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News :: Education : Politics
Winter Soldier: A film for our time
22 Nov 2005
After an absence of decades, this Vietnam-era documentary film is back in circulation, and its lessons should serve to shake every one of us out of any illusions about what war means. Graphic testimony from veterans, plus thought-provoking commentary about what makes such inhuman crimes possible.

I followed with outraged attention the Abu Ghraib prisoner scandal, and watched angrily as the American military ravaged entire cities such as Fallujah and Ramadi. And then came intermittent reports of full-scale torture of even more horrific dimensions in the dungeons of the client security agencies to which the US government ships some of its detainees. That’s why I decided to attend a showing at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston of a Vietnam-era documentary called Winter Soldier.
Stark and simple, the film basically recounts the testimony of many war veterans who had seen and participated in acts of almost unimaginable cruelty, and had come together in Detroit in early 1971 just after revelations about the My Lai massacre, to tell the world what they knew. The weekend’s historic events were shut out of mainstream media outlets, and aside from a few showings on campuses and in one theater in NYC, were purposely kept from distribution inside the United States. Though all this only energized the fledgling Vietnam Veterans Against the War organization to speak out and organize with the radical social movements of the time, the film was an essential missing link in understanding the war, until its recent return to the US in limited screenings over several months.

It soon became clear why such an incendiary work would be repressed. Unlike other Vietnam films, which despite their gory depictions of war’s reality ultimately serve to increase its appeal in some dark way, this film featured close-ups of otherwise innocent-looking young vets baring their souls about the rampant abuse, torture and murder of Vietnamese people. The first half focused on direct testimony of soldiers from various units, ranks and periods in Vietnam. There were ‘grunts,’ sergeants, lieutenants, even a captain, of various ethnic backgrounds describing with chilling calmness their participation in gruesome practices of the war, which after the fourth and fifth account began to seem like routine events, or Standard Operating Procedure as some called it.

There were tales of commonplace shooting of children and civilians, of how torching villages as troops moved through an area was only not done for lack of time, how prisoners were so frequently tossed out of aircraft that officers mandated rules to count them only upon disembarking, not upon entering. There were individual acts of barbarity too, one man telling of a comrade slitting open a woman from vagina to neck who had been shot multiple times, then pulling her entrails out onto the ground. The severing of ears as trophies to wear was a contest by which soldiers and units competed with each other for beers upon returning to base. Gang rapes and other monstrous abuses of women were especially common, and not only were they ignored by superiors, they were seen as effective ways of controlling the civilian population.

I detail these stories so graphically because they seem important to remember, since they had such a profound meaning for the men telling them. But the horror of wartime atrocities, told by these young men with astonishing composure and detachment, is only part of the film’s importance. Much of the second half focused on reflections about how this madness came to be, and about how it was perpetrated by the military culture. One man told about his basic training in the Marines, where the final lesson before being sent to Vietnam was in being shown a rabbit at the beginning of one afternoon, the men being allowed to grow attached to it over the course of a couple of hours; then watching as the instructor took out a knife and sliced open its belly, skinned it and pulled out its guts, in a macabre desensitization exercise for the coming culture of Vietnam. There was examination of this culture, where soldiers became inured to brutality by seeing it all around them, and by seeing it ignored by officers. Training in Geneva Conventions law consisted only of what they were obliged to report to their captors- name, rank, serial number- and consequently interrogations became a free-for-all, with little supervisory control, and sadism the standard operating procedure.

One of the most relevant aspects of the film for me was its examination of race and racism in the war context. Much like the current demonization of Muslims and Arabs as terrorists or at best terrorist suspects, worthy only of deportation and probably extermination, there was widespread acceptance in Vietnam of ‘gooks’ as less-than-human, ‘only’ pinkos and commie sympathizers, not worthy of any humanity or even a second thought. More than one testimony pointed out this form of racism, and how it was this above all that helped them to commit extreme acts of violence without the normal overriding voice of conscience kicking in. This said a lot to me about the dangers of what we are seeing on Fox TV, hearing on right-wing talk radio and reading even in mainstream papers. An interaction outside the testimony room between a black man and one of the white soldiers who had just testified was caught on film, and raised important issues about the deeply-ingrained racism in US culture itself and how it contributes to this culture in war.

The courage it took for these men to come out and admit their heinous acts, and to indict the institution which had been their lives until recently, was apparent, the psychological strain causing more than one to break down. At one point a reporter asked one of the men whether he thought his long hair and unruly beard would alienate mainstream America, and the answer was deep: he said he had spent the last several years with hair no longer than a quarter-inch, and now it felt good to let his hair grow. It was a symbol to him of his opposition to what he had become in the war.
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Re: Winter Soldier: A film for our time
22 Nov 2005
Re: Winter Soldier: A film for our time
22 Nov 2005
I often think about how traumatic this has to be for the soldiers themselves as well, who are then brought back to society and expect to live normal lives. The nightmares alone must be hard to bear. War destroys these soldiers' souls. It's no wonder that their way of defense is to defend the war itself at all costs.
Re: Winter Soldier: A film for our time
22 Nov 2005
It seems that comments that question only one side of the story are hidden. Why is that?

Let's see.... Afraid of the truth getting out?

No one has ever said that war is not grusome and evil becuase it is. Abu Graib was wrong and as far as the rest of the world is concerned those that did it got off too easy! Does that surprise you? T shouldn't. Soldiers back in Vietnam who cut off ears, murdered civilians and did other unspeakable acts while in uniform needed to be put away. Does that surprise you? There seems to be no concept as to what makes up the great men and women who serve in TODAYS military. They are great people. Try opening your mind and your heart to hear their side of the storty without being judgemental or closed minded. You will continue to be surprised!
Re: Winter Soldier: A film for our time
22 Nov 2005
You ask a valid question and to get your answer......ask a soldier! More often than not. souls are not lost but replenished by helping others!
Re: Winter Soldier: A film for our time
22 Nov 2005
You have to take this film for what it is. First off, Jane Fonda and Mark Lane are not unbias sources of information about the Vietnam era. You know "Hanoi Jane", who durring the 80's when it was popular to do so, recanted most of her anti-Vietnam War rhetoric ( she was really pushing her workout videos at the time, her 60's views weren't popular.. Do you think..?). Now she is spouting off again because she thinks it's back in vogue, or like most aging , has- been Hollywood types, she craves the limelight.

