One Veteran's Voice

31 March 2006

Army Bans Personal Armor

Nearly every soldier who’s served in a combat zone has purchased personal gear. Sometimes it’s because of a complete lack of equipment. Other times it’s because the purchased gear is superior to the Government Issue. GPS units, laser pistol grips, hydration packs, sand and sun goggles, scopes, gloves, body armor, belts, flashlights, binoculars, and even underwear for example. (Nobody wears those “brownie-tighties,” nobody.) At one point, the military reimbursed soldiers for personal body armor purchases in order to cover for the inability to provide the need Interceptor vests.

But now, according to Lolita C. Baldor (Associated Press), the Army will no longer reimburse soldiers for the personal armor purchases AND soldiers an not allowed to wear privately purchased armor like the Dragon Skin protective vest made by Pinnacle Armor. The Army claims that vests like Dragon Skin do not meet Army standards, are untested, and should not be purchased by the troops. (See the article here or in most major news papers.)

Many purchases were likely made while the Army was unable to proved complete sets Interceptor gear, including the TWO ceramic plates worn in the front and back. Many soldiers purchased personal armor to replace the 70’s style flack vest that was never designed to stop 7.62 rounds. On a personal note: this soldier never had a complete Interceptor set. I started with the flack vest. Then I was issued the Interceptor without plates. Then I received one plate. I could protect the front or the back, but never both at the same time.

29 March 2006

Join Up

I've been kicking around the idea of making this blog a group effort for awhile, and it's time. If you're an Iraq or Afghanistan vet with a blogger profile and some way to prove your status as a vet (more than one picture of you in theater on myspace, blogger, flickr, or an established blog) you are free to post. Shoot me an email at oneveteransvoice@gmail.com with a link to your blogger profile and I will invite you to the group.

The RULES

You must be eligible for the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal to post. All proper respect goes to veterans of previous wars, but you'll have to post somewhere else.

Posts can be about pretty much anything as long as it is somehow relevant to your status as a veteran-- politics, prose, true life accounts of war, poetry, rants, observations about life in America from the perspective of a recently returned vet-- these are all fair game, as is anything else that makes sense. An essay about why you love cats would not make sense, unless you acquired your love of cats in the military. You get the idea.

I will not edit for content except in cases where hate speech, OPSEC violations, or other egregious violations of legality or taste (feel free to commit minor violations of taste) occur.

You can remain anonymous to the readers if you wish, but I need to know who you are. Confidentiality will be maintained.

Save runnning debate for the comments-- posts should be thought out and coherent, and not just a running dialog.

I've sent out a few select invites already, but if you didn't get one, don't feel bad, cause I might not have an email address for you. Let me hear from you.

18 March 2006

Three years

Sunday will mark the third anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. Three years have brought the deaths of 2317 US servicemembers, over 16,000 US wounded, and somewhere between 33,000-38,000 Iraqi civilians reported killed, all at a cost of a couple hundred billion to the American taxpayer. We are no closer to a political solution that will unite the various ethnic factions, quell the insurgency, and allow us to finally claim victory in Iraq as it is currently defined.

I say "as it is currently defined" because the ostensible goal of the war-- ridding the world of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction, was accomplished by default when we discovered that there were none. Our current strategy, to rebuild Iraq and bring democracy to its people, is, unlike the aims of the first gulf war, or the original purpose of the 2nd, not a military goal. We are not fighting another nation, even indirectly, and the territory we are fighting over is not land, but the hearts and minds of the Arab world. We cannot win this battle with our military, and we are not winning.

How many more lives will be lost before we change course?

If I didn't have to be here at school, I would be marching through the Gulf Coast region with other Iraq veterans. (VetGulfMarch.org). As it is, I'll be attending an anti-war rally on Sunday here in Columbia, MO. It will be the first for me. Time to make good on my new year's resolution to stop whispering my dissent to this war and its conduct. Its not like I've been whispering it here, but blogging is kind of like shouting in the dark at people who already agree. If you feel like I do about the war, find out if there's a rally or vigil in your town, and show up. If you totally disagree with me, find out if there's a pro-war rally and show up. Our democracy is a sham if the people don't participate. The collective yap of the people of this country might be enough to frighten the corrupt, spineless politicians who control it into reconsidering their course of action. If you're in the silent majority who oppose this war, let your voice be heard, or you'll continue to be ignored.

10 March 2006

They aren't on your side, Elio

Watch the video, and then read about the watered down charges of "attempted manslaughter" brought against the pig who ordered a compliant Elio Carrion to "get up", then shot him three times in the chest and cursed him while he lay moaning on the ground. If this isn't attempted murder, what is? Another case of one hand washing the other.

It's almost mid march and I finally received $550 from the government for the GI Bill. Thank you government. Loyalty and sacrifice are rewarded with a shot at the American dream, and all the obligations of government are being fulfilled. Yeah.

Until our troops are withdrawn from Iraq and all the money being spent there is properly utilized to rebuild the infrastructure of our own nation, there can be no political compromise on Iraq. Until the architects and misinformants of the greatest foreign policy blunder since Vietnam are held publicly accountable for their various illegal acts, and make some attempt at atonement, there can be no political solution than impeachment.

To the politicians and other snakes in Washington-- stop playing politics with the lives of our soldiers. Both sides are guilty of it. Get our boys out of Iraq, because the experiment in democracy is over. It has failed, at least in its current incarnation. Maybe the Sunni and Shia will learn to get along. Maybe the country needs to be divided along ethnic lines. Occupation didn't work for Britain, and it's sure as shit not working for us. The only way Saddam managed to stay in control was to kill and intimidate anyone who opposed him, which also happens to be our basic policy. We're just not willing to carry it far enough. So let's stop playing this stupid, "let's save face" game, and start making plans to get everyone out in months, rather than years. If we're not willing to start up the draft and commit more troops in order to really secure the country (John McCain, you know what I'm talking about), let's make a swift exit.