Monday, June 30, 2014

Term of the Day: MISSION CREEP

For seven-and-a-half years, the United States was embroiled in the Iraq War. The initial invasion, taking place on March 30, 2003, began under false pretense: Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. It is interesting to note that the Vietnam War was also begun under false pretense: Vietnamese navy firing on American naval ships.

There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and there was no firing on American naval ships in the Gulf of Tonkin.

Many of those same individuals who were the cheerleaders in favor of invading Iraq -- including former Vice-President Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, George Tenet, among others -- are reappearing on television. They are once again beating the war drums for the United States to return to Iraq in light of the uprising of Isis, a group which has been described as "too radical for al Qaeda".

The term "mission creep" is fairly self-explanatory. It means a military mission where the number of troops going to that region slowly increases ... until we are fully involved in a full-blown battle/war effort. We have the beginnings of that now in Iraq.

It was originally stated that 100 troops, claimed to be strictly advisers, would be going to Iraq. That number, on the day it was officially announced, had increased to 300 troops. Days ago, 200 more troops were going to be added, for a total of 500 troops. Today, it was announced than 300 more troops are going to Iraq. The initial amount of troops in Iraq has increased 700% ... in less than two weeks.

Military engagement in Iraq once again seems more possible now.

There have been various factions of terrorists. Specific to Iraq/Afghanistan/Pakistan, we were introduced to al Qaeda, which was worse than other terrorist groups. Now, Isis is worse than al Qaeda. In however-many-years, there will be a group worse than Isis, and so on. I do not deny the atrocities Isis is committing, but our involvement is, to this blogger, unnecessary, and the build-up of troop numbers so rapidly is cause for deep concern.

I want to share with you a documentary that I shared in the Spring of last year. It was from a daily cable news program called 'The Rachel Maddow Show', and was based on the book Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War by Michael Isikoff and David Corn. It first aired in February of 2013 and was, of course, after the end of America's war involvement in Iraq. Let this video be both a reminder of what was and a cautionary tale of what might be again.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

UPDATE: Anthony Howell

I have been writing about Anthony Howell and how he was found after missing for about three weeks.  The news is good.  I spoke with his mother, Bridget, recently and she filled me in on everything that happened.

It turns out his unit commander would have two of his fellow Army National Guardsmen going out in tandem to look for him while the remainder of the unit was doing maneuvers.  The next day, two others would go out.  The next day, two more, and so on.  He was found just days after my initial posting here a few weeks ago.

Bridget told me that my blog posting was what blew the search wide open.  She said the posting was shared and shared and shared again via social media until it led to his being found.  

In addition to some other physical issues, Anthony's tour in Egypt resulted in his suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  After being found, he was transported from Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he had been stationed, to Nashville, Tennessee.  The idea was to get him into a VA hospital near when his mother lives, to which he agreed.  Bridget said she was worried how he would be on the flight east, but he was fine for the whole flight.

As she relayed the story, she and Anthony were in the car together, when something was clearly wrong with him.  She didn't know what was wrong, just that it was serious, so she decided to speed to draw attention to her.  She ended up behind a Tennessee state trooper's car.  She honked and flashed her headlights to get his attention.  She did and the two of them pulled over.

The trooper talked with Anthony to see what was wrong and managed to keep Bridget calm as well.  He called Emergency Medical Services and they arrived shortly after.  He convinced the paramedics to take Anthony to the VA hospital instead of the usual practice of going to the closest hospital.  

After they took him in, a doctor spoke with him and decided he should be admitted as an inpatient.  Likely in his confusion from diabetic shock, he initially panicked and did not want that, but the doctor went ahead and admitted him involuntarily.  It was the VA doctors who told Bridget that Anthony had gone into diabetic shock (extremely low blood sugar) while they were on the road.  She said he's not diabetic, so she never considered that as a possibility of what was wrong with him.

The officer who acted quickly was Tennessee Highway Patrol Sergeant Dinkleman.
THP Sgt. Dunkleman

On social media, Anthony's mother Bridget wrote, "[T]he boys of the Albuquerque Army National Guard are [amazing].  Not one of them questioned, and every one that I spoke with who didn't know me from Adam said 'He is our brother.'  They took the lyrics of 'Citizen/Soldier' to a whole new level and lived every word.  I am so proud of every one of them."

One relieved mother.  One amazing band of brothers.  One healing young man.  One amazing story of dedication, perseverance, and love.

Bridget told me than Anthony comes home today.  He will begin outpatient work with the hospital three times a week.  He has a long road ahead of him in his recovery, but he has already expressed a strong interest in joining the hospital's residential mentoring program to both help others and to help him readjust to civilian life.

Big time props go to Anthony's fellow Guardsmen of 11 Bravo in Albuquerque, New Mexico for their sense of brotherhood and perseverance and to Tennessee Highway Patrol Sergeant Dinkleman for his quick thinking ... and to every single individual who took my posting and ran with it on social media. 

Bridget mentioned the song 'Citizen/Soldier' in her comments above.  The song is by the band 3 Doors Down and was part of a national advertising campaign for the National Guard, which began being shown in movie theaters in late 2007.  I will close this posting with an extended video of the song:


Friday, June 20, 2014

UPDATE: Missing person Anthony Howell FOUND!

