Veterans need our help

We do a lot of joking around here in Oysterland.? But often enough we’re moved by particular topics that have serious consequences in the real world.? One of those topics is supporting our troops.? Now, we know that often means little in this day and age where “supporting our troops” is often akin to politcal maneuvering, Bill O’Reilly hate speeches and a horrible line people draw in the sand.

It’s also not lost on us that supporting our troops can mean different things to different people.? I wouldn’t argue with the liberal who tells me that supporting our troops means bringing them back home immediately.? I also wouldn’t argue with the conservative who tells me that supporting our troops means giving them the best funding, the best weapons, the best possible way to remain safe while serving active duty.

It’s all so backwards and sometimes it seems like there is little we can do to actually help them, to make a sacrifice on our own end.? For me, however, this is personal.? My father is decorated veteran of Vietnam and one of my closest friends from childhood has served tours of duty in Kosovo, Iraq and now he’s stationed in Afghanistan (coincidentally he was also featured in a documentary The War Tapes.)

To me supporting the troops means making sure they have the best care in the world when they return, whether that be psychological counselling or physical therapy – really whatever it takes to get them readjusted back into their lives here stateside.? It also means staying in touch with them and helping in anyway you can, even if that is just sending them nudie magazines.? Admittedly, I haven’t been a good friend.

If you are interested in helping there is a fantastic organization to which you should get involved with.? The IAVA (Iraq Afghanistan Veterans of America) was started by Paul Reickhoff and they are doing a wonderful job keeping veterans issues at the forefront of American politics.

They have just produced a new advertisement.? We think it should speak for itself.

Full press release after the jump.? For those inclined to read on or do what’s right and help out the cause.

Powerful New TV Ad From Veterans Group Blasts Congress and President Bush
“Demand Action” Highlights Late VA Budget and Lack of Progress Since Walter Reed ?

NEW YORK -Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the nation’s first and largest nonpartisan organization for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, launched a gripping new TV ad today. ?”Demand Action” reminds Americans that seven months have passed since the Walter Reed scandal broke and serious problems in veterans’ care remain. ?Furthermore, while consumed with the latest Rush Limbaugh comment and ad, Congress has failed to pass the Veterans Affairs (VA) budget. ?”Demand Action,” a national media buy which will run for a limited time, targets opinion leaders throughout the country.? IAVA raised money from its grassroots supporters online to fund the ad and will continue to solicit donations to keep it on the air.

The ad can be viewed now at An ad fact sheet is also available on the site.

“Demand Action” features Annette McLeod of Chesterfield, South Carolina, the courageous wife of an injured serviceman.? Mrs. McLeod’s husband, Specialist Wendell McLeod, sustained a traumatic brain injury and numerous other painful and debilitating injuries in an accident while he was serving in Iraq in 2004.? “Demand Action” includes excerpts of Annette McLeod’s Congressional testimony on the abhorrent care her husband received at Walter Reed.? “This is how we treat our soldiers,” she testifies, later declaring “my life was ripped apart” and “they’re good enough to go and sacrifice their life and we give them nothing.”

The ad also includes Staff Sergeant John Daniel Shannon bravely testifying before Congress that soldiers were treated “in my opinion, like a piece of dirt.”? Poignant photographs of wounded veterans are interspersed throughout the ad.? A narrator reminds viewers that in the sevens months since the Walter Reed fiasco, little has been done and to make matters worse, the veterans budget is now late.? Viewers are asked to urge Congress and the President to approve the VA budget and “demand action at”?? gives supporters the opportunity to sign an online petition urging Congress and the President to pass the VA budget immediately.

“Americans were rightly outraged when they first learned of the deplorable conditions at Walter Reed and many people assume that the problems have been fixed.? As a recent GAO report revealed, it has been seven months and President Bush and the Congress still have not adequately improved care for wounded servicemembers,” said? Paul Rieckhoff, IAVA Executive Director.? “To compound the problems, the VA budget is late.? Congress is busy fighting about frivolous topics like Rush Limbaugh’s comments or’s latest ad when there is real work to be done.? It is critical that they take immediate action on issues that will substantially impact veterans’ lives.”

The delays in improving veterans’ care may force other servicemembers and their loved ones to cope with the same hardships as Mrs. McLeod and her family. “Wendell’s experience at Walter Reed was horrific.? Our whole family suffered from the bureaucratic fiasco we encountered.? I hope no one else ever has to cope with the heartache and frustration we faced,” said Mrs. McLeod.

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) is the nation’s first and largest group for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.? A non-profit and nonpartisan organization, IAVA represents more than 60,000 veteran members and civilian supporters in all 50 states. To arrange an interview with Annette McLeod or Paul Rieckhoff, please contact Michael Houston at (212)-982-9699, or email [email protected].

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  • big rob October 10, 2007, 4:47 pm

    If you happen to be inclined to send nudie magazines to troops in the middle east, check with them ahead of time. Depending on where they’re stationed, any erotica is treated the same as hardcore porn (even swimsuit shots) and if they’re working closely with the locals it may get them in trouble.

    On the mental health issue, the people behind Sesame Street are producing a DVD for the families of soldiers who may be returning home maimed or disfigured, to help explain it to the children. It may be useful for those who come back with less “visible” wounds, as well.

    On the subject of care for the soldiers, we have to keep pressuring the politicians to keep the pressure on the VA to improve services. Wait times of six months to a year for surgeries are not ujnusual. A non-partisan audit of the VA found (surprise!) that the Bush appointees at the VA were inflating statistics to make it seem like they were doing a better job than they really are. If one person writes or calls, politicians figure that’s equivalent to ten of their constituents (ie. the people that vote for them.) So don’t keep it in your pants, people! (Your pen, or your phone, I mean.)

    Big Rob