Tag Archives: Iraq War

The Monuments by Worcester City Hall

hoar
The George Hoar monument

By Gordon Davis

Yesterday morning a friend called me to get historical information about the Worcester Common, behind our City Hall.  She has lived in Worcester for most of her life. She has seen the Common go through several iterations.

She is too young to remember the Old South (Congregational) that doubled as a religious meeting house and the Town Hall.  The cemetery in the Common is of parishioners. The Church still exists on Salisbury Street.

She is not too young to remember the so called reflecting pool that only seemed to collect trash and restrict the foot traffic flow through the park area. The architect seemed not to have read Jane Jacobs!

The jury is still out on the Ice Oval which doubles as a skating rink in the winter and a sitting/eating area in the summer. I have never used the skating rink, but I like the tables and sun umbrellas in the summer.

Monuments sprinkle the Worcester Common and nearby area.  Some of them are relatively new.

S7001644

There is a monument concerning the genocide of Armenian people by the Turks during World War I.  This monument is located on the right hand side of the front of City Hall as you face City Hall.

There is also an Irish Cross which symbolizes the 1916 Easter Rebellion by the Irish Republican Army against British rule.

Korean
Korean War memorial

The number of war memorials is surprising. The most surprising is that of the anti-imperialist and anti-racist founder of Worcester Polytechnical Institute, George Hoar (above). His image sits majestically wondering why the City has not changed much of its war mentality or its racist policies. Mr. Hoar opposed the Spanish American War.

The City has honored Colonel Biglow of Worcester who fought against he British in the War of American Independence.

The Civil War memorial has the names of the 398 soldiers from Worcester who died fighting the racist Confederacy and its system of chattel slavery.
 
There is a relatively new monument to the brave trooper who gave their lives in the Iraq Wars I and II. I suppose we will have to modify the monument to include Iraq War III.

On the side of City Hall there is a statue of an American GI. This generation fought the Nazis and the Axis of Fascism, Germany, Italy, and Japan government.  The Honor Roll of Black Veterans should be erected next to it, instead of on the isolated traffic island in Lincoln Square.
 

Across the street from the Worcester Commons is the first Vietnam War memorial. It predates the extravagance in Green Hill Park.  I thought for a while no knew that it existed, but every once and while I see flowers there.

Vietnam(1)

A few blocks away is the Korean War memorial (above). Although the statue is moving, it is pretext. Nonetheless, the soldiers who died and fought there performed their duty as they understood it. 

Unfortunately, it has the feel of the Western savior. Many more Koreans died in that Cnflict than Westerners.

The Worcester Common’s character changed when the Worcester Regional Transportation moved it busses to the Hub.

What will our Common be like with the demolition of Notre Dame and finished construction of City Square?

biglow(1)

civil war

Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital celebrates Women’s History Month

Activities aimed to help Female Veterans learn more about the services available to them at Bedford VAMC

Bedford – Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital (Bedford VAMC) is hosting a Women’s Tea to celebrate Women’s History Month on March 28,  2 p.m.,  at Bedford VAMC’s Canteen Service Dining Room, located in building 78.

The event will feature a presentation by Air Force Captain Joyce Massello, Retired Reserves, a decorated Vietnam Veteran who served as a flight nurse.   Following Captain Massello’s presentation, there will be an opportunity to socialize and enjoy the displays highlighting women in history, including Edith Nourse Rogers.

The recent growth of female Veterans accessing VA health care has outpaced that of the male Veteran population. VA is stepping up to meet the needs of a growing women Veteran population by enhancing primary care to meet their needs. This is a major undertaking for VA.

“It’s all about personalizing care for our women Veterans so that everything we do supports a patient–centered approach benefiting the Veteran,” said Christine Croteau, acting director at Bedford VAMC. “We are pleased to showcase the services offered at Bedford and to partner with our patient population to provide the care that best meets their specific health care needs.”

The Women’s Tea serves as an important way to highlight female Veterans’ contributions to history, and more specifically, Edith Nourse Rogers, for whom the hospital is named. Bedford VAMC was the first VA hospital named after a woman. Edith Nourse Rogers was the first Congresswomen from New England and was dedicated to Veterans’ issues.  She introduced the unprecedented bill to establish the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps in 1941. When the law passed in 1942, it opened up military service to thousands of women in countless occupations other than nursing.  Edith Nourse Rogers dedicated her life to Veterans’ issues for more than 40 years.  The Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps was just one of her many accomplishments, which also included the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 (commonly known as the G.I. Bill) which provided educational and financial benefits for soldiers returning home from World War II.

