Archive for the ‘Veterans’ Category

>World War II Bracelet

January 3, 2009

>A man in Belgium has found a sweetheart bracelet in the Belgian forest near the German border, belonging to an American soldier who fought in the Battle of the Bulge. The soldier lived in Bessemer after World War II. He wants to return the bracelet to the man’s family.

He did some research, and found that the man, named Andrew J. Barfield, was born in Randolph County, Alabama, on August 15, 1925, and died here in Jefferson County November 1982.

He says that Barfield fought in the Battle of the Ardennes of World War II, more commonly known as the Battle of the Bulge (there was a Battle of the Ardennes in WW I also).

Photo Credit Wiki Commons

We are hoping that Barfield still has relatives in the Bessemer area, or that friends of the family will recognize his name and can contact surviving family. Please spread this request to people in the Bessemer area that may know.

If you are familiar with this family please contact me…my email contact is over to the left.

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>Caring for Veterans plus Music for Lovers

November 19, 2008

>Be sure to read the post directly below this one. It is my column from today’s Western Tribune, where I explain the significance of Barack Obama’s election to the gay community.

This story, seen on NBC News last night, will touch your heart. Well, it did mine. Because I think we should do a better job in caring for our vets who come home with physical or mental wounds. And because it involves dogs. I am still a veterinarian, you know. And even though I focused on cats during my career, what dogs can do is amazing.

Service dogs, being trained to assist wounded service persons, are being trained by veterans with PTSD, and the training is part of their therapy as well. This is great.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22425001/vp/27792698#27792698

Shifting gears a bit…

Boyzone
, the boy band from Ireland (now more of a “man band”) with openly gay heartthrob Stephen Gately, will be releasing a new song in December. “Better” is a cover of a song recorded by Tom Baxter last year and is touted as being the first “boy band” music video that shows a gay couple in love. The band first wanted to use their real love interests in the video but the partners would not agree. The other pairings are straight couples.

This song reflects the feelings that any couple, gay or straight, might have as they consider a life together. And separate but equal institutions of recognizing those lives are not right. So watch the video, consider how you feel about your husband, wife, partner, bf or gf or whoever, and think about how everyone in love should have equal rights.

At any rate, Tom Baxter recorded the song in 2007, and his video is just as diverse.

So, which video, and which version of the song, do you like?

But “gayish” videos go way back. Some of us remember Pet Shop Boys “Being Boring” from 1990. Don’t let the bare bunned guy at the first scare you, the video is really just about life when you are young, and the song is actually in remembrance of people lost to AIDS.

But what memories…(although our parties never featured donkeys or chimps on bicycles).

>McCain’s Record on Veterans…Poor

September 9, 2008

>One of those suspicious (not so) “anonymous” commenter’s left this earlier… after my comment that said John McCain does not support veterans.

“…does not support veterans???? LMAO…omg.You are hilarious!!! He has gone to Iraq and actually TALKED to the soldiers, didn’t just do a photo op. Not only is he FOR veterans….HE IS ONE….”

Now, if that anonymous person will only read this, and see that each and every entry is documented, he or she will learn that yes, John McCain has a sorry record when it comes to supporting veterans. And look, read the Obama stuff too. There are serious issues confronting our veterans, and we have treated them like crap.

From AFL/CIO with plenty of documentation.

McCAIN REPEATEDLY VOTED AGAINST VETERANS’ HEALTH BENEFITS

McCain Opposes the 21st Century GI Bill Because It Is Too Generous. McCain did not vote on the GI Bill that will provide better educational opportunities to veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, paying full tuition at in-state schools and living expenses for those who have served at least three years since the 9/11 attacks. McCain said he opposes the bill because he thinks the generous benefits would “encourage more people to leave the military.” (S.Amdt. 4803 to H.R. 2642, Vote 137, 5/22/08; Chattanooga Times Free Press, 6/2/08; Boston Globe, 5/23/08; ABCNews.com, 5/26/08)

