Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for August, 2011

I’ve been writing over at care2.com for a little while: I wrote a piece on the TIME Magazine “New Greatest Generation”. When my mother called to find out if we have survived the latest little natural disaster – Irene- she mentioned that she had seen my name in her TIME Magazine! I thought she was kidding but then I got a copy and voila!

I won’t deny that I am absolutely delighted with this.  But even more, I am so excited that someone is actually reading what I’m writing.  After many years of blogging and writing in the small military blog world – it is wonderful to know that others are actually listening!  This Quote is actually from my friend Tammy Jacobson – wish I could tell TIME that I didn’t come up with it.

Read Full Post »

That is how long the audience at a recent Nationals game acknowledged the wounded from Walter Reed that were in the audience, according to the Washington Post.  Sixty three seconds.   One whole minute.   That is the extent of the “thanks of a grateful nation.:  “thanks for your service”  in the grocery store, which usually embarrasses the service member; or the ubiquitous yellow ribbon magnet on the back of the car  and poof, that’s probably the extent of the troop support that the military sees in this time of budget cuts and unemployment.

Troops often question why more have not answered the call to duty and why their sacrifices are so poorly understood by the people they serve.

For most Americans, the wars remain an abstraction,then-Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said last year. “A distant, unpleasant series of news items that does not affect them personally.”

Distant unpleasant series of news items .  Those news items are not distant to me.  One of those news items was my friend M’s husband who lost his lower leg to an IED in Afghanistan; one of those news items was the KIA notification of  two young men from another friend’s unit; a few years ago, nine of those news items were those of the young men whose funerals I attended.

Those news items make me run to the map I have up to figure out how far that incident, that action may have been from where my husband is currently stationed. That gut check is common to all of us who are in deployment mode.

I was talking to a civilian friend about the article while we cleaned the cages at the cat shelter and she said something that gave me pause at first.  She asked why I was so surprised by the article, by the seeming lack of compassion by civilians.  My initial reaction was “Are you kidding?” We are AT WAR;  people are DYING and being WOUNDED!  But as she reminded me, the attention span of most people is the latest tweet they read, or the 30 second headline news “story”.

We’ve all heard about compassion fatigue, the news is always bad and we become immune to it, we can look at the pictures of dying children or wounded soldiers without flinching.  But thank goodness, there are still people who will change the channel when the ASPCA commercials come on, who weep when they see the pictures of children in refugee camps and send money to charities; these are the men and women who volunteer at the local VA hospital, the USO and pack care packages for Operation Gratitude.

In this same article, a great deal of print space is devoted to the latest commercial from Budweiser devoted to a returning servicemember  – now I have a HUGE problem with this.   I detest this type of “reunion porn” and what I see as exploitation, knee jerk reaction used for monetary gain.  The person who wrote this commercial came up with the idea after witnessing a reunion in an airport. Here’s a little fact that  almost surprised me.

Five days after President Obama announced his plan to pull 30,000 U.S. troops out of Afghanistan, Byrne had no idea how many troops the United States had in the country and little sense of Obama’s plan to reduce their numbers. He acknowledged that he did not know much about the war

Did not know much about the war. And that, THAT  I don’t understand.  When your country is at war, when the military forces that wear YOUR country’s uniform are coming home in caskets, or on stretchers and swamping the hospitals; when the Army’s suicide rate is climbing every month;  or if your attention is glued to the budget battles when the cost of these wars has to be added to the budget,   how do you not “know much” about  one of the two wars your country is currently engaged in.  But you’ll feel free to use that story to sell lousy beer.

The final part of this piece in the Post is the most heartbreaking  A wounded soldier who has gone back to college, who is seeing this disconnection first hand.  A meeting held by a group of veterans in the school”  was designed to give students who knew little of the military or the wars a sense of what life was like for deployed service members. It provoked a genuine exchange,  more than 10 seconds, more than 60 seconds, more than 63 seconds, between the former service members and the student body.”  The reactions of the students  are mystifying to me .

