Category Archives: Military

31%

I’m a military guy, spent eight years in the Marine Corps, served in the Gulf War.  I didn’t see actual combat, didn’t see killed or wounded, only had rockets fired in the direction of our bomb dump that sent us running for the bunker numerous times.  We did spend a lot of time loading munitions on helicopters that expended it on Iraqi soldiers.  I want to share the following stats with you.  The stats from each encompass all branches of the military.

War                   Length        Served         Killed        Wounded   % Total on Disability

WWII                  3.5 yrs      16 million    450,000        671,846                  8.6%

Korea                 3 years      1.8 million      36,751        103,284                  5.0%

Vietnam           10.8 yrs      3.4 million      58,303        153,303                  9.6%

Gulf War          6 months        700,000           293              467                    25%

Iraq/Afghan   8.8/13.2 yrs   2.4 million       6,802        52,000                  31%

Does anyone besides me see a pattern here?

Jim Benson, a VA public relations officer, said the numbers are higher now days because “we have a greater ability to assess combat and theater related injuries”.  What kind of injuries is he talking about?  Not the physical, that’s for sure.  He is talking about PTSD type “injuries”.  Now I don’t deny the existence of PTSD, people can experience some brutal stuff in war and not deal with it well.  But look at that list of wars, the three previous to the Gulf War were meat grinders that made the Gulf War and Iraq/Afghanistan look like a preschools preschool.

There are one of three things going on here, or maybe a combination. 1. They are over diagnosing war related mental issues just to increase the government dependency roster ($129 to $2,816 a month are the range of disability payments). 2. The general population, to include the military, wants freebies.  3. We are becoming a nation of complete wusses, and the wussdom is crossing over to the military.   Personally, I think it’s all three, or different combinations of those three.

There are plenty of bad asses still serving, guys who will go above and beyond to help their buddy, county, or to defend the little guy.  Naturally there were cases of people who mentally couldn’t handle what happened in the wars they served, but by and large veterans from the wars before the Gulf War sucked it up, they fought, endured some horrible crap, then they came home and forged ahead, had families and made a lives for themselves.

Final thought.  Out of the total served in each conflict, how many were combat troops, and how many were in supporting roles far from the action (Air Force), or out on a ship, away from IEDs and flying bullets.  Me for example, I was in theater, but I was working in a bomb dump 20 miles from the Saudi/Kuwait border, in other words, a kind of  supporting role.

Sgt. Hug

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Unwitting Tools?

OK, I’m going to start with assuming I’m becoming anti military, as I’ve kind of hammered at them a bit from time to time.  I am a huge military supporter, I just wish the civilian bosses would let them actually fight a war, not play patty cake and dance around ridiculous rules of engagment.  What follows is my take on the widely touted suicide rates and disability claims reportedly running rampant.

First disability.  During the combined Iraq and Afghanistan wars there has been 50,000 physically wounded troops, that’s in 21 years of combined warfare (we had 30,000 wounded in 82 days of fighting on Okinawa).  For some reason out of 2.5 million who have served in those conflicts, 900,000 are reported on disability or have claims pending.  That’s an astonishing 36% are on disability or have claims pending…especially when only 2% were actually injured.  What is the story behind this?  I think if you come back and say you have a headache, they say it’s service/war related.  That number is just wrong on many levels.

Now for the suicide.  These numbers are even more astonishing, and hard to believe.  The national suicide rate is about 46,000, which is a .0001 suicide rate.  The odd thing is the suicide rate of veterans is claimed to be 22 a day, 8,030 a year, or .00002 of the total national population.  There are 22,600,000 vets in totality in the country, that includes me and anyone alive who served in the military.  So the rate of suicides committed by veterans vs the entire veteran population is about .0003. The 22,600,000 is equal to 7% of the nations population, yet that 7% of the population lays claim to 19.8% of the annual national suicides?!  I’ve known a lot of vets in my life, and I’ve never known of one who committed suicide.  I don’t buy the numbers at all, there is an agenda.  It makes me think of the heat Tom Colburn, republican senator from Oklahoma is taking.  Sen. Colburn is being criticized for blocking the Clay Hunt Bill (named after a vet who committed suicide), a bill that will add 22 million to the VA budget to study and combat suicide.  He is blocking it because he said the money is redundant, that those type of programs already exist, and because there are no offsets…we can’t just keep tossing money at things.  I happen to agree with him, again, because I don’t by the numbers.

