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 Media and the War
Author: LynnB 
Date:   2007-02-11 07:57:18

If this war is anything like Vietnam, as the media suggests, it is THEIR DOING. I have already expressed my opinion of the media and why I refused to talk to the folks from the San Diego paper.

Here is another take on it.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Since I was otherwise occupied as a POW in Hanoi
and wasn't able to observe firsthand, I suppose it was a '60s thing —
when everybody who was anybody was or deeply aspired to be a victim.

And, later, when the soldiers who'd fought valiantly in a war they
actually won handily en route to defeating an entire evil empire
demanded the same respect given every other element in
society — deserving or not — they were accorded their own category of
victimhood and enshrined in the most out-of-sight, obscure memorial in
Washington, D.C. The re-writing of history to correct the many
historical perversions has been very slow in coming.

I remember writing one of my first Op/Eds about the Vietnam "Wall," which
reminded me then of a big hole in the ground or a large open mouth ? la a
contemporary actress/ally of our enemy. But it was a nice gesture.
Although it tended to patronize the suddenly glamorous former "baby killers,"
most of our contemporaries in military service shrugged it off as a belated, sort-of
thanks from a grateful nation.

From my first days in the military, I was taught that our job was to serve;
there would be tough times but keep a stiff upper lip and press on. And enjoy
the good times and camaraderie that military life — almost exclusively —
engenders. Most movies back then had male heroes who sucked up adversity and
pressed on. Mothers encouraged their daughters to marry the strong, silent
types — like John Wayne.

On my return in 1973, being greeted by crowds and overuse of the sobriquet
"hero" was embarrassing and confusing. The words and articles written about
our incarceration in the filthy, miserable dungeons of communist Vietnam were
laced with the term "heroes" — and there were, in fact, a few of those. But
it became apparent, early on, that by hero the writers and speakers and
extollers usually meant victim — as in you poor guys. There was obviously a
confusion of terminology! In fact, the roles had been reversed.

At Home, the Same Spin

During my entire time in the infamous Hanoi Hilton POW compound, I felt like
Winston Smith in Orwell's 1984 as the North Vietnamese propagandists talked
about their glowing victories and mocked American efforts as the ignominious
defeats of the U.S. aggressors and their lackeys.

Now that I was home, I began to feel that propagandists in our country had
developed their own strain of Newspeak to justify their weak arguments. When
we POWs were released in February 1973 after the crushing B-52 raids and
crippling of North Vietnamese commerce, I thought we'd won. Imagine my surprise
when many Americans apparently indoctrinated by academia and a powerful
media seemed to think we'd been routed.

Fast forward to 2007.

Reading the generally unbelievable mainstream media, one would suspect
that unemployed communist propagandists had found a new home
— as journalists. Their endless agonizing over American losses omits any
mention of the good things that are happening throughout the Middle East or
even the crippling losses of the other side!

Embedded in the safe Green Zone, reporters write damning articles that cannot be
corroborated. I'm almost glad this is happening because I can now see with my own
eyes what transpired here in the 1960s while I read between the lines in
Vietnam. From the condescending words used to describe the fighting
forces, to outright exaggerations and lies, efforts are made to transform our
servicemen into "victims."

Regardless of how it started, the assault on America by our own tenured,
unassailable academy, by our own "free" press and politicians for personal gain
is undone by e-mails from actual soldiers and Marines in harm's way. But the
true story usually fails to gain traction.

It's much easier to manufacture hand-wringing bad news to weep and wail and
whine about our valiant troops/victims than it is to find something interesting to
report about our successes. Call it the Dan Rather/Jayson Blair School
of Journalistic Integrity — it has a deleterious effect on those who never
cross-check the stories. It's a good reason that polls can swing up and down
by 10 percentage points on the basis of an unreliable but sensational story.

Military Doesn't Need Sympathy

Our armed forces are not victims. They are not in Iraq because they're
dumb. They are performing selfless acts on behalf of all Americans, and they
don't need sympathy. That, simply, is what they do. Proudly. And justifiably so.

Always have, always will.

It's something the Hate America crowd will never understand. Frankly, most
of those serving don't care what their de facto domestic enemies think of
them. But, if those ungrateful Americans ever need help, their armed forces will
be there serving proudly.

A Richmond resident, retired Navy commander and attack pilot Paul Galanti
was a prisoner of war in Vietnam from 1966 until 1973. He is currently the
chairman of the Board of Veterans Services for the commonwealth. His Commentary
Columns regarding veterans appear regularly on the Back Fence.

 Re: Media and the War
Author: LynnB 
Date:   2007-03-22 12:26:31

The MEDIA strikes again....with yet another Terrible OMISSION...They jump all over a story about Walter Reed Hospital and make it sound like the place is ready to fall down what with all that mold, dirt, etc.

When in FACT...at least according to a Senior Chaplain there, it is NOT.

The officers involved in that SHOULD be relieved of duty, perhaps court-martialed, but the scene set by the MEDIA is NOT what is happening all over Walter Reed.....Read more:

Subject: Chief of Chaplains at Walter Reed AMC
Date: Wed, 21 Mar 2007 06:23:08 +0000

This is an e-mail from the Chief of Chaplains at Walter Reed AMC. He provides quite a different perspective on the Walter Reed issue.

I have had enough and am going to give my perspective on the news about Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Please understand that I am speaking for myself and I am responsible for my thoughts alone. The news media and politicians are making it sound like Walter Reed is a terrible place and the staff here has been abusing our brave wounded soldiers; what a bunch of bull!

