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Rebuilding Iraq... and soldiers' lives

Adele Kubein's daughter probably never should have been deployed to Iraq in the first place. Following a civilian accident several years ago, her leg was held together by an 8-inch metal plate and 9 steel screws-- an injury that could have allowed her to opt out of service. But instead she "felt she had a duty to her nation," according to her mother, and went into battle anyway.

The following is the story of Adele's daughter as told to me yesterday evening at Camp Casey. Adele cannot use her daughter's name as she is still active duty military. She speaks of her daughter's deployment to Iraq, injury in a helicopter crash, and the long process of physical and psychological recovery. For it is not just the families of killed soldiers who suffer; according to the website Iraq Coalition Casualty report, the wounded now number 13,877 and counting, meaning 13,877 American families must care for their loved ones returning from Iraq with missing limbs, burned skin, and other tragic physical disabilities.

Adele's story:

"My daughter deployed with the Oregon National Guard in February of 2003, already suffering from a shattered leg held together by an 8-inch metal plate and 9 steel screws. She was a 50 caliber gunner and convoy mechanic. By April of 2003, her unit was convoyed up to Mosul after the bombing there. On the way, they traveled on roads covered in depleted uranium dust. They were told not to breathe the "red dust."

I generally knew about her whereabouts. She and I would try to talk 3 or more times a week, but one time I didn't hear from her for more than a month. I was worried to death.

She was injured about 10 months into her deployment when her helicopter was shot down over Mosul. There weren't any fatalities in her helicopter, but there were in the one shot down right in front of her's. In the crash, her leg was shattered, it was absolutely pulverized. The impact broke the metal already in her leg. But she wasn't medevaced for two months after her injury; she was told that it wasn't serious, and that they needed her as a 50 caliber gunner.

She had already been medevaced a few months before that to Germany when she was suffering liver failure. 14 soldiers in her unit had liver failure, and 4 died. They had been excavating under Saddam's palace and think they were contaminated by something there.

When my daughter was finally medevaced, she was sent to Ft. Collins, CO, but they couldn't operate right away due to her earlier liver failure. Finally she had her operation. But she couldn't come home to us because National Guard troops only get 90 days of medical care after their period of active duty ends, so she was kept on "active duty" at Ft. Collins for treatment.

She was stuck in Colorado for a year and her post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is severe! She would have nightmares all the time. One of her jobs in Iraq was to clean the body parts of her friends out of the humvees. She can't ever shake that.

We finally got her home because we worked with our congressman, a wonderful man named Peter DeFazio, to lobby Congress to have our wounded Oregon National Guard soldiers sent home to us. Thanks to his help they are all home, including my daughter, receiving care from civilian doctors and psychiatrists paid for by the U.S. government (there are no military bases in Oregon, so soldiers from Oregon can't be treated in their home state). I had to do press conferences all over the world to ensure that our troops be treated equally.

So my daughter is home now. They can't fix her leg-- she has special braces, but she will never be able to walk normally again. She won't get any better than this. And you know what? The Army wanted to re-deploy her!

She used to be an incredible athlete. She loved to go hiking and play all sorts of sports. I told her I'll drive her to the top of Mt. Hood now so she can look out.

She's still learning to deal with her anger. The first few months were really tough for her, but now she can manage going to the grocery store and running little errands. Before she was deployed, she was in the 5th year of a Marine biology program at Oregon State. She's really bright.

And it's really hard for us to deal with, too. When your daughter calls you from Iraq with mortars firing in the background, telling you that she just had to kill someone before they killed her, your heart just breaks. A mother's heart can only handle so much. We mothers cry all the time... my daughter was so misused, and I'm determined to speak out now!"

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For over 30 years, my family has had to be silenced..disabled vets were not to be visible. The family had to bear the burden for the noble was our patriotic duty....and it was our duty to take what little the VA offered. It took 20 years and a class action suit to get disability pay...even though he never could work after the service. People treat you with contempt it you think war hurts your own citizens. Finally, the subject is open for debate. It is long overdue.

