Letters To A Smalltown Weekly

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Location: Gualala, California, United States

Alice and I love our life on the Northern California coast and welcome friends and family to enjoy it with us.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Veteran Suicides

Editor, The San Francisco Chronicle

I sent a letter to the Chronicle Editor April 22, 2008 about errors in a Chronicle story about a lawsuit by veterans advocates. More recent Chronicle news stories on the trial are bringing out that plaintiffs' lawyer Arturo Gonzalez does not understand that the Veterans Administration suicide numbers are for all 26 million veterans, not just the 1.7 million Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans (whose 144 suicides over a four-year period produce a very low suicide rate of 2 per 100,000 per year, less than one-quarter of the general population rate). I don't understand how Gonzalez's ignorance of such a basic fact could prevent the judge from throwing this case out immediately.

As a minimum the Chronicle should correct its previous reporting on this issue and set the record straight.

(Below is my previous letter you ignored)

Editor (The San Francisco Chronicle)

“More than 120 veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq commit suicide every week,” according to veterans advocates, began a San Francisco Chronicle front-page story: VA stalls on care while 18 veterans a day commit suicide, judge is told, by Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer, Tuesday, April 22, 2008.

That’s terrible. Terrible journalism, that is. The rate of 18 veterans a day committing suicide is for all veterans, not just veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. For comparison purposes, the acknowledged VA veteran suicide rate is 19 per 100,000 per year, which is about the same or lower than the suicide rates for both sexes in entire countries: Japan, Belgium, Finland, Cuba, France, Austria, Korea, and Switzerland. In US male veterans to all males comparisons, which is the closest I could get to “apples to apples,” the entire male populations of over forty nations have higher or similar suicide rates than our veterans (the rate for all American males is 17.9).

Our active duty military suicide rate is 11 per 100,000 per year, about half our civilian rate for same-age males. From an analysis of suicide statistics, it actually shows it is safer from a suicide perspective to be a veteran or serving on active military duty.

True, but you’ll never see that in a Chronicle headline on the front page.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Preemptive Democrat Strike on an American General


Nancy Pelosi issued a warning to General Petraeus to not report anything Democrats don’t want to hear. “We’ve been consistent in telling the American people that we’ve lost the war in Iraq, so don’t you go telling them anything different,” Nancy Pelosi would have said if truthfulness was a Democrat option.

Since truthfulness is not in the Democrat’s best interest, what Nancy actually said was "We have to know the real ground truths of what is happening there, not put a shine on events because of a resolution [of the situation in Basra] that looks less violent when it has in fact been dictated by someone [Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada] al-Sadr who can grant or withhold that call for violence or not."

“In other words, if things are less violent, don’t say they are less violent. If things in Iraq improve, our Democrat image will suffer, since our position all along is that it’s hopeless,” I hear Nancy Pelosi saying as I read between the lines of her protestations against the report from General Petraeus she hasn’t heard yet.

For those who protest me reporting what Pelosi and the Democrats haven’t said, let me remind you that Pelosi and the Democrats have already protested against what General Petraeus hasn’t said.

I’m just trying to catch up. It’s obvious that if anyone waits to find out what General Petraeus actually says, they’ll miss an entire news cycle. As soon as the General finishes his report, the Democrats will start telling us what he really meant or should have said, and the Democrat’s preemptive strike against truth telling would have gone unnoticed.

Except I noticed, and now you have too.