Paul Rodriguez The Endless City

What if the city renewed itself? What if the people had to derive some kind of tribal life to even begin to survive? What if there was not enough room in the city and many were forced to the byways and highways, always a constant threat to those who dwelt within the city?

The Endless City



By Martin McClellan

A self-published debut (?) novel by Rodriguez, the publisher of The Ruricolist, a blog of essays. I was such a fan of his non-fiction writing, that purchasing the novel was an easy choice, especially for $2.99 (a pittance!).

The easiest comparison for this book would be to Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, and indeed they share some similarities — this is a dark future dangerous to those who travel. But where McCarthy was interested in only the relationship between a father and a son, Rodriguez is interested in the relationship of the hero to the story being told. In some ways, he explores in exposes the cracks in modern storytelling. And, in the end, it is a matter of humanity that brings this book through it’s dark moments.

The city is endless in this book. Modern civilization has collapsed, and a new uneducated populace takes residence in hotels along the highway. To be safe, you must always stay near the highway. They have reformed tribal structures, with their own set of ethics and etiquettes. So to McCarthy add Borges.

The prose is sparse, the reading quick. Rodriguez draws a terrifying world, realized in strong detail. It is the story of the horrors we live through to become the scarred beasts we are. It is the story of moving through the city when the city is devoid of the one thing that brings the city to life: civilization.
Comment |

By Sgt. Christopher Gaynor

Paul Rodriguez’s debut novel The Endless City is dark, rich, and scarier than s***. If this is the future, I hope I don’t live long enough to see it. Modern civilization has collapsed, but remnants of human society do exist in the form of a tribal culture which brutally selects those who are to die. Foragers, Raiders, Traders, `The Blighted’ and Those Below fight to the death or sometimes form alliances to fight a perceived greater threat. Some hotels have survived and even have amenities like power, elevators that work and running water in the rooms, making for some strangely conventional living arrangements in contrast to the prevailing savagery. The central characters emerge after the `clan’ is decimated by an attack. Thus Eks and Ell begin a journey which takes them from the relative safety that they have known onto the dreaded Highway and its known and unknown terrors.
More than anything, I would read this book for its language. This is about as lean as it gets. I read these sentences aloud and am struck by how original and musical they sound.

‘They followed the wall, hour by hour, until it came to an end. The street lights were already going out under the creeping dawn. They stepped back on the Highway in time for their shadows to stretch into paths before them.’

And while with Those Below:

‘Eks listened to Ell and Lam breathe. Once he was used to the sound he began to hear other noises, echoing in from far away, too faint to have a direction -faint, faint bangs and scrapes and thuds, nothing human, the noises all walls make for those who listen by night, all the stranger for sounding here where night would never end.’

Rodriguez is a gifted writer. His sentences are carefully constructed, his prose becoming poetic at times. The Endless City is a complex work, with a lot going on beyond and beneath the fast and exciting main story line. There is humor, horror and hope. This is a ‘dark’ and frightening world and a vision of where we may end. This is an impressive first novel, especially for such a young writer. I hope there are more to come.

The Endless City

Bill Moyers Interviews COL Andrew Bacevich U.S. Army Ret. USMA

Andrew Bacevich served a long time in the Army. He currently teaches history and foreign relations at Boston University. His is a voice that needs to be heard.

I also refer you to the extensive writings of COL Bacevich.

We all have a lot of critical re-thinking to do. COL Bacevich proposes alternatives to endless war. Do give him a listen.

We owe that to our children.


Bill Bell: Leave No Man Behind

Attention Veterans, POW/MIA families and Concerned Citizens: Bill Bell’s book “Leave No man Behind” has been reduced 50%. For only $10 you now have a wonderful opportunity to emphasize the importance of a full accounting for our nation’s missing personnel by presenting both your Senators and Representatives a copy of this iconic book. Election day is fast approaching and National POW/MIA Recognition Day is Friday, September 19, 2014, act now!
Many people have asked me over the years why I became involved in the POW/MIA issue. I wanted to help the families was my answer, which was true then and remains true today. Anyone who spends even an hour with a family would have a hard time not wanting to help. Not only is their pain still palpable, the sheer frustration of not knowing what happened to their father, son, brother, or husband, and worse, being so powerless to solve the mystery , resonates a particular helplessness that any listener would want to comfort. Still, after many meetings and long hours spent studying and researching the issue, it dawned on me that there was another, more subtle, reason that drove me beyond mere outrage at what had happened to many American families. It is the sense of meeting a national commitment, an awareness of honoring those who came before us and who sacrificed everything.

