Atheist group seeks to ban “religious preference” from military documentation

 
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Atheist group seeks to ban “religious preference” from military documentation

 As with most things MAAF does (Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers) this seems to be solution in search of a problem.

Last we heard from MAAF was when they were going after a cross at Camp Pendleton that Marines had put up to honor their fallen brothers.  That effort angered even their fellow atheists:

 I am a fellow atheist and have been for over ten years. I joined the Marine Corps in 2002 and continue to serve today. Never in that time have I been asked to change my beliefs or encouraged to be silent about my religious opinions… I will say that the opposition to that monument by this organization disgusts me and takes away from our brotherhood and all that we stand for.

More than once I’ve wondered if they weren’t secretly a religious group trying to discredit Atheism because the battles they pick to fight seem so utterly ridiculous.

A support group for atheist servicemembers has launched a petition drive to have President Obama end the requirement that the services solicit the religious affiliation of personnel, including recruits.

But a week after the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers submitted the petition on WhiteHouse.gov the effort has garnered just 25 of the 25,000 signatures it needs by Feb. 5 to get any kind of response from the White House.

MAAF President Jason Torpy, a West Point graduate and former Army officer, acknowledges there is a long way to go but says he remains “optimistic that we’ll get the signatures once some other groups pick this up.”

As of last time I checked, a few minutes ago, it was all the way up to 30 signatures.  I’m fairly confident I could put up a petition calling on the federal government to indict Spongebob Squarepants for crimes against Starfish and have 50 people sign it by lunch just by putting it on my Facebook page.

Nonetheless, they do have what I consider a legit concern on one thing:

“What MRFF [MAAF allies Military Religious Freedom Foundation] has received complaints about is the fact that a service member's religion is listed on forms where there is no legitimate reason for it to be listed, such as the Army's ORB (Officer Record Brief) … forms whose purpose is to provide a summary of a service member's education, special skills, and service record,” said Chris Rodda, a writer and a researcher for MRFF.

“There is no reason that religion should be a factor in any career or assignment decisions that the information on these forms is used for,” she said.

I honestly didn’t know it was on any of those forms, and I am at a loss to explain why it should be, so I definitely can see their point there.  And if that is what this petition said, I would have pushed it through a few different mediums.  As far as I can tell there is no reason anyone on a promotion board or similar group should know what God or Deity one ascribes to, or chooses to disbelieve.  I just don’t see how it is germane.

But alas, that isn’t what their petition says:

Every new military recruit is asked the question, "What is your religion?" This causes undue stress and pressure to conform as the recruit considers the predominant Christian culture of the military and the US. Having the "right" answer on ID tags and official records might make the difference in peer treatment and in equal opportunity in military assignments and promotions.

That first part seems absurd and insulting.  You mean that our brave men and women signing up today are so susceptible to peer pressure that they would conform to something contrary to their moral underpinning?  Maybe I just served in the most enlightened units of all time, but I never saw even a hint of this.  The guys I served with had WIDELY divergent religious views, and no one had a problem with it, except the one dude who found out that he only had to work certain hours during Ramadan and promptly became a Muslim.  And the only ones truly hostile about that were the other Muslims in my unit who knew the guy was using it as a scam.

In my Infantry Platoon alone we had a Muslim, a Mormon, several Catholics, a ton of Baptists, a Universalist Unitarian, two Buddhists, and atleast one Wiccan.  (I’ve also served with Jewish guys and people who worshipped Odin.)  Most the rest I didn’t know or had no religious affiliation.  None of it mattered, no one cared.  The only time it ever came up was if we were discussing something theological, and that was just for debates.  (We would sometimes put the Muslim, Mormon and Catholic in the same Guard Tower so they could fight it out rhetorically.)  If someone’s religious views are so milquetoast that they would change them because of peer pressure, then they probably weren’t all that devoted to their religion in the first place. 

What the article neglects to mention at all is the actual reason for having a religious preference on military forms.  That was brought home to me last night in a sad story that my friend Amy told me about.  Her son is at Navy Basic Training, and his unit lost a man yesterday:

A recruit at Naval Station Great Lakes died Wednesday morning during a physical training exercise, according to the Lake County coroner.