McCain Voted Against Increased Funding for Veterans’ Health Care. Although McCain told voters at a campaign rally that improving veterans’ health care was his top domestic priority, he voted against increasing funding for veterans’ health care in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007. (Greenville News, 12/12/2007; S.Amdt. 2745 to S.C.R. 95, Vote 40, 3/10/04; Senate S.C.R. 18, Vote 55, 3/16/05; S.Amdt. 3007 to S.C.R. 83, Vote 41, 3/14/06; H.R. 1591, Vote 126, 3/29/07)

Opposed an Assured Funding Stream for Veterans’ Health Care. McCain opposed providing an assured funding stream for veterans’ health care, taking into account annual changes in veterans’ population and inflation. (S.Amdt. 3141 to S.C.R. 83, Vote 63, 3/16/06)
McCain Voted Against Adding More Than $400 Million for Veterans’ Care. McCain was one of 13 Republicans to vote against providing an additional $430 million to the Department of Veterans Affairs for outpatient care and treatment for veterans. (S.Amdt. 3642 to H.R. 4939, Vote 98, 4/26/06)

Voted Against Establishing a $1 Billion Trust Fund for Military Health Facilities. McCain voted against establishing a $1 billion trust fund to improve military health facilities by refusing to repeal tax cuts for those making more than $1 million a year. (S.Amdt. 2735 to S.Amdt. 2707 to H.R. 4297, Vote 7, 2/2/06)

McCain Opposed $500 Million for Counseling Services for Veterans with Mental Disorders. McCain voted against an amendment to appropriate $500 million annually from 2006-2010 for counseling, mental health and rehabilitation services for veterans diagnosed with mental illness, post traumatic stress disorder or substance abuse. (S. 2020, S.Amdt. 2634, Vote 343, 11/17/05)

McCain Voted in Support of Disabled Veterans Only 25 Percent of the Time from 2004-2005. While McCain claims he “has been a leading advocate” for veterans with disabilities, statistics show he supported the Disabled American Veterans’ interests only 25 percent of the time in 2004-2005. In 2006 that figure slipped to 20 percent of the time. (Project Vote Smart)

McCain Voted Against Providing Automatic Cost-of-Living Adjustments to Veterans. McCain voted against providing automatic annual cost-of living adjustments for certain veterans’ benefits. (S. 869, Vote 259, 11/20/91)

INCLUDING BETTER ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE FOR GUARD AND RESERVISTS

McCain Opposed Increasing Spending on TRICARE and Giving Greater Access to National Guard and Reservists. Although his campaign website devotes a large section to veterans issues, including expanding benefits for reservists and members of the National Guard, McCain voted against increasing spending on the TRICARE program by $20.3 billion over 10 years to give members of the National Guard and Reserves and their families greater access to the health care program. The increase would be offset by a reduction in tax cuts for the wealthy. (www.johnmccain.com/Informing/ Issues/9cb5d2aa-f237-464e-9cdf-a5ad32771b9f.htm; S.Amdt. 324 to S.C.R. 23, Vote 81, 3/25/03)

McCAIN ALSO VOTED TO OUTSOURCE JOBS AT MILITARY FACILITIES

McCain Supported Outsourcing VA Jobs. McCain opposed an amendment that would have prevented the Department of Veterans Affairs from outsourcing jobs, many held by blue-collar veterans, without first giving the workers a chance to compete. (S.Amdt. 2673 to H.R. 2642, Vote 315, 9/6/07)

He Also Supported Outsourcing at Walter Reed. McCain opposed an amendment to prevent the outsourcing of 350 federal employee jobs at Walter Reed Army Medical Center—outsourcing that contributed to the scandalous treatment of veterans at Walter Reed that McCain called a “disgrace.” (S.Amdt. 4895 to H.R. 5631, Vote 234, 9/6/06; Speech to VFW in Kansas City, Mo., 4/4/08)