That sense of national honor is personified in Garnett “Bill” Bell, a man who, as the U.S. Government’s top POW/MIA field investigator in Southeast Asia for many years, doggedly pursued the answers to the fate of over twenty-five hundred Americans missing from the Vietnam War. It was his ability to articulate precisely why this quest was so important that compelled me to continue to seek answers. That is why we wrote this book—to help the American people truly grasp the evolution of the POW/MIA issue, and to show whom the real culprits are—the cold hearted rulers of Hanoi. During Bell’s career some three hundred and fifty Americans were recovered and identified; this detailed account of the many trials and tribulations encountered attempting to identify those missing men, as well as the events that ultimately caused him to seek retirement and abandon his official involvement in this noble effort, will help the American people understand the history of the issue, the possible fate of some MIAs, and why this matter continues unresolved.

I first met Bill Bell at the annual National League of POW/MIA Families meeting in July 1994. I was just beginning to work on what later became my first book, Codename Bright Light: the Untold Story of U.S. POW rescue Efforts During the Vietnam War. I had called him shortly after he had retired and moved back to Arkansas from Thailand. After I introduced myself and asked to interview him at the meeting, he graciously accepted and then rather unexpectedly told me to “come on down to Ft. Smith” and stay a few days with him. Surprised by his spontaneous gesture, I politely declined due to work reasons, but inside I was stunned at his desire to help a complete stranger, which was light years from the suspicious activists I had met as I first tried to learn the issue.

Our talk that day eventually grew into a close friendship and close working relationship. In speaking with Bill, over time I developed a fascination with the nuances of a subject on the surface so simple yet so breathtakingly complex. For me, learning the full history of the POW/MIA issue (which in Bell’s view —beyond the moral component—was a matter of national security), was akin to peering behind the curtain, like Dorothy in Wizard of Oz, and discovering unseen powers at work.

Over the years the issue devolved into three camps: a small group of families and activists hardened by frustration and convinced that successive administrations were covering up a horrendous crime—the abandonment of hundreds of American prisoners to the Communists; a larger group of families less suspicious of the accounting effort but desperately wanting an answer, and a bureaucracy often trying to do the right thing , but hamstrung by national policies ill suited to a democratic society’s demands for results. Despite the best intentions, however, often it appeared that some in the bureaucracy sought to control the issue for their own personal agenda, responding in a knee-jerk fashion to the slightest whiff of criticism, some of it justified, some not. At the other end of the spectrum, for a few other Americans, the issue became their Holy Grail, and as with most fanatics, reason and truth played no part in their worldview, only embellished tales and the spun fantasies of con men. The attention of the American public, unable to follow the intricacies, ebbed and flowed like the tide. As time passed or each new hot revelation was explained away, the nation slowly developed “compassion fatigue” and turned away from the anguish.

Bell is in the middle, seeing neither some vast conspiracy to abandon hundreds of American soldiers nor understanding why the truth could be so difficult to accept, that most likely some Americans were kept prisoner by the North Vietnamese after the war, or that they could rapidly account for many missing Americans if they made the political decision to do so.

No doubt this book will rankle some current and former government POW/MIA bureaucrats along with many activists. Both groups want the public to see the issue from their perspective, and they manipulate the data to achieve that context. Much of the still on-going debate revolves around the “live-prisoner” issue. To be clear there is little doubt that most men died in their incident or shortly thereafter. For about half the missing men, witnesses saw the deaths, and battlefield emergencies prevented their compatriots from recovering their remains. Nevertheless, for many others major questions, and when placed within the framework of the well-known Communist Vietnamese efforts to to exploit American POWs for diplomatic concessions, or their remains and personal effects for financial rewards , these questions become deeply disturbing. “Only Hanoi knows,” claimed the bumper sticker from years ago, a phrase more apt than the vast majority of Americans comprehended then or today.