Christopher Walker, who turned 19 in December, suddenly collapsed on the base near North Chicago, said Lake County coroner Artis Yancey.

He was rushed to James Lovell Federal Health Care Center but was pronounced shortly after at 9:57 a.m., according to Yancey.

Authorities said Walker was a Pennsylvania native.

It seems to me that Mr. Walker’s grieving parents would appreciate that the chaplain that came to the door to pass on this horrific and tragic news would be of the same religious persuasion as Christopher himself.  Sending a Sikh chaplain to inform the parents of a deceased Catholic soldier wouldn’t seem to make much sense would it?

Lastly, the whole doing away with “No Religious Preference” thing seems just politically correct to me.  How does a blank space convey something different than that phrase?  Add “Humanist”, add "Spiritual But Not Religious”, add “First Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster”; it won’t make any difference to me.  When I joined the army I became green.  We may self-identify as white, or Christian, American-Indian or Buddhist, but we identify those around us more easily: because they are all our brothers and sisters, regardless of any other affiliation.

 

EXIT QUESTION: Someone either below of possibly in an email to me said that the DoD choses what religions it recognizes, and that some people practice ones not recognized by the DoD.  Can someone name me a religion not recognized by the DoD and someone who wishes it were practiced?  An actual religion mind you, not some made up one that is clearly farcical.  I am actually curious, and would like to explore it with the DoD, but I need an actual example.

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I can't believe so much attention has been given to such an asinine discussion topic. Don't we have more pressing issues to deal with? Come now! Say it with me. If anyone is averse to an idea or aggrieved by something on a piece of paper, then they should do what I do when I encounter a bad TV show; change the channel. Similarly, if my eyes encounter something I might be averse to or aggrieved by, then I simply avert my gaze. Problem solved! The MAAF and others might ease their perceived frustration by a similar approach.

Ah, the good ol' stick your head in the sand and it goes away approach! Yeah, that solves problems right?

Earlier today, someone said, "While engaging in military action in Islamic countries it might be advisable not to list religion on dog tags." The author is either suggesting that Islamic people do not like anyone who is religious, or that Islamic people do not like anyone who does not follow Islam. That said, I am wondering if the author was suggesting issuance of multiple sets of dog tags? One for wearing while in areas that are hostile to Christians or non-Muslim, and another for wearing while at church and everywhere else.

It would seem that when we are in hostile places, no matter where, they are not shooting at Americans because of what is on their dog tags, they are trying to kill Americans period. A blank dog tag isn't going to make a difference to the enemy in the zone.

I am sick and tired of these organizations pushing there garbage on everyone else. I hope every one of them burn in HELL.

Yeah, that's what Jesus said!

Ya know, if they want us to recognize them as Atheist then they (the atheist's) should recognize everyone elses..........Yes??

So, how hard is it to be recognized when you're not in the minority? Kind of hard to NOT be recognized, wouldn't ya say?

Are you really Athiests, or do you just want to make them look bad. To call yourselves freethinkers, and at the sametime, petition to limit others thoughts... would be more than inaccurate. That is what happens when you give MORONS books... They end up thinking they are smart. Well get over it, and be free enough to stop worrying about what everyone else does, and police up your own activities. By the very nature of your actions you are imposing on MY rights and MY son's future rights to have his religious preference on our dog tags. I DO WANT THE APPROPRIATE CLERGY MEMBER WITH MY SON SHOULD HIS TIME COME EARLIER THAN WE ANTICIPATE. We see you all, if you only want attention, you have it. Much like spoiled brats who don't want anyone else to have fun if they can't. Looks like the "freethinkers" need to be spanked and put their nose in the corner for a while to "think" about what you are saying. Instead of freethinkers maybe they should the UNthinkers. The more they talk the more they prove they don't have many free thoughts... it will cost them their reputation in the end. No one like stupid people.

when i went in, back in 71, i chose none for my religious affiliation and caught hell from every DI in the company, was made to run extra, do more push-ups, forced to go to church each sunday of basic and put on KP until I went in and had Baptist put down instead. Now, I was not an atheist, just felt that if I needed some last rites, I did not care who it would be.

i do not agree with this, but i can see where it comes from.

