Friday, February 19, 2010

'Confessions of a Cold War Veteran' Sounds Off

Surprise, surprise: I've launched yet another blog, "Confessions of a Cold War Veteran."

Part memoir, part humor/satire, part pop-culture, and like our government's annual budget -- 50 percent Military Industrial Complex.

Delay cadence/Count cadence/Delay cadence/Count!


I confess, dear Civilian, I am not a Catholic nor am I a war veteran, rather I am a veteran of the Cold War, not to mention a narcissist. Regarding the latter, why else would I create my own blog, the fifth to date? If I weren’t narcissistic, I wouldn’t be able to convince myself that there is some niche of readers floating in Cyberland who gives a damn about me and what I have to say or what thoughts are trip-wired in my brain, especially when the primary subject is Me.

Hey everyone, look at me! Over here, look at me…!

Or maybe the niche I have created is a mere figment of my imagination that consists of an audience of one? In that case, please do excuse me, dear Civilian, if at times you catch me talking to myself; the theory being that if you cannot hold a conversation with yourself, the notion of carrying on a conversation with fellow members of your species is futile. At least that’s what Therapist Bob tells me. Speaking of whom, it was Therapist Bob, my psychological and spiritual and financial adviser, who recommended that I start yet another blog as a means of publicly purging my experiences while actively serving in the Army during the tail-end of the Cold War during the late ‘80s, thus tearing down the wall erected between the right and left sides of my brain.

Moreover, based on Therapist Bob’s recommendations, Confessions of a Cold War Veteran will provide me with a safe, nuclear-free space to share my insights as a Cold War Veteran on contemporary issues, military and otherwise.

Hence, a blog was born: Confessions of a Cold War Veteran...

Read rest of debut post at Confessions of a Cold War Veteran and don't forget to bookmark page and tell all of your friends, your IRS agent and the neighbor down the street who is described as a quiet, lonely man who keeps to himself (but does not live in his mother's basement, where he spends his waking hours blogging.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Iowa Guard unit returns home from Iraq

Approximately 130 soldiers from the 186th Military Police Company will return today from its recent deployment to Ira. A homecoming ceremony for the returning soldiers is scheduled for tonight at 7 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Des Moines.

The Johnston-based Iowa Army National Guard unit finished its second tour as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The unit was mobilized in Nov. 2007 and after undergoing additional training at Fort Dix, N.J., the unit, which provides security and law enforcement support, was assigned to the Central Command theater of operations and arrived in Iraq in Jan. 2008.

During its second tour in Iraq, the 186th MP was responsible for transporting 4,000 detainees; providing a law enforcement presence in the Strategic Debriefing Center; conducting detainee operations at Remembrance II, the Taji Theater Internment Facility Reconciliation Center; and transportation missions in support of Task Force 134’s juvenile re-integration school.

The 186th MP Company was previously mobilized from 2003-2004 for Operation Iraqi Freedom. They were also mobilized in 1995-96 in support of Operation Joint Endeavor (Bosnian peacekeeping operations), and in 1990-1991, when they deployed to the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Desert Storm.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Iowans say goodbye to guardsmen headed for Iraq

Not all eyes are on Tuesday’s upcoming election, in particular those of the approximately 310 Iowa National Guard soldiers and their family and friends, who said their goodbyes at sendoff ceremonies across the state Thursday.

The Department of Defense (DOD) and the National Guard Bureau, Washington, D.C., have ordered the 1133rd and 1168th Transportation Companies to federal active duty. The mobilization is part of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the Global War on Terrorism. The Soldiers will leave Iowa and report to Fort Bliss, Texas for additional preparation and training before departing for the Central Command theater of operation.

To honor the guardsmen, political dignitaries joined family and friends at the sendoff ceremonies in Audubon, Iowa City, Mason City, Perry and Marshalltown.


Several hundred people crowded in to the Audubon High School to say goodbye to 65 members in Detachment 2 of the 1168th Transportation Company. They were joined by Gov. Chet Culver and U.S. Rep. Steve King, D-Iowa, who presided over the ceremony, the Caroll Daily-Times Herald reported.

"I'm here with a simple message," Culver, a surprise guest, told the soldiers standing at attention in six ranks before him. "To thank the members of the Guard for your service to our country, to our state, and to join every Iowan in honoring you as you are deployed."