What is most difficult for the newcomer reading this book and listening to the various commentators to understand is that much of the intelligence on the missing men is not black or white, but multiple shades of gray, which in combination with a seemingly implacable foe who controlled the old battlefields and who was determined to use this leverage to extract concessions from from its imperialist enemy, created questions seemingly impervious to American efforts to answer. This “grayness” enables certain people to slant their analysis on the POW/MIA perspective a particular way, claiming selected facts reveal the truth, which of course, is the truth as they want to see it. Plus, a cottage industry peculiar to Southeast Asia of bone hunters seeking rewards and working in a culture where embroidered hearsay is far more prevalent than a Westernized version of truthfulness, have led to years of wild tales and dead-ends. This book is designed to help the American public see through the smoke and mirrors, to understand precisely what occurred and understand the missteps that were made.

This chronicle details the many events surrounding the career of Bill Bell, from his time as a young infantryman going to war in 1965 to his retirement in 1993. It is his memoirs, not an in-depth examination of the POW/MIA issue from a policy level. While the book recounts most of the major actions and organizational changes that influenced the U.S. Government’s handling of the issue, it is written solely from his perspective as a witness to these historical proceedings. His account is designed to amplify the record, to provide one insider’s account, to the extent memory and documentation are able, so that future generations may know and understand his role in the monumental task of recovering our soldiers and civilians who went missing from the conflagration known as the Vietnam War. Without a doubt many other people served with distinction and honor. Their omission reflects not any overarching role by Bell, but are simply far too numerous to mention.

One might reasonably ask, then, who is Bill Bell and why is he significant? What makes his voice unique, his experiences fascinating, his knowledge vital, and his analysis of the issue and the Vietnamese Communist plans so critical? The answer is simply this: for all the people who have worked or toiled in the U.S. Government’s efforts to account for the nation’s missing men in Southeast Asia, Bill Bell is the only government official who has been directly involved in every aspect of the complex issue at each stage of the events that unfolded over the years. Only someone with Bell’s dogged perseverance and his encyclopedic knowledge of the Vietnamese Communists , combined with his fluency in the various regional languages, could hope to penetrate the system the Communists had created to essentially milk a humanitarian effort for revenue to support themselves. Patience and persistence, traits more often associated with Asian mentality than the go-getting Americans, along with Sun Tzu’s famous dictum to know one’s enemy, allowed Bill Bell the opportunity to get close to the heart of the mystery. In particular, Bell’s candor and unflinching honesty won him an extraordinary trust among the families, a rarity for a government official working in the issue. While the family organizations to protect their interests, as a government official in a politically sensitive position, it was a trait that did not always endear him to his superiors.

Perhaps to give the reader a sense of the families’ anguish, to comprehend a man like Bell to sacrifice so much is an almost Don Quixoteesque pursuit of the truth, let me provide what was for me what was an epiphany into the families’ sorrow. On the day I was to meet Bell at the hotel where the National League of Families was holding their annual get-together, I dropped off my bags in my room. Realizing I left my notebook in my car in the basement-parking garage, I rode the elevator back down to retrieve it . On the way back up, the car stopped at the lobby. As the door opened, an elderly couple tried to enter. Seeing they were straining with a large suitcase, I offered to assist them, which the lady quietly accepted. They walked inside, each taking a spot on opposite sides of me. As the door closed on the three of us, I spotted a badge on the woman’s jacket. Not clearly reading the text, I asked her “what brings you here?” The woman said nothing. She looked away from me, her gaze drifting down to the floor. In a soft voice from the other side of the car, her husband’s voice answered: “Our son.”