This is pathetic. I'm a pagan (not wiccan) and I believe that EVERY soldier has the right to believe in whomever they wish. And with that they have to have that belief on their tags just in case the worste happens. The damned athiest fanatics need to get off thier high horse and and keep their fanatic damands away from the military. Soldiers in battle have always used thier faith to get them through the terror of war.

Durring WW2 many American Jewish Fighgting men wore their Faith Proudly on their ID tags even with the threat of execution if captured. Brave and defiant. Could it be that our forefathers had experienced a King (Henery VIII) in their former country (ENGLAND) and history that FORCED A STATE RELIGION (The Church of England) on the whole country, that you HAD to belong to or face DEATH, (Catholic, Quakers etc.) that they put that separation of Church and Government in the Constitution. Come On, Stand Down. If there was no GOD who would those atheist complain about. I for one have never been bother by the selection. I have had friends who have had Barbarin or Pagan on their tags. I kind of thought it was cool, and that was in the 1960's and 1970's. GOD BLESS AMERICA AND HER FIGHTING MEN AND WOMEN OF ALL DENOMINATIONS. God Bless All

I was in the line everyone in the Army remembers where we got our boots and tags and a little hazing from the overjoyed supply guys and gals to be with you there at that special moment. An African American CPL SPC or SGT about 25 or 26 (old to me at 18) poignantly asked each of us "What RELIGION are you?" and as I feared I didn't know what to say being raised Baptist, Catholic, and a little Lutheran. Seeing I was dumbstruck, he simply said, "Let me put it this way. When you're body comes back in a box, what service does you mother want it to be?" I immediately barked "Lutheran!" with ne'er a thought. This is about our Mothers and Fathers, not about us. I don't think some "Uni-Service" stamp seen or unseen is what is in our grieving parent's best interest. Leave the petty personal peeves at the door and let's focus on something better and more fruitful than taking my favorite Supply Sarge out of the line.
Thanks, Rob
(US ARMY M.P. Corp (Ret.), 53rd M.P. Co)

I was in the line everyone in the Army remembers where we got our boots and tags and a little hazing from the overjoyed supply guys and gals to be with you there at that special moment. An African American CPL SPC or SGT about 25 or 26 (old to me at 18) poignantly asked each of us "What RELIGION are you?" and as I feared I didn't know what to say being raised Baptist, Catholic, and a little Lutheran. Seeing I was dumbstruck, he simply said, "Let me put it this way. When you're body comes back in a box, what service does you mother want it to be?" I immediately barked "Lutheran!" with ne'er a thought. This is about our Mothers and Fathers, not about us. I don't think some "Uni-Service" stamp seen or unseen is what is in our grieving parent's best interest. Leave the petty personal peeves at the door and let's focus on something better and more fruitful than taking my favorite Supply Sarge out of the line.
Thanks, Rob
(US ARMY M.P. Corp (Ret.), 53rd M.P. Co)

OK Atheists... please send me all of your "God" money (AKA $).

why is the military letting these atheists (so few) determine what the soldier (so many) wants,being a korea war vet i was happy to have a chaplain around once in a while,was very comforting no matter what his religion was.

Comparing atheists to soldiers isn't valid. Some soldiers are atheists.

During my service in the Navy, the question of religious preference was not an issue; to believe or not believe was not an issue. Crew members attended the religious services of their choice under the guidence of a Chaplain, Elder, or mentor. Many crew members participated in private Bible study groups. Nobody complained, although a few might have engaged in ridicule. I was severly burned in an engine room accident, and when I awoke from my pain relief, a Catholic Chaplain was standing beside my sickbay bed. The fact that I was a Protestant was of no consequence, because we were both of the Christian faith. Faith does matter in reference to the practices of one's faith, and in some cases, even one's sex when administering certain rites. Dog Tags are not discrimnatory...they are informational, and nothing more. The trouble with religious preference does not come from within the military services, it comes from without. Some religious groups do not condone blood transfusions. Does that mean that the blood type should be taken off of Dog Tags and that blood typing should become a guessing game? I don't think so. And what is most disturbing to me, is when religious freedom, as Constitutuionally guaranteed, is abridged while a complaint is in a pre-judication file waiting to be heard by some judge who has no right to offer an opinion on a basic freedom that doesn't need legislative action or legal opinion as an exercise of creative right. Article III, consisting of three simple sections, amended by the First Amendent; Congress shall make no law respecting and establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. How can any court act against religious freedom when the US Congress is forbidden by the Constitution of passing any law which interfers with that basic right? It seems to me that no court can have any case against any religious standard since there can be no Congressional Law to be tested.