I've met some members of VVAG at variuos demonstrations ( durring the DNc I had a few indepth conversations) and the amazing thing to me is that how many of them saw limited or no combat ( "we just about to get wiped-out, the typing ribbon wouldn't unjam.."), or how many actually never went to Vietnam. Remeber the campaign footage of Kerry in "combat" in the Phillipines. Despite the media stereotype, Vietnam Veterans actually turned out, for the most part, more successful in life than vets of other wars. When my weblink source, I'll post it.
Re: Winter Soldier: A film for our time
22 Nov 2005
Very nice response.

I have met Veterans who have served in times of different wars/operations but yet saw little or no combat. They now argue against everything that has to do with the military. Also, they speak out about things that they never even did or witnessed! I can't figure that one out? How can you complain or want "what's right" when you have never been outside the wire let alone outside the office?

Again, great response and have a good day!

PS - I don't think she sold many videos! :)
Re: Winter Soldier: A film for our time
22 Nov 2005
OOPS! Sorry!
That last post was from me and NOT Mr./Mrs. Symbolic

Sorry about that, Sym!
Re: Winter Soldier: A film for our time
22 Nov 2005
It seems that comments that question only one side of the story are hidden. Why is that?

Let's see.... Afraid of the truth getting out?

No one has ever said that war is not grusome and evil becuase it is. Abu Graib was wrong and as far as the rest of the world is concerned those that did it got off too easy! Does that surprise you? T shouldn't. Soldiers back in Vietnam who cut off ears, murdered civilians and did other unspeakable acts while in uniform needed to be put away. Does that surprise you? There seems to be no concept as to what makes up the great men and women who serve in TODAYS military. They are great people. Try opening your mind and your heart to hear their side of the storty without being judgemental or closed minded. You will continue to be surprised!
Re: Winter Soldier: A film for our time
22 Nov 2005
Studies show mythsabout troubled vetsare no longer valid

By Peter Rowe

November 11, 2005

Parade of veterans marches into history

In 1970, Fritz Rutenbeck bought a tavern in Hawaiian Gardens, a ragged Los Angeles suburb. Over the next eight years, the bar drew a hard-drinking crowd, but few drank harder than the owner.

The former B-52 navigator had survived the Vietnam War, but the peace was killing him.

"I was in deep trouble," Rutenbeck says now. "Inside my brain, a voice was saying, 'You've had enough. You're at the end. You've got to do something about this.'"

EARNIE GRAFTON / Union-Tribune
With college diplomas and a condo in Leucadia, Fritz Rutenbeck has adjusted to life after the Vietnam War.
He did. A tall man with a linebacker's shoulders and a shopping-mall Santa's whiskers, Rutenbeck swore off drinking in 1978. Today, he's sober, married and a semi-retired psychologist with two college diplomas and an oceanfront condo in Leucadia.

He's also, a growing body of evidence indicates, a typical Vietnam veteran.

Not because of his troubled, boozy past.

Because of his successful present.

This Veterans Day, as Americans fight another controversial war, it's notable that an earlier conflict still retains its power to wound and provoke. During last year's presidential campaign, both major candidates were forced to defend their actions during the Vietnam War. The passion and anger these responses stirred might have surprised President Bush and Sen. John Kerry; not so Vietnam veterans. For decades, the veterans have been vilified and pitied but rarely understood. Even today, too many stereotypes obscure our view; call it the fog of peace.

But the mist is lifting. Several recent studies contradict the popular notion that many of the 3.4 million Americans who served in the Southeast Asia war zone are damaged goods, overwhelmed by the physical and mental scars of war or the demands of civilian life.

These studies do not address all aspects of postwar life or dispel every myth accumulated in the 30 years since Saigon fell. But they do sketch a different portrait of these aging warriors, one we might not recognize. Statistics indicate that compared with peers who did not serve Vietnam veterans are:

More likely to have attended college.

More likely to be married.

Less likely to be unemployed.

No more or less likely to be imprisoned.

You cannot discuss Vietnam without indulging in controversy. Everything's debated, even the catch-all term "Vietnam veteran." In fact, this group is divided into several subsets, each with its own term:

The roughly 9 million who served in the U.S. military around the world during this period are "Vietnam-era veterans."

The 3.4 million who served in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and the surrounding waters are "Vietnam-theater veterans."

The 2.6 million who were stationed in South Vietnam are "Vietnam War veterans."

And an estimated 1 million to 1.6 million are "Vietnam combat veterans."

Yet, the postwar experience of our veterans is not primarily a matter of numbers and labels. To flesh out this story, more than 100 veterans were interviewed. They were easy to find, especially here – more Vietnam veterans live in California than any other state, and a larger proportion lives in San Diego County than any other county. While overwhelmingly male, white and middle-aged, they reflect a wide range of personalities and politics. They are, for example, divided by the war in Iraq.

But they speak with one voice in insisting that today's veterans should receive more public support than did the men and women who came home from Vietnam.

"This is a cautionary tale for us," said Jon Nachison, a Vietnam veteran and chief of psychology at Bayview Psychiatric Hospital in Chula Vista. "We need to welcome home the troops, not just with yellow ribbons but with jobs and the support they need. And it's not really relevant what side of the fence you are on about the war. That's not the point. Never again should we confuse the war with the warrior."