AND HE REPEATEDLY VOTED AGAINST FUNDING FOR THE VETERANS AFFAIRS DEPARTMENT

2003: McCain Voted Against $122.7 Billion for Department of Veterans Affairs. McCain voted against an appropriations bill that included $122.7 billion in fiscal 2004 for the Department of Veterans Affairs, Housing and Urban Development and other related agencies. (H.R. 2861, Vote 449, 11/12/03)

2001: McCain Voted Against $51 Billion in Veterans Funding. McCain was one of five senators to vote against the bill and seven to vote against the conference report that provided $51.1 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as funding for the federal housing, environmental and emergency management agencies and NASA. (H.R. 2620, Vote 334, 11/8/01; Vote 269, 8/2/01)

2000: McCain Voted Against $47 Billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs. McCain was one of eight senators to vote against a bill that provided $47 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs. (H.R. 4635, Vote 272, 10/12/00)

1999: McCain Voted Against $44.3 Billion for Veterans Programs. McCain was one of five senators to vote against a bill providing $44.3 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs, plus funding for other federal agencies. (H.R. 2684, Vote 328, 10/15/99)

1996: McCain Voted Against a $13 Billion Increase in Funding for Veterans Programs. McCain voted against an amendment to increase spending on veterans programs by $13 billion. (S.C.R. 57, Vote 115, 5/16/96)

1995: McCain Voted to Underfund Department of Veterans Affairs. McCain voted for an appropriations bill that underfunded the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development by $8.9 billion. (H.R. 2099, Vote 470, 9/27/95)

1995: McCain Voted Against Closing Tax Loopholes to Increase Veterans Funding by $74 Million. McCain voted against eliminating tax breaks and closing tax loopholes to provide revenue to restore some of the proposed cuts in Veterans Affairs spending. (S.C.R. 13, Vote 226, 5/25/95)

1994: McCain Voted Against Funding the Department of Veterans Affairs. McCain was one of nine senators to vote against appropriating $90 billion in budget authority for the Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development departments. (H.R. 4624, Vote 306, 9/27/94)

Barack Obama’s Plan

A Sacred Trust

Barack Obama believes America has a sacred trust with our veterans. He is committed to creating a 21st Century Department of Veterans’ Affairs that provides the care and benefits our nation’s veterans deserve.

Allow All Veterans Back into the VA: One of Obama’s first acts will be reversing the 2003 ban on enrolling modest-income veterans, which has denied care to a million veterans.

Strengthen VA Care: Obama will make the VA a leader of national health care reform so that veterans get the best care possible. He will improve care for polytrauma, vision impairment, prosthetics, spinal cord injury, aging, and women’s health.

Combat Homelessness among Our Nation’s Veterans: Obama will establish a national “zero tolerance” policy for veterans falling into homelessness by expanding proven programs and launching innovative services to prevent veterans from falling into homelessness.

Fight Veterans Employment Discrimination: Obama will crack down on employers who commit job discrimination against guardsmen and reservists.

Help for Returning Service Members

Obama will improve the quality of health care for veterans, rebuild the VA’s broken benefits system, and combat homelessness among veterans.

Ensure a Seamless Transition: Obama will demand that the military and the VA coordinate to provide a seamless transition from active duty to civilian life.

Fully Fund VA Medical Care: Barack Obama will fully fund the VA so it has all the resources it needs to serve the veterans who need it, when they need it. Obama will establish a world-class VA Planning Division to avoid future budget shortfalls.

Fix the Benefits Bureaucracy: Obama will hire additional claims workers, and improve training and accountability so that VA benefit decisions are rated fairly and consistently. He also will transform the paper benefit claims process to an electronic one to reduce errors and improve timeliness.

Improved Mental Health Treatment

Obama will improve mental health treatment for troops and veterans suffering from combat-related psychological injuries.