There should be no religious question on military documents. Any one listing themselves as atheist would be discriminated against. You need only to look at the comments of the religious proponents in this column to see they think atheist are stupid and demanding Even the author of the article seems to enjoy creating conflict between servicemen with his comment “We would sometimes put the Muslim, Mormon and Catholic in the same Guard Tower so they could fight it out rhetorically” Is this a way to build camaraderie?! I am a Vietnam vet and put protestant on my dog tags not because I believed in god voodoo but because I knew that if I claimed to be an agnostic or atheist I would not be treated fairly. If you want your religion on a tag around your neck buy your own tag, it should not be on dog tags. The “minority” of agnostics and atheists is at least 10% of the US population if not 15%. Hopefully the day will come when atheists will be treated as decent normal people by our military.

Maybe it was the timing (86 - 92), or the branch (army), but no one, and i mean no one that i can recall, looked at my dog-tags except maybe in the hospital.. Anyway, at our age then, Agnostic meant about as much to me as Protestant. It was inconsequential. Its about what makes your Mother happy to me. Nothing else.

Maybe it was the timing (86 - 92), or the branch (army), but no one, and i mean no one that i can recall, looked at my dog-tags except maybe in the hospital.. Anyway, at our age then, Agnostic meant about as much to me as Protestant. It was inconsequential. Its about what makes your Mother happy to me. Nothing else.

oh yes and this too..have been in our local honor guard for over 5 years and have been to to many funerals and many have been atheists we don't care who they are or what their religion is the were soldiers our comrades so what is the big problem.

NO! The soldier / sailor deservives to be remembered in his private religious beliefes. Jews do not endorce enblming .... Christians mostley do. Should we not answer to the man / woman who gave their all for this Country... it's on their dogtags.

Just a short note ,hope it doesn't bore some of you...if it does that's a problem one has to work out for one's selve. Seems to this 77 year old USAF vet,,, remembers a quotaion from years and years ago,,,simply stated it says... " THERE ARE --- NO --- ATHEITISES---- IN FOX HOLES DURING A BATTLE"! But then again one can be mistaken, and if one is that's quite OK,,, Blessings FS

At age eighteen, three days out of high school, I was in the army. In basic, I was asked my religion for my dog tags. I said I didn't know. The army, in it's wisdom decided I was Protestant. I still wish they had let me leave the space blank. I think this is the fair solution here, too. I understand that some people have very definite beliefs and would like a minister of their faith in a crisis. For them, put the info on the dog tag. For the rest of us, not necessarily atheists, leave the line blank. Isn't that easy?

I really feel sorry for these people. When they die they will be all dressed up and have nowhere to go.

You forgot where everyone else goes: in the ground, up in smoke....

The United States of America - a country that I have grown to Love and Appreciate with all my heart and soul - was founded on Christian values and in my personal opinion it should remain so without depriving people of other religions to practice their faith. This is something that the United States has never done; i.e. depriving people of practicing their faiths.
What is noteworthy to mention here is: Could Christians who live and work in certain countries practice their faith? I think not. So here is what I say to those who try to impose their own beliefs on a nation that has given them sanctuary to show a token of gratitude to the United States of America and its people. By the way, when in Rome do as the Romans do. Amen!

Do as the Romans did? So, you want to feed the atheists to the lions?

The United States of America - a country that I have grown to Love and Appreciate with all my heart and soul - was founded on Christian values and in my personal opinion it should remain so without depriving people of other religions to practice their faith. This is something that the United States has never done; i.e. depriving people of practicing their faiths.
What is noteworthy to mention here is: Could Christians who live and work in certain countries practice their faith? I think not. So here is what I say to those who try to impose their own beliefs on a nation that has given them sanctuary to show a token of gratitude to the United States of America and its people. By the way, when in Rome do as the Romans do. Amen!

