The Best Way to Honor Those Who Never Came Home: Take Care of Those Who Did

Michelle Obama, in her Open Letter to Veterans, published on Sept. 30, 2013, says, “If you are a veteran who is uninsured and hasn’t applied for [Veteran’s Administration] coverage, you may be eligible for [Obama] care through the VA.”

Yet the VA states if you have non-service related ailments or injuries, you don’t qualify for free coverage with the VA, fees and co-pays would apply.

The HealthCare.gov website Mrs. Obama recommends veterans go to stipulates that veterans who are enrolled in the VA system are considered “covered” and therefore do not qualify for care under the new health care law. Similarly, veterans who may be enrolled in Tri-Care, the military health care system, do not qualify to use the new Health Insurance Marketplace.

It’s no secret that “there are an estimated 1.3 million uninsured veterans,” according to Mrs. Obama’s letter. What may be a secret are the estimated 400,000 veterans suffering from Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) – a leading cause of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which can lead to social, physical, mental and emotional health complications, including suicide – which claims the lives of 22 veterans every day based on the VA’s own data reported by 21 states from 1999 through 2011. That’s one veteran every 65 minutes.

Mrs. Obama doesn’t even mention these two devastating conditions for veterans, their families and loved ones. The VA backlog and ill-equipped and trained VA service providers barely make a dent in helping those afflicted with TBI and PTSD.

What is the best way to honor our fallen heroes?

“Take care of those who came home,” is the answer given by Dr. Chrisanne Gordon, founder and chairwoman of the Resurrecting Lives Foundation and physical and rehabilitation physician. Who could disagree with making sure veterans, our most noble of citizens, who write a blank check to every man, woman and child in America for everything up to and including their lives, are cared for when they make it home alive?

Dr. Gordon, on her website, states that, “It is estimated that only 36 percent of the veterans returning from the Iraq & Afghanistan wars actually receive treatment through the Veterans Administration, although all are eligible.”

That’s only 792,000 out of 2.2 million returning veterans.

How will the Affordable Care Act provide relief for veterans if the VA can’t do it? How can Obamacare hope to even scratch the surface of treating ailments the government already can’t get out of its own way on?

The HealthCare.gov website claims that if a veteran can’t afford private health care coverage they “may be eligible for Medicaid.” The website also says that “if you’re a veteran who isn’t enrolled in VA benefits or other veteran’s health coverage, you can get coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace.”

But is the Marketplace ready for these special needs patients? And if they are, can the veteran not enrolled in VA health care afford it?

“Getting coverage,” means “paying” for coverage through the Obama Care Marketplace. Why would a veteran, who qualifies for VA coverage, not go to the VA? It doesn’t make sense.

It’s as if Michelle Obama is trying to get “caring for veterans” points with a health care merry-go-round that will deposit the veteran exactly where s/he got on!

Veterans need to be directed to the VA, and then some need to have their hands held to even get them to sign up. Medicaid should cover the non-service related costs should the poor veteran not be able to afford these costs, however, because the Supreme Court ruled last year it would be up to the states to decide whether or not to implement Medicaid expansion, an estimated 284,000 poor veterans, who would have qualified for Medicaid under the expansion, will not be able to access it.

Obamacare has NOTHING for the veteran, nor should it. But why the smoke and mirrors towards those who already are faced with a daunting, bureaucratic labyrinth and well deserved mistrust of the efficiency of a government program?

It’s a shame that in this age of returning veterans with complex health care issues we can’t find a better way to address their needs than with just a confusing “open letter” to them about something that can do nothing for them.

What we need is to allow veterans to seek out treatment at any municipal health care facility, just like Medicaid patients can do. Restricting care for veterans only through the ridiculous bottleneck of Veterans Administration facilities, which are inaccessible to most veterans who tend to live far from these facilities, for an estimated 400,000 suffering the effects of service-related TBI alone, is trite, myopic, unnecessary and a dishonor to their sacrifice.