As I turned to look at him, it was then that I could clearly read the badge on his shirt—“National League of POW/MIA Families.” I could hear the strain in his voice, an emotion that clipped off further words, as if he wanted to say something more, but was unable to explain to a complete stranger thirty years of anguish over a missing child, to make me understand why they kept coming to a POW/MIA Family meeting, desperate for answers, when surely there was no hope of their son being alive. Nothing more was said. The car went up five and they got off. I felt foolish for asking a seemingly innocent question: I wish I could have said something, but like them, I, too, was helpless. I saw them at subsequent meetings, but I never spoke to them again. I doubt they would even remember me, but I never forgot them.

Bill Bell tried desperately, as hard as any man can over a period of many years, to find the answer to what happened to the son of those grieving parents, and the sons and brothers and husbands of many other American families. From his days as a young infantryman on covert missions into enemy areas in the Central Highlands, to receiving the American POWs as part of “Operation Homecoming,” to assisting with the evacuation of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon until the morning of April 30, 1975, one of the last Americans to get into a waiting helicopter as the North Vietnamese Army tanks rolled into the defeated city, to slogging his way for almost a decade visiting forlorn, malaria-ridden camps to interview hapless refugees, to his return as the first U.S. Government representative assigned to Vietnam as Chief of the U.S. POW/MIA office, to his televised testimony in front of the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs where Bell told Congress, as the government’s top POW/MIA expert , that he believed the Communists had held man prisoner after the formal release, Bell saw it all.

In human terns, however, despite his incredible experiences, for him it was not without cost. He learned first-hand the pain of those families, in a way none of us ever want to experience, when he lost his own wife and son in the crash of an American plane evacuating Vietnamese orphans and American dependents on April 4, 1975. No doubt his personality unconsciously reflects the struggles and suffering of over 25 years of dealing with a cunning and ruthless enemy, who, despite today’s fashionable rhetoric about healing the past, remain committed to monopolizing Vietnam’s political power. Still, despite his loss and the almost insurmountable difficulties of trying to get answers from a foe determined not to provide them, Bell persevered, not only for the POW/MIA families, but also for America. In a sense, it was for all our families, but the cost of persistence is high, and Bill Bell has paid a full measure.

This is his story.

Bad news Bill! I received your book today, and, already, I can’t put it down. Of course, that could be considered as good news, in some ways. Thank you for writing it.

“There is much more to the POW/MIA issue than riding around on a bike, wearing black leather and shouting “Bring ‘em home”! Bill Bell’s book “Leave No Man Behind” is the “first step” any American should take in fully understanding the nuances, the heretofore hidden incidents and complex situations of the long American War in Vietnam, and the plight of thousands of America’s still-unreturned veterans. There are many books available but this is the first priority for vets. Read it and pass it on to as many other vets as possible in order to lay bare the facts and let the facts speak for themselves. How we got there in the first place, why we stayed so long and whether or not we vets were able to accomplish our mission. Do yourself a favor, order this great book. You will soon agree that having done so is one of the wisest moves you ever made. For researchers, this book should be considered “PTSD 101”. Concerning research in compiling this great book you will be amazed when you visit the Vietnam Center Archives, Texas Tech University, Bill Bell Collection. (  ). This is one of the nation’s premier collections on the American War in Vietnam and graciously donated by Bill”.

Mike DePaulo, Vietnam vet, USMC, National Service Officer, Rolling Thunder Inc.

5.0 out of 5 stars Americans in Vietnam, February 7, 2007

This review is from: Leave No Man Behind: Bill Bell and the Search for American POW/MIAs from the Vietnam 5.0 out of 5 stars absolutely necessary, April 27, 2013

By joefieldsalaska

This review is from: Leave No Man Behind: Bill Bell and the Search for American POW/MIAs from the Vietnam War (Semihardback)

Very simply, if you have not read this book, even if you spent years in Vietnam as I did, you don’t know anything about the Vietnam War. Buy it, read it, give it to everyone you know who gives a damn about truth. Should be required reading for every college and university.