Worcester County’s Veterans …

Maurice Costello.JPG

Image from The National Veterans Art Museum. The National Veterans Art Museum inspires greater understanding of the real impact of war with a focus on Vietnam. The museum collects, preserves and exhibits art inspired by combat and created by veterans.

To learn more, click on the link below:

http://www.nvam.org/ 

… Homeless, but not Hopeless

By Maria Jannace

With the rate of U.S. homeless veterans doubling in the last five years,
organizations like Veteran Homestead are working hard to help achieve the “zero homeless veterans by 2015” goal.

Picture it. The year is 2015. Though the scars of wars from as far back as 50 years ago still grip the minds and bodies of hundreds of thousands of American veterans, there is some comfort in knowing that at least they all have a place they can call home.

Picture it. The year is 2012. More than 200,000 brave men and women who fought for your freedom are without homes. More than 400,000 veterans will experience homelessness at some time during the course of this year. It is stunning to know that veterans make up nearly a quarter of this nation’s entire homeless population.

A noble goal by the Department of Veterans Affairs is to end veteran homelessness by 2015. The crystal ball is a bit fuzzy, but given the critical nature of today’s statistics, nothing short of a miracle will bring the number of homeless vets down to a mere zero in the less than three short years ahead. The United States government is taking action and in July of this year, the U. S. Senate unanimously passed H.R. 1627, a bill that addresses several areas of concern for veterans, including health care, housing, education, and benefits. Thankfully, there are organizations founded and funded by private citizens that are also leading the charge to end homelessness among American veterans. One such organization is Veteran Homestead headquartered in Fitchburg, Massachusetts.

Veteran Homestead founder and CEO Leslie Lightfoot served in the Army as a medic from 1967-1970. She spent two years at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany during the Vietnam War, witnessing – on a daily basis – injuries and deaths unimaginable by civilians. Her experience led her to become a Board Certified Expert in Traumatic Stress and she holds two Psychology degrees from Fitchburg State University. She has been serving the needs of the veteran community ever since she left the Army in 1970. In 1993, Lightfoot founded Veteran Homestead that now has six facilities throughout New England and Puerto Rico. It is a crushing task that faces Lightfoot and her accomplished team each day, but progress is being made.

“Almost half of all homeless veterans in America fought in Vietnam,” Lightfoot said. “But there are as many as 20,000 vets who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan and have become homeless in the past five years, including women veterans with children.”
Women are the fastest growing segment of veteran homelessness.

“Our military men and women who come back from war with traumatic brain injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are truly the ‘walking wounded,’” Lightfoot said. “They may not be missing an arm or a leg, but many are damaged deeply.”
The mission of Veteran Homestead is to minimize and even reverse that damage by providing medical, psychological, and spiritual care. For people like Adam Morse, Veteran Homestead has become a lifeline.

Morse was still in high school when he joined the National Guard, never expecting to see battle. Fate intervened, and Morse returned from battle emotionally scarred by the weight of his experience that led him to alcohol and drugs – a not unusual plight for homeless veterans. Morse has been sober for a year now, and he truly believes that Veteran Homestead saved his life and saved his family.

Andrew Rosacker had been a member of an elite Marine Corps anti-terrorist security team but was working with a civilian contractor for the State Department when he served in Iraq. Entering the city of Fallujah, he spotted a car speeding toward his vehicle. The car refused to stop. Rosacker opened fire. The vehicle stopped. The driver looked up at Rosacker. Smiled. Then pushed the button.

The explosion threw Rosacker from his vehicle causing traumatic brain injury. Then he was shot in the stomach and declared dead. After he was revived, he returned home and was diagnosed with PTSD and depression. He subsequently suffered a stroke that left his left side paralyzed. Sometimes his depression got so bad he would just turn off the lights and sit in the corner of a room and cry. Imagining a 6-foot-1 tough marine (and former Seal team member) crying alone is heartbreaking. But Rosacker, and many others, are making steady inroads into recovery at Veteran Homestead facilities including the recently opened Northeast Veteran Training and Rehabilitation Center (NVTRC) on 10 acres of land given by Mount Wachusett Community College in Gardner.
The NVTRC, the only facility of its kind in the United States, sits on ten acres with twenty 2-bedroom homes, an indoor swimming pool, weight/exercise room, gymnasium, and other amenities designed to prepare residents for a life in which their disabilities will be less of a burden.