I am the author of “Saving Grace at Guantanamo Bay: A Memoir of a Citizen Warrior,” and three times mobilized U.S. Army Reserve Major (Retired). Author web page: http://sbpra.com/montgomeryjgranger/ Twitter @mjgranger1

Force-Feeding Gitmo Detainees is Legal, Moral and Ethical

Recently, U.S. Federal District Court Judge, Gladys Kessler, found in favor of a motion filed by attorney’s for Gitmo detainee Abu Wa’el Dhiab who asked that the intubation to keep him healthy and alive be stopped.

Why? The detainee’s attorney and liberal left, Islamist apologists say that force-feeding violates international law and “could amount to torture.” Although the judge stopped short of using the “T” word, she described force-feeding as “a painful, humiliating and degrading process.”

I was present when the very first two detainees at the military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba were force-fed back in early 2002.

Not only weren’t these self-starving unlawful combatants not eating, they were also not drinking anything. A person can go for several weeks without eating before killing themselves or causing irreparable organ damage, but if a person were to go without drinking for just a few days there would be no turning back once vital organs, such as the kidneys or liver, shut down.

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 24:  Supporters of closing the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base detention facility hold signs and pictures of prisoners being held at the facility while sitting in the audience during a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee July 24, 2013 in Washington, DC. The committee heard testimony from a panel of witnesses on 'Closing Guantanamo: The National Security, Fiscal, and Human Rights Implications.' Credit: Getty Images

The military medical Standard Operating Procedures at Gitmo (which I helped write for the detainee mission) mentioned nothing about thirst strikes. We hadn’t thought about it. We only had protocols in place for a hunger strike. So when two hunger strikers were identified as having not had anything to drink for two days we performed an intervention, Gitmo style.

No, we didn’t waterboard them and say “suck it in!”

We appealed to their sense of religion first, if they had any. The detainees claimed to be Muslims, so we approached them with the Navy Muslim chaplain assigned to detainee operations, who spoke with the detainees through an interpreter about Allah’s instructions through the Quran that they should not willfully harm themselves.

The truth is most detainees were only pretending to be Muslims, their murderous and hateful values were acquired through Al Qaeda, the Taliban or other Islamists. In fact, the new official name for self-starvation at Gitmo is “Long Term Non-Religious Fasts.”

That failed to get the desired response, so we told them we would have to give them fluids intravenously. One detainee resisted to the point of physical refusal. We strapped him to a litter and then pushed fluids.

GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA - JUNE 27:  (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been reviewed by the U.S. Military prior to transmission. ) A Public Affairs Officer escorts media through the currently closed Camp X-Ray which was the first detention facility to hold 'enemy combatants' at the U.S. Naval Station on June 27, 2013 in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay, houses the American detention center for 'enemy combatants'. President Barack Obama has recently spoken again about closing the prison which has been used to hold prisoners from the invasion of Afghanistan and the war on terror since early 2002. Credit: Getty Images

After several more days they were still not eating and refused to drink. We kept pushing the intravenous fluids, but it was becoming clear that we were going to have to intubate them and force nutrition into their stomachs before permanent organ damage, and then death occurred.

You see there are no military medical protocols that allow detainees to harm themselves, including self-starvation. The procedure for intubation, or forced feeding, is unpleasant, to be sure, but slowly dying because your body is feeding off of itself to the point of organ failure would probably be just a bit more uncomfortable, even torturous.

I pray you THINK about that for a moment. Is it absurd to tell someone to stop saving someone else’s life because it is potentially torturous to do so? We KNOW what happens to the body when it is not fed and nourished properly – it feeds on itself and then shuts down.

I know what you’re probably thinking: “So let the damn bastards starve themselves! It’ll save us taxpayers money and the bloodthirsty Islamists will get what they deserve – a painful and agonizing death! Remember Sept. 11! Remember Benghazi! Death to Akbar!”

A hooded demonstrator is seen at a protest calling for the closure of the Guntanamo Bay detention facility infront of the White House on May 18, 2013 in Washington, DC. Credit: AFP/Getty Images

We need to take a step back and then remember our values. We are the good guys. No matter what anyone else tells you, especially the left liberal, Islamist apologist uber-politically correct crowd who only want to manipulate American political will via self-starving unlawful combatant detainees, we have ethics and morals to uphold, even in the face of absurdity.