Just took a week off to Thailand and finished your book on the beach. Sorry it took so long. Great read, amazing book, even more amazing story, truly one for the ages… Thanks so much for all you did and gave to the country and the missing. Your service is truly humbling… Just seeing all the work you guys were doing, your grasp of the situation on the ground, the games the communists were playing, how you were able to give it back to them and how they let it all unravel, the hash house harrier incident, the “fun” comment, the shredding of those files… I wanted to cry… I was on the flight back last night literally almost jumping out of me seat I was so hopping mad. It looks as though not much has changed unfortunately. I hear the same things about them when in Cambodia and elsewhere doing stories. I have more stuff in the works. I’d love to chat with you about it all sometime. Again, thanks so much for reaching out to me all those months ago and sending me your book. You filled in a lot of blanks for me and I feel like I “get it” now. I am going to Vietnam later this year. I feel a lot more prepared. Thanks so much Bill, for everything. Much respect.

Matthew M. Burke
Staff Writer
Stars and Stripes
Sasebo and Iwakuni (Japan) Bureau

I have began reading your book. It is amazing. I thought I’d read enough to be kind of proficient in the POW/MIA issue, but in just reading the first couple of chapters I realize I don’t know jack. But I have talked to the parents of several of those still unaccounted, and looked into their eyes. And I do know one thing – I will do what I can to give them some type of closure, and let them know that they are not alone in missing their loved ones!
Your book is very educational, maybe a little to technical for the casual reader but should be required reading for anyone interested in this issue.
I thank you for the book, and I especially thank you for all you do and have done. You are a true American hero in my eyes! THANK YOU BILL!!!
In Brotherhood,

Greg Beck
President-VVA Texarkana, TX;

On Monday, January 20, 2014 8:55 AM, Zippo Smith
There is no American on earth who knows the official side of the POW/MIA issue better than Bill Bell.

In the eyes of those who use the POW issue for political advantage and then cast it aside like some old campaign placard Bill committed an unforgivable bureaucratic sin much to their horror; HE TOLD THE TRUTH!!!!

Read Bill Bell’s book and heed his words on how a great nation can undermine it’s moral underpinnings by assigning the least of warriors to decide life and death and unobserved,the mental/physical state, of those suffering in enemy hands,from an air-conditioned office in the USA.


Major Mark A. Smith,USA,Retired



It amazes me the attention to detail and the “recall” of names, incidents, etc that you have. This book is sure eye-opening for the lay person!

My hubby has mentioned several skirmishes from the war, but not in the detail you’ve outlined in your book! I hate putting it down!

Gypsy (Betsy)

Available for $10.00.

or from: Ebay at (Note: Effective immediately: Until supplies are depleted, special 50%

discount to all Veterans and POW/MIA family members)

Rita Louise Kornfeld: Vittoria

I am delighted to announce Front Porch History’s publication of Vittoria by Rita Louise Kornfeld.

Vittoria is an historical novel that takes you from a remote mountain top in Italy to teeming New York City. It is the story of Vittoria, of Alfonsina; of passion; of fear; of betrayal; of the the power of unconditional love. In her debut novel, Ms. Kornfeld spins us back in time with the power of her words; with the intensity of her story; with her love of history. It is a timeless tale of women surviving in a world that is still so difficult for so many. It is the story of choices made; choices lived with; choices that shape families.

Rita Kornfeld has served her community as an RN for 46 years in medical surgery, in the ICU, the emergency room and psychiatric department. With a degree in anthropology and and enduring love of history, Ms. Kornfeld is sharing those interests in history and roots in her beautiful novel, Vittoria and her current work in progress, Yussel. She is a native and life long New Yorker, devoted Staten Islander, the granddaughter of Italian immigrants, three of whom came through Ellis Island. Her quest for authenticity led her to drive from Alaska to mid-Mexico; to sleep in a tent at the foot of a glacier; to live in a cabin in the woods in Alaska with her dog, Oscar. She abides with her husband.

Mrs. Kornfeld has responded to interview questions concerning her writing and I am pleased to share her thoughts with you.

