Been getting a ton of email about the Political Action Committee titled Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
I'm on their mailing list and get all of the their press releases.
Three things about the IAVA - The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America:
1. They used to be called Operation Truth. I think it was Uncle Jimbo who wisely said that any organization claiming to corner the market on "truth" is usually full of @#$%.
2. IAVA claims to be non-partisan. You can take a look at what they claim to do and the candidates that they support. Quite frankly, I'm sure that some of their Democratic candidates are excellent choices for Congress, but let's not call ourselves non-partisan if we're pushing Democratic slates and helping the Democrats find disgruntled military members to push in front of cameras to take on the Bush Administration. There's nothing like a quote on an IAVA flyer from Gen. Wesley Clark supporting a candidate to make me think "non-partisan".../end sarcasm.
Here's an email from a student that witnessed a recent "Meet the Heroes" talk sponsored by the IAVA on a campus in Pennsylvania:
...Jonathan Morgenstein went second, and his discussion was very negative, though he admitted up front that he did not think that OIF was a good idea to begin with (with a nice note that soldiers have their own opinions, but will do their job as ordered even if they disagree). His biggest complaint was that the US did not use enough troops, and that something like 500,000ish soldiers were needed to fight a “real” counterinsurgency campaign. He spent his time with a Civil Affairs unit, and had nothing positive to say about what he witnessed. While he admitted to seeing a few schools raised and some good things done, he constantly went back to US troops creating more terrorists by breaking down doors in the middle of the night. I got the feeling that because he got sandbagged trying to do his CA job (one example was not getting permission to bring an NGO group into the city (Ramadi?) to do rebuilding work), he didn’t see any value with anyone else’s. Morgenstein also had nothing nice to say about the Iraqi police/military, bringing up a picture of an Iraqi Col who he said told him that “the American’s can (should? – didn’t catch it) leave because he could work with the insurgents.” He then used this Col as an illustration as to why the whole Iraqi police and army were useless. He covered a few more points, then ended by saying that he belonged to the United States Institute of Peace…which struck me as very odd for a Marine, but probably helps explains his slant on the war.
Craig Smith drove trucks during OIF, and mentioned the fact that his Humvee/Fuel truck was not armored – in fact (and he had pictures to go with it) his Humvee didn’t have doors, and a pole in the back with a machine gun strapped to it provided for defense. Craig supported the war initially, but has changed his mind since. He was in a convoy that lost a truck to an RPG attack, and later on he was in an accident where he seriously burned/cut up his left arm. However, other than the RPG attack on his convoy (fairly early on in the war if I understood him correctly) his unit was not attacked often. After his injury and the difficulties in getting it treated in Iraq (he had to argue to get medivaced to a hospital), Craig ran into problems with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and dealing with the Army and the VA to get help. This is where most of his critiques were – the inability for him to get help when he needed it most. I had a major issue with Craig’s handling of a question at the end of the over all meeting, where a girl asked about how to approach a family member that had returned from the war recently...he warned about PTSD, and said (as close as I can recall): “it’s the honeymoon. He’s feeling good now but in a few months he’ll blow his brains out” …Which floored me that he would say that. PTSD is a problem, and people with it need help, but to diagnose a man with it without ever talking to him, and then to tell a family member that they will commit suicide? Very very bad form. (Ironically, the girl said that her family member was going into OCS to do more time in the Army.)...
3. I'll be the first to admit that there were things that were handled badly in the invasion of Iraq. I'd ask you to show me an invasion executed flawlessly - any one during any period in the history of humanity. I'd also be the first to admit that we did better at reducing civilian casualties (at the expense of our own men and women), than any other army in history.
I'll be the first to admit that there are problems with getting up-armored humvees to troops, although now it's mostly unit-based rather than DoD based. I'll also be the first to admit that many of these problems are military and not civilian in nature (ie. the administration).
I'll be one of the first to say that the VA needs to change drastically - and I have said that here before. And there will be many, many PTSD affected veterans returning from war. Unfortunately, it's a normal reaction to the high stress of combat. We need to do everything within our power to take care of them. They took care of us. We need to return the favor.
The IAVA has a few good points to make, but most of their intent is purely partisan politics. Let's hope that their pro-military/pro-veteran stances aren't drowned out by opportunists like Gen. Clark and partisan political bull$#*!.