Coffins, Photographs and the families rights

ParentsZone has always been fiercely apolitical, and will remain so. I don’t personally feel this is a totally political action or that it is strictly partisan.  This hits ALL of the military family equally, and there are a lot of questions that we are all asking.   The answers are not easy to find.  With this caveat:

As you may have read, the Secretary of Defense is reviewing the policy of taking photographs of coffins of the recently fallen soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan arriving at Dover AFB. This is one of those subjects that makes those of us who have family members serving – think, twitch and wonder what would we do.

As Andi on SpouseBuzz said – we plan funerals, in our heads. Yes, I’ve planned my husband’s  (with no help from him, other than a request for Dixie played by bagpipes).  I planned my son’s too.  (the music for that one was difficult too)  I haven’t had to use those plans…and I haven’t thought about the media, other than to hope they will show some respect. That, unfortunately, isn’t what has happened at many funerals. I went to nine funerals last deployment, and the media held back – it could have been that Midwestern reticence, but I’ll figure it was the Patriot Guard!

So how do I feel about it? I don’t honestly know. I’ve read other blogs about it, I’ve always thought that maybe the other 99% of the US population should see the true cost of the war; not just the money, but the lives – the lives lost, the lives shattered, the lives of the children losing a parent, the parent losing a child,  the lives of the friends who mourn. But those same families and friends have the right to mourn in private, to survive the pain without cameras in their faces.

How do I feel? Confused. I know that I understand the families’ point of view that don’t want the pictures taken, I know I understand those that say these coffins, when they arrive, don’t have names on them that can be seen by photographers, that no-one is saying that they want to take pictures of widows and parents receiving the coffins, but is this the slippery slope we hear so much about? If we allow a photograph of a coffin on a plane floor, does that mean we will allow a picture of a woman kissing the coffin, of a child hugging the coffin holding her daddy?

And I want Secretary Gates to ask us. Not the Generals, not the under secretary of whatever, ask us. We are the ones who this will affect, we are the ones who live with this possibility. Please, tell me what you think.

LAW

From the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs – Military Family Appreciation Week

Chairman Notes Military Family Appreciation Week

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 20, 2008 – Military Family Appreciation Week begins
tomorrow, and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff, issued a message today noting the observance.Here is the text of the chairman’s message:

“This
month, as we celebrate our blessings, and give thanks for our freedom
to enjoy them, we take great pride in honoring November 21-28, 2008 as
Military Family Appreciation Week.

“Families serve just as their
uniformed service members do. And the military family has rarely faced
as many challenges as our families do today. After seven years of war,
hundreds of thousands of families have served through multiple
deployments in support of operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring
Freedom, as well as many other locations throughout the globe.

“But
the love and support of our military families do more than allow us to
serve abroad. Our families serve at the very center of American
society. They are the bedrock of a free republic which provides for a
common defense – and their commitment to the values of hard work,
self-sacrifice, and moral virtue is a source of great pride and
inspiration for us all.

“And, in this service, some families
have suffered great loss – the kind of heart-wrenching loss that echoes
for generations. We as a Nation owe the families of the wounded, and
the fallen, a lifetime of gratitude and respect for a debt which we can
never fully repay.

“On behalf of my family and those of the
Joint Chiefs, to all our military families, past and present, we thank
you for your service, your sacrifice, and your love. You truly are a
wellspring of our Nation’s honor, courage, and strength. With you by
our side, we accomplish far more than we ever could alone.”

Respectfully,

M.G. MULLEN
Admiral, U.S. Navy

A new PSA campaign for Veterans.

From Mamaw – an announcement.

******

We’re Making History Today

I want to share something very exciting with you.

Today, IAVA is launching a ground-breaking Public Service Announcement (PSA) campaign with the Ad Council. This historic, multi-year, national effort is aimed at easing the transition for veterans returning home from combat.

Even if you’re not familiar with the Ad Council, you know their work. They have been behind some of our country’s most iconic PSA campaigns, including Smokey the Bear, “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk”, and “A Mind is A Terrible Thing to Waste”. Now, they’ve teamed up with IAVA to create the largest campaign to date focused on veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

And at the center of this campaign is a new private social network, exclusively for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, at CommunityOfVeterans.org.

Please help us spread the word about this historic campaign. Forward this email to your friends and family members, and tell the veterans in your life to check out CommunityofVeterans.org.

Together, we have the potential to dramatically improve the lives of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and their families nationwide.

Thank you for standing with us, and Happy Veterans Day.

An Important Survey – for Warrior Care Month

November 5, 2008 · Filed Under LAW, Military News, Military Parents, Parents News · 1 Comment 

(Hat tip – Andi at SpouseBuzz)

This is a VERY important Survey  – which is designed to try to get real, honest assessments of the programs for wounded, ill or injured servicemembers – and it’s ANONYMOUS!  there is one for the servicemember and one for the family – which includes Parents!

WASHINGTON, Nov. 4, 2008 – As the Defense Department observes November as Warrior Care Month, officials have extended to Nov. 28 the deadline for wounded, ill and injured servicemembers and their families to respond to a survey designed to assess the programs and services they receive.

Dr. S. Ward Casscells, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, said the extension resulted from overwhelming response.

Two Military Health System questionnaires, one for servicemembers and another for their family members, solicit feedback about satisfaction with the care and services provided. All responses to the online surveys are anonymous to encourage honest assessments, officials said.

The survey is HERE.

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