“PROSE”: “the ordinary language people use in speaking or writing.” – Merriam Webster
“In the heart of Taliban territory, a talented and youthful team of medics race against the clock to save a constant stream of casualties, bracing themselves for the bloody consequences of the imminent ‘surge’.
“Welcome to M*A*S*H 2010, where a brave medical team are on 24 hour alert. “We’re the busiest Forward Surgical Team in Iraq and Afghanistan”. In the next moment, the alarm sounds and the medivac helicopter is taking off. “Is it a US…an Afghan…a child?”, asks the pilot, as a giant smoke cloud from an exploded mine-resistant vehicle comes into view. Two American soldiers have been killed and three wounded by an IED. All are loaded onto the helicopters and the golden hour in which they can be saved, begins…”We provide 21st century intensive care”, shouts Major Bryan over the blood-urdling screams of the injured. . . .”
The Golden Hour / Battlefield ER: The brutal life of a warzone medic. ABC Australia. (Journeyman Pictures. December 16, 2013.) (26:42 min)
“No guaranteed ‘golden hour’ for Marines headed into the next big fight.”
“A lifesaving Defense Department policy that whisks wounded troops off the battlefield to lifesaving care within the first hour of injury is a luxury Marines may not have headed into the next big fight.
“The policy is credited with a near 98 percent survival rate, Rear Adm. Colin G. Chinn, Joint Staff surgeon, told audience members at a Navy medical symposium held at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, on Wednesday.
“But as the U.S. is facing more capable adversaries, it’s a promise the Defense Department no longer believes it can keep.”
Shawn Snow. “No guaranteed ‘golden hour’ for Marines headed into the next big fight.” Marinecorpstimes.com (February 15, 2018)
Feature image courtesy Talking Proud Archives — Military Medevacs & Medics, Angels of Mercy. Accessed 25 July 2018
Charles Bloeser is a lawyer and the researcher behind the creation of combatresearchandprose.com, a new open-source applied research initiative examining combat and those marked by it. His most recent publication, in August 2018, reports how a cancer-stricken, combat-haunted, Vietnam veteran fell between the cracks in a modern jail. It’s an account that, from that warrior’s deathbed, he asked author to share with those best able to keep the same thing from happening to others. STRIFE, at the Department of War Studies, Kings College London, gave him a way to do that.
“PROSE”: “the ordinary language people use in speaking or writing.” – Merriam Webster
A former special operator has remarked that his generation suffers from a kind of moral relativism that assumes all purported “truths” are equally valid. He pointed out that it matters little that someone disagrees with the proposition that “2 + 2 = 4.” Mathematicians don’t waste time listening to arguments otherwise. And neither does the military, he explained.
Calculating and acting on the correct answer to complex mathematical equations was the job of, among others, World War II bombardiers. And tens of thousands of Allied navigators and radiomen and pilots and gunners died getting bombardiers to their job sites, so they could do what they’d been trained and tasked to do. More people than anticipated died 20,000 feet below when a bombardier got the math wrong.
Of course, the mathematics of calculating the correct and desired damage to a target – computer assist or not – has never been the only part of the military’s mission that’s nothing more than a car on blocks if alternative, or preferred, truths are given the time of day.
Facts no one in our family ever talked about, truths about where and why and how my grandad was critically wounded in combat, have made me reflect on another non-negotiable fact of military service that is both unknown and unfelt by most of the 92.7% of us in this country who have never served under arms: the fact of being government property to be used as the nation deems necessary.
What I’ve learned by researching the Korean combat experiences of other soldiers from the U.S. Army’s 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division has told me much I never knew about what grandad was made of. It’s given me a narrow space in a fence through which I can see part of why this World War II drill instructor I called “grandad” was never the same after Korea. And what I’ve seen has forever axed the thought that I might one day change my hard-to-spell surname from that of a soldier from Queens with an 8th grade education who adopted two Tennessee boys and then raised my dad and his kid brother as best he knew how.