“The loss of a limb, a disfiguring burn, a traumatic brain injury, or an emotional scar due to post-traumatic stress are all life changing events that affect both the veteran and his family,” Lightfoot said. “The idea of not being a whole person or having your loved ones perceive you as someone much different than you were can leave emotional and psychological scars that dwarf the physical.”

NVTRC’s focus is on education (offering college courses in a partnership with Mount Wachusett Community College) and physical, occupational, and emotional therapy with an emphasis on family counseling along with the life and recreational skills that are so often taken for granted. The two-bedroom homes at the Center enable wounded warriors to practice daily living skills and provide privacy for both the veteran and his or her family. There is a therapy-dog training program there as well. Veteran Homestead endeavors to replicate the NVTRC facility model all across the United States.

Veteran Homestead is working to secure grants, but much of their support comes from private citizens and corporations that understand the importance of helping veterans revive their pride and become productive citizens. Unlike many charitable organizations, at Veteran Homestead, 90% of all funds go directly to programs that benefit the veterans. Only 10% is used to cover administrative support. And at all Veteran Homestead facilities, compassion is key. Beginning with Lightfoot herself and permeating throughout the staff at all six locations is a pervasive sense that “there but for the grace of God, go I.” Many on staff are veterans themselves.

They have lived the lives of their clients. They have been in the trenches and understand the gap in which veterans sometimes fall. Sometimes, it’s more than a gap – it’s a chasm. Lightfoot’s children – as she herself was – are exposed to the ordeals that can beset a body and mind with PTSD. Lightfoot’s Army daughter is a veteran of Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Her Air Force daughter is a veteran of Desert Storm and Iraq and has been in and out of Afghanistan. Lightfoot’s National Guard Son is a veteran of Afghanistan.

“Every soldier is someone’s child,” Lightfoot said. “We never forget that, and whether they are 22 or 62, these veterans have earned and deserve the utmost help and hope and a life of dignity. It is our deepest desire that by giving them a home – whether short or long term – and helping the healing process, these American heroes can accomplish the dreams they set forth before the cruel arms of war assaulted their lives.”
Dignity is at the center of daily life at Veteran Hospice Homestead in Fitchburg, a residential facility dedicated to veterans living with life threatening illness and the only privately run, veteran-specific hospice in the country. Hospice specialists provide innovative transitional housing programs for homeless veterans who are diagnosed with terminal illness and are no longer able to care for themselves.

Hero Homestead in Leominster is a facility designed for elderly veterans. Residents are encouraged to help each other and attend to as many of their own needs as possible.
Also in Leominster, Veteran Homestead operates Armistice Homestead in a beautiful neighborhood where veterans with a progressive outlook enjoy innovative programs that enhance camaraderie and accomplishment.

Ever looking to create environments that help veterans immerse themselves fully into quality living, Veteran Homestead developed The Victory Farm in New Hampshire, the first of its kind in the United States. It’s an 80-acre working organic vegetable farm that offers a lifestyle change to homeless veterans who have not been successful transitioning from residential treatment programs to independent or transitional housing. Veterans are responsible for the feeding and caring of dozens of animals and tend crops as well.

In Puerto Rico, Veteran Homestead’s large residential home – and the only such facility in this U.S. territory – is located in beautiful Caguas. The focus of Hacienda de Veteranos is restoring a sense of self-worth with therapy sessions provided by the Veterans Administration and in-house case managers.

With the rate of U.S. homeless veterans doubling in the last five years, organizations like Veteran Homestead are working hard to help achieve the “zero homeless veterans by 2015” goal. Lightfoot says she will continue to grow her nonprofit organization for “as long as it takes.” In January, Governor Patrick Murray announced that the state of Massachusetts had achieved a 21% decline in veteran homelessness from a year ago. Perhaps Massachusetts can lead the way in eliminating homelessness among our nation’s walking wounded. Perhaps Veteran Homestead can replicate its programs in other states so that they, too, can give help and hope to their citizens who have fallen into the chasm of homelessness after serving their country. Perhaps there is a future where heroes like former U. S. Navy Seal Andrew Rosacker never need to utter the words, “Sometimes I just cry.”

The military abuse video you haven’t heard about

By Lindsay Pollard-Post

Americans and Afghans alike are rightly outraged over a video circulating on the Internet that allegedly shows U.S. Marines urinating on Taliban corpses. Pentagon officials are scrambling to do damage control, fearing that the video will hinder peace talks, and military officials are promising that those involved will be punished to the highest extent. But another video that surfaced recently also merits outrage and action: It shows a soldier viciously beating a sheep with a baseball bat while other soldiers laugh and cheer.