Nachison and his comrades know something about confusion. Consider five myths that are still widely accepted as factual descriptions of the Vietnam veteran.

Myth 1: The antisocial grunt

Source: From Martin Scorsese's riveting 1976 film "Taxi Driver" and through a series of TV shows and novels, the criminally deranged Vietnam veteran has become a pop culture cliché.

This was not just a scriptwriter's fantasy. In 1970, Robert Jay Lifton, then a professor of psychiatry at Yale, warned Congress of a coming plague of savage, amoral veterans: "Some are likely to seek continuing outlets for a pattern of violence to which they have become habituated, whether by indulging in antisocial or criminal behavior, or by, almost in the fashion of mercenaries, offering their services to the highest bidder."

SCOTT LINNETT / Union-Tribune
Jon Nachison, a Vietnam veteran, has built a successful career as a hospital psychologist in San Diego County.
Others predicted that veterans, brutalized by what they had seen and done, would lose jobs and marriages.

Reality: In 1997, the most recent year the U.S. Department of Justice surveyed state prisons, 4.4 percent of the inmates were Vietnam-era veterans. In earlier surveys, one-third of the "era veterans" had actually served in Vietnam, said Christopher J. Mumola, a policy analyst for the department's Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Based on those findings, Mumola estimated that for every 100,000 male Vietnam-theater veterans in 1997, 513 were incarcerated in state prisons. The figure among male nonveterans: 512 per 100,000. Mumola cautioned that these figures are not precise. But he maintained they indicate "that Vietnam-theater vets are no more or less likely to be held in state prison than other adult males, and that the rate for both is roughly 500 prisoners per 100,000 men in the population."

Vietnam-theater veterans also appear to be holding their own in the workplace. The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics does an in-depth study of veterans every two years. In August 2003, the overall unemployment rate for the entire U.S. work force was 6 percent; for Americans 20 or older, 5.5 percent; and for those who had served in the Vietnam theater, 5.1 percent.

Matters of the heart resist empirical explanations. But in 2002, a team of political science professors at Brigham Young University analyzed the first marriages of combat veterans from World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Their key finding: Exposure to combat dramatically increased the likelihood of divorce.

But the study also found that the marriages of all veterans of these wars – including those who did not see combat – were as stable as their civilian counterparts. Moreover, those who had served in the Vietnam theater before 1969 had even fewer divorces.

"The cultural tale that Vietnam veterans came home a messed-up lot, unable to form successful marriages, simply is not supported by the data," wrote Professor Sven Wilson, a BYU professor and one of the co-authors.

Wilson also noted that Vietnam veterans in general came of age at a time when the overall divorce rate in the United States was soaring. Since the 1960s, marriages have failed at an escalating rate among civilian and military populations.

This year, two Texas Tech University scholars and their spouses met for dinner near the Lubbock campus. "Isn't this odd?" Ron Milam, a professor of history, asked James Recknor, director of Texas Tech's Vietnam Center. "We're both Vietnam veterans and we're both still married to our first wives."

Myth 2: The traumatized grunt

Source: Lifton and other experts argued that Vietnam's unique and troubling aspects – guerrilla warfare in the field, bitter opposition at home – produced a uniquely troubled warrior. "Indeed," Lifton testified, "the Vietnam veteran serves as a psychological crucible of the entire country's doubts and misgivings about the war."


These psychological wounds, ranging from nightmares and flashbacks to psychotic episodes, were given a new term in 1980: post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Reality: The name is relatively new; the condition is not.

In 1977, William Mahedy, a former Army chaplain in Vietnam, interviewed the last Spanish-American War veterans living in Los Angeles. "They'd say, 'Let me tell you what happened when my best friend died in the Philippines in 1902.' It was 75 years later and it was just like yesterday," Mahedy said. "It had never gone away."

These tragedies cannot be counseled away. As Mahedy noted, "The dead remain dead, the maimed remain maimed."

But the effects seem to lessen with time. The National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study reported in 1992 that 31 out of every 100 male Vietnam-theater veterans had reported that they had experienced PTSD at some time in their postwar lives. That's a significant percentage, but far from a majority. And of that group, only half were still afflicted as of 1988.

Among female Vietnam-theater veterans, the rates were lower: 27 out of every 100 had reported experiencing PTSD at some time after the war. Of that group, only one-third was afflicted as of 1988.

Counseling is crucial, not to suppress these emotions, but to learn to live with them. Mahedy knows many men and women who bear these psychological scars yet have gone on to achieve material success. "Was I a bad provider?" asked Mike Charter, a former infantry squad leader who became a commodities trader in Los Angeles. "Quite the contrary."

As a prominent figure in Indian gaming, Viejas Chairman Anthony Pico has had numerous showdowns with Sacramento officials, including Gov. Arnold Schwarzenneger. These meetings can be tense, but nothing close to what Pico says he felt as an 18-year-old infantryman.

"Life is a walk in the park now," he said. "Like, what is the worst thing that can happen to you compared to that?"

Myth 3: The suicidal grunt

Source: The support group Disabled American Veterans published a 1980 pamphlet, "Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders of the Vietnam Veteran," stating that the number of all Vietnam veterans who had committed suicide had reached 58,000 – the number of overall U.S. deaths in the war.

That estimate quickly grew. A broadcast of CBS' "60 Minutes" on Oct. 4, 1986, put the number at more than 100,000. Less than 10 years later, a California chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America projected it to be "approximately 150,000."

Reality: Exact numbers are unknown. Suicide, with its social stigma, is notoriously difficult to pin down.

A 1967 family snapshot shows Nachison with his wife, Sharon, before they married.
The 58,000 figure was based on an assumption that the suicide rate during the initial postwar period had continued unabated. Instead, it dramatically slackened. In 1999, the Centers for Disease Control conducted the most extensive study to date on this issue. It found that the risk of suicide increased with exposure to combat. Still, the CDC concluded that the overall rate for Vietnam-theater veterans is roughly one per 100 veteran deaths. This would bring the current total to about 6,500.