I am completing my 24th year of service in the Army next month so you decide for yourself if I have the experience to write about this topic. I have been the senior clinical chaplain at Walter Reed for four years and will leave to go back to the infantry this summer. I supervise the chaplain staff inside Walter Reed that cares for the 200 inpatients, the 650+ daily outpatients from the war who come to us for medical care, the 4000+ staff, and over 3000 soldiers and their families that come for clinical appointments daily. Walter Reed has cared for over 5500 wounded from the war. I cannot count the number of sick and non-battle injured that have come through over that timeframe. The staff at this facility has done an incredible job at the largest US military medical center with the wo rst injured of the war. We have cared for over 400 amputees and their families. I am privileged to serve the wounded, their families, and our staff.

When the news about building 18 broke I was on leave. I was in shock when the news broke. We in the chaplains office in Walter Reed, as well as the majority of people at Walter Reed, did not know anyone was in building 18. I didn't even know we had a building 18. How can that happen? Walter Reed is over 100 acres of 66 buildings on two installations. Building 18 is not on the installation of Walter Reed and was believed to be closed years ago by our department. The fact that some leaders in the medical brigade that is in charge of the outpatients put soldiers in there i s terrible. That is why the company commander, first sergeant, and a group of platoon leaders and platoon sergeants were relieved immediately. They failed their soldiers and the Army. The commanding general was later relieved (more about this) and his sergeant major has been told to mo ve on—if he gets to. The brigade sergeant major was relieved and more relief's are sure to come and need to. As any leader knows, if you do not take care of soldiers, lie, and then try to cover it up, you are not worthy of the commission you hold and should be sent packing. I have no issue, and am actually proud, that they did relieve the leaders they found who knew of the terrible conditions some of our outpatients were enduring. The media is making it sound like these conditions are rampant at Walter Reed and nothing could be further from the truth. We need improvements and will now get them. I hate it that it took this to make it happen.

The Army and the media made MG Weightman, our CG, out to be the problem and fired him. This was a great injustice. He was only here for six months, is responsible for military medical care in the 20 Northeast states, wears four "hats" of responsibilities, and relies on his subordinate leaders to know what is happening in their areas of responsibilities. He has a colonel that runs the hospital (my hospital commander), a colonel that runs the medical brigade (where the outpatient wounded are assigned and supposedly cared for), and a colonel that is responsible to run the garrison and installation. What people don't know is that he was making many changes as he became aware of them and had requested money to fix other places on the installation. The Army did not come through until four months after he asked for the money, remember that he was here only six mo nths, which was only days before they relieved him. His leaders responsible for outpatient care did not tell him about conditions in building 18. He has been an incredible leader who really cares about the wounded, their families, and our staff. I cannot say the same about a former commander, who was my first commander here at Walter Reed, and definitely knew about many problems and is in the position to fix them and he did not. MG Weightman also should not be held responsible for the military's unjust and inefficient medical board system and the problems in the VA system. We lost a great leader and passionate man who showed he had the guts to make changes and was doing so when he was made the scapegoat for others.

What I am furious about is that the media is making it sound like all of Walter Reed is like building 18. Nothing could be further from the truth. No system is perfect but the medical staff provides great care in this hospital. What needs to be addressed, and finally will, is the bureaucratic garbage that all soldiers are put through going into medical boards and medical retirements. Congress is finally giving the money that people have asked for at Walter Reed for years to fix places on the installations and address shortcomings. What they don't want you to know is Congress caused many problems by the BRAC process saying they were closing Walter Reed. We cannot keep nor attract all the quality people we need at Walter Reed when they know this place will close in several years and they are not promised a job at the new hospital. Then they did this thing ca ll A76 where they fired many of the workers here for a company of contractors, IAP, to get a contract t o provide care outside the hospital proper. The company, which is responsible for maintenance, only hired half the number of people as there were originally assigned to maintenance areas to save money. Walter Reed leadership fought the A76 and BRAC process for years but lost. Congress instituted the BRAC and A76 process; not the leadership of Walter Reed.

What I wish everyone would also hear is that for every horror story we are now hearing about in the media that truly needs to be addressed, you are not hearing about the hundreds of other wounded and injured soldiers who tell a story of great care they received. You are not hearing about the incredibly high morale of our troops and the fact that most of them want to go back, be with their teammates, and finish the job properly. You should be very proud of the wounded troopers we have at Walter Reed. They make me so proud to be in the Army and I will fight to get their story out.

I want you to hear the whole story because our wounded, their families, our Army, and the nation need to know that many in the media and select politicians have an agenda. Forget agendas and make the changes that have been needed for years to fix problems in every military hospital and the VA system. The poor leaders will be identified and sent packing and good riddance to them. I wish the same could be said for the politicians and media personalities who are also responsible but now want it to look like they are very concerned. Where have they been for the last four years? I am ashamed of what they all did and the pain it has caused many to think that everyone is like that. Please know that you are not hearing the whole story. Please know that there are thousands of dedicated soldiers and civilian medical staff caring for your soldiers and their families. When I leave h ere I will end up deploying. When soldiers in my division have to go to Walter Reed from the battlefield, I know they will get great medical care. I pray that you know the same thing. God bless all our troops and their families wherever they may be. God bless you all,

+Chaplain John L. Kallerson

Senior Chaplain Clinician

Walter Reed Army Medical Center

 Re: Media and the War
Author: Paul 
Date:   2007-03-22 12:44:45

Thank you for posting this information.

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