Remy: Why is reading history so important to you?
Rita: The simple answer is I love good stories and “truth is stranger than fiction.”  The more complicated reasons are as follows:
I have always loved history, not kings and queens but SOCIAL history, the plight of the common man.  I’ve always had a soft spot for the underdog . It actually makes me angry to see, hear, read about injustice.  History tells us who we are, where we have been, and where we are going.  It tells us  the genesis of hate–“The sins of the father are visited on the children” sort of thing.  Reading history makes me understand that we are neither better nor worse than our ancestors. Different cultures fascinate me.  I took a degree in anthropology when in my ’40s.  I’m interested in how peoples adjust to their environment.  I.E. that the Inuit shared their wives with strangers not because they were free with their women but because it was a way of the husband to safeguard his family.  The idea being that if the husband was killed while hunting in the perilous arctic the stranger would be then be responsible to care for his family.
Remy: How have you applied your study and reading of history to your writing?
Rita: I don’t really how I applied it to my writing.  I write about “cause and effect.’ Nothing happens in a vacuum.  How what our ancestors do/did effects who we are even years later.  I.E. if a man abused his children 90% chance his children will  abuse theirs.
I’ve always been an avid reader, but I didn’t know I loved to write until I had to write papers in an college English class.  Once I started I couldn’t stop–and haven’t.
When I started writing Vittoria I didn’t have anything “important:” in mind to impart to  the reader.  Vittoria was just fun to write. She’s everything I am not!  But as the characters began to evolve, I realized the theme was “Beauty is only skin deep.”  Especially in the USA everything seems to be outward beauty.  All of our movies have beauty queens and super handsome men.  So superficial.  I wanted to impart  that love–real love, not lust–is much deeper.  Outward beauty does not translate into inner beauty.. And vice-versa a person becomes outwardly beautiful when he has inner beauty. What’s important is life is goodness.
Ms. Kornfeld’s first literary effort is a sound story with enough hills and dales to keep you deftly engaged, wanting more and an ending that satisfies one’s sense of justice, So sit back and enjoy the pasta, espresso, and biscotti as well as the dynamics of a matriarchal Italian family. “Vittoria” is sure to please. Above all the lesson learned is this: Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves, as the revenge can hurt the seeker as much as the victim. Kudos to Ms. Kornfeld for her first new novel and hopefully one of more to follow.”
– Rick DiCanio
Out of darkness of betrayal and abuse, unexpected love and healing may be found. While some may choose to abide in greed and negativity, others, like the lovely Alfonsina, turn pain into joy; betrayal into love. My work of putting broken children of war and catastrophes back together, bears a strong likeness to the intertwined stories of Vittoria’s and Alfonsina’ s journies from the mountains of Italy to the tenements and abodes of the wealthy in New York. The tale of Vitorria and Alfonsina leaves the readers unwilling to put the story down as they find that by helping another you inhale a calm, a peace and come to find you have healed your shatter self.”
– Elissa Montanti, author of I’ll Stand by You and founder of the Global Medical Relief Fund (GMRF)



Review Ann Jones They Were Soldiers

When they were children, we wrapped bumpers about the inside edges of their cribs;
put locks on doors and cabinets and blocked stairways; we bought car seats, and endlessly held small hands. The years passed—we prayed when they started driving; we stayed up late nights waiting for them to come home safely. If they were lucky; if we could be there for them; if we chose to be there for them. If they were raised in places where fear, poverty, neglect were not their “invisible” but constant and too often too visible non-friends.

And then, and then we sent them to war, both our young men and our young women.
Was it their choice to sign up? Maybe, and maybe it was for economic opportunity, for promised education, for a hundred others reasons and yes, promises of recruiters.
Then the training came—the shaved head, the programming, the no thinking for yourself, follow orders—do what you are told without question for the good of the uniform, for the good of the unit, for the good of the country.

Yet no one, no training, no ideal of glory can train anyone for reality of war; for the constant on fear, unknown lurking threat of annihilation, powerlessness with bombs, dead comrades in arms splattered about or on you. It has been training to kill or be killed. It undoes all previous training in the reality of kill or be killed. Horrors happen; massacres happen; atrocities happen on both sides and the soldiers who remain alive have to live with them. They may come home whole in body; they may come home without arms/legs/arms and legs; personal body parts; traumatic brain injury; spinal injury; mental, spiritual, psychological injury.