Improve Mental Health Treatment: Obama will improve mental health care at every stage of military service. He will recruit more health professionals, improve screening, offer more support to families and make PTSD benefits claims fairer.

Improve Care for Traumatic Brain Injury: Obama will establish standards of care for Traumatic Brain Injury, the signature injury of the Iraq war.

Expand Vet Centers: Obama will expand and strengthen Vet Centers to provide more counseling for vets and their families.

Barack Obama’s Record

Record of Advocacy: As a member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Obama passed legislation to improve care and slash red tape for our wounded warriors recovering at places like Walter Reed. He passed laws to help homeless veterans and offered an innovative solution to prevent at-risk veterans from falling into homelessness. Obama led a bipartisan effort in the Senate to try to halt the military’s unfair practice of discharging service members for having a service-connected psychological injury. He fought for fair treatment of Illinois veterans’ claims and forced the VA to conduct an unprecedented outreach campaign to disabled veterans with lower than-average benefits. Obama passed legislation to stop a VA review of closed PTSD cases that could have led to a reduction in veterans’ benefits. He passed an amendment to ensure that all service members returning from Iraq are properly screened for traumatic brain injuries. He introduced legislation to direct the VA and Pentagon to fix disjointed records systems and improve outreach to members of the National Guard and Reserves.

If you are a veteran and want to support Obama, Join Veterans for Obama now.

>"What Happened" Indeed

November 21, 2007

>Often when Scott McLellan was presiding over daily press briefings as White House Press Secretary it seemed he was lying…and by george (Bush’s orders) he was. An excerpt from his book “What Happened,” was released, and he says he (unknowingly) told untruths about who leaked Valerie Plames identity. Story on AOL news

Since the president and his cronies lied about this, why should we believe anything they say? Of course, most of us haven’t believed a word out of W since the day he smirked into office.

How about Jordan Fox? Billed by the Pentagon asking for $3000 of his $5000 enlistment signing bonus back because he could not serve his full term with the military. Of course he couldn’t serve it because he was injured by an IED while on duty in Iraq. The Pentagon letter referred to the “indebtedness due us.” No, we the United States, are indebted to this man for his service to our country.

While the Pentagon has reversed course and will not require Fox to repay the money, he says the problem continues for other soldiers and he will work to correct this.

Just a little more evidence that once veterans return home, they are forgotten by our government.

And on the local campaign front, there are 75 candidates running for delegate to the democratic convention. There are a few days left to qualify, until Friday December 7, so probably more will be listed by then. But so far there are 45 running for Hillary Clinton, 12 for Barack Obama, 6 for John Edwards, 1 for Bill Richardson and 11 uncommitted. And the Jefferson Jackson Dinner on Friday, November 30 will feature General Wesley Clark. You can probably still get tickets by calling the party headquarters at 1-800-995-3386 but there are no more tickets online at the Alabama Democratic Party web site.

If nothing shows up here tomorrow, it’s because I am stuffing myself with turkey and dressing and plopping in front of a TV. So here is a Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.

"What Happened" Indeed

November 21, 2007

Often when Scott McLellan was presiding over daily press briefings as White House Press Secretary it seemed he was lying…and by george (Bush’s orders) he was. An excerpt from his book “What Happened,” was released, and he says he (unknowingly) told untruths about who leaked Valerie Plames identity. Story on AOL news

Since the president and his cronies lied about this, why should we believe anything they say? Of course, most of us haven’t believed a word out of W since the day he smirked into office.

How about Jordan Fox? Billed by the Pentagon asking for $3000 of his $5000 enlistment signing bonus back because he could not serve his full term with the military. Of course he couldn’t serve it because he was injured by an IED while on duty in Iraq. The Pentagon letter referred to the “indebtedness due us.” No, we the United States, are indebted to this man for his service to our country.

While the Pentagon has reversed course and will not require Fox to repay the money, he says the problem continues for other soldiers and he will work to correct this.