"But as you depart, I want you to always remember you are not alone. We will always be here for you, and we will always be grateful for your service to the country that we love. Because our service members are Iowa's heroes…”

King remarked that he was impressed by Thursday's show of community support.

"I wasn't prepared for what I saw when we came over the hill here today at Audubon," he said, referring to the hundreds of vehicles parked outside.

"You come out, Audubon, Audubon County and the surrounding area. You come out to support our military men and women who have sent themselves up as volunteers to defend our freedom and promote freedom around the world. This is a powerful testimony to the best that America has to offer here in the heartland of America."
Iowa City

Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, joined 25 members in Detachment 1, 1133rd Transportation Company at the Regina High gymnasium in Iowa City, commending them for being both members of a community and defenders of it, the Iowa City Press-Citizen reported.
"You are true patriots and you represent the best of America," Loebsack said. "You make Iowa and our nation proud."
Not everyone was excited about the upcoming deployment, including Jennifer -- the pregnant wife of Sgt. Nile Watkins-Schoening, who is preparing for his second deployment in three years.
Jennifer said she "was a little irate" when she heard her husband would deploy again. He also missed Eve's [his 2-year old daughter] birth, returning when she was already 15 months old after serving with the Iowa Army National Guard's 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry from September 2005 to July 2007.

Hundreds of well-wishers gathered at the Babe Harder Gymnasium on the Marshalltown Community College campus in Marshalltown to say goodbye to 40 members in Detachment 1, 1168th Transportation Company, the Marshalltown Times-Republican reported.

Kaleb Morrow of Centerville, who was previously deployed from 2003 to 2004 to Iraq admitted that the second deployment was going to more difficult since he is leaving behind his two young daughters, including 2-year-old Emilia and 2-month-old Alexandria, and his wife, Bernadette.
"It's going to be very rough to say goodbye," he said before the ceremony.

Morrow said he feels they are better equipped this time around especially when it comes to more armor.
Mason City

Hundreds of family members and friends filled the Mason City High School gymnasium to help send off 115 members of the 1133rd Transportation Company, the Mason City Globe-Gazette reported.

Lt. Gov. Patty judge spoke on behalf of Culver:
“Once before you have traveled to Iraq to protect the people of America and Iraq,” said Lt. Gov. Patty Judge. “There isn’t an Iowan who isn’t grateful for your sacrifices.”

“On behalf of Gov. Culver, myself and our families, we want you to know that we will be thinking of you, following your work and you will be in our prayers every day,” she said.
Several of the soldiers are serving their second deployment, including Staff Sgt. Scott Dunning, whose wife is expecting their first child, a boy, on Sunday.
“I’m due on Sunday,” she said. “That’s in three days.”

Looking at his wife, Dunning’s voice cracked, saying, “It makes it very, very difficult to leave.”

A sendoff ceremony was also planned for 65 members in the 1168th Transportation Company Perry High School gymnasium in Perry.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Iowa veterans cash in on lottery tickets

Iowa veterans and their families were the biggest winners in the Iowa Lottery’s most recent quarterly payout, which transferred $992,773 to the Veterans Trust Fund (VTF). The payout stemmed from sales of the $1 instant-scratch game, “Stars & Stripes,” between July and September 2008.

“We’re honored to have the opportunity to support those who have given so much for our country,” Ken Brickman, Iowa Lottery Acting CEO, said in a statement. “We thank our players for recognizing the importance of this cause and helping us provide a stable, ongoing source of revenue for the Iowa Veterans Trust Fund.”

The alliance between the Iowa Lottery and the VTF was spearheaded by Rep. McKinley Bailey, D-Webster City, a U.S. Army veteran who served in Afghanistan and Iraq. He sponsored legislation, House File 2359 earlier this year that authorized the lottery games and appropriated the funds to the VTF.

“Iowa’s veterans have served with dignity, and with excellence, and all veterans have the gratitude of every citizen,” Gov. Chet Culver said in a statement. “I was proud to sign this legislation earlier this year authorizing new lottery games to help support the Veterans Trust Fund. And now, the proceeds from those games will play a vital role in helping veterans and their loved ones around the state.”

