Archive | June, 2010

Living on a dying delta

Story by Dahr Jamail
Photography by Erika Blumenfeld
Photo by Erika Blumenfeld © 2010

Photo by Erika Blumenfeld © 2010

Our first full day in Louisiana finds us venturing south from New Orleans to Houma, a town about an hours drive to the southwest. It is from here we are to take a flight over the marsh to inspect the damage, thus far, caused by the ongoing BP oil catastrophe.

Walking into the office of Butler Aviation Services at the airport, the downtrodden mood, and accompanying anger, are palpable. Of course this is not assisted by the fact that Vice President Joe Biden is visiting Louisiana today.

“What would you tell Joe if he walked into your office,” Robbie Butler, with the flight service of his name, asks me. He then adds, “Hey Joe, lead, follow, or get out of the way. That’s what I’d tell him.”

At approximately the same time Butler is telling me of these three excellent suggestions, Biden is in downtown New Orleans inside the “command center” meeting with more than 100 BP, government and military officials inside a cavernous office dubbed “the bullpen.” In case anyone wasn’t clear about the priorities of the US government, included in Biden’s entourage are BP’s chief operating officer Doug Suttles, and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. It was Jindal who, on June 2nd, sent an urgent letter to President Obama and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar regarding his grave concerns at the time of the administration’s decision to place a moratorium on deepwater drilling.

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Military Neglecting Fort Hood Soldiers’ Medical Needs

(Image: Lance Page / t r u t h o u t; Adapted: AfghanistanMatters, assbach)

(Image: Lance Page / t r u t h o u t; Adapted: AfghanistanMatters, assbach)

At least 50 soldiers from Fort Hood who have medical profiles that should prohibit them from military training have been sent to the National Training Center (NTC) at Fort Irwin, California, regardless of their conditions.

Truthout spoke with some of these soldiers on June 7, before they were to fly back to Fort Hood the next day.

“We were brought out here to NTC after being told we would be given some of the best medical treatment out here,” a soldier who is an Iraq war veteran diagnosed with post-traumatic-stress disorder (PTSD), speaking on condition of anonymity because he feared military reprisals, told Truthout. “But when we were here at Ft. Irwin, nobody would see us. It took my wife calling the Chaplain to get my medication refilled. We’ve gone a month without seeing a psychiatrist. Some of us see them weekly, some twice a week and we haven’t been able to receive any of this.”

This, despite the soldier having been given his PTSD diagnosis by the military itself.

He admitted to Truthout that he needs the medication because of anxiety, depression and homicidal thoughts.

“There’re people out here who’ve had to cancel 17 psychiatric appointments to be out here,” the soldier added. “There are people needing physical treatment that have thrown out their backs.”

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PTSD Soldier Punished by Army

Iraq war veteran Eric Jasinski, after seeking treatment for his post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), is being punished by the Army.

Jasinski turned himself in to the Army late last year, after having gone absent without leave (AWOL) in order to seek help for his PTSD. Help, he told Truthout, he was not receiving from the Army, even after requesting assistance on multiple occasions.

He was court-martialed and jailed for 25 days for having gone AWOL, during which time he was escorted in shackles to therapy sessions for his PTSD. After being released from prison, he was informed that he would be given an other-than-honorable discharge, which means he is likely ineligible for full PTSD treatment from the Veterans’ Administration (VA) after he leaves the service.

Jasinski enlisted in the military in 2005, and deployed to Iraq in October 2006 as an intelligence analyst with the U.S. Army. He collected intelligence in order to put together strike packets – where air strikes would take place.

Upon his return to the U.S. after his tour, Jasinski was suffering from severe PTSD due to what he did and saw in Iraq, along with remorse and guilt for the work he did that he knows contributed to the loss of life in Iraq.

“What I saw and what I did in Iraq caused my PTSD,” Jasinski, 23-years-old, told Truthout during a phone interview. “Also, I lost a good friend in Iraq, and I went through a divorce – she left right before I deployed – and my grandmother passed away when I was over there, so it was all super rough on me.”

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US Navy Veterans Continue to Seek Justice for Israeli Attack

Damage to USS Liberty, June 1967. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

Damage to USS Liberty, June 1967. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

The Israeli military has attacked a flotilla of international peace activists, killing as many as 19 innocent civilians while they were carrying ten tons of aid to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza. This is not the first time the Israeli military has attacked a nonthreatening entity in international waters.

On June 8, 1967, while sailing in international waters, the US Navy intelligence ship USS Liberty was attacked by air and naval forces of the state of Israel. Of the Liberty’s crew of 294, more than half were killed or wounded. More than 40 years later, survivors are still seeking justice.

The Israeli forces attacked with full knowledge that the Liberty was an American ship, yet survivors have been forbidden to tell their story under oath to the American public.

Joe Meadors was on the Liberty during the attack.

“I watched some jets pass us then turn left after they passed our ship, then they started strafing [attacking repeatedly with bombs or machine-gun fire from low-flying aircraft] us,” Meadors told Truthout.

“The attack lasted 90 minutes, during which we got a message off to the 6th fleet asking for assistance, and we learned later, Joe Tully, commanding officer of the USS Saratoga, launched aircraft within minutes of the attack, but he told us later they were recalled before they reached the horizon. We found this out 20 years after the attack.”

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