In a September 13, 2017 Brookings’ blogpost, “Catastrophe on the Yalu: America’s Intelligence Failure in Korea,” Bruce Riedel, the Director of Brookings’ Intelligence Project, suggests that the bloodletting at Unsan – during which U.S. Army Master Sergeant Charles Bloeser was forever wounded – didn’t have to happen. Three days of fighting legions of battle – hardened Communist Chinese troops who weren’t supposed to be there was due to “a catastrophic intelligence failure. . .. the result of terrible intelligence management, not the poor collection or analysis of information.”
Casualty records at the National Archives report that grandad was “[s]eriously wounded in action by missile” on November 2, 1950. In an excerpt in Vanity Fair from The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War, David Halberstam explains what happened one day earlier, when the two-star general commanding grandad’s division asked for permission to pull back:
On the afternoon of November 1, Major General Hobart R. “Hap” Gay, the First Cav division commander, was in his command post with General Charles Palmer, his artillery commander, when a radio report from an observer in an L-5 spotter plane caught their attention: “This is the strangest sight I have ever seen. There are two large columns of enemy infantry moving southeast over the trails in the vicinity of Myongdang-dong and Yonghung-dong. Our shells are landing right in their columns and they keep coming.” Those were two tiny villages five or six air miles from Unsan. Palmer immediately ordered additional artillery units to start firing, and Gay nervously called First Corps, requesting permission to pull the entire Eighth Cav several miles south of Unsan. His request was denied.
The Army’s Military History Center describes what happened next:
“Thousands of Chinese  attacked from the north, northwest, and west against scattered U.S. and South Korean units moving deep into North Korea. The Chinese seemed to come out of nowhere as they swarmed around the flanks and over the defensive positions of the surprised  troops.” As the lead to the Halberstam excerpt puts it, “hundreds of Americans got slaughtered at Unsan, one of the worst defeats of the Korean War.”
In “one of the most shameful and little-known incidents in U.S. military history,” writes Charles J. Hanley (quoting Korean War historian Jack J. Gifford), some 600 of the 3rd Battalion’s 800 men” were “[t]rapped by two Chinese divisions,” and “left to die in far northern Korea.”
“The Yalu disaster was completely predictable,” writes Riedel in his Brookings blogpost. “The intelligence failure was the result of a policy maker’s determination that intelligence support his preconceived views, not challenge them. It is a timeless lesson.”
Knowing that men my grandad trained with and fought to keep alive – men from what Sebastian Junger would call his “tribe” – died in or after a battle that looks like it never had to go down the way it did, infuriates me. And I regret that I didn’t know these things when grandma was alive and might have found in this history at least some solace after living through some very dark years with her husband after he came home.
To my way of thinking, the men who fell at Unsan died with honor. But the likelihood that their lives were wasted is disturbing.
And knowing that many of these men would have died on other battlefields on the Korean peninsula before two years of peace talks would bring an armistice is no comfort. Quite the opposite.
The warriors ordered into a Chinese hornets’ nest with grandad were sons and brothers and husbands and fathers – all soldiers who deserved to fight where they could do the most good. Not here. Not this way.
Ms. Elizabeth M. Collins writes in a November 2016 retrospective at Army.Mil that “[a] 1954 Congressional report termed the Korean War “one of the most heinous and barbaric” periods in history, citing some 1,800 cases of war crimes involving thousands of victims: “Virtually every provision of the Geneva Convention governing the treatment of war prisoners was purposely violated or ignored by the North Korean or Chinese forces.”
But here’s where grandad has a lesson for those of us who have never served. Had he known earlier what the intel really showed – that Communist China cared a great deal about what happened the other side of the Yalu river – it wouldn’t have mattered. It must not be allowed to matter.
Like all who serve, grandad was owned by the United States lock, stock, and barrel, to be used as his nation deemed necessary. Even if ordered to march into Hell itself.
The thing about that is this. We who are civilians might see such an order as time for a career change without giving notice. U.S. Marines, sailors, soldiers, airmen, and members of the U.S. Coast Guard who refuse to obey lawful orders breach the law and threaten the order, discipline, and unit cohesiveness without which the nation can neither defend itself nor otherwise pursue its interests.
