Leaving Treadmarkz Across the Universe

Archive for the ‘Iraq War’ Category

Support Our Troops!…Not Just Symbolically Or In Sentiment…But Really!

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by Treadmarkz

As Memorial Day comes and passes again tomorrow, I know I will be hearing a lot of slogans and speeches about supporting our troops. And I whole-heartedly agree. But I get the feeling that a lot of times holidays such as Memorial Day are days meant for sentimentality and not much else. Sure it is a day of remembrance for the fallen. But what about remembering those who gave and lived to tell about it? I know the term “memorial” suggests those who have passed, but it also suggests “remembering.”
We can remember what our troops gave by helping those who came back with disabilities a chance to remain a vital part of our society. There are a lot of programs like Veterans Employment at VA.gov, or militaryvetjobs.com or Veterans Employment and Training Service (VETS) that are dedicated to helping our soldiers come home with, literally, something to come home to. A job. A purpose. Income. Hope. Please support these and organizations like them.
I know that many are concerned that this is an extension of “Affirmative Action”. I am not a veteran but I am disabled. And I have struggled with obtaining employment in the past. I have said before that I don’t want to get a job just because I am disabled. I want to be qualified. But remember the military qualifies soldiers in a vast array of areas of potential employment. They may come home disoriented by the struggle to cope with their new bodily circumstances, shall we say, but they have been trained to be successful in whatever they do.

Supporting veterans in their search for employment upon arrival back home may be the most patriotic thing one can do.

1. It supports the newly returned soldier.

2. It helps to keep our economy running by keeping jobs filled.

3. It keeps the deficit from rising when injured soldiers come home to a disability check.

4. And, often overlooked, think of how morale will rise among troops who are still on duty overseas, when word gets around that a movement has begun back home, that they don’t have to worry about how they would support their family should they become injured in the line of duty.

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Go and Watch “Avatar”

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by Treadmarkz

Like I said in the title of this posting, go and watch James Cameron’s new movie, Avatar if you haven’t already. It is not ALL hype. Not all. It is a great movie, with some mind bending scenes, colors, action, etc. Not the most groundbreaking screenplay or overall plot, and there is certainly a lot of non-very-well-veiled anti-war propaganda. But all things considered the movie is great. And it’s not racist, despite what some people are saying. I don’t know how some people jump to that conclusion whenever a movie involves civilizations of a different color (The Na’vi, who are blue). If anything the movie is taking a stand against one of its own characters who considers the Na’vi to be inferior because of their non-European-like culture.

I will try not to spoil anything, but you can see from the preview that a man in a wheelchair, Jake, walks again by becoming one of the Na’vi, right? Well, okay, seeing him become an avatar and walk on two legs for the first time since becoming disabled, and talking about it with my wife on the way home from the movie, it FORCED ME to admit that while I don’t pine away to be able to walk, if I did one day find myself able to, I ADMIT that I would react the same way this man did. By running. And like him, I’d probably keep running for a while.

When I first saw the preview, I thought the movie might have something to do with the Hindu avatars of God (Krishna, Vishnu, etc) because they are always portrayed with blue skin. But it has nothing to do with that, except that in Hinduism, avatars are said to come to help humanity when we need to be reminded why we are here, OR we are being overcome by evil forces, which is just what the character Jake ends up doing for the Na’vi. But they are all blue themselves, so the reference gets lost.

Anyway, go see the movie and let me know what you thought. Or if you’ve seen it, let me know what you thought.

Why It Takes More Than A Disabled War Veteran and the Mother of a Child With a Disability To Win My Vote

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by Treadmarkz,

I have encountered fellow citizens of the U.S. who were shocked that I would not be voting for John McCain/Sarah Palin in this year’s election. Astounded, really.

“Don’t you think Sarah Palin, as a mother of a disabled kid, and John McCain, as a disabled War Veteran, would do everything they can for disabled people?”

I have endless respect for McCain’s sacrifice in War, and I know from listening to my mother talk about raising me what Palin must go through to get her child what he needs to live the life she wants for him. So this is a valid question. Sure Palin is the mother of a child with Down Syndrome. But I don’t know what she would do as a leader. I mean if my own mother were in the White House, I have a good idea of the laws that she would want changed and I would trust her judgement. But I don’t know enough about Palin to know if I trust the things that she would have pushed for as VP. And nobody can know what’s best for all the different kinds of disabled people. So you have to vote for the overall best choice you have available. And I believe I did.

And besides that, any change that was made on behalf of disabled people would have to be voted on by the law-making bodies of our government, not just installed by Palin OR McCain. I know that is how it works under Bush/Cheney but we are back to reality now. In that respect I know that disabled people are just as well off under Obama as we would have been with Palin or McCain.

I told the person that asked me this that sometimes it is better if people that have a little distance from the issue make the decision. And what I meant was that if we want this to be a fair and balanced country, the laws and “changes” need to be made by people without self-interest in the issues.

And speaking of self-interest, despite an earlier posting in which I noted that Obama was the only candidate that mentioned disabled people on his Web site, I know that there are issues that are infinitely more important to this country than whether I get accessibility to certain buildings, etc. Such as the issue of whether I get to keep getting my health care for free while others don’t have health care at all. Such as whether my president is going to stop or continue isolating us from the rest of the world. Whether he is going to take the time to read the CIA reports about potential attacks. Whether my president is going to make education a priority for everyone. Whether he is going to tax the people who have the money to spare (the facts don’t lie, if you actually paid attention to what McCain and Obama were saying). The list goes on and on.