Just a little more evidence that once veterans return home, they are forgotten by our government.

And on the local campaign front, there are 75 candidates running for delegate to the democratic convention. There are a few days left to qualify, until Friday December 7, so probably more will be listed by then. But so far there are 45 running for Hillary Clinton, 12 for Barack Obama, 6 for John Edwards, 1 for Bill Richardson and 11 uncommitted. And the Jefferson Jackson Dinner on Friday, November 30 will feature General Wesley Clark. You can probably still get tickets by calling the party headquarters at 1-800-995-3386 but there are no more tickets online at the Alabama Democratic Party web site.

If nothing shows up here tomorrow, it’s because I am stuffing myself with turkey and dressing and plopping in front of a TV. So here is a Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.

>Lipscomb in the News, and a Home for Veterans

September 26, 2007

>Sometime today visitor number 10,000 will land on this site. If I knew who it was, I would offer a prize.

For the city of Lipscomb, your 60 days are up. Now your mayor will be hand picked by Governor Bob Riley. I wonder how many people there are in Lipscomb that Riley knows. Oh, wait, he doesn’t have to. Each council person can submit a name to the governor, and he can do a little research and then make his choice. Lipscomb, I hope that goes well for you.

The citizens of Lipscomb are getting fed up. Just like the citizens of Bessemer have formed the Bessemer Neighborhood Association to address issues that affect the quality of life here, in Lipscomb there is now the Lipscomb City Coalition. There purpose is not to be a political forum, but to “actively bring permanent change to Lipscomb.”

They have a meeting scheduled for October 1. (I am not sure where or at what time…maybe a Lipscomb reader can fill us in).

Some of the issues they have addressed with the Mayor Pro Tempore are: a solution to the issues of dissension and hostile attitudes publicly exhibited between City Councilors and other city personnel, the need for a state audit, lack of emergency service, accounting of all law enforcement officers, and accounting of all paid city and/or contract employees, and accounting of all administrative public service boards.

Many of these issues are similar to issues we have in Bessemer.

Contact information is Brenda Renz, President 424-5325, and Melinda Richburg, Vice President, at 426-3411.

Bob Riley also wants to build a nursing home for veterans in the Birmingham area, noting that metro Birmingham is the only large city in the state that is not served by such a home. The facility would have assisted living quarters as well.

Riley says they are looking in Jefferson and Shelby counties, but he seems to favor locating near the American Village in Montevallo, citing the new national cemetary for veterans being located there.

That’s just a little creepy if you ask me, housing our elder veterans next door to their final resting place? How convenient (church lady again)!

If you want to serve the metro area and be near the population, locate in Birmingham or Bessemer near public transportation. That way more families will be able to visit. And while you are at it, improve public transportation so what I just said does not sound ridiculous.

Lipscomb in the News, and a Home for Veterans

September 26, 2007

Sometime today visitor number 10,000 will land on this site. If I knew who it was, I would offer a prize.

For the city of Lipscomb, your 60 days are up. Now your mayor will be hand picked by Governor Bob Riley. I wonder how many people there are in Lipscomb that Riley knows. Oh, wait, he doesn’t have to. Each council person can submit a name to the governor, and he can do a little research and then make his choice. Lipscomb, I hope that goes well for you.

The citizens of Lipscomb are getting fed up. Just like the citizens of Bessemer have formed the Bessemer Neighborhood Association to address issues that affect the quality of life here, in Lipscomb there is now the Lipscomb City Coalition. There purpose is not to be a political forum, but to “actively bring permanent change to Lipscomb.”

They have a meeting scheduled for October 1. (I am not sure where or at what time…maybe a Lipscomb reader can fill us in).

Some of the issues they have addressed with the Mayor Pro Tempore are: a solution to the issues of dissension and hostile attitudes publicly exhibited between City Councilors and other city personnel, the need for a state audit, lack of emergency service, accounting of all law enforcement officers, and accounting of all paid city and/or contract employees, and accounting of all administrative public service boards.