I don’t think I realized that the soldiers over there were in that much danger, said [a student], who like many students was opposed to the war.  I didn’t understand the magnitude of risks that they were taking.

A young person who is at an institution like Georgetown didn’t understand, didn’t realize? This is a smart person, an educated person.   Obviously, more education is necessary ; obviously more understanding is needed of the reality of 10 years of war.

You may not agree with war, you may not agree with why we are fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan, but isn’t it important to know, learn, understand?

Read Full Post »

xposted at Moms Clean AirForce

When I hear someone say, yeah, the kid wheezes a little but he’s ok; sometimes she can’t catch her breath, but she’ll be fine; when someone tries to minimize the harm that asthma can cause – it irks me.  It REALLY irks me.

When I hear a power plant try to minimize the harm that their emissions do; when they dismiss various scientists, including those that conducted a study that scientifically estimates “the contribution of environmental pollutants to the incidence, prevalence, mortality, and costs of pediatric disease in American children. [They] examined four categories of illness: lead poisoning, asthma, cancer, and neurobehavioral disorders. “ [1]  What they found was alarming, “ Total annual costs are estimated to be $54.9 billion (range $48.8-64.8 billion): $43.4 billion for lead poisoning, $2.0 billion for asthma, $0.3 billion for childhood cancer, and $9.2 billion for neurobehavioral disorders.”

That’s all numbers, all money…  the true cost  – Children.  The children who are unable to run and play, who take medications to be able to breathe, to be able to function normally in a regular school day.  The true cost was discussed on the recent Mom’s Clean Air Force call about asthma in Latino kids,  when we heard the heartbreaking story of a young girl who died as a result of an asthma attack.  One of the topics we talked about was how schools deal with kids who need to carry their inhalers, and I was heartened to hear that in every State it is now law that children over a certain age must carry and self administer their inhalers.  Here is a link to the CDC’s page on Asthma in Schools, that has links to each State’s rules (some require letters from doctors and/or parents

For my Military Readers – do you know what the rules are in DoDD schools?

The American Lung Association has a program – the “Asthma-Friendly Schools Initiative” that you can use with your community and school, to work together to make schools more welcoming to children that suffer from asthma.

For those of us who don’t have kids with asthma, why should we worry?  There are so many other things for us to worry about with our kids (or in my case, my grandchild).. school bullying, or grades, or how awful the school lunch is, or how well she’s getting along in school…. Why? Well, if we are going to be crass about this, if the almighty dollar is what it takes for some to get involved or make a change – ok, here’s a few money reasons.

Because every kid with asthma, is an adult with asthma who will need medical care.  Because the majority of kids with asthma, are children in poverty, who need medical care that is subsidized in some way.  Because those kids with asthma have parents who need to leave their jobs to take them to the doctor, to care for them when they have an attack; to stay home with them.

I’d prefer to believe that most of us want to cut down on the incidence of asthma in kids, because we don’t want to see a child struggling to breathe, we don’t want to see a child relegated to the sidelines because they had an attack.  That’s what my friend Bette calls the Pollyanna in me..

Knowing that the more polluted our air is, the harder it is for kids to breathe; and knowing that some companies put their profits ahead of these kids – is absolutely infuriating!  So what do we do about it?  We make sure the EPA isn’t gutted of its ability to  safeguard the air we breathe.

Mom’s Clean Air Force is trying to make sure that all of us are heard in this ongoing debate.  One voice is great, but putting that voice together with lots of other voices – make a huge difference.  Because our elected representatives pay attention to LOUD noises! So lets join together – lets make our voices heard!


[1] Landrigan PJ, Schechter CB, Lipton JM, Fahs MC, Schwartz J 2002. Environmental Pollutants and Disease in American Children: Estimates of Morbidity, Mortality, and Costs for Lead Poisoning, Asthma, Cancer, and Developmental Disabilities. Environ Health Perspect 110:721-728. doi:10.1289/ehp.02110721

Reply
Reply to all
Forward

Read Full Post »

For those of us in the military community, we are used to seeing the pictures – those stern faced young men and women in uniform posed in front of a flag, the ones that are released by DoD or the Guard Bureau when the names of the fallen are released.  We think – how young.  Or – what a sweet face.    And we mourn.  We look at the same picture on our own walls, and send a silent “thank you” that it wasn’t our child, wasn’t our husband or wife.

