A memorial for the Stars and Stripes

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Written by John M. Ferguson, Site administrator, Firebase Phoenix


A memorial for the Stars and Stripes, a farewell to a legacy of truth and


It is a sad time in this country when an Institution such as the Stars and
Stripes Newspaper which has served Active Duty Military and Veterans alike
is purchased by the D.O.D. and silenced as it has been this last week. This
publication has been a mainstay to our troops overseas, in a lot of
instances it was the only familiar thing to servicemen fighting in places
such as The Russian Front, Guam,Normandy, The Chosin Resevoir, Saigon,
DaNang, Kuwait City, Bahrain, Kosovo and the list goes on, it was unbiased
and truthful, in it's last few years of existence it risked its very paper
soul to print stories unpopular with certain VA and DOD officials, It spoke
of Anthrax vaccinations that made people ill, it spoke of the effects of
defoliants produced by the same companies that make you cleaners and plastic
household items, it spoke of corruption of the VA's process of dealing with
the Veteran, it spoke of injustices that were occurring at an alarming rate.
It had been around since the Civil War years. This action shows us as
Veterans that Freedom of Speech is not guaranteed and that your government
can silence any publication as it deems necessary to control free reporting
on the misconduct of your elected and appointed officials. It shows us that
the ones who gave all to protect such rights have seemed to have died in
vain, for that is what a soldier, sailor or airman pledges and swears to,
the defense of our constitution that guarantees these rights and freedoms as
our forefathers had intended. We all have taken this oath tho defend our
constitution from enemys both Foriegn and Domestic, we have sworn to defend
this document and the principals of it to our death, as many of those before
us have paid that price, Isn't it time we honored their sacrifice and stop
trying to alter things based on budget and political party concerns ?


We as Veterans, currently witness a decorated former Commander of River
Forces from the Vietnam War, A disabled Combat Veteran, appointed as the
Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, yet we have to ask
ourselves, will his attitude of saying one thing to us as Veterans, speaking
so eloquent at Veterans Functions , waving the flag, celebrating at small
town patriotic functions, telling us he will fix this broken system or feel
he has failed if it is not repaired in his four year term. Will we ask what
is wrong here when his actions are showing us a picture of a person who has
seemed to have forgotten those he commanded and served with. A political
appointment who shows signs of abandonment to the ones who were counting on
him as a brother disabled Veteran to resolve the issues that are causing
hardship and delay of payment for service connected claims of injury and the
rendering of TIMELY, competent and safe medical care. Ones such as myself
were excited to support a new administration that surely would change the
leadership at the Department of Veterans Affairs, we anxiously awaited the
implementation of those promises that we took to heart during the pleas for
donations of time and support during the election process, it seems as
though we were duped by all who arrived and were sworn in and took up where
the old one left off and the promises faded with the music from the
celebrations and balls.


When we hear stories that tell us of needless delays at the BVA (Board of
Veterans Appeals) due to the fact that they are a little more concerned with
their carpool schedule than they are of only scheduling 4 cases per day, we
have to wonder when does the Veteran become the focus of the Agency instead
of the lunches, carpools, bonus payments, perks and other functions and
rewards that do not relate to our plight.


We hear announcements of new committees to study the problems with the
current state of affairs of the DVA, we hear of information technology that
was never implemented, yet it was paid for, we hear about everything except
when will these changes promised to us during elections and inauguration
speeches take effect. We are tired of the endless analyzing of the problems,
the expenditures to form a new committees, the oversight investigations that
never occur and most of all the failure of the Department of Veterans
Affairs to cease operating in a manner that does not reflect the VA's
inter-office and unofficial slogan of "Deny the claim, Then discredit the
Veteran". This is the solution to Compensation and Pension Claims, Tort
Claims and any other litigation they handle. This attitude results in my
perception that the DVA will never accept responsibility for its mistakes,
never own up to malpractice injury and deaths that occur due to sub-standard
management and most of all, A Secretary that has turned his back on those he
served with and for, a man who seems to have taken on a political attitude
of budget restriction and damage control in the form of censoring media
since his appointment, Yet he fails to see his brothers and sisters in arms,
falling every day from bad medical care, denial of benefits that destroy the
families and put Veterans on the street, ultimately rewarding them with the
cost effective solution of a small white cross or a free headstone and a


Honoring the chosen Generation, the generation from the swing era, big band,
patriotic Americans, afraid of the evils of communism and its choking of the
free press and free speech, the generation of proud farmers and industrial
workers who sacrificed all to fight the communist agressors of far away
places in the Pacific and Europe to keep such things as free speech and the
press free from government control or censorship, the ones famous for their
work ethic and resolve. The late and meager reward of the WW2 Vets is good
financial business, they are being paid benefits that will not be a long
term committment, it is a great public relations move as these Veterans are
praising the DVA to the moon and the stars for this long awaited cash and
benefit that makes life a little easier ( it would have made a lot more of
them happy to know that they were appreciated and honored as was promised by
the recruiter and the mighty war department. Yet most went to their graves
waiting for the promised benefits that never came) and the general public
has had these praises put into their faces at movie premeirs depicting major
historical battles, the evening news, all the weekly entertainment shows. A
shining example was the media blitz associated with a recent release of a
version of the Pearl Harbor Attack and Memorial Day. Another was the
political and patriotic windfall from another movie, Saving Private Ryan,
These are fantastic epics, they portrayed the evil, the horrors of battle,
they were the first to show the carnage, the blood, flesh being torn, the
horror of the beach landings where the odds were that you would die, they
portrayed scenes which a lot of Veterans could not witness for a second time
as it brought back realities masked by years of trying to cope and forget.
Shell shocked they coped, PTSD was not even a diagnosis yet. They survived,
most without assistance, they toughed it out with the notion that someday
they would be paid for their duty, rewarded and compensated as promised.
These brave souls who fought so gallantly are aging rapidly and falling at
the number of 1, 500 per day, My only concern is that will our brothers and
sisters from Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Lebanon, the Gulf and the countless
police actions and humanitarian missions of eastern Europe and Africa, the
soldiers, sailors and airmen that have taken the job of immigration
enforcement, protecting our domestic borders, fighting the dangerous and
deadly narcotics war, assisting our towns and cities during national
emergencies and disasters have to wait until it is fiscally sound to pay a
short term benefit as these people are passing away from age related
conditions that are compounded by the effects of the chemical, biological
and conventional weapons of wars past and injuries recieved through the
course of their peacetime duties ?.


So with this off my chest, I say a fond farewell to an American Tradition of
patriotism and free press, a publication that had the nerve to tell the
truth and was executed, silenced forever for its honesty and tradition of
informing. It was formed on a battlefeild somewhere in Virginia or who knows
where, during the Civil war where two men decided that soldiers needed news
and information to make them feel better, news that helped them cope and
make decisions based on the fact that it was uncensored and honest
information. it was news from home, news of brothers fallen. Now it has
fallen, If it is ever brought back, it will never be the same....it has been
tarnished by it's new owners...the ones who purchased it to quietly end its
tenure as a historical and true publication that endured.


Goodbye to the Stars and Stripes Newspaper......


In Memory of Col. Ted W, Guy, USAF Ret. Former PoW
Two Years Ago A HERO went Home!! Col. Ted W. Guy - Never Forgotten!!
NAMPOWS:  http://www.soft-vision.com/nampows
MAKE THE TRIP: Karen's Home Page
Sister Soldier: http://walkwithme.netfirms.com


"When the way comes to an end, then change - having changed, you pass
      I. Ching


 Bruce "Doc". Melson