Many of these issues are similar to issues we have in Bessemer.

Contact information is Brenda Renz, President 424-5325, and Melinda Richburg, Vice President, at 426-3411.

Bob Riley also wants to build a nursing home for veterans in the Birmingham area, noting that metro Birmingham is the only large city in the state that is not served by such a home. The facility would have assisted living quarters as well.

Riley says they are looking in Jefferson and Shelby counties, but he seems to favor locating near the American Village in Montevallo, citing the new national cemetary for veterans being located there.

That’s just a little creepy if you ask me, housing our elder veterans next door to their final resting place? How convenient (church lady again)!

If you want to serve the metro area and be near the population, locate in Birmingham or Bessemer near public transportation. That way more families will be able to visit. And while you are at it, improve public transportation so what I just said does not sound ridiculous.

Jeff Key

April 13, 2007

No one has an opinion or wants to comment on race relations? Don’t worry, I’m going to have more to say about it in the weeks and months to come.


Some of you know Jeff Key or know of him. Jeff is a former Marine and Iraq War veteran. He is also recognized for his play, The Eyes of Babylon, and is the subject of a documentary entitled Semper Fi which will air on the Showtime network in late June. Jeff was raised in nearby Walker County, so he is a local, now living in greener pastures. I say that because he has chosen to live in a place where he can be open about who he is, and respected and tolerated. Jeff is gay, and he now fights for equality, both in civilian life and in the military
He left the military, as portrayed in The Eyes of Babylon, because he could no longer accept being asked to take innocent life for corporate gain. The Eyes of Babylon reflects this part of his story, and played here last year, and many of us saw it. If you ever get the chance, see this one man play.

I spoke with Jeff last week about featuring his story and his activism on this blog. We had been in contact since the resolution for inclusion in Birmingham was defeated, and he made sure to point out that things were not like that in L.A., and that 2000 miles makes a world of difference. I first met Jeff at Equality Alabama’s Day of Equality last year following his portrayal in The Eyes of Babylon here in Birmingham. Since then I have been impressed with his openness and his desire to correct things both here and in Iraq.


Three years ago Jeff started a foundation called the Mehadi Foundation, named after a young boy he befriended while in Iraq. This non profit foundation was created to serve two purposes: one, to provide assistance to returning veterans who have emotional or psychological scars from the war, and two, to provide assistance to the Iraqi people who have been adversely affected by the war. Currently the Mehadi Foundation is focusing on organizing a peer group for veterans called Vets4Vets (website http://www.vets4vets.us/) which is a peer support group where veterans of this war can come together and talk about issues in a non-judgmental, non-political and non-partisan setting. Jeff has said “Psychological scars always heal more slowly than the bloodier variety” and this effort will surely help heal some wounds. The other part of their mission involves assisting in restoring clean water sources for Iraqi citizens whose infrastructure has been destroyed with the war and occupation by U. S. military. As a public health student I am well aware of the problems that lack of access to clean, safe water is for people across the world, and add to that the ravages of war and it is easy to see that this is a worthwhile endeavor. To find out more about the Mehadi Foundation or to make a donation visit http://mehadifoundation.org/. Donations are tax deductible.

I asked Jeff if he was still in contact with Mehadi and he said due to danger to the young man he was not.


The Showtime documentary uses excerpts from his play, interviews with his fellow marines and from friends and family in Alabama and LA to tell the story of his life growing up gay in Alabama as spiritual child who struggles because of some of his church’s teachings and on into his life in the military and then in the peace movement. Semper Fi will have its world premiere at Birmingham Shout Gay and Lesbian Film Festival at Workplay on April 29 before being featured on Showtime. For more information visit http://www.bhamshout.com/. Please support Birmingham Shout and Jeff.


