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Steve Gilliard, 1964-2007

It is with tremendous sadness that we must convey the news that Steve Gilliard, editor and publisher of The News Blog, passed away June 2, 2007. He was 42.

To those who have come to trust The News Blog and its insightful, brash and unapologetic editorial tone, we have Steve to thank from the bottom of our hearts. Steve helped lead many discussions that mattered to all of us, and he tackled subjects and interest categories where others feared to tread.

Please keep Steve's friends and family in your thoughts and prayers.

Steve meant so much to us.

We will miss him terribly.

photo by lindsay beyerstein


blksista: "60,000 American marriages broken by Iraq War"

It's real

Thanks to blksista for this great crosspost on a growing national tragedy - THANKS!

Crossposted from the Orange Zone and Booman Tribune.

Including Stacy Bannerman's, the author of this article which was written for the February issue of The Progressive:

It is the soldiers, their families, and the people of Iraq that pay the human costs. The tab so far: more than 3,000 dead U.S. troops, tens of thousands of wounded, over half a million Iraqi casualties, roughly 250,000 American servicemen and women struggling with PTSD, and almost 60,000 military marriages that have been broken by this war.

And she doesn't just blame Bush.  She blames Congress, who has in her words, "has abandoned the troops for nearly four years."

It wasn't Stacy's advocacy of Military Families Speak Out that broke her marriage to Lorin, a mortar platoon sergeant  with the Army National Guard 81st Brigade.  It wasn't her interview on Hardball beamed to the troops during lunchtime in Iraq that broke it. Or that Lorin had been reprimanded by his superiors for having an unruly spouse who was detrimental to his career prospects. It was the ravages of PTSD after he returned home.

Lorin had accidentally killed two Iraqi children; had troops under his command murdered by Iraqi soldiers during training; had loaded coffins onto cargo planes; and had survived a shell exploding next to his trailer while he slept.

He'd been back for almost two months, but he was still checking to see where his weapon was every time he got in a vehicle. He drove aggressively, talked aggressively, and sometimes I could swear that he was breathing aggressively. This was not the man I married, this hard-eyed, hyper-vigilant stranger who spent his nights watching the dozens of DVDs that he got from soldiers he served with in Iraq. He couldn't sleep, and missed the adrenaline surge of constant, imminent danger. The amateur videos of combat eased the ache of withdrawal from war, but did nothing to heal my soldier's heart.

And what did the Pentagon do to assist Guard families with mental health issues post-deployment?  During a conference, it was suggested that they learn how to laugh and to walk like a penguin.

Emotional isolation is one of the hallmarks of post-combat mental health problems. The National Guard didn't conduct follow-up mental health screening or evaluations of the men in my husband's company until they had been home for almost eight months. Nearly a year later, in August of 2006, my husband was informed of his results: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It was obvious that he was suffering, but when I brought it up, he parroted what the military told him: "Give it time."

She and Lorin are now living apart. Where, the article does not say.

Some people might say, Why is this is any different from what has occurred in other wars Americans have participated in? It's only because of the media that we know about all this.

In previous wars, having PTSD might have been called being shellshocked. These men were sent away to VA hospitals or to state mental health facilities. Some were able to return home and become vital citizens. Or there was a family member whose special job was to watch Junior or Brother or to keep him occupied during the day, and families carried on the best that they could. I know at least one friend, a black woman, who cares for an aging parent as well as a brother--a Vietnam-era vet who is mentally ill, and who has recently suffered a stroke.

And yes, modern war takes a toll on military families in the form of deaths and in permanent injuries. Many vets need constant physical and mental health care that families are unable to pay for. This is something that the war wimp neo-cons fail to understand. This is not 1919, or 1946. The Iraq War is not anything like World War II, which was the last of the "good" wars in which we knew who the enemy was.  What is different is that National Guard units are being called up for almost continuous combat service. And they are being blackmailed, in essence: any additional service in the sandbox is not going to be used towards retirement, but if they don't serve, they might lose retirement benefits, particularly if there are shortages of a particular kind of Guardsman. Like mortar platoon sergeant.

You can contact Stacy Bannerman at

Military Families Speak Out's website is at

- posted by blksista