U.S. military personnel are trained to care for, and to treat with respect and dignity, any unlawful combatant that we detain, including those who wish to slowly and painfully off themselves. The majority of the U.S. military personnel working at Gitmo are professional, hard working, loyal and trustworthy individuals, who will never, ever disobey their orders to care for the detainees appropriately.

Because of this commitment to honor and integrity, International Committee of the Red Cross physicians with whom I worked at Gitmo and in Iraq told me, “Nobody does [detention operations] better than the United States.”

The Gitmo detainees are LUCKY to be ALIVE, as any or all of them could have been legally killed on the battlefield. They are even LUCKIER to have been captured by the U.S. rather than some other group with far less compassion and humanity (i.e. Al Qaeda, Taliban, or other Islamists); one that might, say, behead them, hack them to death, blow them up or drag them naked and lifeless through the streets, like they did to Daniel Pearl and Lee Rigby.

In this photo reviewed by US military officials, two feeding tubes and cans of Ensure are seen in the US Detention Center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, March 29, 2010. Detainees on hunger strikes or not eating are given enhanced nutrition via the tube. (Photo: AFP/Getty Images)

The irony drips, in thick globs, as our sworn enemy insists on being slowly and painfully allowed to die because the method being used to keep him alive is tantamount to TORTURE.

I wonder what George Orwell would say about this? I wonder what someone in a coma would say if they could, about being forcibly fed while medical science sorts out the cause of their coma? Did you know they also intubate premature infants? Ever hear that called torture?

Of course not! The act of self-starvation is a CONSCIOUS DECISION made for POLITICAL reasons by a desperate person, in this case an illegal combatant detainee.

Judge Kessler has ordered a temporary cease and desist to the forced feeding of Abu Wa’el Dhiab, and has forbidden his forced removal from his cell at Gitmo for that purpose.

I’d like to see her medical professional credentials, or her crystal ball, which she can guarantee no permanent or life-threatening damage will be done to the detainee during the time the restraint is in effect. The appellate court that sent the original appeal to end the force-feeding back to the District Court mentioned that the force-feeding procedure would “probably be allowed if it is just to prevent injury or death.”

People dress in orange jumpsuits and black hoods as activists demand the closing of the US military's detention facility in Guantanamo during a protest, part of the Nationwide for Guantanamo Day of Action, April 11, 2013 in New York's Times Square. (Photo: AFP/Getty Images)

It used to be that courts never interfered with military procedures, policies or laws. Gitmo has risen to a level of incalculable interference by the federal court system because President Barack Hussein Obama mentioned, bathed in both pre- and post-election naïveté, that he would CLOSE Gitmo within a year?

Could it be that he and U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder re-wrote the Military Commissions Act of 2006, to include rights and privileges for unlawful combatant detainees virtually identical to what you or I would enjoy in a U.S. Federal court of law?

Back to the intubation: We had the Navy Muslim chaplains and interpreter bedside with the two self-starving detainees before going ahead with the procedure, done in a private section of the detainee medical facility (an integrated and climate controlled tent system called Deployable Medical System), with low lighting and near whispering conversation.

The Muslim Navy chaplain, through the interpreter, tried to convince the detainees that their self-starvation was against Allah’s wishes, and that it would not be pleasant, and would they please reconsider.

They quietly and timidly refused, and then the Navy nurses, assisted by corpsmen, with a physician standing by, gently placed the feeding tubes through the detainee’s nostrils and then down their throats into their stomachs.

The detainees moaned slightly, winced some, and then opened their eyes wide when the nutritional liquid was slowly poured into them. So tell me, what exactly is inhumane, unethical or immoral about that?

I am the author of “Saving Grace at Guantanamo Bay: A Memoir of a Citizen Warrior,” and three times mobilized U.S. Army Reserve Major (Retired). Twitter @mjgranger1

OBAMA’S ATTEMPT TO DISARM AND DISABLE THE US MILITARY

Barack Hussein Obama seeks to use the teachings of ancient Chinese military genius Sun Tzu, as described in his famous quote: “One hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the most skillful, subduing the enemy’s military without battle is the most skillful.”

