Letters

Readers rally around the first soldier since Vietnam to be charged by the Army with cowardice.


Salon Staff
June 11, 2004 11:44PM (UTC)

[Read "Branded," by Daniel Glick.]

It is maddening to constantly hear the words, "Support the troops!" from officials who use them as a bludgeon against any and all dissent. We all DO support the troops, even if we think the whole Iraq mess was a massive mistake or not. Now we hear that the government and the army are persecuting a soldier for no reason. Support the troops? No one should be supporting them more than our administration and its own Army.

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-- Bob Jefferson

The Bush administration has proven beyond any doubt that it is not concerned with the people whose lives are being wrecked, American, Iraqi, or allies. The Bush regime is about profiting from human misery, no matter who gets hurt.

For people to continue to believe the sanctimonious, patriotic crap coming out of the White House is just plain stupid in light of how our military personnel are being abused.

It is time to impeach and prosecute the usurper and his gang of imperialist warmongers. The honor of our country has been branded "coward and bully" by the Bush administration.

The true heroism of Mr. Pogany deserves to be respected, recognized, and supported. Bring the troops home, reassign the reconstruction contracts in Iraq, and prosecute the outlaws who are betraying us all.

-- Paul Jeronimo von Hartmann, Project P.E.A.C.E. (Planet Ecology Advancing Conscious Economics)

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On top of the many insults President Bush has heaped upon our troops, the military complex itself has placed unknowable burdens on its faithful charges. Just the news stories that are trickling out about soldiers committing suicide and murder/suicide upon finally getting home to the United States are horrifying, without contemplating all those who have resorted to this option in Iraq. To read in this article that soldiers are being fed a daily drug cocktail with an endless list of adverse side effects, many of which would preclude leaving the house, never mind facing imminent death, mutilated bodies and inexpressible fear, and are not being allowed the psychological support they need to deal with the horrible existence our country has forced upon them, leaves me deeply ashamed.

Staff Sgt. Georg Pogany should be cleared of all charges and awarded an honorable discharge. It is clear that he was the victim of a vendetta by his Special Forces team sergeant. He was willing to stay in the field of combat, despite his involuntary reaction to what any human being would consider to be untenable circumstances. Maybe he would never have been effective in a team of Green Berets, but if he had been transferred to a different unit and given some psychological counseling, he could have performed his duty on a level of stress he could manage.

We need to send the message to our soldiers that they can ask for help when they need it. If we do not, we will be left with a highly stressed, mentally incompetent, and possibly criminally insane (witness Abu Ghraib) military force operating in a country which needs, above all, a calm and measured response to each new emotionally and culturally charged situation. Also, the long-term effects of this kind of mental strain will mean that many sons and daughters, fathers and mothers will come home from this war unable to ever function normally in society again. Our poor soldiers are not all psychological supermen. They are not all seasoned Green Berets. Many of them are weekend warriors, recent high school graduates, and poor kids trying to find a way to go to college.

I think this war is an excellent argument for never letting another man become president who does not have a deep personal understanding of what it is to be vulnerable on a field of combat. Some wars are just, and some wars are necessary. This war is not just a mistake -- it is a blatant lie perpetrated on the entire world.

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-- Amanda Erlanson

After reading Daniel Glick's article "Branded" about Staff Sgt. Georg-Andreas Pogany's persecution (I can think of no better word) by the military establishment, naturally I am outraged. It affects not only Sgt. Pogany, but everyone who is serving over there, maybe everyone who will ever serve.

I don't just want to read the news -- when injustice such as this takes place I want to do something about it. I would like to think that my friends and relatives who are serving in Iraq can seek help for PTSD without being charged with cowardice.

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Perhaps we should all start by writing to the commander in chief. It is his war, after all.

-- Tapati McDaniels


Salon Staff

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