The reason for the question of religious preference is to allow the Chaplin of your faith to administer to the wounded, dying and suffering in the faith of their choice.Additionally, there are no athiests in foxholes and all call for their mother. This group needs to get their heads out of their fourth point of contact. This is more exploitation of our military for social purposes. The Constitution does not apply to us (military) we merely defend it. That is why as a military member you are under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ)

When I became a young soilder in 1980 I was asked,(Do you have a perfrence in faith that you would wish to place on your dog tags?).You have a choice.If you have a personel problem with a military person who is willing to lay down theire life if need be for their country, then I relley have a problem understanding why you would elect to try and remove something yhat may give them comfort.What's next?,Rainbow strips on our weapons because theire out of fashion.

We need to look up the history of the issue and why it is important. Please go to Wallbuilders .com. If I remember right in 1961 they said in law that you no longer had to be a christiam to hold a public office. We can all see what a mistake this has been . George Washington even stated you cannot have morals separate from God / religion/ bible or some thing of this sort.

Dr. Liston, well stated and Pastor FS, I bet there were no atheists in the cockpit.
" The Constitution is not an instrument for the GOVERNMENT to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the PEOPLE to restrain the government lest it com to dominate ourrrrr lives and interest. "
Patrick Henry

i have often wondered if any atheist ever called on God to be with them when their time comes to leave this world.

When I served in the US Army for three years was the Word Agnostic on my dog tag. It never bothered anyone to my knowledge and it cirtainly didn't bother me that my fellow service folks had their religion on their dog tags.

Because of personal revelation: I am no longer an Agnostic: I now know that there is Devine thought.

I could never understand the athiest's position. It is not logical to assume that out of infinite space and time that the highest order of thought is merely ours or perhaps some alien beings from another planet. To me the agnostic is easy to understand, the athiest on the other hand is somwhat selfish and studpid. Who are they to tell me that I CAN'T Have My religion on my dog tags if I want it there?

We live in a country where freedom to express one's beliefs whether political, sexual, educational, religious, or whatever is cherished and somewhat expected. I always find it amusing that when people find their view is not the mainstream view on a subject, they become so passionate believing everyone else is wrong and that the world should change to suit them. Bottom line..Why should atheists care about if someone believes in something higher than themselves? In the end, it doesn't really matter because their is no GOD right? Well for me, thank God that the military supports and protects their right to express their view just like all the other views every citizen in this country has an opportunity to have. My conceited atheists, please allow the people dodging bullets to have some sense of security and hope during their time of need. Dog tags are for assisting the deceased body, but if you have your way, no longer will the Bible, Koran, Torah, or any other religious item will be allowed for our service members.

All religions are recoginized and allowed on dog tags & personel files EXCEPT those which allow human sacrifice or other practices injurous to human(s). You can not set up your own religion which requires you to hate/kill/injure another. Cults that preach hatred and abuse of people are also not recognized as a religion. (This is true in most of the world not just the US military.)
Most religions are based on the goodness of humans and not the evil things some people do. If you kill, torture, maim, rape others that is your own evil personality/insanity and not a recognized religion. I spent 23 yrs with no preference on my dog tags/files and it never bothered anyone lease of all me. Everyone has the right to have their remains treated with the respect their religion suggests. Most military chaplins have a religious background but they are also trained/taught the differences in religions and are capable of showing the proper respect to any religious belief they come across. I know when I asked a chaplain for help they didn't ask my religion just what they could do for me.
Only if a military member is captured or killed will our enemies see their dog tags. Most of them will assume a religion and not even look at the tag. ie we are the enemy no matter our religion. Terrorist will torture/kill/kidnap their enemies anyways, dog tags will make absolutely no difference. The Geneva Convention does not concern these people so what on the dog tags is beside the point. These MAAF people should stop trying to shove their beliefs down everyone elses throats. There is enough stupidity in the world already.

Cults that preach love and kindness are not recognized either. The military is a cult and i recognized that day one in boot camp. They kill and preach hatred. this post is now getting really stupid.

For atheists may state, "NONE." What's next?