The question is: Are we going to let him?

Recently, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced that he is proposing huge cutbacks in the military, especially with regard to Army personnel . The set-up for this fall included prematurely withdrawing from Iraq and announcing that all U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan would end by December 2014.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel speaks during a news conference at the Pentagon, Wednesday, July 31, 2013. Hagel warned that the Pentagon may have to mothball up to three Navy aircraft carriers and order more sharp reductions in the size of the Army and Marine Corps if Congress does not act to avoid massive budget cuts beginning in 2014. Credit: AP

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel speaks during a news conference at the Pentagon, Wednesday, July 31, 2013.  Credit: AP 

 

We still have troops in Germany, Japan and Italy over 68 years after the end of World War II, although Obama removed the last of our Abrams M1-A2 main battle tanks from Germany last spring. The effect of removing troops from Afghanistan would be a reduction in our capability to project our power and influence in defense of our country and our best interests in the Middle East. That is a void none of our friends or allies will fill, and the vacuum created by our withdrawal will collect only those who can and will do us harm.

The most recent proposed cuts announced by Hagel amount to a gutting of an operational force to a level that would take at least a decade to rebuild, if that. I say “if that,” because the proposed cuts to future soldier benefits will help discourage the best and brightest from giving a damn about joining. If they survive their tour they might have to end up living on food stamps, like thousands of Army privates with families do today, or, if they don’t survive, their families and spouses will have crumbs to live on from reduced death benefits.

The danger of electing a president with no military experience, or respect for those who do serve, is coming home to roost. Obama hates the military and takes every opportunity to humiliate and endanger U.S. forces, especially our elite marines and Navy SEALs, and now is striking at the heart of our forces: The Army.

Imagine you are an enemy of the United States, and you are observing the behavior of our president, taking close note of even the most subtle gestures of disdain and contempt for his military, such as a Marine holding an umbrella, the famous “crotch salute,” and calling an admitted Islamists massacre of U.S. personnel and soldiers at Fort Hood “workplace violence,” denying those killed and wounded and their families the benefits and recognition they deserve.

You would begin to salivate and plan our ultimate destruction, gaining confidence with every marginalizing act.

Photo credit: Washington Post

Photo credit: Washington Post

Far from fantasy, this is the reality we see today, playing out before our very eyes. The saddest part of the military retraction is the complicity of those who obey unlawful orders to weaken the force, whose survival and our survival, depends upon its viability and strength.

Although the proposed cuts, which would take effect in 2016, slash and burn nearly across the board, Special Forces are strengthened with the rationale that a lighter more flexible force is required for future threats. What the civilians in charge of our military don’t get is that those forces require about six non-combat troops to support every one of them. Logistics is what keeps these elite fighters effective. Without bases and supplies, and people to run them, every elite soldier would fall flat on their face.

The main fallacy in this internal attack on our ability to defend ourselves is the left’s assumption that the “two major wars” in Iraq and Afghanistan are over. These were/are in fact “operations” in the Global War on Terror (Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom, respectively). This is the major rationale behind the cuts, and the biggest lie of all. Liberals are so desperate to turn a blind eye to those who want us dead that they are willing to perpetrate this fantasy on the rest of us, at great peril.

Today we have troops in over 150 countries worldwide, defending our country and our interests 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Two US soldiers walk at the site of a suicide attack On the Kabul Jalalabad road, in Kabul on December 27, 2013. A Taliban suicide attacker detonated an explosives-packed car next to a NATO military convoy in Kabul, killing three NATO personnel and injuring at least four civilian passers-by, officials said. The blast in the Afghan capital left the twisted remains of the attacker's car spread across the scene along with several other badly-damaged vehicles, including a NATO sports utility vehicle, witnesses said. (AFP/Noorullah Shirzada)

Two US soldiers walk at the site of a suicide attack On the Kabul Jalalabad road, in Kabul on December 27, 2013. A Taliban suicide attacker detonated an explosives-packed car next to a NATO military convoy in Kabul, killing three NATO personnel and injuring at least four civilian passers-by, officials said. The blast in the Afghan capital left the twisted remains of the attacker’s car spread across the scene along with several other badly-damaged vehicles, including a NATO sports utility vehicle, witnesses said. (AFP/Noorullah Shirzada) 

 

In today’s most dangerous world, where Islamists pray to their god for our death and demise, we MUST defend ourselves until all Islamists are dead or no longer have the means or will to kill us. That’s not a would be or a could be or a should be, it is a MUST BE.