Michael Kelley, a Vietnam veteran who lives in Sacramento, has spent years tracking the wildly varying suicide estimates.

"In the final analysis," Kelley wrote in a 1999 Washington Post story, "Vietnam veterans likely die from suicide at about the same rate and for the same reasons that everyone else in America does."

Myth 4: The dumb grunt

Source: Midway through the war, only 20 percent of returning soldiers were making use of the GI Bill. Why? In 1969, Time magazine reached this dour conclusion: "Because of college-draft deferments, service ranks were filled with less educated youths who now have little motivation to return to school."

Reality: The GI Bill, signed into law in 1944 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, covered tuition fees plus a monthly $75 stipend. By 1971, despite higher college costs, it offered full-time students only a flat payment of $175 a month.

Eventually, though, stipends increased to keep pace with the cost of living, and the number of scholar-veterans soared. Millions of Vietnam-era veterans have used the GI Bill to prepare for thousands of professions. Nachison, of Bayview Psychiatric in Chula Vista, studied psychology at Syracuse University. When Cmdr. Dorothy "Dottie" Yelle retired from the Navy, the nurse used the bill to become a golf pro. She studied putts and drives at the San Diego Golf Academy.

In 2001, a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs survey found that 49 percent of Vietnam-era veterans had used the GI Bill for college and vocational training, compared with 42 percent for Korean War and World War II veterans.

While that survey focused on era veterans, studies have found little difference in the educational accomplishments of that group and theater veterans.

And on campus, no one distinguishes between subsets of Vietnam veterans. In fact, few students or staff can distinguish veterans from nonveterans. With his clipped Vandyke beard and tweed blazers, Texas Tech's Milam resembles a 21st-century Mr. Chips. You might never guess that he once led raiding parties of fierce Montagnard tribesmen in the Central Highlands of Vietnam.

"If you become successful," one of his colleagues quipped, "you cease being a Vietnam veteran."

Myth 5: The spat-upon grunt

Source: Tales of Vietnam veterans being spat upon by protesters are widespread. Versions of this story are part of "First Blood," the 1982 movie that launched the Rambo franchise; in Bob Greene's 1989 book, "Homecoming"; and in countless verbal accounts.

Reality: Jerry Lembcke, a Vietnam veteran turned sociologist, examined the issue in a 1998 book, "The Spitting Image." Although he found that "some guys were spit at," he's found little solid evidence that such experiences were widespread. However, he says, this hasn't slowed its progress as a cultural icon.

"I think the book spawned new stories," said Lembcke, a professor at Holy Cross College in Worchester, Mass. "And we've gone from spit to other kinds of bodily fluids – urine to feces to other things."

In fact, he found just one contemporary newspaper report of Vietnam veterans braving spittle – in a 1968 edition of The Washington Post. Beyond that, few of these wrenching tales can withstand scrutiny. "When you go looking for some sort of corroboration, it dissolves, it disappears. It's about a friend of a friend."

Perhaps much of what we've believed about these soldiers was fashioned from similarly questionable sources. Homeless Vietnam veterans? The National Survey of Homeless Assistance Providers and Clients, conducted in 1996, is still considered the most comprehensive study in this area. That survey found that all veterans account for 13 percent of the U.S. population but 33 percent of the men on the streets of America.

SCOTT LINNETT / Union-Tribune
Missouri residents Jason and Amanda Ledford viewed a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall as part of Operation Homecoming USA in Branson, Mo., in June.
How many of these veterans served in Southeast Asia, though, is unknown. For the past five years, organizers of San Diego's Stand Down, an annual three-day encampment of homeless veterans, have collected information on attendees.

"You come up with between 23 and 27 percent of the homeless veterans served in Vietnam," said Al Pavich, chief executive officer of Vietnam Veterans of San Diego. "This year, the biggest group, about 60 percent, were people between the ages of 31 and 50 – too young to be Vietnam veterans."

Crunch the numbers. Weigh the data. You end up with results that seem cold, incomplete, unsatisfactory. But no statistic can convey the deep emotions at work here.

Lembcke, who remembers his own 1970 homecoming as uneventful, believes that the United States is still unable to accept its defeat in Vietnam. The spat-upon soldier is a metaphor, he argues. "This is an alibi: We weren't defeated by them, the Vietnamese, we were defeated by the disloyal element on the home front."

Or perhaps this myth is rooted in the veterans' sense of disillusionment, that they had returned to a nation – a home – that was at best indifferent, at worst hostile.

This also might explain the equally false notion that their service has never been honored with marching bands and cheering crowds. In fact, dozens of parades have been dedicated exclusively to Vietnam veterans. Major efforts include a 1973 parade in San Francisco for former POWs and commandos; the 1985 ticker-tape extravaganza in Manhattan's "Canyon of Heroes" in New York; Chicago's massive "Welcome Home Parade" in 1986; and a 1993 march in Washington, D.C., dedicating the Vietnam Women's Memorial.

Branson, Mo., welcomed Vietnam veterans to Operation Homecoming USA in June. The weeklong celebration, dubbed "The Homecoming You Never Received," included a fishing tournament, rides on restored "Huey" helicopters, a concert headlined by the Beach Boys and a parade.

Some who came to Branson had marched in other parades, but noted that such public salutes are rare. They cherished the opportunity to reunite with comrades. Just ask the 14 men from the 4th Infantry Division's "Black Scarves."

On a patrol in June 1969, six members of this unit were killed. Or so one Black Scarf, Fred Golladay, believed for 36 years.

In fact, five died in an explosion. The sixth, Tom Mueller of Cokato, Minn., wasn't expected to survive his wounds. But he did. And he marched with his fellow Black Scarves in Branson.