Lawmakers created the VTF in 2003 with the intent of giving the state flexibility with regard to Iowa's returning veterans and their families, in particular when it comes to issues that aren't covered by federal funding, such as job training, unemployment assistance, travel expenses for wounded veterans related to follow-up medical care, nursing home care, counseling programs and honor guard services.

The trust fund was supposed to eventually contain $50 million in 10 years, but only $5 million has been appropriated to the fund thus far, and Gov. Chet Culver's 2008 budget did not contain any additional revenue for the fund, thus prompting Bailey to find an alternative source of funding.

The new lottery games are estimated to generate up to $3 million a year for the trust fund at a minimal impact on the general fund. The lottery’s second set of games to benefit veterans are scheduled to begin sales in January.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Iowa guard units receive orders for Afghanistan deployment

To help support the ongoing war effort in Afghanistan, approximately 310 Iowa National Guard soldiers have been ordered to federal active duty by the Department of Defense and the National Guard Bureau.

Members of the 1133rd and 1168th Transportation Companies will report immediately to their mobilization station at Fort Riley, Kan. for additional training and preparation before departing for the Afghanistan theater of operations. In Afghanistan, these soldiers will operate as a Regional Corps Advisory Group Embedded Training Team (“ETT”) to provide mentorship and advanced training to the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police.

The units are medium truck companies which transport equipment and supplies in a theater of operations and both served in Iraq in 2003 and 2004.

Community send-off ceremonies have been planned for Thursday, Oct. 30 in five different communities:

Aububon– Detachment 2, 1168th Transportation Company (approximately 65 Soldiers) -sendoff at 4 p.m., Audubon High School gymnasium, 800 3rd Ave., Audubon.

Iowa City – Detachment 1, 1133rd Transportation Company (approximately 25 Soldiers) -sendoff at 4:30 p.m., Regina High School gymnasium, 2150 Rochester Ave., Iowa City.

Mason City – 1133rd Transportation Company (approximately 115 Soldiers) - sendoff at 6 p.m., Mason City High School gymnasium, 1700 4th St. SE, Mason City.

Perry – 1168th Transportation Company (approximately 65 Soldiers) - sendoff at 7:30 p.m., Perry High School gymnasium, 1200 18th St., Perry.

Marshalltown – Detachment 1, 1168th Transportation Company (approximately 40 Soldiers) - sendoff at 7:30 p.m., Marshalltown Community College gymnasium, 3700 S. Center St., Marshalltown.

Monday, October 20, 2008

PTSD and Post Partum Depression: No Equal Defense before the Law?

The following a a guest column written by Bob Krause:

The Iowa Supreme Court's decision on the Heidi Anfinson case casts a new light into the shadows of mental illness and depression. The court ruled that the courts should have entertained evidence of depression and odd behavior that followed the birth of Anfinson's son. Anfinson allegedly drowned the child in Saylorville Lake a decade ago.

Although the tragic occurrence of the murder of Heidi's child by her was heinous, it has been recognized in medical circles and professional circles that an actual form of insanity sometimes occurs after child birth. It is called post-partum depression. The courts of Iowa will now allow evidence of the signs of it to be admitted in court during criminal proceedings.

But there are others in Iowa, some sitting in jail today without treatment, for an equally oppressive form of metal illness that they acquired often in the defense of America. That illness is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and it deserves a like legal review to post-partum depression.

Today in Iowa, PTSD cannot be used as a defense in an insanity or diminished capacity plea before a jury. Not even military medical records diagnosing a soldier or veteran with PTSD can be entered in defense. It is only after conviction that the court can entertain PTSD records – not to prescribe treatment, but for consideration in sentencing.

PTSD does not have the same sympathetic ring as post-partum depression. But it is with us, and it is common. 480,000 of those returning from Vietnam (15.2% of men and 8.1% of women) had it. 168,000 of those Vietnam vets still have it. Of those, according to the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study of 1988, ½ (around 240,000) were jailed at least once, 35% more than once, and 11.5% were convicted of felonies.

Today, some estimate that 20 percent of soldiers and 42 percent of reservists have returned from Iraq with some kind of psychological problem. Much of this is PTSD related. And the "canary in the coal mine" indicator of pervasive PTSD problems -- Army suicides -- more than doubled since 2001, hitting a 27-year high in 2007.