Blow after metallic, stomach-churning blow rains down on the terrified sheep’s skull. The convulsing and kicking animal tries in vain to rise and flee, but the man with the bat just keeps swinging. A local boy in the background jumps up and down in apparent delight while the sheep struggles on the ground. Despite a letter and phone calls from PETA to high-ranking Army officials, no action has been taken on this case after more than a month.

Animals don’t start wars. They don’t have political views, militaries or weapons. Yet they are often the victims of cruelty in combat zones. In 2008, video surfaced of a smiling Marine who hurled a live puppy off a cliff while another Marine laughed. Thankfully, after a massive public outcry and pressure from PETA, the puppy-tossing Marine was expelled, and another Marine in the video faced disciplinary action.

The same year, video that was allegedly taken from a CD found in Baghdad’s Green Zone depicts what appear to be U.S. soldiers taunting and tormenting a dog whose back legs were apparently crippled. The laughing men threw rocks at the dog, who snarled and yelped in pain before making a desperate attempt to flee on two legs. One of the men in the video said the dog’s attempt to run was “the funniest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.” Many other similar incidents of abuse have been recorded on video, and many more likely never see the light of day.

Whether the abuser is a military service member or a regular Joe, cruelty to animals isn’t “normal” behavior, and it must be taken seriously, for everyone’s safety. People who find pleasure or humor in harming animals aren’t just cruel; they’re also cowards because they target “easy victims” who don’t have any hope of fighting back.

Mental-health and law-enforcement professionals know that animal abusers’ disregard for life and indifference to suffering indicate a dangerous psychopathy that does not confine itself to animal victims. A history of cruelty to animals regularly shows up in the FBI records of serial rapists and murderers, and a study by Northeastern University and the Massachusetts SPCA found that people who abuse animals are five times more likely to commit violent crimes against humans. Violence is a fact of war, but the depravity shown by the sheep-beating soldier and the sick pleasure the onlookers seemed to derive from watching the beating are red flags.

All the students who have opened fire on their classmates have histories of cruelty to animals. “BTK” killer Dennis Rader, who was convicted of killing 10 people, admitted that he was cruel to animals as a child and apparently practiced strangling dogs and cats before moving on to human victims. Serial killer and cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer tortured animals and impaled cats’ and dogs’ heads on sticks. The Boston Strangler, Albert DeSalvo, used arrows to shoot cats and dogs who were trapped inside crates.

Whether it occurs at home or in a war zone, there is never an excuse for harming animals. The stakes of cruelty to animals are far too high to ignore it, to excuse it or to let those who commit it go unpunished. It’s time for the military to treat acts of cruelty to animals with the seriousness that they deserve.

Disabled veteran returns to life of service!

 

Corporal Matthew Boisvert Receives Fellowship to Volunteer with NEADS

LOWELL – After returning from his second tour in Iraq, Marine Corporal Mathew Boisvert was unsure how to continue his life of service here at home. Having lost a leg and the use of his hand in an IED blast, he was forced to give up his military career. Corporal Boisvert struggled to find a civilian equivalent to the sense of respect, trust and integrity he developed in the Marines. Then, he found The Mission Continues.

The Mission Continues Fellowship Program provides post-9/11 wounded and disabled veterans the opportunity to regain purpose in their lives after the military service has ended.  Veterans learn to translate their military experiences into civilian skill sets, while earning a modest living stipend.  A typical fellowship covers 28 weeks, during which the Fellow serves his or her community through a local charitable organization. 

Boisvert received a Mission Continues Fellowship to volunteer with National Education for Assistance Dog Services (NEADS), a non-profit that trains service dogs for veterans and disabled Americans. The project gave him a new purpose by uniting two of his most fundamental passions – the rehabilitation of shelter dogs and service to his fellow veterans.

In the future, Boisvert hopes to pursue a degree in applied animal behavior and open his own animal rescue shelter. His fellowship with NEADS provides the hands-on experience necessary to make that dream a reality. “After going through these life lessons and becoming part of the community again, you look at the world in a different way,” Matthew says, “I want to make things better for people.”

About The Mission Continues
The Mission Continues is a national nonprofit organization with a mission to build an America where every returning veteran can serve again as a citizen leader.  Founded in 2007 when Navy SEAL Eric Greitens returned from Iraq, the organization offers paid service fellowships to wounded and disabled veterans, awarding 156 fellowships in 25 states to date.  In addition, The Mission Continues has mobilized nearly 17,000 civilian and veteran volunteers to complete over 300 service projects across the nation.  For more information about The Mission Continues, please visit www.missioncontinues.org.

Let there be peace on earth!