We MUST be willing to stand up to this infringement on the most sacred trust the American people have with their president, to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. The security of the people must not be marginalized or traded off for campaign promises and re-election gimmicks.

If we allow this president to continue unchallenged we will be the first (and last) generation to live under the powerful protection of the greatest military civilization has ever known, a military that liberates rather than occupies; a military that rebuilds rather than destroys; a military that seeks victory, not conquest.

Members of the US Army's 3rd Infantry Regiment 'The Old Guard' carry the casket of US Army Captain Andrew Pederson-Keel during a burial service for Pederson-Keel in Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, March 27, 2013. Pederson-Keel, 28, was killed March 11 during an attack on a police station in Afghanistan. Credit: AFP/Getty Images

Members of the US Army’s 3rd Infantry Regiment ‘The Old Guard’ carry the casket of US Army Captain Andrew Pederson-Keel during a burial service for Pederson-Keel in Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, March 27, 2013. Pederson-Keel, 28, was killed March 11 during an attack on a police station in Afghanistan. Credit: AFP/Getty Images 

 

The liberal media, progressives, socialists and leftists all conspire to destroy our military dominance while at once pronouncing their “support” of the troops, but in reality they know nothing about us. We are mission oriented, trained to seize the objective, to never quit, and to never leave our buddy behind. These people claim they want all the troops to come home, but even though in their heart every soldier longs to be home, and safe, we know too, that it is our DUTY to COMPLETE THE MISSION FIRST.

The Global War on Terror rages on, even though we can’t see it, or taste it, or smell it every day, it is there, lurking in the shadows, and caves, and sick deeds and minds of our enemies. While it rages on if we do not continue to STRENGTHEN our military and CONTINUE to out think & plan, and out produce & perform our foes, we will be destroyed. And don’t think for one iota of a second that “our foes” do not include the president, his cabinet and compliant military and civilian appointees.

The morality of war is measured in the survival of those who are most adept at perpetrating it. Whether by battle or by subterfuge, we need to remain the best at staying several steps ahead of our enemies, lest we fall victim to the illusions of a peaceful state, perpetrated by our highest federal officials; sadly, those who swore to protect us.

Contact your elected representatives NOW and let them know how you feel about a reduced and weakened military. Tell them what you want our military to be able to do and that you expect them to make sure it happens.

If not us, who? If not now, when?

HOW COULD SACRIFICING ONE’S LIFE FOR 50 OTHER HUMAN BEINGS NOT BE WORTHY OF THE MEDAL OF HONOR?

Imagine this, if you can: you’re a Marine, stationed at a check point at the entrance of a Forward Operating Base in Ramadi, Iraq. Your mission is to protect the base and check every incoming vehicle and personnel.

It’s hot, it’s boring, and with each incoming person and truck you are expected to be alert, professional and vigilant, because  death could be lurking behind innocent looking eyes. There are 31 American Marines and 23 Iraqi police behind you, depending on you to do your job.

Then, one truck ignores the signs and shouts, the flares and warning shots to slow down and stop. The Iraqi police flee the scene after detecting extreme danger. But you, instead of fleeing, bear down on your weapon and fire it cyclically, as you were trained to do, aiming and striking center of mass on the incoming threat. The vehicle finally stops, mere feet from your position. Then, it hits: the concussion blast from a 2,000 pound vehicle-borne improvised explosive device.

For his actions on April 22, 2008 day, 19-year-old Marine Cpl. Jordan C. Haerter, and his battle buddy, Cpl. Jonathan Yale, received the Navy Cross, among other posthumous awards.

Military Honors: How You Can Help Recognize an American Hero

The highest ranking officials have mentioned him in speeches, including this quote from President Barrack Obama on Jan. 27, 2009 at Camp Lejeune, N.C.:

Semper Fidelis: it means always being faithful, to the Corps, and to the country and to the memory of fallen comrades like Corporal Jonathan Yale and Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter.