They get battlefield care for injury; they are airlifted to hospitals for often multiple surgeries; they come back to VA facilities, families trying to help them, ill equipped to help them. They come back to long, long waiting lists for the VA.

They come home to nightmares, to not being able to relate to loved ones who have no idea of what they have known, of what they live with.

They come from a misogynist organization where rape of both sexes is swept under paperwork, bureaucracy, and basic keep it quiet for the good of the unit attitudes.

They come home changed forever, traumatized. While in service there is the “band of brothers” dependency, even though it does not apply to military rape by those who should have your back. When they come home, that band is disbursed; that stay alive support is not there, and those who have not been there, those who don’t know, are not equipped to help.

Who are these soldiers? Why are they in the military? Ms. Jones points out with brutal clarity that many are from impoverished families; from areas where drive by shootings are the norm; from areas where the young know no hope of “getting out” without joining the military. They are also from families where generations have served; who grow up with the idea of service. And yet, when one young person says he felt he had a better chance of not getting killed in Afghanistan than he did in his own neighborhood, you know we have a problem at a time when our public schools are declining, funding cuts, leaving less chance of a decent life. At a time when Congressman Waxman called the corporate profits from these wars “the largest war profiteering in history”; while third country nationals are imported into virtual slavery to do the chores of supporting an army, we have a serious problem as soldiers with low pay are surrounded by the ill-defined responsibilities of private contractors making much bigger pay checks.

The Army also lowered qualifications for joining to fill in the ranks and those inductees include many with serious criminal records. They go to find a future in the throes of death and destruction. These are the members of the band of brothers and sisters who serve—who come home in transport containers which we used to call less euphemistically body bags; who come home minus arms, legs, personal parts; who come home with TBI; who come home with spinal injuries; who come home with ruptured hearts, minds, and souls.

Ms. Jones tells you their real story from the front lines—sharing their time on forward bases, on foreign soil, in wars they are told are endless. These are their stories and you need, as a citizen of this country, as a citizen of the world, and you need to face their reality—up close and personal with compassion, and deep, deep thought about alternatives. Too long have we refused to face the truths she so intensely spells out for us.

Is there a solution to all this? Yes, facing reality; facing the horrid, ugly, destructive force of war and choosing otherwise. There is choosing to find another way that builds lives, respects life and the planet; a way that eliminates from our cliched use of words, ‘shall not have died in vain’ and replaces it with ‘led a full, joyful, and productive life.’

There is choosing to love our young enough to not send them into the evil jaws of the insatiable gods of war.

As always, all is in the choices.

IN COUNTRY Free showing 6 p.m.Tues, August 19th, Vashon Theatre

Awarded major grants from Sundance (Film Festival) Institute and DOK Incubator, this highly acclaimed documentary film links veterans of all the wars from Vietnam to Iraq/Afghanistan and takes the audience on a dramatic journey of discovery. Co-Director/Producer Mike Attie will attend to introduce his film and take questions after the show. IN COUNTRY is from the young award winning team of Mike Attie, Meghan O’Hara (Academy Award Nominee) and Lindsay Utz (editor of award winning “BULLY”). This is an important event for the Vashon community and for Veterans of all wars and their families.  This screening is a GreenTech Night*, hosted by Island GreenTech and the Vashon Theatre and sponsored by American Legion Post 159, Vashon.
*GreenTech Nights are hosted by Island GreenTech and Vashon Theatre for the education, benefit and enjoyment of the Vashon community. Neither GreenTech nor Vashon Theatre have approved, authorized or sponsored the program content and are not associated or affiliated with the sponsoring organization.
 Thank you for your support.
Former Sgt. Christopher Gaynor

Review Sarah L Blum Women Under Fire Abuse in the Military

Rape is rape, no matter where it is, and should be treated as such by the chain of command, June 27, 2014

Gulf War Era: She was raped by 17 brothers in arms and the doc told her that made her a nymphomaniac and he could get her a discharge.