"None of us had seen or heard from each other for 36 years," said Golladay, who now lives in Sierra Vista, Ariz. "Goose bumps," he said, patting Mueller's arm. "Yeah, I'm getting goose bumps."

The little Ozark resort town's big week might be remembered as the greatest recent tribute to Vietnam veterans.

That is until today, when Las Vegas hosts a parade as part of its four-day "Operation Welcome Home."


Research analyst Danielle Cervantes contributed to this report.

»Next Story»

There's other articles, but this is a good one.
Re: Winter Soldier: A film for our time
22 Nov 2005
I'm a mister, and white. Not the most PC thing to be, but I can't help that.
Re: Winter Soldier: A film for our time
22 Nov 2005
Have a great day!
Re: Winter Soldier: A film for our time
22 Nov 2005
As for the person who wrote that last negative post mocking Symbolics post. I would expect nothing less than that from some of the youngsters that believe most of these stories of fiction. On that note, lets see if the use of illegal and disgusting acts get it added to the hidden list. Any takers that it stays for a while?
Re: Winter Soldier: A film for our time
22 Nov 2005
The disgrace of Abu Ghraib was wrong and eveyone, military or civilian knows it. Those Clowns did not receive half the sentence that they should have. Americans are better than that!
Re: Winter Soldier: A film for our time
22 Nov 2005
Actually, I HAVE talked to Iraq War Veterans who went to the war and are now against it. There wasn't one of them who did not have this awfully painful look in their eyes, as if they had seen too much too awful to describe. They should be included in the long list Bush owes an apology to.
Re: Winter Soldier: A film for our time
22 Nov 2005
Hmm,really? As disgussed and erased earlier. Most people that complain or look for attention never went outside the wire.
Have you talked with OTHER Veterans that served over there or served anywhere? I find it hard to believe that EVERY single Veteran you have come in contact with has nothing but negative remarks and the 1000 yard stare. As stated earlier, EVERYONE I served with adn talk with have nothing but positive remarks.
22 Nov 2005
To play Devil's advocate, I've had drinks with Mike H. from I.V.A.W. in July of 2004 (during the BSF). He's seems like a nice guy, committed to what he's doing, but he brought a copy of Howard Zinn's "The People's History of the US" to Iraq with him. So you know pretty much what he was thinking before he went over there.
Like or not, the VAST majority of the military is behind the war at this point. Re-enlistments (not "stop gap" measures) are at record levels. There's no draft. People in the military are for the most part career military people and have trained for this for years. All are volunteers. Enough said.
Re: Winter Soldier: A film for our time
22 Nov 2005
Great friend of mine is a Platoon Sergeant in Iraq. He just had SIX guys reenlist to stay and two guys reenlist to stay in but switch MOS's.
Re: Winter Soldier: A film for our time
22 Nov 2005
The first recruiting myth is how long you will serve. The military regards you as part of the Individual Ready Reserve, and therefore subject to call-up, for eight years from the date of your arrival at basic training, even if you only signed up for two years: ask those who were deployed to the Persian Gulf long after they thought their commitment had ended!
The military isn't a generous financial aid institution, and it isn't concerned with helping you pay for school. Two-thirds of all recruits never get any college funding from the military. Only 15% graduated with a four year degree.

Veterans Earn Less than Non-Veterans

In a comprehensive overview of 14 studies which analyzed this question, Stephen R. Barley of the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell U. found that the average post-Vietnam War-era veteran will earn between 11% (Crane and Wise 1987) and 19% (Rosen and Taubman, 1982) less than non-veterans from comparable socioeconomic backgrounds. According to a 1990 study by Bryant and Wilhite, the average veteran will earn 85 cents less per hour (about $1700 less per year) than non-veteran peers.

Bryant and Wilhite found that veterans averaged only 1.78 months of training in 31 months of active duty. Mangum and Ball, Ohio State researchers who received funding from the military, found that only 12% of male veterans and 6% of female veterans surveyed made any use of skills learned in the military in their civilian jobs. Barley concludes, "The evidence on rates of return to training and the probability of finding a job in one's chosen occupation, strongly suggests that, all else being equal, young people should look to sources of training other than the military if they wish to optimize their careers."

Economic Opportunity?

Army Times reports that over 50,000 unemployed veterans are on the waiting list for the military's "retraining" program. The VA estimates that 1/3 of homeless people are vets.

It's a form of economic discrimination, sometimes called economic conscription or an economic draft, that forces lower income people into the military in order to earn a living, try to learn a trade or get money for their education. The American Council on Education even attributes a drop in black college enrollment to more aggressive military recruiting in the eighties. The worst thing is, often those who are forced into the military to learn a trade, or earn money for school, don't even get what they believe they were promised!
Above all else, the military is an institution with one overriding purpose: to prepare for and fight wars. You literally sign your life over to the military. If you're going to join the military be prepared to fight a war, even a war you may not agree with. It could be a war we "lose," like Vietnam. Or, it could be a war we "win," like in Kuwait. Either way, people are killed and you might be the one who kills them. As much as the war in Iraq has been celebrated, you can find US veterans who can't forget some of the awful things they saw there. Is that the kind of risk you want to take to finance your college education?

