned the records of other veterans, including U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), and Murtha. THIS DISGRACEFUL POLITICAL STRATEGY HACKS AT THE VERY QUALITIES AMERICANS ESTEEM IN A CANDIDATE.

President Bush told the American Legion convention in Salt Lake City, Utah, this week that the nation owes veterans more than thanks. WE CERTAINLY OWE THEM THE DECENCY TO REFRAIN FROM DISTORTING THEIR WAR RECORDS.

But these attacks on veterans are also reinforced by American's longstanding unease with paying public debts.

As far back as the 1920s, veterans had to march on Washington to demand unpaid pensions.

Through his physical presence, his advocacy and his fearless discussion of the damage from combat, Max Cleland rightly insists that the debt Americans owe veterans MUST NOT BE DENIED.