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President Obama and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki at a Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery (Getty Images)
The number of U.S. soldiers who have died in the war in Afghanistan.
The number of veterans under the age of 65 who died in 2008 because they were uninsured.
The number of U.S. soldiers who have died in the Iraq war.
The number of U.S. soldiers wounded in action in the war in Afghanistan.
Filed under: Afghanistan War, Department of Veterans Affairs, General Eric Shinseki, Iraq War Veterans, Military Veterans, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, The Iraq War, US Armed Forces, VA, Veterans Day, Veterans Disability, War Casualties
Ehren Watada is a beautiful, beautiful (Did we mention beautiful?) Hawaii native who graduated magna cum laude from Hawaii Pacific University in 2003, and was subsequently commissioned by the Army’s Officer Candidate School–ultimately rising to the high military rank of First Lieutenant. His motivation to serve arose from a reaction to the September 11 attacks and his resulting “desire to protect our country.“
What happened in between? When Watada learned that his unit would be deploying to Iraq, he did some real homework on the conflict. Ultimately convinced that the war he was being asked to lead troops into was illegal, he attempted to resign his commission–this was refused. He offered to instead serve in the “unambigious war linked to the September 11 attacks” in Afghanistan. The Army–and then-President of the United States–did not budge.
And so a different war began as a result of Watada’s stand, with the Army proffering multiple charges against him under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, including that of “Conduct Unbecoming of Officer and Gentleman” (for denouncing President Bush and the war) and “Missing Movement” (for not deploying). For these charges he faced a court martial, as well as potential (dishonorable) Dismissal and years of prison time. But Watada did not back down.
On September 26, under the Obama administration, the Army agreed to allow his resignation.
So why is Watada such a babe? Well, look at him, for crying out loud. And then take into account that he’s a man willing to think rather than blindly follow, to stand up for what he feels is right even when the scariest and strongest machine is out to silence him.
Asked by TruthOut in ’06 how he felt facing the serious consequences for his controversial stand, Watada said plainly:
“When you are looking your children in the eye in the future, or when you are at the end of your life, you want to look back on your life and know that at a very important moment, when I had the opportunity to make the right decisions, I did so, even knowing there were negative consequences.“
He may no longer be an officer, but if you ask us, his conduct certainly is one of a gentleman. And, for that matter, a total babe.
What’s shocking is that, according to HuffPo contributor Chris Rodda, the mixing of religion and military policy at the highest levels is nothing new. What’s also shocking? These Crusade Memo-cover sheets are about as smart and sophisticated as your typical youth group-messaging. They used to put Scripture like this on t-shirts in my Southern Baptist youth group, to get us kids pumped about spending the first week of summer, the first taste of freedom…quietly studying the Bible while getting murdered by mosquitoes in the woods, teenage hormones on tilt because you were surrounded by beautiful people you wanted to fuck but couldn’t because Jesus didn’t approve, and the most you could do about it was maybe get felt up in the Prayer Garden at night, but that was only if you were really, really bad and hooked on getting saved and re-saved, which so many kids were because, hey, you had to get high somehow.
Yep, this was the sort of fist-pumpy Bible-beater stuff we kids would get brainwashed with during Wednesday night Bible study or before we went to witness to slack-jawed teens at the mall on a Friday night because, because, because…
We were responding to a higher calling? Because we had purpose? Because we were chosen and righteous?
No. It was because, frankly, we were bored. There were only so many movies you could see at one of the two local movie theaters, only so many frames you could bowl, only so many times you could sit in the Safeway parking lot after closing getting wasted on Bud and wine coolers. Going out and saving the world was a thing to do because there was kinda nothing better in our podunk town.
And to think this is the way the Bush administration ran the military and justified invading Iraq. God help us.