The point is that I am a citizen of this country and I care about the things that everyone else does. So it took more than two people with direct connections with disabilities to get my vote. That is why I voted for Obama.

Disabled People: Don’t Vote Absentee Unless You Absolutely Must!

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by Treadmarkz

It’s probably a little late for this but I just read that absentee voting costs the county – at least the county that I am living in – about $10 per ballot, which is about twice as much as each ballot costs the county on Election Day. I don’t know why that is, but I also know that many of the people that are casting absentee votes are giving “disability” for a reason they need to vote early.

Since this election is about ceasing the unnecessary spending in government and getting back to pooling our resources into things that are important, I implore you if you are disabled, please do not vote absentee, unless you really need to, to avoid the crowds, which is completely understandable. And I ask that anyone else who may attempt to fabricate a reason why they need to vote early, to avoid doing so. Show that you really believe in changing the way we do things for the greater good!

Since there isn’t much time until Election Day, please pass this on to anyone you think should read this.

I am Treadmarkz, and again, I approve this message.

A Time Machine With Hand Controls, Episode III – The Birth of the Paralympics

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by Treadmarkz

Wheelchair sports. Adaptive sports. Whatever you call it, participating in it has, in part, enriched the lives of millions of disabled people. And just like so many other 20th century advances made by and for the disabled, it came as a result of thousands and thousands of veterans coming home disabled.

-Hopefully we will be able to make lemonade out of the lemon-tree of a war in which we are currently involved-

All political statements aside, on July 28, 1948 the Stoke Mandeville Games were played, organized by Sir Ludwig Guttman, a neurologist at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital in England as a rehabilitative exercise for WWII veterans injured in combat. This was not recreation. This was a hospital, and this was part of the patient’s rehab program. This was quite an advancement from WWI when a person who lost a leg in combat was pretty much lucky to survive.

The Games consisted of one event, archery (although wheelchair polo, basketball and table tennis were also encouraged by Guttman at the hospital), and were played by just two teams, eight players per side.

The event spread throughout Britain four the next few years, and then in 1952, the Dutch got involved, and by ’53, teams from Canada to Israel took part, bringing with them a glimmer of what would become a truly international event in years to come.

Guttman became the president of the International Sports Organization for the Disabled. He died in 1980.

The Stoke Mandeville Games obviously branched out to include a much wider spectrum of participants, becoming the Paralympics in 1960. Though the Paralympics now coincides with the Olympics every four years, and has spawned the Winter Paralympics in recent years, the Stoke Mandeville Games are still played annually.

A Time Machine With Hand Controls, Episode II – The Vietnam War

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by Treadmarkz

After the Vietnam War, almost 200,000 people came back home with a variety of debilitating war injuries and disabilities. They were amputees, they were blinded by flying shrapnel, they were deaf from unprotected ears during bombings, they were paraplegic, they were quadriplegic and they were mentally disabled from the stresses and horrors of the war.

But they came home.

With them, came a long list of socioeconomic issues that the country had not been confronted with since the down days of the Depression.

The Disabled American Veterans of the World War, established in 1920 had helped the 200,000 injured and disabled survivors of WWI. Of this number, those that suffered a permanent disability experienced the same troubles, joblessness, homelessness, alcoholism, etc. But many of them ended up in a mental institution or a home for the disabled, because their was no real other way to help them.

But for the vets of the Vietnam War, they came home without much in the way of benefits. Much less than their WWII counterparts received. Much of the social activism of the late 1960s and early 1970s can be attributed to the living conditions of the veterans. The first Vet Centers were not established until 1979. It took that long for veterans of WWII and any remaining disabled survivor of WWI, who were experiencing much of the same trouble that the Vietnam vets were, to get help.

Alcohol and drug use among veterans were rampant. These problems led to homelessness. I think we’ve all seen what has become somewhat of a stereotype, a man in a wheelchair on a street corner with the sign scribbled in permanent black marker on a piece of flattened cardboard box: “Disabled Veteran, Please Help” or something to that effect, with a bucket in his lap for any spare change he may receive from a generous passerby. This started after the Vietnam War. Before that, people in wheelchairs were rarely seen in public.

Terrible as their situation was, it took the story of the disabled from being buried in the back section to a big bold headline on the front page. For it was in the 1970s when legislation began to work its way through that made employment opportunities more accessible to the disabled, leading in part to the ADA, improvements in wheelchair technology and wheelchair athletic associations. It had to be so.

Thousands of the prospective young workforce, a workforce that once made this country thrive, were maimed, and therefore inactive. There had to be a way to get these people back into the world as the productive members of society that we are today. Because the country was in a major recession by the latter part of the seventies. In fact you might say that the many disabled who came back from the Vietnam War, needing employment contributed to the push-button workforce that is so prominent today. The Jetsons called it in 1962! It’s not push-button finger but carpal tunnel syndrome that we of the desk job suffer from in this modern age.

A Time Machine With Hand Controls, Preview of Episode II

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by Treadmarkz,

Sticking with the theme of war from my last posting, it’s time for another adventure with me, the backwards traveler, the ancient four-wheeled rambler as I roll across the space-time continuum to give a little insight as to the living conditions of the disabled throughout history.

Join me, won’t you, as I visit a magical land called “America-After-the-Vietnam-War”.

Stay tuned…