Once upon a time people signed up for the armed services because they felt a desire to protect freedom (not just on US soil), serve their nation, and secure democracy. Our grandfathers, great grandfathers and great-great grandfathers, and so on, have volunteered to fight when injustice reared it's ugly head. This was the case up until the institution of the Draft. Even then many young men volunteered to serve. Now fast forward to the present day. Many young people (notice I didn't use the word 'men') see the military as a career advancement opportunity, which it can be. For those who can't afford college and have no real direction planned for their life the armed services is an excellent choice. The GI Bill allows many to get a higher education who otherwise couldn't afford it. These young people see places and do things that they would not have access to otherwise. They better themselves and help keep our nation strong. BUT, all of this comes at a risk. You see, with this new view of the armed services as a career advancement opportunity the 'on the job hazard' has been ignored. So we are shocked, hurt and enraged when someone is injured or killed in the line of duty. Do police officer's families go to the extremes that Cindy Sheehan has when an officer is killed in the line of duty? NO. Do firefighter's families stage a protest and harrass the chief whenever someone is lost while saving a family's home and lives? NO. DO you know why that is? Because they have come to accept that it is a very real possiblity given their line of CHOSEN work. They know that when their son/daughter/spouse/brother, sister, etc signs that contract to serve in our nation's armed forces that there may come a day that someone comes to their door and says 'your soldier isn't coming home again.' BUT it's a price that some will have to pay in the name of freedom. It may not be our nation's freedom this time around but ask yourself if we continue to sit around scratching our hiney's and singing Cumbaya, how long would it be before we were over-run by terrorists? Do you honestly think that Al "lock box" Gore could have done any better on 9/11 and after, had he won the election in 2000? No we'd still be sitting around the table asking 'what did our country do to make you do this to us and how can we compensate you for it?'

I'm sick of all these soldier's families lodging protests after their soldier is dead. If you don't like the odds, then why not say so before they signed on the dotted line? If in the 40s American families had been such airheads as some are showing themselves to be today, Germany would've continued to expand and conquer and we'd all be speaking a different language today. Instead of focusing on your own selfish wants and wishes, think of the Iraqi children able to attend school (girls were forbidden under Saddam's regime), the Iraqi women able to patron a salon for the first time, the people who for once are not huddling in a mud hut in fear of being shot in the street for being in the wrong 'party.' These may not be Americans enjoying these new freedoms, but what if France hadn't stepped in and helped us with our fight with England during the RW? There'd have been no Old Glory, no Star-Spangled Banner, no Continental Congress or Constitution. You'd have far less freedoms to impeach your ruler, speak freely against your government, bear arms, etc than you do today. Consider this. The Iraqis are finally getting to vote in an election (not one staged by Saddam). That's something we take for granted on Election day as we stand in line waiting our turn to enter that little polling booth and make our selections. You may not agree with Bush's policy, but it's a darned sight better than Slick Willy did (too busy getting Jiggy in the Oral er.. Oval office to run this nation properly. At least we have a man of faith in office, instead a man of faithlessness as before.

I will pray for Cindy to see the err of her ways, and realize that she already had her meeting with Bush and that all she is accomplishing is dividing an already divided nation and harrassing our President at a time when he should be relaxing. Even the President gets stressed and if you want him to perform his best at his job then leave the man ALONE! GEEZ The last time someone stalked the President he ended up in prison..and he just got out (the dude who shot Reagan, remember?). Is that how you want to honor your son's memory by getting yourself in the can? No wonder the rest of her family has turned against her, and her marriage ended. This is not a mission it's an obsession. War is Hell. That's not about to change because someone in bad need of estrogen protested, harrassed, and stalked our nation's leader. Maybe Cindy should spend her energies elsewhere like in a support group for fallen soldier's families. WAIT she's already stepped on their toes, too!

The most inportant fact that you might not know is the government has had a plan long before 911 to go to war with Iraq and Iran. This was penned by Rumsfeld and Chenney in the ninties. Look it up. PNAC! It is chilling and every person on earth needs to know, that this has been planned!

People like you who are so misinformed are everyday killing our troops. You should go back and talk to the Iraqi people about their lifestyle before the war. Do you really believe that the Iraqi girls were not able to attend schoolS the Iraq's never had elections and so on? You are such a LIAR JUST LIKE THIS ADMINISTRATION THAT TOOK ADVANTAGE OF OUR VOLUNTEER SOLDIERS AND LIED TO THEM TO FIGHT AN ILLEGAL WAR. Whoever you are you need to go read some more and educate your self about the Iraqi people.