That was true for grandad, who had solemnly sworn, among other duties, that he would “observe and obey the orders of the President of the United States of America, and the orders of the officers appointed over [him].”
It was true for grandad’s commanding general whose request to pull the Army back had been denied.
ENDNOTE content supplied in sequence. Links to numbers to be updated.
 Author: Charles L.K. Bloeser, M.A., J.D. Member, Bar of the State of Tennessee; member, Bar of the Supreme Court of the United States.
 (“. . . what if we told you that 2 +2 = ? has stumped even some of the smartest mathematicians because it doesn’t necessarily have to equal 4?”) Elena Holodny. “Here’s How Your Watch Can Prove that 2 + 2 Doesn’t Equal 4.” Businessinsider.com (June 24, 2014).
 Mona Chalabi. “What Percentage of Americans Have Served in the Military?” Fivethirtyeight.com (March 19, 2015).
 “Sixty years later those fallen soldiers, the lost battalion of Unsan, are stranded anew.
“North Korea is offering fresh clues to their remains. American teams are ready to re-enter the north to dig for them. But for five years the U.S. government has refused to work with North Korea to recover the men of Unsan and others among more than 8,000 U.S. missing in action from the 1950-53 war.
“Now, under pressure from MIA family groups, the Obama administration is said to be moving slowly to reverse the Bush administration’s suspension of the joint recovery program, a step taken in 2005 as the North Korean nuclear crisis dragged on.
“If I had a direct line in to the president, I would say, `Please reinstitute this program. There are families that need closure,'” said Ruth Davis, 61, of Palestine, Texas, whose uncle, Sgt. 1st Class Benny Don Rogers, has been listed as MIA since Chinese attackers overran his company — I Company, 8th Cavalry — at Unsan in late 1950.
“It was one of Rogers’ I Company comrades, Pfc. Philip W. Ackley of Hillsboro, New Hampshire, whose identifying dog tag appeared in a photo the North Koreans handed over at Korea’s Panmunjom truce village in January of this 60th year since the war started. The North Koreans also delivered photos of remains, a stark reminder that Unsan’s dead still wait to come home.” Charles J. Hanley, “Lost Korean War battalion awaits US MIA decision,” Associated Press (July 18, 2010).
 Sebastian Junger. Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging (London: 4th Estate 2017).
 Another soldier from the “First Cav” whose honorable service at Unsan was recognized publicly was Tibor Rubin. Mr. Rubin had survived the Holocaust while his family did not. He thanked the United States for his rescue by enlisting in the Army shortly after he arrived in the States and when he could barely speak English. Mr. Rubin was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his valor in combat at Unsan, but his official citation describes in detail how the soldier single-handedly kept alive as many as 40 of his fellow POWs during 2 years he spent in a Chinese prison camp.
 “The first oath under the Constitution was approved by Act of Congress 29 September 1789 (Sec. 3, Ch. 25, 1st Congress). It applied to all commissioned officers, noncommissioned officers and privates in the service of the United States.” Information courtesy history.army.mil, accessed May 28, 2018.
Charles Bloeser is a lawyer and the researcher behind the creation of combatresearchandprose.com, a new open-source applied research initiative examining combat and those marked by it. His most recent publication, in August 2018, reports how a cancer-stricken, combat-haunted Vietnam veteran fell between the cracks in a modern jail. It’s an account that, from that warrior’s deathbed, he asked author to share with those best able to keep the same thing from happening to others. STRIFE, at the Department of War Studies, Kings College London, gave him a way to do that.
Collateral Consequences: Protecting Public Safety or Encouraging Recidivism
“Since most ex-offenders—millions of them—at some point will be released from custody and return to our communities, it is important that we do everything we can to encourage them to become productive, law-abiding members of society and that we not put too many impediments, in the form of excessive collateral consequences, in their way that will hinder their efforts.