By Michael True

“The same war continues,” Denise Levertov wrote, in “Life at War.” Her lament is more appropriate for 2011 than as it was when she wrote the poem forty-five years ago.

Columnists and academics, including Andrew Bacevich, Boston University, are finally acknowledging facts familiar to anyone “awake” regarding failed U.S. policies, wasted lives and resources during this period, Willfully ignoring such facts, as Professor Bacevich wrote, “is to become complicit in the destruction of what most Americans profess to hold dear.”

At the beginning of this New Year, consequences of “life at war” stare us in the face: the victimization of military and civilian populations and a huge national debt, Continue reading Let there be peace on earth!

Bad wars aren’t possible unless good people back them

By Michael Moore

We invaded Iraq because most Americans — including good liberals like Al Franken, Nicholas Kristof & Bill Keller of the New York Times, David Remnick of the New Yorker, the editors of the Atlantic and the New Republic, Harvey Weinstein, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer and John Kerry — wanted to.

Of course the actual blame for the war goes to Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Wolfowitz because they ordered the “precision” bombing, the invasion, the occupation, and the theft of our national treasury. I have no doubt that history will record that they committed the undisputed Crime of the (young) Century.

But how did they get away with it, considering they’d lost the presidential election by 543,895 votes? They also knew that the majority of the country probably wouldn’t back them in such a war (a Newsweek poll in October 2002 showed 61% thought it was “very important” for Bush to get formal approval from the United Nations for war — but that never happened). So how did they pull it off?

They did it by getting liberal voices to support their war. They did it by creating the look of bipartisanship. And they convinced other countries’ leaders like Tony Blair to get on board and make it look like it wasn’t just our intelligence agencies cooking the evidence. Continue reading Bad wars aren’t possible unless good people back them

Never Forget: Bad Wars Aren’t Possible Unless Good People Back Them

By Michael Moore

We invaded Iraq because most Americans — including good liberals like Al Franken, Nicholas Kristof & Bill Keller of the New York Times, David Remnick of the New Yorker, the editors of the Atlantic and the New Republic, Harvey Weinstein, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer and John Kerry — wanted to.

Of course, the actual blame for the war goes to Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Wolfowitz because they ordered the “precision” bombing, the invasion, the occupation, and the theft of our national treasury. I have no doubt that history will record that they committed the undisputed Crime of the (young) Century.

But how did they get away with it, considering they’d lost the presidential election by 543,895 votes? They also knew that the majority of the country probably wouldn’t back them in such a war (a Newsweek poll in October 2002 showed 61% thought it was “very important” for Bush to get formal approval from the United Nations for war — but that never happened). So how did they pull it off?

They did it by getting liberal voices to support their war. They did it by creating the look of bipartisanship. And they convinced other countries’ leaders like Tony Blair to get on board and make it look like it wasn’t just our intelligence agencies cooking the evidence. Continue reading Never Forget: Bad Wars Aren’t Possible Unless Good People Back Them

Bad wars aren’t possible unless good people back them

By Michael Moore

I know we’ve been “free” of the Iraq War for two weeks now and our minds have turned to the new football season and Fashion Week in New York. And how exciting that the new fall TV season is just days away!

But before we get too far away from something we would all just like to forget, will you please allow me to just say something plain and blunt and necessary:

We invaded Iraq because most Americans — including good liberals like Al Franken, Nicholas Kristof & Bill Keller of the New York Times, David Remnick of the New Yorker, the editors of the Atlantic and the New Republic, Harvey Weinstein, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer and John Kerry — wanted to.

Of course the actual blame for the war goes to Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Wolfowitz because they ordered the “precision” bombing, the invasion, the occupation, and the theft of our national treasury. I have no doubt that history will record that they committed the undisputed Crime of the (young) Century. Continue reading Bad wars aren’t possible unless good people back them

The big Wikileak (Or: “Don’t play that song for me – it brings back memories”)

By Jack Hoffman

What do Angela Bennett, The New York Times, Julian Assange, Dan Ellsberg and Bradley E. Manning have in common?

Recently, while reading the latest news on the theft of 91,000 pages of TOP SECRET memos on the Afghanistan War, published in part by the New York Times, The Guardian, and Der Spiegel, and simultaneously watching the 1995 movie, “The NET,” I began to get that Deja vu moment once again about the Viet Nam War.

That period of time never seems to go away – especially the part about the truth being withheld from American citizens by our own government. And the media joined in on this conspiracy of lies! Continue reading The big Wikileak (Or: “Don’t play that song for me – it brings back memories”)