The pictures that hurt even more are those that are attached to the heartbreaking stories that we read from the family members.  A little boy wrote a letter to CNN about his daddy, who was the pilot of the Chinook that was shot down last Saturday.  He wanted us all to know his dad, because all everyone was talking about were the SEALS on that flight; he wanted us to know that he loved his dad, and was proud of him.

The picture that Braydon Nichols sent was one that so many of us could have on our walls, a bunch of guys in uniform sitting together… his daddy is the one on the far left.

What many civilians don’t understand – we usually already have the picture picked out.  After all, during deployment many spouses admit they have planned their spouse’s funeral – the music, the pictures… We hope we never need to use it, never need to put that plan into motion.  And when we see those other pictures, we say “that could be us”.  That could be our family.

For Braydon, for the other sons and daughters, for the wives, mothers, sisters, fathers, brothers, aunts and uncles of those who died, we can only send our condolences and our heartfelt thanks for their service.   There have been 19 other casualties since August 1st.  To their families, we send our gratitude and condolences.

We’ll look at those pictures, we’ll think of those families.  Every day.  Because to us, they are family.  Because to us, they remind us of ourselves.

Read Full Post »

I’m cross posting from my friends at Moms Clean Air Force.  Last week we asked you, the readers of all the blogs of the Moms Clean Ai rForce to contact the EPA and let them know we support their fight against polluters; we support the new Mercury and Toxics Standards.  And a whole BUNCH of y’all did it!  You think that was it??? no no no…no resting on our laurels here.   We need to keep up the pressure.  Call your Senator, Call your Representative, Call the EPA.  Join Moms Clean Air Force – we combine our voices and get louder and LOUDER and LOUDER!

EPA Ruling Gets Huge Response. Thank You! Now What!?   Posted on August 9, 2011 by Dominique Browning

In the last few months, Americans submitted more than 800,000 comments in support of a new Environmental Protection Agency ruling, the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards–the first-ever national policy to curb dangerous mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants.

This is an unprecedented outpouring of support for cleaner air.

I want to thank everyone who joined MOMS CLEAN AIR FORCE, you helped send a strong message to Washington.

Clearly, Americans want cleaner air. Parents are especially passionate about fighting air pollution–it hurts fetuses, babies and toddlers the most . Every pregnant–or about to be pregnant,  you know should read about mercury poisoning. Get angry–and get active. How dare polluters poison our babies?

Many responsible coal plant executives have already installed filters on their plants–it hasn’t hurt their profits or cost them jobs.

But many polluters, and their lobbyists and political allies, are fighting these improvements. They are calling for repealing the Clean Air Act and gutting the EPA’s budget so that it cannot enforce any regulations.

Now what? Our work at MOMS CLEAN AIR FORCE is far from done. With the comment period closed, EPA considers the feedback, and responds to issues raised, often in the final version of the rule. The agency is required by the Courts to release the final rule by November 16, 2011. No one has to vote on the rule. Once it is published in the Federal Register, the clock starts ticking–emitters have three years from the date of publication to reduce their pollution.

Polluters will now be working overtime to figure out ways around the new ruling. They will lobby Congress to intervene to delay or alter it. Congress can pass laws that unravel air protection–laws that defund EPA, strike its right to set standards for these–or any other–pollutants, or EPA from spending money to implement rules; they could pass laws to weaken the emission standards, or extend polluters’ deadlines.

Ask everyone you know to JOIN MOMS CLEAN AIR FORCE . Forward this post along via email. Naptime Activism! We make it easy to keep up the pressure on political representatives to support clean air–and we’ll continue to explain why, exactly, it is so important to clean up the air.

