November 22, 2009

ABOMINATION

More info comes out on Hasan:

One of Hasan's commanding officers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Lieutenant Colonel Melanie Guerrero, told investigators she had considered failing him as an intern but "decided to allow him to pass since he was going into psychiatry and would not be doing any real patient care."

Wow, Army.  I didn't think it was possible for you to look worse in this fiasco, but you've gone and outdone yourself.  I think that's the most appalling thing I've ever heard.

No wonder soldiers hesitate to get treated for PTSD, if that's the attitude of the commanding officer of psychiatry services for the military.

I'm dumbfounded.

(Via Amritas)

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November 12, 2009

VETERANS

I had dinner with a veteran last night.  My father-in-law was an MP at Fort Hood in the 70's.  I kept thinking about what it would have been like for him to be an MP there last week...

I also talked briefly on the phone to a veteran: my husband's brother.  He's out of the Army now but he was deployed to Iraq in 2004 at the same time my husband was.

And I will eat dinner with another veteran tonight.  Time spent with Chuck Z is always appreciated.

I did not get to hear from my favorite veteran of all yesterday...but hopefully soon.

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November 07, 2009

TEASING IN THE MILITARY

I am not in the Army.  You can take this post with a grain of salt if you like.  Or correct me if you think I'm off base.  But something about the Hasan shooting has been bugging me to no end.

From an online interview with a former JAG officer:

[Question from] Rockville, Md.: Dear Mr. Kenniff, As the wife of a former military officer, it strikes me as odd that the shooter, who was a major in the Army, claimed that he was being harassed for his religious beliefs. While some types of harassment and teasing (which could be serious or not) are surely not uncommon among enlisted men and women, it is harder to envision it happening in the officer ranks. Enlisted soldiers would know not to harass an officer and it is difficult to envision this individual being "made fun of" (the term I saw in the newspaper) by other officers. This seems inconsistent with the norms in that professional context. What is your sense of this claim? Thanks.

Thomas Kenniff: I couldn't agree more and that was one of the points I tried to make on Larry King last night, as Dr. Phil dronned on about PTSD. This is a person who out ranked 95% of the military, and occupied a position of prestige both in the military and as a civilian. Doctors are treated like gold in the Army.

My experience with this is limited, but it runs counter to these two people's experiences.  I think perhaps it might have to do with the fact that JAG and the medical corps are a little different from, say, combat arms.  I imagine there's less foul-mouthed insults being hurled in the hospital than there are in my husband's corridor.

Yes, I very seriously doubt that some PFC walked up to MAJ Hasan in the hospital and started ragging on him for being a Muslim.  Not likely.  But to say that officers are above teasing and making fun of folks?  My husband apparently doesn't live on the same planet as this lady's husband did.

Officers are human beings.  Human beings, in an in-group setting, tease each other.  Especially males.  About anything and everything that can be used for fodder.  Off the top of my head, I know my husband has been made fun of for a variety of things: his beard, his car, his larger-than-average head, his use of big vocabulary words, his lack of tattoos, his never-heard-of-it alma mater, and yes, even just the mere fact of being an officer is grounds for teasing at times (because officers go home and roll around in their big money piles like Scrooge McDuck, you know).  And in his current career field, where no one uses rank and everyone gets called by first names, the enlisted soldiers get plenty of cracks in at him.  No one is exempt, not the First Sergeant, not the commander, no one.  (And Lord help you if you are a female in this career field.  You have to have very thick skin.)

I've seen officers tease on ethnicity.  A few years ago, my husband invited some other lieutenants over to the house and then told a Chinese-American lieutenant, "But you can't come, you'll oppress my Tibetan dog."  The guy laughed and thought that was pretty clever, saying that he usually just gets accused of wanting to eat people's dogs.

I really doubt that Hasan was directly teased about being a Muslim.  He might've been if he had gotten close enough to other guys in his unit where they felt comfortable ribbing him, but my guess is that enough people felt Hasan was a bit off and didn't think it'd be wise to poke fun at him.  My husband served with one such Muslim before, and everyone was careful to give this guy some space.

I think what's more likely is that Hasan heard indirect comments against Muslims in general and took it personally.  In treating soldiers' mental states, he might've heard them say generic things about how they don't get Islam, or they don't like haji, or whatever.  And Hasan took it personally.  I would bet that a closeted homosexual deals with the same thing in the military.  Same as a non-vocal atheist.  They would be surrounded by casual conversation against their lifestyle, and I'm sure that's not easy to swallow over and over.  I am guessing that's what Hasan meant by saying he felt harassed or made fun of.  He heard anti-Muslim comments just by being in the military and took them to heart.  Understandable, but quite different from being openly mocked for being a Muslim himself.

I think all this shock that an officer killed these people is a bit ridiculous.  Officers are people too.  Some of them are jerks.  Some of them are ignorant or immature.  Some of them are malicious and messed up in the head.  They're not somehow above murder just because of their rank.

And they're not above joking and teasing either.

Come on, you really think Chuck Z conducts himself at all times like a complete gentleman?  I bet he can let an off-color insult rip like no one's business...

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November 06, 2009

VALOUR-IT 2009

I haven't mentioned the Valour-IT fundraiser yet because I figured the big push would be at the beginning and I'd post a reminder more towards the end of the drive.

Read about the origins of Valour-IT, as written by Chuck Z's wife.

Pick a service branch and donate towards their team.

Enjoy the inter-service demotivators!

My favorite of all time applies to all branches:


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November 05, 2009

UNFATHOMABLE

All I keep imagining is my husband being murdered while preparing to deploy, either getting his power of attorney or his flu shot or whatever they do before they leave.

It makes me sick.

I have long been confused by the irony that military installations are gun-free zones.  Every person in that readiness center could've shot back.  Every soldier is trained, and I'd bet many of their wives are decent marksmen too.  And yet Hasan was the only one with a gun.

Guns.  And time to reload.

Awful.

And a mental health specialist.  Unfathomable.

UPDATE:

It sounds like he's still alive.  Good.  He doesn't deserve to die before facing the horror he inflicted.  Try him, and then fry him.

And I hope it hurts his feelings that he was shot by a girl.

UPDATE:

Related thoughts at The Corner.

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