The People Who Inspire series highlights individuals from a variety of backgrounds and occupations who are seeking to impact the lives of others in a positive way. Through Truth-Telling: the honest sharing of their own experiences, they teach us a little about themselves, hopefully enabling us to be able to learn a little about ourselves through their stories.
Today’s Post features David B. Green Jr., Historian, Scholar, and Activist.
Could you tell us a little about your background and what led you to your current work?
The very idea of telling someone about my background puts me in an awkward and vulnerable position. I have to revisit aspects of my life that sometimes I’d rather not talk or write about, or share with the public– outside of my diary and memoir that’s in progress. But only for you, Relando.
Let’s see. I am the youngest of six children and a…
By 2014, if all goes well, we should have something that resembles national health care. This may mean that millions of people who have suffered in the pool of 17.7% of Americans in the United States without health insurance, may suddenly be seeking care for everything from anxiety to obesity and beyond.
In Rhode Island, this would be a welcome relief from the recent trends in health care in terms of numbers of people with insurance. The recent trends, according to the Rhode Island Health Commissioner’s office, are that between 2005 and 2010, the number of insured people in Rhode Island dropped by 65,000. In 2005, there were about 620,000 people insured by the three big insurers, BCBSRI, United, and Tufts, and in 2010 this number had dropped to about 555,000. During that same time, there was a modest increase in the number of people receiving either Rite Care and Rite Share. If you look at the study cited below issued in January of 2011 from the Rhode Island Senate Fiscal Office, you will see that in 2009 and 2010, there was a significant amount of stimulus money that was used to cover the costs of the growing Rite Care and Rite Share programs — $35.2 million in 2009, $56.8 million in 2010, and $56.5 million in 2011.
Now, let’s give it some thought. Let’s just say Obamacare goes through. Could it be possible that part of the growing economy can be the growing health care provisions that are made for those nearly 50 million people who are newly insured? Could neighborhoods in South Providence, downtown Woonsocket, and Eden Park Cranston all begin to flourish with new health care providers serving the throngs of people flocking in for health care? Statistically, the uninsured are more likely to be obese, smokers, and drinkers, so there are plenty of preventative care issues that could be addressed with could treatment plans.
So instead of giving $75 million to Curt Schilling and betting on the idea that we need another MMOG video game on the internet where people will waste time being sedentary and eating junk food while they try to climb inane hierarchies, perhaps we should think about ways that government can promote health care businesses that will likely be in great demand in the very near future.
This is an interesting piece for the way it calls on us to shift our approach and pay doctors and other health care professionals to engage patients in prevention. I have to ask, though: what would the rate of reimbursement be for doctors taking patients for walks?
Since we have short memories, let us return to 2003, a time when pundits wondered how many American troops might die in the Iraq War before the public rose up in protest. No one imagined that nearly 4,500 Americans would die in the course of the war, or that it would last so long.
An hour before the ambush, Pfc. Lori Ann Piestewa knew something was wrong. It was just before dawn, only three days into the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and her unit’s slow-moving convoy was approaching a bridge over the Euphrates River. That’s when Piestewa saw it: the heavily fortified town of Nasiriyah, rising out of the sands like a mirage. She stared in disbelief through the dusty windshield of the Humvee she was driving. A city? Shouldn’t they be in the desert?
At the far end of the bridge, Piestewa spotted an Iraqi military checkpoint. She braced for the worst. But as the column lumbered by, the Iraqi soldiers inside waved, beckoning the Americans deeper into the city.
Piestewa turned to her best friend, Pfc. Jessica Lynch, who was riding in back of the Humvee. They were both thinking the same thing: We’re not supposed to be here.
It was a small error, but a fatal one. The 507th Army Maintenance Company – a support unit of clerks, repairmen and cooks – had taken a wrong turn in the desert, stumbling into Nasiriyah by mistake. Without warning, the company suddenly found itself surrounded, an easy target for Iraqi soldiers and fedayeen paramilitary forces armed with AK-47s, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades. The ensuing attack proved to be the Army’s bloodiest day of the ground war – and the first hint of the deadly quagmire that Iraq would soon become. Eleven American soldiers were killed and nine were wounded when the 507th came under what the military later described as a “torrent of fire” in Nasiriyah.