And this from Gen. James T. Conway, Commandant of the Marine Corps, in his 234th Marine Corps birthday video message, holding Haerter and Yale up as ideal examples of “carrying on a legacy of valor.”

There is a petition now, initiated by loved ones of Jordan to put in motion a process for him and Jonathan to receive the recognition they truly deserve: a Medal of Honor. Since the beginning of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, only 12 service members have received the Medal of Honor, seven of which were posthumously awarded.

Haerter’s mother, JoAnn Lyles said in a recent interview regarding the White House petition, that she would “certainly support an appropriate review for a higher award.” But also said, “I don’t want to push for it if it’s not warranted.”

How could sacrificing one’s life for 50 other human beings not be worthy of the Medal of Honor, the highest tangible recognition of valor America has to offer?

There is probably no honor that could adequately memorialize or quantify the sacrifices made by Haerter and Yale that hot April day in 2008, but the Medal of Honor would help preserve their memory and their actions to the highest possible degree. This would give an added level of comfort to their families, loved ones and comrades, and preserve for future generations of Americans the idea that such sacrifices will not be forgotten and will never be marginalized.

If you agree then maybe we could all make a difference by signing the White House petition via Change.org. The petition does not authorize the award for the men; it would initiate a process whereby the President could decide to ask for a review for the award.

It seems the least we can do to honor the last full measure of these young men’s lives, which they gave willingly for each of us, as well as for 50 of their colleagues that day.

It’s easy to sit back and simply watch the world go by and tsk-tsk this or that and say, “someone else can do something for these young men,” but why would a red-blooded American patriot let someone else take on a responsibility we all have, individually to do whatever we can for those who did more for us than we could ever do for them?

Sign. You won’t regret it, and maybe down the road someday, if the medal is awarded, you could be one of those who can stand tall and say you had a small but significant part in it.

Semper Fidelis.

Army Plans to Close Retiree AKO Accounts by March 31, 2014: An Open Letter to Congressional Veterans’ Affairs Committee

In the “SEP-Dec 2013” issue of ECHOES, the official Army newsletter for retired soldiers, surviving spouses & families, it was announced that the Army plans to close retiree Army Knowledge Online (AKO) accounts by March 31, 2014. I believe this will place an undue hardship on me, and will cost me time, effort and security to communicate and access important information and I can now access quickly, easily and securely through AKO.

I have had an AKO account since probably around 2002, when I served on my first of three mobilizations for the Global War on Terror. Since then, and after retiring as a U.S. Army Reserve “gray area” retiree in DEC 2008, I have relied on AKO as a one stop shopping site for all things military, including this Veterans’ Affairs question form, which I accessed in two clicks after signing into AKO. Because the site is secure, I can gain quick, easy and safe access to my permanent Army records, DFAS pay, DEERS, Tricare, email, benefits, and dozens of other military related information portals and links.

I had always considered access to AKO a part of my rights as a member of the Army family. But now it kind of feels like this old soldier is being kicked out onto the street. I served 22 honorable years in the National Guard and Army Reserve, starting out as a PFC and then eventually becoming an officer and retiring as a major. I did not resign my commission, nor did I obtain a discharge. I bought into the idea that if I became a gray area retiree that I would enhance my eventual retired pay at 60 while at the same time making myself available should the Army require my services again. Needless to say, after reading about Army plans to disenfranchise me, and without explanation, I am feeling a bit kicked around and less than a soldier who wrote a blank check to you and the American People for my personal safety, comfort, livelihood and life.

Over the years I have seen AKO grow and change. Its importance to retirees cannot be overstated. I used it every day and several times a day during my active service days, and use it daily now as a means to stay connected to the service, my benefits and records. The site has been expanded, refined and has kept up with the times, reflecting new and better ways to serve soldiers and help soldiers serve themselves.

