Monday, May 11, 2009

1st Annual Marine Week Kicks off in Chicago, Runs May 11-17, 2009

Marine Week will be hosted by different cities each year offering residents and visitors a chance to attend any number of free events. It also offers Marines a chance to give back directly to and interact directly with their own communities.


Established to recognize the contributions of local Marine heroes, their families, and the cities from which they came, Marine Week also showcases the rich history and traditions of our beloved Corps.

During the week, citizens will find Marines volunteering at local food kitchens and community parks, inspiring students by sharing their stories of service to their country, conducting intense physical fitness challenges and martial arts demonstrations, and performing with local musical groups.

The Marine Corps will also display aircraft, vehicles, and the latest technology and equipment used to protect and preserve our Nation and its citizens.

I am hoping to attend at least one event, if time permits.

When and if that happens, I'll be sure to share my photos and experience with you. Full schedule of private and public events (free public happenings in extended).

5 Dead After U.S. Soldier in Iraq Opens Fire at Camp Liberty Stress Clinic [UPDATE #2]

UPDATE #2 May 12, 10:37 pm -- Added official statements to this tragedy by Steve Robinson, a veteran and advocate, Paul Sullivan, Exec Director of Veterans for Common Sense, and IAVA's Paul Rieckhoff.

UPDATE #1 May 11, 2009 12:12 pm -- The New York Times is reporting that the shooter is in custody, and was not among those killed in the incident as early news reports suggested.

CBS Evening News [video at link]:

Tuesday the army identified the American soldier who went on a deadly rampage at an Army base in Iraq and charged him with the murder of five other U.S. service members.

Sgt. John Russell, a 44-year-old Texan, has been in the military 20 years. Russell was on his third tour of duty in Iraq and, as CBS News correspondent Bob Orr reports, there were signs he was in trouble.

His commanders feared Russell was on the edge. So, they took away his weapon and ordered him to counseling at a combat stress clinic in Baghdad.

And it was there Monday, officials say, that Russell opened fire, killing five fellow service members. Among his victims: Navy Commander Charles Springle, a licensed clinical social worker.

Today at their home in Sherman, Tex., Russell's 20-year-old son struggled to understand how his dad, a decorated electronics expert, now faces five counts of murder.

"He's got medals. He was doing good for the country," John Russell II said. "For him to do something like that, he couldn't of been in his right state of mind. They had to have put him to a breaking point. Because he just had to have lost it lost all train of thought to do anything like that."

Sgt. Russell's father said he may have snapped out of fear that his military career could be ended by a stress diagnosis.

Resources and updates in extended.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Military Mother's Day

spr09_02Happy Mother's Day!

The most wonderful of spring days to all of you who have put your time and love and energy into caring for your children, making sure they have the tools and confidence to go out into the world and live a full, healthy and productive life. For our military mothers, the pride of seeing her child -- now, all grown up -- in uniform, must be an enormous one.

On par with their first steps, or the day they graduated from high school, that first glance must make the heart swell. But, I imagine the heart may as well be wracked with anxiety at having a son or daughter deployed to a combat zone.

It's a range of emotion most Americans can't fathom.

Perhaps rivaled only by the feelings military spouses may have when their mate is shipped off, a mother whose child is at war holds her breath until their safe return. [A recent NYT piece on military mothers and wives being prepared for the return of their loved ones in the next few weeks is well worth a read.]

There are other mothers in this equation, too.

Mothers are serving overseas for the first time in large numbers while their children anxiously wait for them to come home.

Unfortunately, some will return home from Afghanistan or Iraq with physical or psychological wounds that require family caregivers to drop what they're doing, and rally around to comfort and care for their favorite service member.

Volumes have been written and spoken about the experience of our military families since the Global War on Terror began in earnest in 2001. It may feel as though you've heard everything you care to hear. Or, maybe you believe that most of the struggles they have had to bear have been alleviated with the past years' investigations and/or elections.

You would be wrong, I'm afraid.

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