[all facts from yes, they are biased against military recruitment, but obviously for some very good reasons!
see also awol is a kickass youth-produced magazine]
1.78 Months of Training ?
22 Nov 2005
Boot camp alone is 13 weeks. and depending on your MOS, ADDITIONAL training can be anywhere from 4 weeks to 18 months (pilots). You also have to add invarious other training schools (language school, airborne training, etc.) that you are selected for, volunteer for, or are required to attend and you come to the conclusion that the training is quite extensive. Check the Facts, did you ever serve? I doubt it.
Hey check the facts...
22 Nov 2005
THERE IS NO DRAFT ! The "economic draft" is nothing but a pile of far left bullsh*t. I personally disagree with war in Iraq, there were other ways to deal with Sadaam, but the going in the military was the best thing, for me personally, that I've done so far.
BTW check the facts,
22 Nov 2005
Read the above article. 'Nuff said.
Individual Ready Reserve
22 Nov 2005
I was re-activated briefly after September 11th because of my MOS. I didn't like it too much, but I signed a contract. They tell you this when you join up. And yeah, you might have to fight in a war (even one you don't agree with), but that's what the military does. The military does participate in peacekeeping and humanitarian operations, but the primary fucntion of the military is to proctect the U.S. (i.e.- break things and harm enemies) It's your JOB. Name a job where if you have to do a task you may not like, you can refuse to do it ? Name a contract you can enter into (unless it's with the UN, the UN will write you a nasty letter if you don't honor the contract) into and then be selective in what parts you honor? Ever go to the homeless vets center ? Some of these people are legitamate vets who have various problems, but there's also alot of "30 year old Vietnam Vets (do the math)....OK, I'm done.
Re: Winter Soldier: A film for our time
22 Nov 2005
Just to clarify, I'm not against the military. I do think that many soldiers are in there because they felt they had no other options. And people who come from military families. And people who just plainly like the military.

BUT, that doesn't make a wrongful war the right one. Many soldiers went to Iraq thinking they were really liberating the people of Iraq, and instead they have enslaved them to further destruction and instability, or worst, ethnic hatred.

It's not about being pro or against the troops. I think the Bush Administration betrayed our troops by lying about this war. And worst, by not listening to many military seniors who were also against this war.
Re: Winter Soldier: A film for our time
22 Nov 2005
Re: Winter Soldier: A film for our time
22 Nov 2005
Those facts are not even close to be true.
I knew from day one that I had a contract for eight years. No hidden agenda there. Also, PRIOR to getting out of active duty, National Guard or Reserve you are given verbal and written information regarding how much IRR time you have left.

Educational benefits are pretty darn good. Finished one degree with no money out of my pocket. Working on my second degree with no money spent accept for books during the summer semester.

Not sure where you got your misinformation on training time but we lived in the field, were deployed or where in schools.

Job opportunity? Vast majority of Veterans are hired over any other possible employment candidate. They are more responsible, respectful, trustworthy, intelligent, motivated and resourceful. Veterans are able to get to work on time, think on their feet and not afraid to make a decision and stand behind it.

Considering where you got your information from, your "facts" need to be checked again.
To "I Served"
23 Nov 2005
Let's face, regardless of what the message is from the FAR left ( "we support the troops..blah, blah, blah,..), the far left holds people who serve in the military with contempt and absolutely hates the military establishment on a whole. Prior to being fed up with their nonsense ( "we hate our paper.."), the socialist group that I used to associate with told that me, in no uncertain terms, that we to dumb down our message so that vets (like me) would understand it.I'll say it again so I don't get accused of trolling, I DON'T SUPPORT the war in Iraq, but, and this may piss some people off on the IMC, I DO SUPPORT the war in Afghanistan. Afghanistan has nothing to do with "empire building", or "siezing oil", or whatever. The fact is that Al Queda, who were being, supported, hosted, and trained by the Taliban, were based there and attacked the US on 09/11/01. So we "took the war to them". War is nastey,horriffic, last resort business, but unfortunately it's sometimes necessary. And when it needs to be done, we owe to our people in the military to do it right. Get rid of the enemy quickly, effeciently, and with the least amount of our troops killed as necessary.
Re: Winter Soldier: A film for our time
23 Nov 2005
Bullshit Symbolic, the war in Afghanistan was as much about getting a foot in the door in the middle east as it was about the final battle between global multi-national Capitalism and the last stronghold that stands against it - fundamental Islam. Where were the majority of 9-11 bombers from again? Oh yeah, Saudi Arabia..... Why didn't we go bomb them first? My thoughts? Afghanistan was a *WAY* easier target 'cause they could be used to rally the troops/voting citizenry against the "evils" of islam while also letting the US get a solid base of operations in the mid-east.
Re: Winter Soldier: A film for our time
23 Nov 2005
hey "i served". i love how you back up all your statements with hard facts, or hyperlinks that reinforce your fantasy world. at least "check the facts" cited his source. all you got as "proof" is your word, your faulty memory or delusional sense of patriotism. i for one COMPLETELY believe anonymous posters who aren't full of sarcasm of incredulousness.
Re: Winter Soldier: A film for our time
23 Nov 2005
So that is the thinking around here? Facts based on real world experiences and first hand accounts are discredited but web sites that are driven by military-hating people who never served get credit for being valid?

It is easy for you guys to complain about things that you know nothing about yet when some one who has "been there, done that" comes along you duck and cover.

You can believe what you want based on what you think to be truth but deep down inside you know you are wrong.

Be safe and have a rgeat holiday
Re: Winter Soldier: A film for our time
23 Nov 2005
Truth to those statements! Knowledge can be gained by listening to both sides of an issue. Only a closed mind is unable to realize that.