The same newsletter that announced retirees could no longer use AKO after March 2014, also explained how we would need to obtain a “Department of Defense Self-Service Logon (DS Logon), a relatively new, secure, self-service logon ID that allows Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs members and affiliates access to real-time personalized information on government websites.” It says after the AKO purge this will be our only secure access online for DOD and VA websites. The major flaw in this change is that beginning in March, in order to receive correspondence from the Army, I will need to inform all the pertinent Army departments that I must use a CIVILIAN email address for all notifications. The AKO account email will be discontinued in March, so I will never again receive official Army email on an official and SECURE Army email system. I feel that this will expose me and make me more vulnerable to fraud and abuse, and puts me at the mercy of a non-secure civilian email system. Worse than contracting out, as AKO did recently with the AKO email service, this is kicking out those of us who served and made it to retiree status.

Only about 15% of Army reservists ever make it to retirement, and fewer of us live to see the retired pay at age 60. I just had my first heart attack at age 51, and because I had low cholesterol (106), exercised regularly, and had no family history of heart attacks, I can only assume the stress of three deployments since 9/11/01 contributed to my illness. I don’t see age 60 as a sure thing anymore, and this AKO rug being pulled out from under me certainly adds to the stress column.

Please consider amending the current decision (by whom I don’t know) to eliminate retirees from AKO. It is a necessary and important link to the organization we are tied to for life. I have upheld my end of the bargain, and have lived the Army values of Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage in uniform and out since the mid 1980’s when I signed up and raised my right hand to swear my allegiance and my life to support and defend the Constitution. Please don’t change my status now, when it’s time for me to begin receiving the compensation, benefits and respect I earned as a soldier.

Thank you very much for your time and kind attention to my request for help in maintaining AKO status for retirees. I believe we earned the right to maintain peace of mind when communicating with and receiving communication from the organization that we served so proudly, and would gladly do so again if called.

Very truly yours,

Montgomery J. Granger, MAJ (USA Retired)