We have to protect our children’s health; no one else cares as much as we do. And thank you, again, with all my heart, for joining me in this mission.

Read Full Post »

I don’t have asthma.  My son, when he was a kid, had what the Doctor called “exertional asthma” – when he was practicing his TaeKwonDo too much or too long, he wheezed a bit.  He had an inhaler, he used it a few times but when he stopped competing, he never needed it again.  Although, when he was sitting through a few Iraq windstorms, he remembered that feeling of not being able to catch his breath.   When I had an allergy attack in Italy from eating some mussels – I hated the feeling of not being able to breathe; I was terrified!

Now imagine feeling that daily, or being a mom watching your child struggling to breathe.  I cannot imagine that hopeless helpless feeling.

One of the triggers for asthma – particulates or other irritants in the air.  For some folks, it’s pollen and control of that can be assisted by antihistamines or other allergy medications.  For some sufferers, it’s dust/dirt in the air; and for many children it is the pollution being discharged into the air by major polluters that include power plants.   According to a recent study by the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments and NASN:

Science has established that air pollution from cars, factories, and power plants is among the major causes of asthma episodes. Air pollutants that can contribute to asthma include ground-level ozone smog, sulfur dioxide, particle pollution, and nitrogen oxides. Carbon pollution can also worsen asthma in several ways, such as by driving climate change (rising temperatures increase ozone smog concentrations) and by increasing production of airborne allergens like ragweed pollen (which is another trigger for asthma episodes).  http://www.noharm.org/lib/downloads/climate/Economic_Affliction_of_Asthma.pdf

 

Children who live in areas of poverty are more in danger of pollution related illnesses, and that includes asthma.  Since many Latino children live in poverty, they also live with these diseases – including asthma.  Latino children are 60 percent more at risk for asthma than white kids.   Moms Clean Air Force is having an informational event – The Asthma Epidemic Among Latino Kids and What Moms Can Do About It.  http://asthmaandlatinokids.eventbrite.com/

Join the discussion, learn what we can do together, what we can do if we all raise our voices together.

KESF

photo from flickr.com

 

Read Full Post »

Moms Clean Airforce is presenting a blog talk radio discussion this Friday.  We’ll be talking about Asthma – this time of Latino children, who have a higher risk for asthma than other kids in our country.  The link will take you to the event invitation and how to join in.

http://asthmaandlatinokids.eventbrite.com/

Moderator: Ana Roca-Castro, Founder of LATISM

With Chris Espinosa, National Director of Advocacy at the Hispanic Federation; Dr. Evelyn Montalvo, Pediatric Pulmonologist; and Steph’s mom, Lydia Rojas

 

Asthma is an issue of social justice. With 66 percent of Latinos in the United States living in areas that do not meet federal air quality standards, Latino children are 60 percent more at risk for asthma than white children. When these children grow into adults, they are three times as likely as whites to die from asthma. Particulate pollution emitted by power plants over poorer neighborhoods  – over school buildings and playgrounds were children spend their days – triggers and aggravates asthma, which translates into missed days of work and school, visits to the emergency room, and greater exposure to dangerous and expensive health issues. This blog radio discussion will look at the connection between coal pollution and asthma, the connection between asthma and race, differences in health care given to suffering children, and what parents can do.



About the Moms Clean Air Force

The Moms Clean Air Force is a growing community of moms, dads and others, from all walks of life, who are defending clean air for the sake of our children’s health.


Please Join Us – Your Kids Need You to Stand Up for Their Health and Future

  • Join the Force by signing up on our website, http://www.momscleanairforce.org, so we can keep you up‐to‐date on policy developments, invite you to MCAF events, and let you know when speaking up is most critical.
  • Join the Force by sharing your thoughts and opinions. Submit a guest blog post to MomsCAF@gmail.com about why clean air matters to YOU.
  • Join the Force by liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter (@MomsCAF).
  • Join the Force by taking action. Write the EPA and tell them why you support the new proposed Mercury and Air Toxic Standards.

We can protect our families by making sure that Congress hears our collective voice!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »