Our conversation with veterans Kevin and Deborah Trimble.
Kevin Trimble’s life changed forever on September 18, 2011. A private in the army, his unit was sweeping a village in Afghanistan for IEDs when, as he puts it, they found one the hard way. Specialist Ryan James Cook, the soldier who stepped on the IED, died immediately. Kevin was standing eleven feet away and lost both legs and his left arm.
Minutes later, on the other side of the ocean, his sister, Deborah Trimble, answered her phone. A military police officer with the Air Force, she was her brother’s emergency contact, and she tried to understand what the sergeant at the other end of the line was telling her. Her brother was still on his way to the hospital, and the extent of his injuries was not yet clear.
Especially in the early years of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, soldiers burned their waste in big, open-air pits. They burned everything from tires, batteries, and plastic to human and medical waste.
Curtis Gibson is an Air Force veteran. He served in Afghanistan in late 2011.
“I’d see things floating in the air — burned papers — you see them floating through the air so you know you’re taking something in,” Gibson says.
He says he had a medical exam when he came home to Detroit.
Former President Jimmy Carter told a Grand Rapids audience Monday that he supports U.S. military air strikes against Islamic extremists in Iraq, though he’s less supportive of similar air strikes in Syria.
Muslim clerics held a vigil in Dearborn last night to show their opposition to ISIS, and to pray for the family of James Foley, an American reporter killed recently by the group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria.
The small crowd held candles and signs saying “Muslims against ISIS.”
Sara Albusaid immigrated to Dearborn from Iraq.
She says her husband and son are still in southern Iraq, where they're being inundated with people fleeing the violence in other parts of the country.
"I mean, it's not just my country. I'm very worried about all the world. It makes me cry a lot, because I see you know, innocent people [have] died. I have to raise my voice" said Albusaid.
Albusaid says she’s frustrated with U.S. forces for leaving Iraq and creating the political vacuum that has allowed ISIS to spread.
"I feel very angry because, you know, when they go inside Iraq they said we are the big help for Iraqi people, and then after that, they don't care," she said. "Or there is something they wanted from Iraq, and they take it and they leave."
More than one cleric told the crowd they have to publicly stand up against any group that commits violence in the name of Islam.
An interview with Kurt Metzger, director emeritus of Data Driven Detroit.
Fewer immigrants are choosing to make Michigan their new home, according to figures released by the Department of Homeland Security.
Last year, Michigan’s immigrant population dropped 4.6% — the second-lowest level in the past 12 years.
That decline doesn’t fit with current immigration trends in the Midwest. Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, and Ohio have all seen an increase in immigration. Only Michigan and Wisconsin are experiencing a drop.
But while the number of newcomers coming to the state is on the decline, one immigrant group continues to flow to Michigan — Iraqis.
“Michigan is just second to California in terms of its attraction of Iraqi immigrants,” said Kurt Metzger, director emeritus of Data Driven Detroit.
Update 5/29/13: This story has been corrected to reflect Wright’s rank as Specialist, not Sergeant. Wright misrepresented his rank during the formal event.
Memorial Day was particularly special for an injured Iraqi war veteran from Allegan.
Hundreds huddled close at Oakwood Cemetery Monday morning. Some wept as Amy Wright finally pinned a Purple Heart on her husband’s uniform. He kneeled so his 7-year old daughter Torin could pin on the other one.
After nearly nine years, some 4,500 American fatalities and about $1 trillion, America’s war in Iraq is about to end. Officials marked the finish Thursday with a modest ceremony at the airport days before the last troops traverse the southern highway to Kuwait, going out as they came in, to conclude the United States’ most ambitious and bloodiest military campaign since Vietnam.
Iraqis will be left with a country that is not exactly at war, and not exactly at peace.
"We are only thankful to them because they got rid of Saddam Hussein. They didn't bring any hope, any construction, any electricity, any water or any infrastructure."
Michigan Senator Carl Levin released this statement today:
“I hope every American will take some time today to reflect on the immense courage and selflessness of our men and women in uniform and their families over the last eight years. Over repeated deployments, in difficult and dangerous conditions, hundreds of thousands of soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines served in Iraq with honor. Beyond their service, they gave our nation unity – the unity of a people who, though divided over the decision to go to war, supported the men and women who fought it.”
LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A consortium of Michigan companies says it's eager to oversee the building of a new city near Baghdad that draws on the skills of Iraqi immigrants living in Michigan.
Officials from the National Investment Commission of Iraq were announcing Tuesday that they've signed a memorandum of understanding with the consortium, MICH Development, to plan and build a new city of 500,000 on the outskirts of Baghdad.
The agreement gives the consortium what it needs to take the next step - raising billions of dollars from banks and private investors to get the project under way by late 2012.
Although much of the building is expected to be done by Iraqi workers, Michigan companies could win as much as $1.5 billion in contracts.
Earlier today I posted the stories of two young veterans who had served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Multiple tours overseas is common in today's military. Re-enlistments helped keep these wars supplied with soldiers over the last ten years.
The problem, as Bernard Rostker of the Rand Corporation put it, "the more you go the more you’re exposed, the more likely you will eventually have some adverse psychological reactions."
Rostker is a former Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, and a former senior policy advisor on recruitment for the Secretary of Defense.
He said the propensity to develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is cumulative. And with soldiers serving multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, they're more at risk than a soldier serving a single tour.
PTSD can show up much later in life.
"This is going to be a huge concern for the military," said Rostker.
"Rand did a study, it was a random telephone interview of large numbers of vets using screening techniques for PTSD, and came to the conclusion that there was a huge number of unreported cases. It was controversial with the Department of Defense who looked at the number of people being treated versus those identified with PTSD and noticed lots were going untreated," said Rostker.
About a thousand Michigan Army and Air National Guardsmen will spend the upcoming Labor Day holiday weekend back home, after spending the past year in Iraq and Kuwait. Two battalions of guardsmen have been arriving in cities and towns across Michigan during the past few days.
Captain Aaron Jenkins is a Michigan National Guard spokesman. He says moving the troops from the Middle East to Michigan is complicated by the need to bring their equipment back with the troops.