“More attention must be paid to this issue to avoid these dangerous and counterproductive results. In a time of intense polarization, this is one of the few issues people can rally around and find common ground. If people are pushed into the corner and denied opportunities for gainful employment and a stable environment for too long, they will have little choice but to recidivate. It is not in anybody’s best interest to relegate the formally incarcerated to a backwater of second-class citizenship status.”
John Malcolm. Vice President, Institute for Constitutional Government, Heritage Foundation.
*TITLE OF POST includes “48,000” in an effort to keep the message clear. Far too many of those 48,000 can shatter a family and thrust moms and dads and kids into homelessness but certainly not all of them.
“PROSE”: “the ordinary language people use in speaking or writing.” – Merriam Webster
Here’s a new excerpt from my forthcoming article about traumatized foster children who, as members of America’s armed forces, serve with honor and distinction. It’s also about traumatized military families struggling to keep their own kids from being removed from the home, perhaps never to return.
“As an assistant district attorney tasked with deciding which kids to ask the judge to remove from their homes, I had a hand in saving some lives. I’m certain of it. But I’m also quite sure that I made mistakes. Errors that spell-check could never catch and which can’t be fixed with word-processing software. Wrong decisions for which others would pay a high price.”
. . .
“Discussing why homelessness makes it even harder to reunite families will be left for another day. But here are two examples:
Even if one is eligible for, and takes advantage of, VA services, it’s exceptionally hard to protect from theft, time, and the elements the medications needed to strengthen or stabilize a parent so that he can get and keep work and secure a place for the family to live. Kaiser-Permanente tells those who have to take insulin, “Take steps to store your insulin correctly, or it might not work.” Some of those steps? “Keep your insulin away from heat and light. Any insulin that you don’t store in the refrigerator should be kept as cool as possible (between 56°F and 80°F.); never let your insulin freeze. If your insulin freezes, don’t use it, even after it’s thawed.”83 Other medications must also be refrigerated if they’re to do any good. Certain long-term antipsychotic medications are among those.84 At least in the communities that I’m familiar with, refrigeration facilities for these folks don’t exist.
Military – think DD214 – and other documents also get stolen or weather-beaten to the point that they’re no good. But it’s documents like these that rough-sleeping parents need if they are to take advantage of housing and other services that child welfare requires before returning their kids. A church in my community offers to protect critical documents for those on the streets and then makes copies when they’re needed to apply for a job, enroll their kids in school, or for other reasons”
[end of excerpt]
One view from the streets: Homeless ID Project (Phoenix, Arizona)
During a month living on the streets in 1987, the founder of Phoenix, Arizona’s Homeless ID Project learned that “the lack of personal identification documents was a serious impediment, preventing the homeless from accessing services to aid them in regaining their self-sufficiency.”
The Phoenix charity explains why documents are necessary, their process for helping folks get them, and the Homeless ID project’s document safe-keeping service at https://azhomeless.org/about-us-299083.html
Some examples of the kinds of information available at Homeless ID Project’s website:
A state I.D. is essential for ending homelessness. You need an I.D. to get a job or secure housing and to access services like food stamps and medical insurance. Without an I.D., you are unlikely to find permanent employment or gain admission to school. You may also run the risk of being arrested. You are encouraged to obtain an Arizona I.D. as soon as possible. [. . .]
Why might I need a birth certificate?
If you’ve never had an Arizona I.D. before, you will need a birth certificate as a first step to obtaining a state I.D. if no other form of primary documentation can be obtained. You may also need a birth certificate when applying for Medical Insurance or a housing program.
What kind of identifying documents will I need to obtain a birth certificate?
Everything about the process of applying for your birth certificate depends on the state where you were born. If you were born in:
– Kentucky, Ohio, Vermont, Washington, or West Virginia: you do not need any I.D. to apply.
– Indiana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, or Wisconsin: you need a valid Arizona I.D. card that lists your current address, where you would like your birth certificate sent.
All other states require a valid state ID, with no address requirements.
I was born in a state that requires I.D. to apply for a birth certificate, but I don’t have any I.D.. What do I do?
