Tag Archives: Military

The Unknown Soldier: Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama does not get nearly the credit she deserves….

In addition to her work on Health and Nutrition, she has worked tirelessly on behalf of Veterans and Military Families….

I was glad to see this article in US News that finally gives her some credit:

 

Often teamed with her lieutenant, Jill Biden, the vice president’s wife, Obama has organized and attended more events for and with military veterans and their families than any previous first lady, according to veterans groups. This year alone, for example, she’s participated in 50 events, many out of the eye of the media, and even dedicated the White House Christmas tree to supporting veterans. “There is this sense that this is genuine,” says Raezer. “We haven’t had this kind of visibility from the White House—ever.”

And it’s also more than a simple stop-by to drop off gifts at a local Toys for Tots outlet, like she did the week before Christmas, or a quickie visit and speech to welcome home troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama and Biden are leading the charge to encourage businesses to hire veterans, an especially difficult challenge with unemployment sky-high, through an initiative called Joining Forces. Many companies like Google now have programs to hire veterans. The International Franchise Association credits Obama with boosting hiring efforts like its bid to get more veteran couples to become franchise owners. “The first lady’s efforts accelerated those programs,” says spokesman Matthew Haller.

The first lady is also eager to get Americans unaffected directly by war to pay attention to the military and war families. “That’s one of the reasons why Jill and I started our Joining Forces initiative, because we wanted to rally all Americans to honor, recognize, and support our military families,” Obama says. Addressing military families at a White House holiday event, she added: “We wanted to make sure that never again would someone have to ask the question, ‘What is a Gold Star family and what does that sacrifice mean?’ We all should know.”

Sean O’Keefe, the former Navy secretary and NASA administrator, adds that Obama “has raised the visibility of the challenges confronted by the families of military service members—frequent relocation, psychological impact of children often raised by single parents due to long deployments, higher incidents of alcohol and drug abuse, and the often difficult access to healthcare.” Now CEO of EADS North America, he adds, “Her focus has prompted Americans to be attentive to these consequences endured by the families of those called to national service on behalf of all of us.”

via Vets: Michelle Best-Ever First Lady – Washington Whispers (usnews.com).

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Happy Veterans Day: This Year It’s a Little Different

Many thank to ALL our veterans.  We honor you today and every day.

This Veterans Day is a little different.  For the first time, we can openly recognize and thank our Gay and Lesbian Veterans who have served so long, so well and in silence.

A special Thank You to you and to those brave soldiers, such as a man I’m proud to call my friend, Col. Andy Leonard, who fought so long and hard to end “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  They fought to allow all vets to be recognized not just for what they do, but to do so without fear that who they are might end their service.

Now we can truly thank all the Vets as they proudly stand openly and together.

Here is a blogpost from the Human Rights Campaign with another Vet’s story:

The following post is from Retired Marine Staff Sergeant Eric Alva:

Today is Veterans Day.  It’s a day to honor all those who have served their country – our country.  Whether they saw combat, or served during times of peace, all who have worn the uniform of any of the five branches of the U.S. Military, are heroes in my eyes.  I salute them.

This year, Veterans Day is a little different.  The honor the uniform commands has always been there, even when we were forced to serve in silence, but this year openly gay veterans like me are holding our heads a little higher because this is the first Veterans Day without the stain of the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” on our nation.

Last month I was proud to attend the HRC National Dinner.  I’ve attended the dinner the past several years, but this was the first year I wore my uniform to the gala.  I wasn’t alone.  Hundreds of veterans were there that night, some in uniform, others not.  But what struck me the most was not the sheer number of service members and veterans at the Washington Convention Center, but the look in all of their eyes.  That night we knew two things: our nation had changed, and we were part of that change.

Today, on Veterans Day, the love I have for my country is as strong as it’s ever been.  I am proud that I fought for my country, and that fight includes fighting to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”  People who are willing to fight and die for their country are rare.  We should not be denied the opportunity to serve, we should be encouraged.  I’m thankful we now are.

Happy Veterans Day.  God bless the United States of America.

Eric Alva was the first American service member wounded in Operation Iraqi Freedom, when he triggered a landmine just three hours into the conflict, losing his right leg.  He served as HRC’s spokesperson in our efforts to repeal DADT.  He stood behind President Obama as he signed DADT repeal into law.

via Guest Post: This Year Veterans Day is a Little Different | Backstory Blog | Human Rights Campaign.

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Cost of Air Conditioning for U.S. Troops in MidEast More Than Entire NASA Budget

This is amazing….

It’s time to end these wars and bring these folks home…

This is getting too ridiculous on too many levels…

From RawStory.com:

The United States spends $20.2 billion annually on air conditioning for troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan — more than NASA’s entire budget, NPR reported.

In fact, the same amount of money that keeps soldiers cool is the amount the G-8 has committed to helping the fledgling democracies in Tunisia and Egypt.

