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V.23 No.22 | 5/29/2014
The Inclusive Memorial honors all who “served in silence.”
Eric Williams ericwphoto.com

Feature

Silent No More

A new monument honors LGBT veterans

Ty Bannerman bears witness to a monument honoring LGBT veterans and “all who served in silence.”

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From the Foxhole

The Rapid Ride comes to EDo

I was standing up on the Redline coming west down Central by the far back exit when a loud voice snarled: “Is there some reason why your ass is in the back of my neck?!”

If you’ve ever ridden the bus in Albuquerque, you’ve shared the ride with numerous veterans, some better off than others, but most of them pretty much winging it.

You can see them with their canes and their bad knees and oxygen tanks. Some will stare you down. Some avoid eye contact altogether. A lot of them wear hats festooned with trinkets. Some wear bits and pieces of old uniforms.

The veterans that are the worst off appear homeless.

At the sound of the voice behind me, I leapt forward in a panic, unsure of what was happening, prepared to defend myself.

It turned out that I had mistaken a man’s neck for sections of plexiglass I often lean against to keep my balance.

As soon as I caught a look at his scowling mouth, his unkempt hair and repaired glasses (before I even took stock of his tattered camouflage pants), I knew who I was dealing with. Someone that had ridden in troop transports and cattle cars, someone who had slugged through mud and shit. Someone who had come unglued. Given his thinning hair I guessed Vietnam.

Here he was on the Rapid Ride, purposefully avoiding the Local 66 Bus because it was too much like a cattle car—too crowded, too loud, too riddled with despair—and some thoughtless asshole sits on his neck.

Seeing all this in an instant, feeling the strain of his madness in an instant—the impatience, the frustration, the nagging anger and rage—I made a vigorous apology and shifted my position.

Recently the City of Albuquerque has opened a new Rapid Ride stop in the heart of “EDo” at Central and Edith. It is currently operating on a trial basis. It saves me having to walk through the tunnel under the railroad tracks to the Alvarado Transportation Center. This tunnel is no joy to walk through. It smells like piss and shit, frequently has bodies strewn through it, and drivers feel compelled to honk their horns as they enter it as some sort of homage to the downtown. So you can understand why I prefer Central and Edith.

When we reached the new stop, I touched the veteran on the shoulder and bent down. He probably hadn’t been touched in years.

“I’m a veteran, too,” I whispered, “I understand.”

Without turning in his seat or looking up, he nodded his head and briefly touched my hand.

I got off the bus.

Alex Escué Limkin served in the U.S. Army for 15 years, including a tour in Iraq from 2004 to 2005. He documents his experience as an Iraq veteran at warriorswithwesthusing.org.
News

The Daily Word in friends in high places, freedom of (adult) speech and Homer's fave

Former Liberian president Charles Taylor was sentenced to 50 years in prison for “heinous and brutal” war crimes.

The seemingly endless GOP presidential nomination season ends with Mitt as the last one standing. He celebrates with Donald Trump.

Governor Susana Martinez is scheduled to return from California today after attending private PAC fundraisers. Susana PAC has almost a million dollars in its coffers, which the guv aims to use in key state legislative races.

With a week left to go before the primary election, experts are projecting low turnout. Get out and vote!

Rest In Peace, (country music legend) Doc Watson.

Wikileaks’ Julian Assange still has a little time left to fight Swedish extradition charges, although he lost his latest appeal.

In a split decision, the state Supreme Court upheld the Guild Cinema's conviction for violating a city ordinance prohibiting adult film screenings, which the theater argues infringed on free speech rights.

War veterans make stops in New Mexico as they bike across the country to raise awareness about many serious issues that face returning service members.

Two asteroids hurtled past Earth on Monday and Tuesday. Some scientists (and billionares) see a missed opportunity to troll for valuable minerals.

Roger Federer broke grand slam records with his most recent win at the French Open, while Novak Djokovic successfully battled into the third round.

Notorious cult leader and mass murderer Charles Manson could have ties to unsolved cases in the L.A. area.

Mark your calendars! Friday is national Donut Day.

News

Soldiers planting seeds

Deryle Perryman (left) and Moisés González
Moisés González
Deryle Perryman (left) and Moisés González

In this week’s From the Foxhole column, Iraq War veteran Alex Limkin writes of his surprise in learning that older vets are returning to Vietnam to right wrongs: They’re replanting the jungle, disarming bombs, and building houses along the Mekong.

“Soldiers are always trying to make peace with themselves, with their conscience,” Limkin writes. Over the course of the Vietnam War, about 13 percent of the country’s population was killed.

Local filmmakers Moisés González and Deryle Perryman would like to document the efforts of the Vietnam veterans. They’re using Kickstarter to gather the funding. They’ve attained more than $18,000 of their $25,000 goal. If they don’t pull in the full amount over the next four days, they’ll get none of the cash, because that’s how Kickstarter works. Donate here.

“We find ourselves today embroiled in a constant state of war,” González writes on the Kickstarter page. “It's easy to talk about these matters in academic terms, to spout opinions, make political points, but the reality is manifested in young men (and now young women) who carry the war with them for the rest of their lives.”

V.21 No.14 | 4/5/2012
Deryle Perryman (left) and Moisés González
Moisés González

From the Foxhole

Same Same, But Different

Returning to Vietnam

Veterans return to Vietnam to right wrongs and find peace.

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opinion

18 veterans commit suicide each day

That’s the startling opener to Alex Limkin’s column “Flashes of Light,” which is all about staying alive after war.