I am an aithiest/ agnostic, either way I find many things that make the Army a secular group offensive, read now one ever asks at reup what your end is untill your standing there like an idiot "uhhhhh not saying it". I hate invocations at each military ceromony and even more when told you will play along just like the other sheep and act like you care (air assault school 1999). Or even more upset when a 1sg gets up there and starts saying to find a diety before a deployment (2005). But I have never hid my choice, and tell people around me when they start talking along those lines that it is not acceptable topics on shift. What I do ask is if you get 4 hours a week to practice then that should be across the board for ALL!

For MFF. how about thinking about this if the dog tags all say nothing. then a believer doesn't get the ceremony they want at death, but an agnostic, humanist, satanist, ect. might get the ceremony that the padre walking by knows.

There are many types in all foxholes and we all bleed red!

"how about thinking about this if the dog tags all say nothing. then a believer doesn't get the ceremony they want at death, but an agnostic, humanist, satanist, ect. might get the ceremony that the padre walking by knows." ... Very good point! (from an infantryman - CIB, 06) and a minister.

Atheist to ban "Religious Prederence" NO WAY If they don't believe God that's their choice but don't push it on the rest of us. I'm proud of American & God. We all have choices they made theirs.

I have a will made up as likewise, as; I had my religious preference on my dog tags incase I could not speak as my last moment my life may pass me by. If a mob boss has a religious leader to perform the death/last words read over his or hers dead body, that is their request. So, no atheist nor same sex has any rights to tell those who respect whom they believe in God above even those who wants to claim something else as their idol to worship to.
Those who want to interefere into our Religious Freedom best back out of our based authority of Faith and Creator. If they cross this line, then we have the same right to interfere into their private life and take away things or desires from them.

I think I can sum this whole issue up im a couple of words...

POLITICALLY CORRECT IS NEITHER!!!

I was a practicing Wiccan when I served. I was discriminated against because of this at every duty station, including day one in basic training. My position on this matter is that yes, the military does need to know the religious preference of it's members for the purposes of determining how to treat them with respect should they die while serving. But what is on a person's dogtag should STAY on the dogtag until that time comes! While a military member is alive and serving, they should be free to worship in any manner that breaks no laws, and it should be done without inflicting that belief system on others - especially on the job. Christianity as it is practiced within the military at large is pushy and ignorant, and that needs to stop being the status quo. That is the real problem here. Specific examples: At Lackland (Basic Training) I was told that if I didn't attend church on Sunday I would have to clean the barracks - punishment for being non-Christian! While stationed at Keesler in Biloxi, MS I was told that if people on the street saw me with my pentagram medallion showing they would "rip it off my neck". Ignoramuses who confused the Dungeons & Dragons game with Satanism got that recreational club kicked off base. The ignorant, pushy and prejudicial behavior of fundamentalist Christians toward their fellow military who do not share those beliefs needs to stop. That is the real problem.

I'm a fundamentalist Christian who wouldn't mind playing some D&D, played for years, but the company that makes D&D is an immoral anti-Christian heterodoxy through and through, I know it very well, met Richard Garfield, beta-tested the MMORPG until they booted me for speaking Christianese, couldn't even mention God without someone threatening me.

Lord knows, you're right to be angry about being threatened with involuntary servitude for not going to church (you have a 1st/13th Amendment case), that sort of thing is one of the reasons the military can kiss my ass. "Our troops" are being turned into brainwashed dumbed-down & drugged-down socialist UN slaves for genocidal fascist Bilderberg banksters. If you value your life, get out quick, refuse the vaccines, don't use DU rounds, don't huff the burn pits, and gain your freedom ASAP.

Please reconsider your affiliation to organized Wicca, it's shot through with heterodox luciferian psyops (as are most organized religions). Consider homegrown low-magick instead. :)

We as people who have stood up to defend the Constitution have an obligation to be more knowlageble about the Constitution than the avererage Citizen. The intent of the Founding Fathers was to prevent any one Sect of Christianity from becoming the "Official State Church" and to prevent the Government from interferring with peoples freedom to practice their Religion.
So the Military must allow people to practice their Faith, and they can't very well make provisions for that if they don't know what Faith the Soldier practices.

Amendment 1 - Freedom of Religion, Press, Speach. Ratified 12/15/1791. Note

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.