WWII:Rape. “If you tell anyone who did this to you, we will all rape you.”

Another, and thousands of others, were told to forget it for the good of the service, and their own careers.
The victims were/are told this, despite the rape, the beatings, being bloodied, having had chemicals poured on them to cover the evidence—the list goes on and on right to the help that should be there, is not there. In so many instances rape, abuse are denied; promotions denied; threats, and more beatings and ostracism measured out—physically, psychologically, and spiritually. And murder is suspected in some cases by parents not getting answers.

Another, and thousands of others, did file complaints, were ostracized; and where exactly did the paperwork from their files go, and who removed them under whose orders?

Raped, gang raped, beaten, bloodied—women who wanted to serve their country; women who thought their male counterparts had their backs; women who thought they could trust command and found out all those trust issues were founded on false grounds.

Is this how these men were raised? Is this how chain of command works: follow orders; only for the good of the reputation of the service; rape is okay, enjoy committing it, only the victims will suffer—for life—with illnesses, post-traumatic stress, issues of self-worth, and betrayal of infinite scope. And a huge possibility of dishonorable discharge with, of course, no benefits.

How will these men given carte blanche to rape function when back in the world? How will these men treat their families, function in their communities? Is there an off switch when they go back in the world? Check out the statistics that Ms. Blum provides for you
How will their victims function back in the world, often discharged, disgraced, without benefits, with a myriad of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual problems?

Where is Command; where is Congress, where is the White House that this atrocity goes on and on and on?

Where is justice for recruiters when they promise the world, promise careers and education of choice—all empty promises, shattered dreams, only to be backed up with misogyny, racism, and rape?

Something is deeply, inherently wrong in the system that allows, that perpetuates, this.

She, a collective she, asked to serve her country; she did not ask for this.

Ms. Blum’s Women Under Fire Abuse in the Military is a wake up call, a copy of which should be sent to the White House, to all Senators and Representatives; copies should be sent to all the military academies where this could be addressed before active service, where rapes are becoming more common even before commissions are awarded. Copies of this book should be in the hands of every women’s group; in every library reading group; available all over until the swell of indignation washes over D.C. with such outrage that forces positive action; that forces retribution to offenders, to those in command who bury it for the “good of the service”because it as far from the good of the service as you can get.

This rape culture covers all branches of the military, and yes, that includes the Coast Guard.

Oh yes, just to clarify that not only women are victims of sexual assault, the Pentagon study noted by Ms. Blum found that between 2002 and 2003 there were over 2,000 sexual assaults on men.

This is a very difficult book to read as the horror of each of these women who tells these stories overwhelms. Even Ms. Blum acknowledges that: suggests if you cannot bear the weight of each personal story, read one from each chapter, go on to what you can do about this horrific injustice.

Ms. Blum provides symptoms of Military Sexual Trauma and of Post Traumatic Stress so those of you close to women who are serving, or have served, may be made aware of what to look for.

At a time when women’s rights to their own bodies are being challenged by politicians who feel they know what every woman should think about and do about their own bodies, it is imperative that all women and men—men who feel perfectly entitled to control of their maleness—should take a proactive stand for both civilian and military women. If such negative behavior is swept under the rug in the military such thinking must needs transfer to civilian life and pose threats to both families and women in general.

When a woman in the service says that the military is perfect for the rapist as he is not punished, you know we have a problem, a very serious problem that needs national attention and correction. Ms. Blum offers guidelines on how to rectify this horrid situation. We all need to attend to them.

At a time when we are FINALLY addressing what is wrong with the VA, we must also address this rampaging violation of our women who try to serve their country. To do less, to do less, is simply unacceptable. Start here, today with Ms. Blum’s book; find the righteous indignation you need to be pro-active in saying THIS MUST BE STOPPED NOW holding those who permit it responsible and demanding they pay the price for allowing it. Demand change of all that needs to be changed in the chain of command to end this travesty; demand the services women who have been violated be made available to them. Ms. Blum spells it all out. Read, learn, act. And teach your sons well.