Many in my generation can relate to this as they saw friends and loved ones that served that bounced slowly down the razor-blade of life, not really quite fitting in after service. This generation will be "blessed" to see much of the same. And, with the high number of Guard and Reserve mobilizations in Iowa, the problem may be more significant.

I do not have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), but as a retired Army Reserve officer from the immediate post-Vietnam era, I have learned about it well over the course of a career.

My eyes first opened to the phenomena as a young captain in the 1133rd Transportation Company, Iowa Army National Guard in Mason City. One of my soldiers, Louis, a Vietnam veteran and a capable sergeant, disappeared early one morning.

Louis had been a tunnel rat in Vietnam. For those of this generation, a tunnel rat was a person that crawled into narrow enemy underground bunkers. It was a death-defying feat for the practitioners, and it had obviously had an impact on Louis.

That day, several years after the fact, Louis flashed back when he crawled under one of our trucks to change the oil. In his mind, he was back in a tunnel in Vietnam in a stand-off with a Viet Cong soldier. In this mental vise, he could not move forward, and he could not move backward. So he froze – for about six hours.

When we found Louis, he was embarrassed by what had occurred, but obviously changed and un-nerved. He quit the National Guard shortly after that, and I am embarrassed that at the time I did not know enough about PTSD to get him proper referrals. But, I was not alone in my lack of knowledge.

That evening, after the troops had left for the day, I asked my recruiting non-commissioned officer, also a Vietnam veteran, what he knew about Louis. Ron was also a Vietnam veteran and had his own little hell to live. Ron's was a traveling flash-back. Once a month or so as Ron was driving down the road, the windshield would suddenly become covered with gore and blood. He would stop the car, take a deep breath, and then start driving again. These episodes came from a mortar attack where the body of a soldier had been smeared across the windshield of the truck he was driving.

But these are just two old events of another generation. We have many good examples that we will be able to point to for this generation. I can assure you that many of these cases will wind up in the courts. Untreated, PTSD symptoms can become more severe. Drugs and alcohol are often part of escape from the pain and insomnia, and these in turn can trigger more grief. Jobs are lost; marriages are ruined, and fear-response mechanisms can breed violence. I have been involved in the periphery of a legal case in northern Iowa regarding such a young man of this generation. He was formally an upstanding businessman prior to a short notice mobilization with his Guard unit. Unfortunately he fell into calamity upon return, in part because of the consequences of the mobilization, and in major part because of his own personal reactions to his own PTSD.

Surely, he deserves the right to tell his case to the jury also, not just the judge, at sentencing.

Bob Krause is a retired lieutenant colonel in the US Army reserve. He is past state president of the Reserve Officers Association and past state chair of the Iowa Democratic Veterans' Caucus. He is currently roving ambassador for the Iowa Democratic Veterans' Caucus.

Friday, October 17, 2008

UI vets critical of McCain’s record on veterans’ issues

In light of Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain’s recent “D” score on the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America report card, some members of the University of Iowa Veterans Association sounded off on their fellow veteran, The Daily Iowan reported.
“There’s a difference between the public John McCain who’s a POW and the John McCain who votes consistently against veterans’ benefits,” said sophomore Drew Hjelm, who supports Libertarian candidate Bob Barr. “I don’t see why that’s not a big talking point for [Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama’s] camp. … John McCain is just way off-base.”

“I think five years as a POW earns you a lot of things most people don’t deserve — but the presidency is not one of them,” added senior Scott Lyon, who is also leaning toward Barr.
Criticisms against McCain were lobbed during a UI Veterans Association meeting Wednesday at the Communications Center on the UI campus.

During the meeting, Aaron Schlumbohm, a member of the UI Veterans Association and an Obama backer, admitted he was surprised by McCain’s low evaluation “because I bought into the myth, the McCain myth,” the DI reported.

McCain’s Democratic rival, Sen Barack Obama, received a “B” on the IAVA report card.

However, Ben Hayden, a McCain supporter and state captain of the Vets for Freedom took issue with the IAVA’s report card rating, reference his organization’s “A-” rating of McCain, which praised McCain for his support of the Iraq war.