Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

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Afghanistan: They‘re fighting our war all alone

Stephen Tuttle - November 9th, 2009
Afghanistan: They‘re
Fighting Our War All Alone
By Stephen Tuttle 11/9/09

Kristopher D. Rodgers.
Does that name ring a bell? No? That’s a shame.
Staff Sergeant Kristopher D. Rodgers, 29, of Sturgis, was killed in Afghanistan on August 16, 2008, when a roadside improvised explosive device (IED) detonated and destroyed his Humvee. He left behind a family, including his wife Selina and his then 3 1?2 year-old son, Kaden. Staff Sergeant Rodgers was the last Michigan resident killed in the conflicts in the Middle East at the time this column was written. It is unlikely he will be the last.
It’s not especially surprising we don’t remember those who have died in our name in Iraq or Afghanistan. As the local death toll rises – Michigan now accounts for 155 of our war dead and more than 1,000 of our wounded – we become less and less connected to the men and women we send to a part of the world most of us couldn’t find on a map.
In fact, unless a family member or close friend is in harm’s way, we have almost no connection to this war at all. Unique among all American wars, our government has asked absolutely nothing of us.
Historically, the United States fights wars with a certain determined collectivism. We can’t all answer the call to arms, but we all almost always have been asked to play some role. In World War II there was rationing, civil defense squads, rubber drives, cloth drives, metal drives and blackouts. Yes, that was a different kind of conflict. But even during our adventure into Vietnam, our most politically contentious modern war, the much-hated draft served the unintended purpose of uniting us; we all shared the same uncertainty as to whether or not our sons (young women were not drafted during that war) would receive the much-feared and reviled notification from the Selective Service. Whether we abhorred that war or supported it, we all shared the same dread. With a death toll in excess 54,000, it was also a pretty good bet our community also shared some of the grief.
In the Iran/Afghanistan wars, our government has asked virtually nothing of us. We aren’t drafted, we don’t ration, we haven’t been asked to pay higher taxes... nothing.
We’ve gone off to war and put out the home fires. More than 6,000 of our sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters have now perished. The ripples of anguish expand outward impacting thousands more, but not most of us.
The injury totals move inexorably past 32,000. Those injured warriors will struggle in isolation as the rest of us go about our daily lives while we lose contact with the realities of warfare. Not our son or our daughter or our husband or our wife so we don’t much care. We dutifully lower our flags when told by the government to do so and we shake our heads in sad recognition when the rare news story about some lost hometown hero flickers across our television sets. Then we go back to Wheel of Fortune.
The signature injury of this war is traumatic brain injury. It is an injury that too often requires weeks or months of rehabilitation. Just re-learning the most mundane activities – walking, talking, reading, etc. – can be an almost endlessly frustrating ordeal. For those not so lucky, years will not help achieve even a shadow of normalcy.
But volunteerism at neuro-recovery centers is down, not up. Contributions are down, not up. Nobody is asking us to do anything. The best rehabilitation center for traumatic brain injuries and amputations, the other signature injury of this war, is a privately-funded operation in Texas. We’ve not even been asked to pay higher taxes to assist and improve the herculean efforts being made by Veterans Administration (VA) doctors and nurses to put our young men and women back together.
Those who do make it back in one piece often experience their own relentless and personal hells in the form of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the gift of war that keeps on giving. But VA counseling centers are understaffed and overworked. The very real psychological demons caused by PTSD are ever-present as counseling is delayed.
Homelessness, unemployment, addiction, divorce and suicide among returning vets are all above the norms for the rest of us. But there is no demand from our leaders that we do much of anything to help. After all, we’re in the midst of an economic crisis. For the politicians there is electoral advantage to be found in this fiscal mess they no longer gain by talking about the war or our warriors. With no leadership to follow we do nothing.
Bryan K. Burgess, 35, of Garden City. Minhee Kim, 20, of Ann Arbor.
Do those names ring a bell? No? That’s a shame.

Stephen Tuttle is a political consultant specializing in campaign communications. A Traverse City native, he recently returned to the area after 35 years in Phoenix.

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