Thursday, April 17, 2008

MSC President on NPR Discussing Iraq Tour Reductions

To the Point with Warren Onley:

The President, the War in Iraq and American Soldiers

('Thu, 10 Apr 2008)

Listen to/Watch entire show:

Main Topic:
President Bush today accepted the recommendations of General David Petraeus. The draw-down of troops from Iraq will stop when the "surge" ends in July. Democratic leaders of Congress said, "He's just dragging this out, leaving a failed war and a failed economy on the doorstep of the next president." Because of strains on the troops, Mr. Bush also reduced tours of duty from 15 months to 12, but that won't start until August. We talk with soldiers about the state of morale after six years of war. What do multiple tours on the front lines mean for their families? What about recruitment, retention and readiness to meet future contingencies?


Mark Silva: White House Correspondent, Chicago Tribune

Carissa Picard: President, Military Spouses for Change

Sig Christenson: Military Reporter, San Antonio Express-News

Pete Hegseth: Executive Director, Vets for Freedom

Brandon Friedman: Editor,

Military Spouses for Change on CBS Evening News

The Military's Showdown with PTSD

FORT HOOD, Texas, April 17, 2008

(CBS) Twenty-two year old combat medic Jonathan Norrell volunteered for every mission during his year in Iraq.

He was bombed, ambushed, treating wounded under fire - and the memories still haunt him.

"The things that affected me the most weren't the IEDs, which I went through six or seven of, and all the firefights, and all the combat," Norrell said. "It was the psychological stuff, the people I failed to help."

By the time he came off his tour of duty he was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: anxiety, sleeplessness, flashbacks. Military doctors recommended immediate discharge and treatment but the command refused.

Instead they forced him into combat training exercises. He turned to drugs and alcohol.

"I just lost it," Norrell said. "I didn't wanna do it anymore."

So the Army he served so well in Iraq threatened to expel him without medical benefits.

Norrell's case reveals the showdown inside the military, between the new school and old school view on how to handle PTSD - one of the signature injuries of the Afghan and Iraq wars.

And experts warn there's a storm coming: a generation of soldiers coming home with PTSD.

CBS News has been given documents showing more than 100,000 vets of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are seeking help for mental health disorders.

Norrell decided to fight back by reaching out to veteran's groups and advocates like Carissa Picard of Military Spouses for Change. Picard's husband leaves for Iraq in June.

"Our soldiers didn't choose to wage this war; they didn't choose to go to Iraq or Afghanistan," she said. "We've sent them there. We need to take responsibility for what happens to them."

Norrell's struggle for help took months of meetings, phone calls, e-mails, lobbying Congressmen and the top levels of the Pentagon before she finally got help at Fort Hood.

We asked the man in charge there why it took so long.

"The field commander recognizes the soldier has a problem, and they request the soldier to be transferred to the warrior transition unit," said Col. Casper P. Jones III.

Dozier said: "That sounds great, but we know in this situation, for several months, it didn't happen."

"It didn't happen," Jones said. "I think there are lessons from this case that can help us all as we move forward."CBS News has learned that top Pentagon officials have made visits to bases across the country. They're telling Army commanders to take their doctors' diagnoses more seriously, and get the troops treatment.

Norrell hopes that by speaking out, other troops won't have to fight so hard to get the help they need.

"Hopefully what happened to me won't happen to any more soldiers," he said.


Sunday, April 13, 2008

MSC Launches MilSpouse Press

MILITARY SPOUSES FOR CHANGE (MSC) is proud is announce the launch of Military Spouse Press (, a blogging site for the spouses and partners of service members and veterans.

Mil Spouse Press seeks to:
1. Empower military spouses by encouraging personal and political expression;
2. Create a space for an honest and open dialogue about the military experience;
3. Promote awareness about the needs of our military and veteran communities; and,
4. Inspire advocacy on behalf of our servicemembers, our veterans, our families, and our spouses.

The insight and importance of the military spouse community cannot be over-stated. Our experiences with the military and our familiarity with military policies are second only to the servicemembers, yet we were are not similarly limited when it comes to expressing our concerns to the military, the public, and elected officials. Moreover, we have the unique distinction of bridging the gulf between the civilian community and the military community. As a result, we are not only best equipped to be our own advocates, we are best equipped to be our troops' advocates.

In times of war, the servicemember is not the only veteran in a military marriage: our battles may differ but our war is the same. No married servicemember serves his (or her) country alone. A military spouse may not wear her (or his) servicemember's rank, but we do share his (or her) burden--with tremendous pride. Military spouses are, above all, patriots. Although we may sometimes disagree on the means, we all agree on the ends: protecting our troops, our families, and our country. Until this is fully recognized, military spouses will remain an untapped resource for strengthening our military. The creation of Mil Spouse Press is the first of many steps MSC is taking towards tapping into that resource.

We would like to encourage you to share our site,, with others. Participation in the site is not limited to military spouses, although our primary bloggers and our Editorial Contributors will all be military spouses.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Carissa Picard, President of Military Spouses for Change at

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead.