From Vietnam Veterans Against the War, http://www.vvaw.org/commentary/?id=885
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June 20, 2008
I'm Carol Rawert Trainer. I am a Vietnam Era veteran and my husband is a retired USAF officer and Vietnam Veteran. We belong to Louisville Peace Action Community and Vietnam Veterans Against the War, 2 great organizations that work for peace and justice. I learned of PFC James Burmeister through my involvement with the GI Rights Hotline.
We are disgusted at the way the government treats our returning war heroes and we will not sit by and watch it happen. You hear the slogan 'Support Our Troops.' Well, that is what why we have come here today. I have personally heard too many horror stories of veterans in the Louisville area who return from war and do not receive proper medical care or benefits or counseling for PTSD which is all too prevalent in this war. The Army seems to care more about their retention at any cost to the soldier & family than they do about the care of the soldiers affected by this war. Too many soldiers are battling their physical and emotional problems alone. The suicide rates have risen dramatically. This is obscene.
We are here today to demand that the Army grant James a discharge in lieu of Court Martial. We are watching what the Army is doing. James served honorably in Iraq and carried out his duties as commanded. He received head injuries and shrapnel in his face in the 3rd attack on his convoy. He also has PTSD and seizures and is on many medications as a result of his experience. When he was recuperating in the hospital in Germany he realized that what he was commanded to do -killing innocent people, sometimes in 'bait & switch' schemes - was immoral. The Army trains these troops from basic to kill, kill, kill and does not differentiate between innocent Iraqis or insurgents. James could not, would not, do it any longer. He had to live with himself and his actions for the rest of his life. The Army does not care about the lifelong problems these honorable soldiers face. In fact they were going to send James back to Iraq even though he was on medications for high blood pressure, depression, sleep problems and more. At least James is one of the lucky ones who realized he needed help before it was too late. Going back to Iraq would be dangerous to his life as well as to those who served with him.
We are here today to support James and his family in their struggle for justice. James' family has suffered through other family circumstances that dictate that James be home to help them. We hope the Army will grant James an immediate discharge not only for his own personal needs but for his families' needs. Even though he would not receive medical benefits which he needs, he would be at home in a safe & loving environment. This is what is fair. This is what is just. James was there when the Army needed him. Now the Army must be there for James and the countless other heros who need assistance and support as they cope with their war-induced problems.
Carol Rawert Trainer (502-500-6915)
Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Kentuckiana Chapter Coordinator
Louisville Peace Action Community member
GI Rights Hotline member
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