I wish that all returning servicemembers had the vision, the ability and the strength to do what Jeff is doing: providing a much needed service to those who served in the same capacity as him, and helping to rebuild the country that we have torn down. In addition, he is continually raising the awareness of the injustice of this war, as well as awareness of the injustice of the current don’t ask, don’t tell military policy that bans gays (who are open about who they are) from the military. To me this translates into the broader picture of the injustice in our country toward gays and lesbians anyway. Thank you Jeff for being such a leader, a true hero, and a veteran.

>Jeff Key

April 13, 2007

>No one has an opinion or wants to comment on race relations? Don’t worry, I’m going to have more to say about it in the weeks and months to come.


Some of you know Jeff Key or know of him. Jeff is a former Marine and Iraq War veteran. He is also recognized for his play, The Eyes of Babylon, and is the subject of a documentary entitled Semper Fi which will air on the Showtime network in late June. Jeff was raised in nearby Walker County, so he is a local, now living in greener pastures. I say that because he has chosen to live in a place where he can be open about who he is, and respected and tolerated. Jeff is gay, and he now fights for equality, both in civilian life and in the military
He left the military, as portrayed in The Eyes of Babylon, because he could no longer accept being asked to take innocent life for corporate gain. The Eyes of Babylon reflects this part of his story, and played here last year, and many of us saw it. If you ever get the chance, see this one man play.

I spoke with Jeff last week about featuring his story and his activism on this blog. We had been in contact since the resolution for inclusion in Birmingham was defeated, and he made sure to point out that things were not like that in L.A., and that 2000 miles makes a world of difference. I first met Jeff at Equality Alabama’s Day of Equality last year following his portrayal in The Eyes of Babylon here in Birmingham. Since then I have been impressed with his openness and his desire to correct things both here and in Iraq.


Three years ago Jeff started a foundation called the Mehadi Foundation, named after a young boy he befriended while in Iraq. This non profit foundation was created to serve two purposes: one, to provide assistance to returning veterans who have emotional or psychological scars from the war, and two, to provide assistance to the Iraqi people who have been adversely affected by the war. Currently the Mehadi Foundation is focusing on organizing a peer group for veterans called Vets4Vets (website http://www.vets4vets.us/) which is a peer support group where veterans of this war can come together and talk about issues in a non-judgmental, non-political and non-partisan setting. Jeff has said “Psychological scars always heal more slowly than the bloodier variety” and this effort will surely help heal some wounds. The other part of their mission involves assisting in restoring clean water sources for Iraqi citizens whose infrastructure has been destroyed with the war and occupation by U. S. military. As a public health student I am well aware of the problems that lack of access to clean, safe water is for people across the world, and add to that the ravages of war and it is easy to see that this is a worthwhile endeavor. To find out more about the Mehadi Foundation or to make a donation visit http://mehadifoundation.org/. Donations are tax deductible.

I asked Jeff if he was still in contact with Mehadi and he said due to danger to the young man he was not.


The Showtime documentary uses excerpts from his play, interviews with his fellow marines and from friends and family in Alabama and LA to tell the story of his life growing up gay in Alabama as spiritual child who struggles because of some of his church’s teachings and on into his life in the military and then in the peace movement. Semper Fi will have its world premiere at Birmingham Shout Gay and Lesbian Film Festival at Workplay on April 29 before being featured on Showtime. For more information visit http://www.bhamshout.com/. Please support Birmingham Shout and Jeff.


I wish that all returning servicemembers had the vision, the ability and the strength to do what Jeff is doing: providing a much needed service to those who served in the same capacity as him, and helping to rebuild the country that we have torn down. In addition, he is continually raising the awareness of the injustice of this war, as well as awareness of the injustice of the current don’t ask, don’t tell military policy that bans gays (who are open about who they are) from the military. To me this translates into the broader picture of the injustice in our country toward gays and lesbians anyway. Thank you Jeff for being such a leader, a true hero, and a veteran.