Dear readers,

I recently posted the story of Anthony Howell, the son of a dear friend of mine, who had gone missing a few weeks ago.  Just a few days ago, I posted that his mother, Bridget, was planning to travel to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he is stationed, to join the search. 

It turns out that she will not need to make that trip because Anthony has been found!  His Army mates found him after he had been missing for three weeks.  Here is the posting from Bridget:

I wanted to take a moment to thank you my friends and family for the energy, prayers, support and shares of our story about my baby boy Anthony Howell.  Our prayers have been answered and he has now been found and is safe.  It wouldn't have happened without all of your love and support.  A special HOOAH! out to the boys in NM.  "Army Strong" is not a big enough phrase for what you are.  You have taken the meaning of Army brotherhood to the highest heights these past three weeks and I can never thank you enough.

If there are any further updates to pass along following his being found, but for now, his being found safe is what is most important.  A huge relief, as you might imagine, to Bridget and the entire family.  Thanks to all of you for your prayers, well-wishes, energies, etc., during this trying time.


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Phrase of the Day: THE VALUE OF TIME

Today marks the second anniversary of this blog.  Recently, it surpassed 3,000 views.  I want to thank all of you very much for finding something here to keep you coming back.  For those of you who have come along for the ride, thank you, too, and welcome. 

The top ten countries that have visited this blog are (in descending order): United States, Russia, Germany, France, Malaysia, United Kingdom, China, Ukraine, Poland, and Canada.  As amazing as that is, there have been visitors from numerous other countries.  Some of those counties include Japan, Ireland, Brazil, Singapore, Australia, South Korea, Turkey, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka.

Of course the World Wide Web is called that for a reason, but I am always amazed at the reach of this blog to all of you, dear readers.  Thanks again and I hope I keep you coming back for another year.

At my first anniversary, I wrote about the passing of time and how one learns at the School of Life.  Word of the Day: TIME  Today, I want to once again share something regarding time.  An anniversary seems an appropriate time to look at that.  This passage focuses on time's value and I first came across it twelve years ago.  Only recently, while going through some old paperwork, did I come across this once again.  Serendipitous, I would say.  There was no title, so I will call this The Value of Time.

To realize the value of ten years
Ask a newly-divorced couple

To realize the value of four years
Ask a graduate

To realize the value of one year
Ask a student who has failed a final exam

To realize the value of nine months
Ask a mother whose child was stillborn

To realize the value of one month
Ask a mother who has given birth to a premature baby

To realize the value of one week
Ask an editor of a weekly newspaper

To realize the value of one hour
Ask the lovers who are waiting to meet

To realize the value of one minute
Ask a person who has missed the train, bus, or plane

To realize the value of one second
Ask the person who has survived an accident

To realize the value of a millisecond
Ask the person who won a silver medal at the Olympics

Time waits for no one.  Treasure every moment you have.
You will treasure it even more when you can share it with someone special.


Monday, June 16, 2014

UPDATE: Missing person | Anyone in or near Albuquerque, N.M. | ANTHONY HOWELL

Last week, I told you about Anthony Howell, the son of a dear friend of mine, who has been missing now for three weeks.  I also mentioned I would pass along any updates.

Unfortunately, I don't have an update with the news that Anthony has been found.  However, his mother, Bridget, who lives in Tennessee, is scheduled to travel to Albuquerque this week.  She will be joined by his friends, both in and out of the military, with fliers in hand, going to hospitals, churches, and shelters, and also door-to-door.

As I mentioned in my initial posting on this from six days ago, if you are in or near Albuquerque, N.M., and have ANY information on the whereabouts of Anthony Howell, I urge you to call the Albuquerque Police Department at (505) 256-2050 or message me here.  If you contact me, I will get the information passed along to his mother immediately.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Missing person | Anyone in or near Albuquerque, N.M. | ANTHONY HOWELL

[Let me start by apologizing to you, dear readers, for being absent from my blog for so long.  It has not been anything bad that has kept me away, but merely life getting in the way of living it.  I hope you have all been well.  I plan to be much more attentive in the future.]

I begin this first posting in a while with news about a missing person.  The son of a dear friend of mine has gone missing and I am putting out the word as much as I can.  I have posted this on my Facebook accounts and my Google+ account, and now here.

The young man's name is Anthony Howell.  He is twenty-three years old and currently stationed at the Army National Guard, 11 Bravo, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  He recently served a nine-month tour of duty in Egypt, near the Gaza Strip, from 2012-2013, during the riots during then-Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi's time in office.  The picture below is his receiving a medal for serving in the Multinational Force of Observers (MFO), a peace-keeping security force for trade between Egypt and Israel.  The MFO was started as a result of the 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.

His mother, Bridget, describes him as a personable young man who is easy for anyone to like after meeting him.  He currently suffers from PTSD after his tour in Egpyt.  Bridget and the whole family are very concerned, as you might imagine, about Anthony's well being.

He was last seen in his white Ford Focus heading to a bad section of Albuquerque known as the "War Zone", so named for the high levels of crime that occur there.
If you are in or near Albuquerque, N.M., and have ANY information on the whereabouts of Anthony Howell, I urge you to call the Albuquerque Police Department at (505) 256-2050 or message me here.  If you contact me, I will get the information passed along to his mother immediately.

Please keep Anthony, his mother and family in your thoughts, prayers, well-wishes, positive energies, etc.  I will post updates here as they come in.