The necessary cooling costs so much because of the remote locations and danger involved in delivery equipment and fuel, Steven Anderson, a retired logistician who served under Gen. David Petraeus in Iraq.

“When you consider the cost to deliver the fuel to some of the most isolated places in the world — escorting, command and control, medevac support — when you throw all that infrastructure in, we’re talking over $20 billion,” Anderson told NPR. “You’ve got risks that are associated with moving the fuel almost every mile of the way.”

And it’s a long way to move the fuel: 800 miles of “improved goat trails” separate Karachi, where the fuel is shipped in, to Afghanistan. The transport takes 18 days.

By embracing green practices, Anderson said, money and soldiers’ lives could be saved: more than 1,000 troops have died while transporting fuel. Their trucks are a popular target, and commanders have to stop their operations to leave and go on fuel runs. When they’re gone, he said, the insurgents know they’re gone, and the U.S. troops lose ground in their missions.

Experiments have been conducted using polyurethane foam insulation in the tents to shield soldiers from the 125-degree heat of the Middle East, cutting energy use by 92 percent. However, nobody is enthusiastic about taking initiative to green the military.

“A simple policy signed by the secretary of defense — a one- or two-page memo, saying we will no longer build anything other than energy-efficient structures in Iraq and Afghanistan — would have a profound impact,” Anderson said.

via Cost of air conditioning for U.S. troops in MidEast more than NASA budget | The Raw Story.

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Delta Air Lines Charges Returning Soldiers for Checked Bags

Another reason to hate the US Airlines…As if we needed another reason.

But this is truly despicable.  Charging checked baggage fees to soldiers returning from fighting in Afghanistan????

Unbelievable…

From Gadling.com:

A team of returning soldiers from Afghanistan was hit with an unpleasant surprise upon their arrival into the United States this morning. The squadron, bringing a full load of gear with them back from the Central Asia was sacked with the baggage fees in place at Delta Air Lines, which, despite the agreement that they have with the armed forces charged the soldiers extra baggage fees.

In sum, the group spent nearly $2800 in baggage fees for their gear, money that had to come straight out of their pockets.

via Delta Air Lines charges returning soldiers for checked bags | Gadling.com.

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Navy SEALs Forgot to Bring a Tape Measure

I love the President’s comment….

The odds that Osama bin Laden was the mysterious figure seen walking around the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan were estimated by U.S. intelligence at between 60 and 80 percent. When the Navy SEALs shot the tall figure on the upper floor of the compound, fatally hitting him in the chest and near his right eye, the next step was to get a positive ID. They planned to use several reference points, including facial recognition and eventually DNA when the body was transported back to Bagram airbasein Afghanistan.

Another measurement was to determine the height of the corpse. Bin Laden is listed on his FBI most wanted poster as being between 6-feet 4-inches and 6-feet 6-inches and weighing about 160 pounds.

However, the heavily-armed, electronically wired SEALs didn’t come with a tape measure to get an accurate height reading. According to reports, a Navy SEAL of about 6-feet laid out next to bin Laden’s corpse to gauge the Al Qaeda leader’s height. The corpse was several inches taller.

The Washington Post’s legendary reporter Bob Woodward came up with some inside the Situation Room conversation while the raid was underway and the president and his team were watching a muted feed of the action.

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, along with with members of the national security team, receive an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden, in the Situation Room of the White House (Credit: AP Photo/The White House, Pete Souza)

After Mr. Obama learned of the improvised height measurement technique, he reportedly said, “We donated a $60 million helicopter to this operation. Could we not afford to buy a tape measure?”

The helicopter in his remark was the stealth technology-outfitted bird that crash-landed as the raid began and had to be destroyed by the SEALs.

via Navy SEALs forgot to bring a tape measure – World Watch – CBS News.

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After Osama bin Laden’s Death, An End to ‘Bad Guys’ | The Nation

Nice to see other folks thinking along the same lines as my personal thoughts in my earlier post about how bin Laden changed us….

I do hope we can all grow up now that the boogie man is dead….

From The Nation:

We can use the occasion of bin Laden’s death to grasp back for the moment when the world seemed simple, or we can turn away from that impulse. We can say that with his death, we return to the world as our adult eyes see it, shot through with suffering and complexity. We can feel compassion for the thousands of innocents who died by bin Laden’s hand as well as our own, caught in the wrong place at the wrong time in places like Bagram and Baghdad. We can remember that just because there is evil in the world that we are fighting—and bin Laden was a mass murderer and war criminal—that does not mean we are purely righteous. We can reject relativism and still embrace nuance. We can have the courage to speak and act like adults, to put away childish things, to once and for all banish the bad guys from our nightmares.

via After Osama bin Laden’s Death, An End to ‘Bad Guys’ | The Nation.

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