Look, I’m not a shrink, I can’t determine what is going through a person’s mind, but something isn’t right.  History has had various terms to cover what we now call PTSD, such as “battle fatigue”, “shell shock”, the “thousand yard stare”.  I don’t deny those things exist, but I do think they are handing out that diagnosis like candy at a parade. Drone pilots are being treated for PTSD for crying out loud.  The former Marine who was recently locked up in Mexico for accidentally crossing the border with a carload of guns and bullets claims he was in San Diego for PTSD treatment.  His mother blamed his wrong turn on “directional dysfunction” as a result of his PTSD.  Yet he was able to drive from Florida to Southern California, was able to find a parking spot at the boarder, walk across, find his way to a “right of passage for Marines in Tijuana”, and walk back to his vehicle with no problem.  I forgot, as a Marine Sgt. he would have had more than basic training in land navigations, in other words, reading a map. Then he gets lost and makes a wrong turn.  My personal opinion was he was buzzed and that’s why he made the wrong turn, but they pushed the story about PTSD and “directional dysfunction” to deflect the real reason, and drum up support…but I digress.

How in the world can our military claim to be the best on earth and be made up of the best people, yet they are mentally unstable and killing themselves at astonishing rates.  For one, I don’t believe the numbers.  The government is doing their best to push as many people as they can into dependency mode, and in my conspiratorial vein, they will eventually push to disarm PTSD veterans.   Another thing, follow the money, disability means a check from the government…an anti suicide plan means a check from the government…which means more tax money out of you paychecks, and leverage over people.

Sgt. Hug

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Poppy

This will be short and to the point. Memorial Day is about this and this only. No flash or attempted fancy writing.

Total war dead in the history of our country…1,343,812.

The war that resulted in the highest number of deaths, the war we fought against ourselves. The total for that war was 625,000.

1,343,812 people died in war to ensure the rest of us could continue to live in freedom. Some of those died so that people in other countries would maybe have the same shot at living in freedom as we do.

This was written about WWI, but still holds meaning.

by John McCrae, May 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Sgt. Hug

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Are all Service Members Heroes?

I will probably take a thrashing for this one, but here it is regardless.  Firstly, I’m a vet, a proud vet at that…rest of the story after comments.

With Memorial Day coming up soon, I had to touch a topic that has grown to bother me more and more.  It started years ago when our city started hosting an air show every Memorial Day weekend, and it is called “Salute to veterans”.  Sorry folks, Memorial Day is there to honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice and died in the service of our country.  We have a day for veterans, and it is called, you guessed it, Veterans Day, and that takes place six months after Memorial Day.  Memorial Day should be observed with a ceremony at the local memorial for the war dead, or at a local cemetery where war vets may be buried.  It should not be parades with Corvette owners and their prom queen daughters waving from the window.  It should not be the local high school band playing songs having nothing to do with anything.  It should not be a drunken barbecue either.  We should get rid of Armed Forces Day too, we have Memorial Day and Veterans Day, that should about cover it.  Active duty does not need special recognition (other than a thank you), not until their service years are over.

The topic that is really driving me crazy lately is the seemingly endless butt kissing, by calling everyone who served in the military a “hero”.  Sorry folks, not everyone who has served in the military is a hero, not even if that time is during war.  On the local radio station the other day, they had an Air Force member on the show.  The guy had been in for 1.5 years, and the station was so eager to suck up to him, that they started playing Danger Zone by Kenny Loggins…duh, which happens to be a Navy themed movie.  It was quite embarrassing.

No, the hero name needs to be about people who are winners of the Medal of Honor, or maybe the Navy Cross (other branch equals apply).  A hero is a guy who selflessly puts himself in the way of danger to protect his fellow Marine, Soldier, Sailor, or Airman.  A lot of times these people don’t survive what they did, but that’s just it, they didn’t think about the end result, only the help they could give at that second.  They deserve being called a hero.

Yes, we were at war in Iraq for a long time.  Yes, we have been at war in Afghanistan longer than any other war our country has been involved in.  Yes, people who volunteer to do a job that by nature could possibly result in them being maimed or killed.  Are they all heroes? No.  Fireman are not all heroes, police are not all heroes, and neither are all our military members.  At times do they perform heroic acts? Yes.  So do fireman and police.  But again, they are not all heroes.

I am a veteran of eight years service to our country in the U.S. Marine Corps.  I served in Desert Storm, which was a war.  Our position took incoming Iraqi rocket fire for numerous days until we could take out the source.  We slept with our rifles and in full uniform, knowing we would be up at some point in the middle of the night to make a dash for the bunkers.  Were we heroes?  No.  We were a bunch of guys who signed up in the Marine Corps because that was the branch most likely to get in a good fight.  We came from all walks of life, some guys were rock solid and some guys were dirt bags.  Some could be relied on, some could not.  Some would have your back in the most brutal street fight, some would not.  Were we all heroes? No.

Folks, I know this whole column goes against the current line of hero-worship taking place, but let’s keep some perspective.  I’m very glad there are people who voluntarily join the military, it is a hard way of life, always on the road, away from family.  It can be tough.  It can also be very personally rewarding, and a hell of a lot of fun!

Clearly I can’t speak for everyone, but as far as I’m concerned, if you found out I was in the service and you said to me “hey, thanks for your service”, I would reply “thanks, you bet, I would do it again in a heartbeat”.

Anyone who reads this and served…thanks for your service.

Sgt. Hug

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