Letters

Letters 08-29-2016

Religious Bigotry President Obama has been roundly criticized for his apparent unwillingness to use the term “radical Islamic terrorism.” His critics seem to suggest that through the mere use of that terminology, the defeat of ISIS would be assured...

TC DDA: Focus On Your Mission What on earth is the Traverse City DDA thinking? Purchasing land around (not within) its TIF boundaries and then offering it at a discount to developers? That is not its mission. Sadly enough, it is already falling down on the job regarding what is its mission. Crosswalks are deteriorating all around downtown, trees aren’t trimmed, sidewalks are uneven. Why can’t the DDA do a better job of maintaining what it already has? And still no public restrooms downtown, despite all the tax dollars captured since 1997. What a joke...

European-Americans Are Boring “20 Fascinating People” in northern Michigan -- and every single one is European-American? Sorry, but this is journalistically incorrect. It’s easy for editors to assign and reporters to write stories about people who are already within their personal and professional networks. It’s harder to dig up stuff about people you don’t know and have never met. Harder is better...

Be Aware Of Lawsuit While most non-Indians were sleep walking, local Odawa leaders filed a lawsuit seeking to potentially have most of Emmet County and part of Charlevoix County declared within their reservation and thus under their jurisdiction. This assertion of jurisdiction is embedded in their recently constructed constitution as documentation of their intent...

More Parking Headaches I have another comment to make about downtown TC parking following Pat Sullivan’s recent article. My hubby and I parked in a handicap spot (with a meter) behind Mackinaw Brew Pub for lunch. The handicap spot happens to be 8-10 spaces away from the payment center. Now isn’t that interesting...

Demand Change At Women’s Resource Center Change is needed for the Women’s Resource Center for the Grand Traverse Area (WRCGT). As Patrick Sullivan pointed out in his article, former employees and supporters don’t like the direction WRCGT has taken. As former employees, we are downright terrified at the direction Juliette Schultz and Ralph Soffredine have led the organization...

Home · Articles · News · Other Opinions · Afghanistan:...
. . . .

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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