Those that served know what they are talking about because they lived it every single day!
Re: Winter Soldier: A film for our time
23 Nov 2005
Veteran and I Served, you are one to talk about being "open minded". Honestly, you have more one-sided and close-minded commentary than anyone else on this site! At least the liberals have some differing opinions - you two, if you aren't one and the same person, are so hard-party-line that it's laughable. And the US vs. THEM crap you spit out is even worse than being party-line! It's not about Liberals vs. Conservatives, or Military vs. Non-military.... This country is supposed to be about equality for ALL, including equality of opinion. Your arguments are so much one-sided and close-minded crap that there doesn't appear to be any room for equality. Why don't you run along and find some brainless female of the species to help live up to her ideal of barefoot and pregnant - Us "leftists", because one leftist ALWAYS speaks for all, can't stop ya.
To Symbolism
23 Nov 2005
Original name BTW, anyway, there is a big difference between fundamentalist islam and the mainstream of islam. What you have to comprehend is that if the fundamentalists are allowed to run wild, they will be "cutting my throat" at the same time they're are cutting yours. They will do it even while you are trying to preach your far left marxist /trotskyist/maoist nonsense.
To Symbolism
23 Nov 2005
I forgot to ask you, Was it OK when bill clinton lobbed a few cruise missiles at Afghanistan back in 90's and made afew holes in the ground? (I believe that was after the 1st WTC, I may be wrong on the date). As far as the Saudis go, yeah they can be scumbags, but they are better to deal with than the Iranians (counter balance of regional power), and as much as you don't want to believe it, they have helped the US out on a number of occassions. They tend to do it ( for political reasons) "under the table". In a perfect world things wouldn't work that way, but nothing human is perfect. BTW Symbolism, where have you been overseas, and what type of real-world experience do you have with geo-politics ? Lectures by Noam Chomsky don't count as real world experience.. Feel free to answer
Re: Winter Soldier: A film for our time
23 Nov 2005
I am more than open to every side of every issue. That is why I visit here. I have never defended war, been there and didn't really care to much for it. But I have been there. I know what is happening and I know what the goodness is that is coming out of it. Do you? No! You just swallow whatever is handed to you by anyone waving a sign. Before I wave my sign I make sure I can at least back it up with knowledge and facts. I say that I preach? I preach what? I preach that my time in the military was a time of helping and assisting? That is true. I helped! Not once did I drop a boot in another country with my weapon raised? Not one single time out of all the countries I visited I landed on the ground with open arms backed by a mission to lend assistance where assistance was requested. Talk and diplomacy always were the tip of the spear. You and others feel and honestly believe that the M-4 is the tool used to get things done. That is the wrong way of thinking. No one wants peace more than the peacekeeper that helps preserve it. There are two sides and I view both and have had the honor to live both. Can you say that?
I know I made a difference to others around the world? I didn;t sit back and complain about things I knew nothing about. I wanted and conitnue to want to know what goes on. We are honestly doing good yet you want to see bad. Why? Why so negative?
Have a great Thanksgiving!
Re: Winter Soldier: A film for our time
23 Nov 2005
Well said Veteran. Happy Thanksgiving.
Re: Winter Soldier: A film for our time
23 Nov 2005
Amen, brother.
Re: Winter Soldier: A film for our time
23 Nov 2005
I mean this in no disrespect, as I have asserted in prior postings, but this is getting a bit ridiculous. Perhaps a waste of my time, by I read most of the postings below and they are really discouraging.
I feel like you guys, particularly "veteran" have missed the point of the "add a comment" section. If someone writes an article- why call it shameful? and your posts have reached point of propaganda not discourse to even slightly provoke thought- just simply trys at indoctrination.

Symbolic, I just wanted to comment on your posting "I can't figure that one out? How can you complain or want "what's right" when you have never been outside the wire let alone outside the office?"
well, sometimes if people are on the outside looking in, it can be easier to assess the situation. for example... if someone tells you that the person across the room killed your brother, then you shoot the person... It's a lot easier for someone watching this from a third part perspective to tell you that the person that you killed didn't really shoot your brother(and give proof, naturally). But, after you've shot a person, it's a lot harder to accept that fact- that the guy you shot was innocent.... Perhaps this was a bit conveluded- but what I am saying is that I sincerely don't think that someone who hasn't seen "action" has no right to speak about it... Because sometimes the assaliants pride and guilt will seek constant justifications for irreverable actions... but the perspective is clearer from the outside. you dig it?

and please veteran- don't belittle people by calling them youngsters. writers, intellectuals, activists are not unintelligent. The sure sign of someone who is unintelligent is someone who is ideological and refuses to question their convictions. I have- and I can tell you, my friend, that what you are writing is to provoke aggrivation and not discourse.
people are passionate for a reason. with every word that slips off your tounge and every thing you type- please question yourself before doing so. you made a difference around the world? was it a positive one? are you sure your being true to yourself? this is a hypothetical question, i have no invested interest in your answer.
seriously, i speak for myself, but i sure as hell don't sit and complain and i know that i service humanity and my community in the best way possible- i educate.
you cant read books with your eyes closed, open them and you'll find an entire world in front of you where you don't have to lie and justify your actions to other people. be honest with yourself.

"Let's face, regardless of what the message is from the FAR left ( "we support the troops..blah, blah, blah,..), the far left holds people who serve in the military with contempt and absolutely hates the military establishment on a whole."

what is concidered far left? seriously, i'm interested... a liberal? a democrat? a moderate? the country has never seen the far left. the liberals don't hate the military- look at history. for the sake of not wanting to insult your intelligence, I'm just going to pretend that you never said that.