Limkin, an Iraq War veteran, took a trip with Outward Bound. The wilderness organization leads vets through the backcountry for free. It’s part of an effort to help people cope with post-traumatic stress.

Folks can apply here.

V.21 No.10 | 3/8/2012

From the Foxhole

Flashes of Light

Staying alive after war

An average of 18 veterans commit suicide each day. The source for this statistic is not some obscure group with an anti-war agenda but an organization that probably knows something about the rate at which veterans are killing themselves—the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

[ more >> ] [ permalink ]

V.21 No.2 | 1/12/2012

Council Watch

100 Birthday Spankings for New Mexico

President William H. Taft signed the proclamation declaring New Mexico the 47th state on Jan. 6, 1912.

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news

The Daily Word: Geronimo, heroin, therapy kangaroo

Geronimo's great-grandson objects to bin Laden's codename.

How did they find bin Ladin?

House approves antiabortion package.

A lot of heroin in Albuquerque ($300K sold daily), says the Sheriff's Office.

"Seal Team 6, a unit so secretive that the White House and the Defense Department do not directly acknowledge its existence."

PRC investigates whether the gas company broke any rules during the cold snap.

Intel's air permit has been updated in spite of neighbors' health complaints.

The AP won't cover today's GOP presidential primary debate because of restrictions placed on the press by sponsors FOX News and the South Carolina Republican Party.

Pelosi wants more transparency in fraking.

Last WWI vet dies. He was 110.

Obama's mom.

Things are getting better, so Glenn Beck became irrelevant, argues WaPo columnist.

Therapy kangaroo.

V.20 No.6 | 2/10/2011
Eric Williams ericwphoto.com

Veterans' Affairs

Sunday by the Big Screen

As Christina Aguilera began to stumble through the national anthem before Sunday’s Super Bowl, nobody in the SCI stood up.

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V.20 No.2 | 1/13/2011
Jonelle Ellis and her brother, Kenneth Ellis III, who was killed a year ago by Albuquerque police
Courtesy of the Ellis family

News Feature

An Army of One

Veteran’s sister challenges law enforcement’s PTSD policies

Jonelle Ellis hasn’t done much public speaking. She's never been involved in politics. But for the last six months or so, she's helped create a bill and convinced legislators in Santa Fe to carry it.

[ more >> ] [ permalink ]

news

Marine walks across the country barefoot

Ron Zaleski
Ron Zaleski

Today is day 220 of Ron Zalski’s journey across the country. Without shoes, he’s traveled about 2,000 miles. He has another 1,000 to go.

Zaleski is 58 and a grandfather. He left Massachusetts in June. His long journey is intended to bring attention to the high suicide rate of veterans, particularly those who come home from Iraq and Afghanistan. He’s been wearing a sandwich board as he walks alongside America’s roadways. It says “18 vets a day commit suicide.”

Today, he’ll be speaking at the New Mexico Veterans’ Integration Center in Albuquerque (13032 Central SE, near Tramway). And then he’ll keep on walking.

He’s collecting signatures on a petition demanding mandatory counseling for members of the military. He’d like to present them to President Obama on Veteran’s Day in 2011. You can sign the petition electronically at thelongwalkhome.org.

news

The Daily Word 11.11.10: R.I.P. Dino De Laurentiis, Gov. Martinez, Bernie Madoff’s boxers

Today is Veterans Day, and veterans make up 20 percent of our homeless population.

Brain-damaged troops are often re-deployed.

Help homeless female veterans tonight at Andaluz.

A Pentagon study concludes that there’s little risk in ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Six more medical marijuana producers approved by the Department of Health.

Martinez says she’ll fire political appointees shifting into civil service jobs.

And she’ll sell the state’s jet, even if she has to do it at a loss. (Also, Heather Wilson is heading up her transition team.)

APS won’t ask students about their immigration status.

Bed bugs back in Burque.

Peggy of Maryland becomes king of a village in Ghana.

Marilyn Monroe’s stuffing recipe.

Dino De Laurentiis died. R.I.P., scary little film producer.

L.A.’s Hollywood eating club. Horse tacos come up.

Be a part of history. Buy Bernie Madoff’s boxers Saturday.

news

Ward 54

Estimates suggest the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan will produce more than 1 million veterans.

In this week’s news section, I highlighted the lack of media coverage on veteran’s issues. I spoke with local members of Iraq Veterans Against the War in January after Kenneth Ellis III, who was being treated at the VA Medical Center for PTSD, was killed by Albuquerque police. He was pulled over for bad plates, and stepped out of the car with a gun to his head.

Romeo Rocha, a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, said he hoped Ellis’ death would give PTSD more media attention. "It's still showing up, but it's not making headlines anymore,” he told the Alibi in January.

Even if American media isn’t focused on the issue right now, an Italian documentary at the Venice Film Festival follows three veterans who served in Iraq and how they were treated by the military. It’s called Ward 54, so named for the psychiatric ward of Walter Reed Army Medical Center. In 2005, Mark Benjamin penned a piece for Salon.com that shined a light on the hospital’s neglect of PTSD patients.

Benjamin spoke of the substandard care for mental disorders caused by the war in a “Democracy Now!” interview:

“... the entire time that they’re at Walter Reed, the Army seems to be more bent on trying to determine that their problems were not, in fact, caused by the war and that, in fact, these soldiers were just crazy of their own accord.”

Though, as the AP story on Ward 54 points out, a report to Congress last month shows that these wars have produced significantly high rates of suicides for the U.S. military. More than 1,100 service members killed themselves between 2005 and 2009. The suicide rate is only going up in 2010.

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