If you don’t have a state I.D., there may be other solutions, depending on the state where you were born. If you were born in:
– Arkansas, Cook County (IL), D.C., Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New York City, North Carolina, Oklahoma: We can send a letter on your behalf. Some of these states require documents accompanying the letter; for example, Oklahoma requires a piece of mail in your name, Florida asks for any document with your name on it, and Mississippi wants a copy of your Human Services I.D..
– Arizona, California, Connecticut, Idaho, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New York City, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin, or Wyoming: We can notarize the application if you have a witness with a valid state ID who can attest to your identity. A few states have odd exceptions. Georgia allows an Employee I.D.. Idaho will take a DOC ID. Illinois (except Cook County) will accept two forms of non-state ID. Pennsylvania will take a letter from a case manager at a shelter. New York and New York City requires two letters sent to the same address within 6 months for NY and 60 days for New York City.
For all other states, there is no currently accepted alternative to a valid state I.D.. We will work with you on a case-by-case basis and do our best to find a solution.
My minor children need their birth certificates. Can I apply for them?
Yes, you can apply for your minor child’s birth certificate if you are the parent (name must be on birth certificate) or legal guardian. The same identification rules apply as if you were requesting a copy of your own birth certificate; you will need a copy of your state I.D. or an accepted alternative, depending on the state.
I am worried about my birth certificate being lost or stolen. What should I do?
We strongly encourage you to store your birth certificate in our office. We have a secure, fire-proof safe where you may store your birth certificate, Social Security card, or State I.D. to prevent loss, theft, or damage. You can retrieve your documents at any time during normal business hours, without waiting in line.
For more info from the Homeless ID Project: https://azhomeless.org/about-us-299083.html
There are a number of ways veterans, next-of-kin and authorized representatives can obtain a copy of the DD-214 form. In most cases the process takes 3-4 weeks. The DD-214 form is often needed for a job application, VA Loan, medical benefits, association membership, a veteran’s funeral benefit, school enrollment, reenlistment or proof of service for the many businesses offering military discounts.
Feature Image: Phoenix, Arizona USA. Image accessed at Crowne Plaza Phoenix Airport via Google images on 10 October 2018.
Charles Bloeser is the creator of combatresearchandprose.com, a new open-source applied research initiative examining combat and those marked by it. His most recent publication chronicles a tragic story that a former client – a combat-haunted Vietnam veteran – asked him to tell, from his deathbed:
Today’s opinion column by wounded warrior caregiver and USA Today contributor Ms. Sarah Verardo yanks the cover away from a national tragedy that the Trump Administration is working to fix.
The focus of her essay is those veterans – and their caregivers – who are deemed eligible for VA benefits. It does not extend to the tens of thousands of veterans who’ve been deemed ineligible for VA services due to “bad paper” discharges.
The following is excerpted from Ms. Verardo’s opinion piece in USA Today:
“Eight years ago, my husband stepped on an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan. He lost his left leg and much of his left arm, and barely survived. . . .
“As many as 5.5 million caregivers struggle to care for disabled veterans like my husband. These wounded warriors, especially catastrophically disabled, need round-the-clock assistance because they have a hard time completing the tasks associated with daily living — such as going to the bathroom or getting out of bed.
“In our case, my husband needs assistance to complete all his daily tasks, from dressing, to getting cleaned and ready, to planning the day. Every day, I am constantly thinking for two people.
“Catastrophically wounded vets also require lots of medical care. In addition to his surgeries [119 of them], my husband has gone through years of speech, visual, physical and occupational therapy.
. . .
“The Department of Veterans Affairs offers caregivers support for coordinating these services as well as a stipend.
“Caregivers could receive $7,800 to $30,000 in any given year. To calculate caregiver stipends, the VA looks at a typical home health aide’s hourly wage in a veteran’s geographic location, as well as the number of hours of care that veteran needs. The VA caps the hours of care at 40 per week.
“That’s almost insulting. I am a caregiver every second of every day. One-fifth of caregivers report caring for their veterans 80 hours a week.
“Fortunately, federal officials are beginning to take action. As part of the recently passed VA MISSION Act, Congress will expand caregiver support to all veterans — not just those injured after 9/11.“