we can go either way guys. your treading down a very dark path- and it's unfortunate to watch anyone walk it.
To: What's the DEal
23 Nov 2005
As far as my opinions , I'm just stating my opinions based on my experiences. I can see your view about someone from the outside looking in. Alot of the time (not all of the time) you do get a better grasp of something when you have time to take everything and make a decision, but unfortunately time is of the essense in some cases, and we are not afforded the luxury of weighing our decesions.
My comments about the far left holding soldiers with contempt comes , as I said above, from own experiences, with associates, and some relatives for that matter. Not that I have witnessed it personally, but you can honestly tell me that the people who greeted the returning Vietnam era soldiers with spit , bags of feces, (my dad's brother at Oakland Airport) and crys of baby killer; can you say that these individuals, and of course, the Queen of them all, Jane Fonda, didn't view soldiers with contempt?
Anyway, I do agree with you that the comments on here should stay with a certain bounds, and not get personal, or belittle the opinions of others. Big egos tend to get people (and Nations for that matter) in trouble. Happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy whatever food you choose to consume tomorrow. One last comment, I have never shot or done harm to people who I knew to be innocent.
Re: Winter Soldier: A film for our time
24 Nov 2005
Nam was a horror story. The trailer is a good tease.
I'd like to see the whole film.
Ever wonder if there might be another Winter Soldier 2? Iraq?
Atrocities in war happen. But consistantly?
Re: Winter Soldier: A film for our time
24 Nov 2005
Nam was a horror story simply for the fact that the United States Military was not allowed to do its job. LBJ was too much of a political coward to unleash the full might of the military and allow us to take over Noth Vietnam and stup incursions from Laos and Cambodia. Nixon was not much better in this regard although he did allw bombing of Laos and Cambodia and did allow raids by special forces into that country. But by that time it was too late. The counter culture and drug culture had by that time enveloped America which culminated in our disgraceful pull out from Vietnam. Left without protection, over a million political prisoners and other innocent civililians were slaughtered by the communist Vietnamese government and the governments of Laos and Cambodia. Calling for the pullout from Vietnam is one of the most shameful things that the American public ever did. We, the collective American public bear collective guilt for the slaughter of innocents by the comunists of South East Asia.
Re: Winter Soldier: A film for our time
24 Nov 2005
this is just a shout-out to all you chicken hawk tinker toy dipwads playing "veteran" here on BIMC

happy national day of mourning

and we hope you choke on all the pseudo- military vocabulary you pick up watching the History Channel and playing video games throughout this "holiday season"

seriously, Sierra Tango Foxtrot Uniform, weasels, we know none of you have done any real service except maybe in the Coast Guard--interdicting drug boats, and smoking the contents--so why don't you all just give up your little charade, and shove your right-wing bullshit where the sun don't shine
Re: Winter Soldier: A film for our time
24 Nov 2005
Allrighty then.
The chicken hawk
24 Nov 2005
I guess "hey chickem hawk " can't, or does not have the intelligence to, engage in a debate. Just like Hillary, he/she can't win, so just blame it on the "vast right-wing conspiracy". Yes, I do like the History Channel, and yes I did serve in the Marines, 1995 to 2000, re-called October 2001. I participated in Operation "Assured Response" in Liberia, April 1996 while assigned to the 22nd meu (1/6). I also participted in other operations, notably with the Australians in East Timor in the summer and fall of 2000.
No, I'm not a "right wing "zeallot, I tend to be middle of the road. However, coming on here and just bashing bush is nothing but preaching to the chior. I would much rather participate in a debate. I actually voted for Nader in '04 as a protest. YEs, today, I enjoyed Thanksgiving, not the national day of mourning. Be real will you. OK, I'm going to finish off that last piece of pie, or maybe go for a run. Aloha
Re: Winter Soldier: A film for our time
26 Nov 2005
It is interesting to note that the real reasons we got involved in Vietnam was to support the French who were trying to hold on to their empire in the late 40's and 50's. If President Wilson, PM George and Presdient Clemenseau, while forming the League of Nations bothered to listen to people suffering under colonial occupation, the war may have been avoided altogether. Ho Chi Mihn attended the forming of the League in order to free his country, but was rebuked by Western leaders.

Also, during WWII and under the Japanese occupation, Ho Chi Mihn worked closely with the OSS (forerunner of the CIA) to engage in guerrilla warfare against the Japanese and rescue downed pilots.

After WWII, when Vietnam tried to gain its independence once again from the French, Ho Chi Mihn read his "Vietnamese Decleration of Independence" which was almost an exact duplicate of the US's one. Unfortunately, the course if events didn't work out that way and 30 years later there were over 55,000 Americans and over 1 million Vietnamese killed due to failed policy.

I highly suggest that readers check out Neal Sheehan's "A Bright Shining Lie" which gives an excellent history and root causes of Vietnam before and after the American involvement.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.
Re: Winter Soldier: A film for our time
30 Nov 2005
Ignorant statement from an uncaring coward.
American soldiers are under scrutiny every single day. They follow a strict set of ROE that defines exactly what their responses are to any contingency.
Re: Winter Soldier: A film for our time
07 Dec 2005
Check out Jerry Lembcke's "The Spitting Image." Unearths the construction of post-Nam PTSD and the myth of protestors spitting upon combat veterans. Argues these were ways of denying the agency of returning Vietnam vets by categorizing them as "disturbed" or "betrayed."
Support vets, oppose unnecessary wars. Defend America, leave the empire-building to the past.
Re: Winter Soldier: A film for our time
07 Dec 2005
Right on!
Re: Winter Soldier: A film for our time
08 Dec 2005
Spitting on the soldiers returning was a disgrace. Everyone agrees that the 60's and 70's were a great time of change and turmoil but to spit on your fellow countrymen breaks all bounds of humna decency. Kind of like booing and scaring an 11 year old boy in Cambride.
Those that claim it never happened are wrong. Lots of pictures and film footage to look at.

What is this empire building? Roman Empire? Empire Strikes Back?
Acly belial
12 Dec 2005
If you look at the stats, as a whole, Viet Nam veterans were the more successful than any other group of veterans upon their return to society. Despite the name calling , being spat upon, and being stereotyped as psychopaths ( it did make great scripts though for Aaron Spelling''s 70's TV shows), Viet Nam Vets as a whole adjusted better than the vets of other wars. Part of this labeling (ie psychpaths, PTSD, etc) may come from the fact that society was more open in the 1970's and 80's than it was in say the 40's and 50's after WW II. There were plenty of WW II, Koreaa, Civil War, etc. Vets coming home with PTSD. Remember, General Sherman (Civil War) spoke the famous quote that ends with the words... "war is hell".
12 Dec 2005
Maybe it's me, but does anyone else think that the guy in the above picture looks like Bill Clinton ?
Re: Winter Soldier: A film for our time
17 Dec 2005
It is, and hes throwing a pack of rolling papers so he wont have to inhale
Re: Winter Soldier: A film for our time
19 Dec 2005
That's pretty funny...