The attack made Jessica Lynch famous. U.S. Special Forces later plucked her from an Iraqi hospital and rushed her to safety, and the media seized on the daring rescue to create a tale of American heroism and valor. But the real story of what happened in Nasiriyah that day – and the clear warning it offered of things to come – involves a different soldier, one who gave her life to protect her friends. Lori Piestewa, born and raised a Hopi on the Navajo reservation in Arizona, became the first American woman to die in the war, and the first Native American woman ever to die in combat on foreign soil. Only twenty-three years old, Piestewa saw herself as a Hopi warrior, part of a centuries-old tradition developed by a people who once resisted an invasion and occupation by the U.S. military – much as the Iraqis are today. She went to war, but she believed above all in peace, in doing no harm to others. “I’m not trying to be a hero,” she told a friend just before the invasion. “I just want to get through this crap and go home.”
After a dramatic rescue, Pvt. Jessica Lynch returned home to a media blitz. She was pressured to be the public face of the American soldier going down with guns blazing. Jessica Lynch turned down a chance to be a war celebrity, because she was accountable to her fellow soldiers, and to the truth. She served the American people with her integrity, as much as she did while in uniform.
Lynch was badly injured when her convoy was ambushed in Iraq in 2003. She was later rescued by American troops from an Iraqi hospital, and the tale of her ambush was changed into a story of her heroic resistance.
“It meant a lot, really, it did, especially to come out for the Tillman family,” Lynch told The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith. “They really need answers. And, you know, they have tons and tons of questions that are just unanswered. And they need that.”
At the hearing, the chairman of the House panel, Henry Waxman, accused the government of inventing “sensational details and stories” about Tillman’s death and Lynch rescue. After she arrived home, Lynch set the record straight in a book called “I Am a Soldier, Too.”
“At first I didn’t even realize … the stories that were being told,” she said. “It was quite a while afterwards, and then I found out. It was a little disappointing. And I knew that I had to get the truth out there because, one, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself … knowing that these stories were portraying me to do something that I didn’t.”
Although Lynch was injured severely, she didn’t suffer any gunshot wounds. Still, recovery is a long process and she said the healing is slow.
Lynch, whose brother also serves in the Army, isn’t sure why the stories were made up because her capture occurred so early in the war. But she was the first POW rescue since World War II, which was big news. She wants America to understand that the real heroes were those who died in the fight and those who risked everything to save her.
“Definitely my friend Laurie, for trying to get us to safety,” Lynch said. “But, you know, she was killed in combat so — but the ones who came in and rescued me, the ones who were in my unit fighting to death, you know, those are my real heroes.”
Pat Tillman was a pro football player who gave up his career to serve in Iraq. He was killed by ‘friendly fire’ in the confusion of war. The truth about his death was only disclosed because his bereaved family would not give up.
Pat Tillman’s younger brother, Richard, lashed back at politicians who said his dead brother was with God. Pat Tillman wasn’t religious, and piety did not console the family.
The war continues in Afghanistan. It is being fought by ordinary men and women, our volunteer army. The people of Afghanistan have no choice to opt out as the war is on their own soil. There are heroes, there are survivors, there are cowards and liars in the fog of war.
Unquestionably, we are asking great sacrifice of some Americans while the rest of us can forget altogether, except on days such as Memorial Day. If we are to support our troops we must recognize our service men and women and their families by supporting them in peace, even if that debt takes a generation to pay. When the war is over, we must not fail to include our veterans in the opportunity they so justly earned.
Facebook friend Vicki posted this. It reminds me of a short story by George Saunders, a writer I greatly admire–‘Home’, published in the New Yorker 6/13/2011. The protagonist, a returning veteran, has arrived home just in time to see his mother evicted…
Ma was on the front lawn screaming at this low-slung fat guy. Harris was looming in the background, now and then hitting or kicking something to show how scary he could get when he was enraged.
“This is my son,” Ma said, “who served. Who just came home. And this is how you do us?”
“I’m grateful for your service.” the man said to me.
If you know George Saunders, you will know that he writes not tragedy, but the darkest comedy. Mikey, the narrator in this story has returned to a fractured family, a society with a huge wealth disparity and a sense of suppressed fear– you might be the next poor loser to fall out of the middle-class. And everyone who screws him over says “thank you for your service.” George Saunders is a surrealist.
I wish I could link to this, but due to his not having a day job, Saunders is not giving it away for free, and neither is the New Yorker. Here’s where it is, if you’re not a cheapskate.
If you are a liberal, like me, and recognize there are many ways of serving our country besides the military, you will put a high priority on services to veterans. Veterans are on the front lines in peace as well as in war. The VA provides comprehensive medical care across class lines and generations, but housing, jobs and community are unmet needs. Peace is not the absence of conflict, it is way of life built on courage, cooperation and sacrifice. Our veterans can teach us some things about that.