Before the war most of the Iraqi people lived a fair amount of a decent lifestyle. Iraq was the most liberal country in the Middle East. They had their own Universities, hospitals and even amusement parks. Sadam Hussein had women and Christians in his cabinet. Christians and Muslims lived side by side and the Christians were free to worship and practice their religion. Today the war has caused Iraq to become an Islamic State and with very very little rights for women. Iraq was a country that produced their own doctors, lawyers, engineers. Iraq produced more female doctors and engineers that some developed nations. I DO NOT KNOW WHERE YOU GET YOUR FACTS FROM. Thanks to this administration most of the churches have been burnt down by muslim extremists and Christians are leaving Iraq in droves everyday because they are no longer free to practice their religion. I am ashamed to say that my country produced this current Iraq based on lies. I hope no soldier is proud of the mess in present-day Iraq.

The other issue I want to address is your idiotic post is that the soldiers were volunteer army. That is as far as I can agree with you. Because the army is a volunteer army does not give the governement a right to LIE TO OUR SOLDIERS TO TAKE THEM TO AN ILLEGAL WAR? I BEG YOUR PARDON. I THINK NOT. Let us use your analogy for the moment just for the sake of argument. If a volunteer fireman is sent to a house to put out a fire when in actual fact their was no fire and he gets hurt does that mean that he should never question the people that faslely put him in harms way. Especially when the people in authority knew that there was no fire in the building in the first place. I THINK NOT. I BEG YOUR PARDON. You are one of the naive people that brought us to where we are today. I say to you that people like you do not deserve to live in a country like America because as an American we have earned our rights to question authority especially when our lives and livelyhood are at stake and especially when our soldiers are sacrificing their lives for us. We better make sure that they are dying for the right reasons. I believe Cindy Sheehan is easy to pick on but what an elected official like the president. Cindy did not run for President - George Bush did so she has alright to question the President - because the last time I checked we are still in America not in Iraq that "WORSHIP THEIR LEADERS" ARE YOU BECOMING LIKE IRANIANS THAT WORSHIP THEIR LEADERS AND NEVER QUESTION THEIR GOVERNMENT? I THINK NOT!!! NOW GO READ A BOOK ON IRAQ BEFORE YOU CONTINUE TO SPEAD YOUR LIES ABOUT OUR SOLDIERS AND IRAQ.

Warmongers throughout the ages have sought to dehumanize the "enemy" in many and varied ways. It is much easier to kill an object than a human being. By denying another's humanity and another's dreams, hopes, fears and wants the abuser attains a form of power. Such a satanic attraction to this false power dynamic is the hallmark of psychopaths.

I emphatically believe that humankind at its essence is good, and that we are born pure, innocent and free. All behaviour is a result of mindset and setting. The war propagandists know this and are trying to create a frame of reference that makes their arguments seem logical and sound. War should be avoided at all costs. Some defensive actions to preserve security are however necessary. The time has come for this war to finish and for new peace initiatives to be put into place. All of the people in the Middle East want peace, and the conditions should be created whereby this state of affairs becomes a reality.

Wouldn't it be great to drive from Jerusalem to Tehran, in an air-conditioned car of course...

"There is a time for war, a time for peace..."

This is the time for war... and the time for Cindy to cast away stones. Stones representing her sorrows, woes, regrets, hate, ignorance, arrogance, selfishness, and (again) hate.

The mainstream news media has not dwelled too long on the number of wounded in this war. We have seen a few TV celebrities such as Chris Matthews and Don Imus visiting Walter Reed Hospital. But the maimed veterans shown all suffer the loss of limbs. There was no display of the many who have lost their minds and vision. Perhaps the most serious wound is the one Hemingway wrote of based upon his experiednces in World War One in "The Sun Also Rises" which later was made into a film with Tyrone Power and a later post-World War 2 film with Marlon Brando as a patient in a VA hospital, "The Men". The injury that none seem to dare mention is the loss of male genitalia which results in sexual impotence. Not a pleasant subject but one that should be mentioned as an unintended conseqence of any war.

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