America Loves Defending What’s Right In A Fight

Barack Hussein Obama began his speech on national security by saying “Americans are deeply ambivalent about war.” Nothing could be further from the truth. In defending what’s right, Americans love a good fight. It’s what makes us who we are. The “ugly American” abroad has always come through on the battlefield, and it’s only been politics and the media who have defeated the greatest fighting force the world has ever known. In his speech on May 23, at the National Defense University, the President wanted us to believe that we could win the War on Terror simply be staying the course, wrapping up here and there, and that everything would be as it was “prior to 9/11.” Really? And prior to 9/11 we were safe? Whilst Islamist extremists, especially al Qaeda were strengthening, and we were turning a blind eye to multiple attacks on our ships, embassies and personnel, the threat grew. I have never doubted that the “tip of the spear” in the Global War on Terror has been our special forces & the CIA, our Shadow Warriors & Spooks, as it should be. But these bravest of Americans need a support system. We need the power and influence to suppress adversaries, and we need it close to where the bad guys are. We needed to keep bases in Iraq, instead the President threw that country to the wolves – Iran, al Qaeda and other Islamists – who are now supporting the Assad regime in Syria, and further destabilizing Iraq. We need to maintain bases in Afghanistan, which is poised to rise as the regional leader in democracy, long into the future. We need better relations with Egypt, Yemen, Somalia, and other countries in the region so as to maintain the pressure on Islamist groups there and in surrounding areas. Our forces need logistical power projection platforms from which to launch and then support freedom-fighting missions. The President failed to mention we have troops in 70 countries, CIA operatives in over 90 countries and Diplomatic Security Service agents in over 200 countries world wide, all with one thing on their plates: defend the interests of the United States of America. The days of huge battlefields and tremendous casualties and destruction are virtually over. The fight is now played out on the Internet, in remote locations, and in limited ways on the streets of our great cities. Saying we should be concerned about a “legacy problem” instead of turning up the heat on our adversaries speaks only to our president’s desperation to build his own legacy, not that for our children. Saying the military detention facility at Guantanamo “has become a symbol around the world for an America that flouts the rule of law,” and that “our allies won’t cooperate with us if they think a terrorist will end up at Gitmo,” is cheap brinkmanship about a place and process that, before his meandering legal giveaway to unlawful combatants of extra legal privileges they did not deserve in the Military Commissions Act (MCA) of 2009, is completely legal, moral and ethical. The same laws, policies and procedures that were in place at Gitmo when it opened in late 2001 – early 2002, were virtually unchanged since the Second World War, when from capture to execution it took the government about four weeks to prosecute 8 German saboteurs caught dry-foot on U.S. soil, using a Supreme Court approved Military Commission and having suspended habeas corpus for the enemy. In WWII, the U.S. held over 400,000 lawful combatant POWs without one call for extra legal privileges for them, and they were all released, as per the law, when hostilities ended. The same happened in 1991, when after a brief but hard fought First Gulf War against Iraq, we released thousands of lawful combatant Iraqi POWs within days after the end of hostilities. The Geneva Conventions and Law of Land Warfare were written to protect innocent civilians in time of war, not to protect those who would pretend to be civilians in order to murder them. The laws still apply, but because of the 2009 MCA all detainees enjoy the same legal protections you or I would have in a Federal Court of Law. Detainees charged with war crimes enjoy the presumption of innocence, and the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard of conviction. Non government organizations count higher body counts of civilians killed in war, by conventional as well as by drone technology, because our enemies don’t wear uniforms, rank, or carry their weapons openly; they are in effect “civilians” to anyone who lays eyes on them. But the reality is they are unlawful combatants, flauting the rule of law and manipulating it and those who sympathize with them in order to bend the political will of the Unites States and anyone else who will listen. The detention facility at Guantanamo Bay is not a person. It is a place, and no matter how hard they try, Pagan utilitarian humanist Islamist apologists and terrorists cannot change the fact that it is also legal, humane and ethical. Self-starving Gitmo detainees are using a known al Qaeda detention disruption technique in an effort to manipulate U.S. political will. There are no U.S. military medical protocols that authorize us to allow detainees to hurt themselves. And in fact, they will tell you that the point of their self-starvation is not to die, but to gain sympathies, and these sympathies are aimed at manipulating U.S. government political will in order to effect their release so that they can get back into the fight. There is a documented recidivism rate of released Gitmo detainees of at least 27%. One of these recidivists, known as Bin Qumu, led the attack on our consulate in Benghazi, Libya. This is unacceptable. Knowing this, and knowing the probability that many of the current Gitmo detainees “cleared” for release will return to Islamist extremism once let go, doing so would be tantamount to giving the enemy aid and comfort – treason. The comments from the President on Guantanamo are misguided at best, and treasonous at worst. Not only do we have to fight and stay one step ahead of an insidious enemy, but we must do so with one hand tied behind our back because of our President’s relentless assault on our proven, legal, moral, and ethical operation at Guantanamo Bay. Gitmo needs to remain open as long as we continue our struggle with Islamist extremists. We need to maintain as many bases around the world as is necessary to support our clandestine and overt operations. We need to take and then hold the high ground in the Global War on Terror, such as maintaining good working relationships for military bases (back) in Iraq and in Afghanistan; like we still have in countries we defeated in WWII, such as Germany, Japan, and Italy. We are strong, we are winning, and now we need to close the battle with al Qaeda, the Taliban, and groups that support and mimic them. Keeping Gitmo open and then using the base to prosecute through military commissions those who are suspected of war crimes, and to keep other detainees out of the fight until hostilities end, just like the International laws on warfare stipulate we may do even if the detainees were lawful combatant POWs, will allow us to live in peace. Americans love defending what’s right in a fight, but even more, we love to win!

Keep Gitmo Open

Gitmo remains the best, safest, most secure place for unlawful combatant Islamist extremists who want to kill us. 9/11/01 REALLY happened. 13 terrorist attack attempts on Manhattan were REALLY thwarted. A terrorist attack inside Ft. Hood, Texas, REALLY took place. Benghazi REALLY happened. We are at war, a Global War on Terror/struggle against Islamist extremists. And until al Qaeda, the Taliban, and other terrorist/extremists put their hands up and their weapons down, and promise never to kill or harm or destroy again, we will remain at war. Gitmo is a legal, professional and appropriate place for detainees, and calling for its closure gives aid and comfort to the enemy, and clouds the serious purpose of the finest military detention facility in the world.