For the Veteran

Various information for Veterans different government programs available to assist Veterans in starting a business. Veterans benefits programs. This is not a political blog but we will speak our minds about current treatment of Veterans returning from the Gulf.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Latest dispatch from Michael Yon

I’ve never posted a rebuttal to a news story. Today is an exception.
Last week I participated on a panel at the Marine Command General Staff College in Quantico, Virginia. The dais was stacked with distinguished journalists — I was the baby in the room — who addressed a large group of military officers. I traveled from Afghanistan just to speak there after a scheduling conflict with their first choice, Joe Galloway, resulted in his recommendation that I fill his seat. When Joe Galloway talks, people listen. I was honored by his recommendation and privileged to join the panel in a vigorous debate of the symposium theme: “Selling the Truth: Media Portrayal of Insurgents, the Government, and the Military.”

As the day opened, a Marine officer was asked to pick a story about current events and comment on it. He held a copy of the Wall Street Journal, a paper I first started reading as a teenager. The WSJ is a reliable source, and so I’ve stuck with it through the years. The Marine was holding a WSJ in front of this distinguished group of military officers that also included DEA and FBI officials, not to mention the representatives of CBS, CNN, Al Jazeera and others. As the Marine opened the paper, I said something like, “That’s yesterday’s Wall Street Journal? That’s easy. Turn to page A16 and there is a commentary about Afghanistan. It’s pure bullshit.” There was a microphone in front of me, but luckily, the crowd was mostly military and they laughed off the language.

When I’d first read that item on page A16 about doing business in Afghanistan, I was so put off that I actually remembered the page number. The piece entitled “A Virgin Market,” described a business climate in Afghanistan in such glowing terms that it crossed the line from upbeat to being wishful.

“A Virgin Market,” begins thusly:

KABUL — The recent Yale graduate I was chatting with at a party here spoke Chinese and had lived in China, the seeming epicenter of all things capitalist. “Why did you decide to come to Afghanistan?” I asked. He stared at me. “This is the largest rebuilding and development effort in the history of the world. Who wouldn’t want to be here?”
Stop. Interview at a party? I just spent two weeks on the ground talking with business people who seldom get time to go to cocktail parties in Kabul. I met people with millions of dollars in contracts in Afghanistan who were too busy trying to navigate the grime and crime to stop long enough to clink glasses together. I also talked with officials from several governments, many Afghans, and military personnel from various countries.

The writer goes on:

Writers of a certain ideological stripe whine that because Afghanistan isn’t Switzerland, it’s yet another sign that the U.S. can’t get anything right. But fortunes are being made here by those who think for themselves. And there are few countries where Americans are as welcome. A recent BBC poll reports that 72% of Afghans see American influence as positive, as opposed to just 25% of the French and 21% of Germans.
“Writers of a certain ideological stripe whine…” Stop. Did the writer get out of the cocktail party scene? I started a business in Poland when I was in my twenties, after traveling all over Eastern Europe looking for opportunities. I talked with bankers, economists, military people, and journalists and on and on. I read the WSJ a lot, too. I finally decided on Poland and I started a business there. I was present at a Warsaw palace the night Pepsi announced that it would invest $500 million into Poland. These were heady times for the former communist state sputtering into market based democracy. Business was difficult in Poland, but physical security was never an issue. Navigating cultural, language and commerce competency gaps were a daily challenge, but nobody had to worry about RPGs or IEDs or getting overrun and beheaded.

The commentator in the WSJ goes on to posit:

The security situation is far better than the media and the $500-a-day security companies would have you believe. British-educated Minister of Communications Amirzai Sangin notes that Americans are losing opportunities due to fears about security: “There is potential for five mobile companies here.

The fact that Investcom paid $40 million for their license — and that another company is in negotiations with us now — should give you the assurance that there is security here. We have 3,700 employees in every one of the 34 provinces and to date no person has been killed or kidnapped.”

Now it’s time to say in writing what I said to those government officials, military officers and journalists down at Quantico: Bullshit. While I was there, one driver under contract for a friend — who has been doing business in Afghanistan since 1997 — was murdered. They shot his truck with RPGs and small arms fire and killed him. There were attacks every day. Even some of the bases might be in danger of being overrun.

Just after I departed Afghanistan, the Associated Press reported on April 24:

…Elsewhere in the south, a group of heavily armed Taliban militants attacked an Afghan construction company working for coalition forces before dawn Sunday, killing one security guard and wounding two others before remaining security personnel fled.

The two-hour battle raged at the headquarters of the Thavazoo company in Shah Wali Kot district, about 25 miles north of the city of Kandahar, said Haji Mohammed Youssef, the company’s director.

The Taliban fighters entered the compound after security forces fled, burning 14 trucks and bulldozers and stealing equipment before escaping, said Youssef, whose company won a contract from the coalition forces to build a 25-mile stretch of road.

“Coalition forces are giving us money to help rebuild our country, but the enemies of Afghanistan don’t want us to succeed,” he said.

These cocktail party interviews have no place in the Wall Street Journal, and should not count as informed reporting. I very much hope that Iraq and Afghanistan become self-sufficient, prosperous countries, but misleading people who might invest money, energy and blood into these areas is no way to make that happen. I’ll still pick the WSJ out of any 10 papers, but I should hope the editors exercise more circumspection when printing commentary.

In fact, the media is not up-playing the danger in Afghanistan but seems to be grossly missing it. Unfortunately, I predict NATO and other forces will lose increasing numbers of soldiers in Afghanistan. The place is bad. Really bad. And it’s getting worse. Yesterday an Indian engineer was murdered. They cut off his head. Also, yesterday, the car bomb in the photo above exploded close by some employees of a friend. I was close by two bombings in just six days in Lashkar Gah, a place they used to call “safe.”

It is easy to start a business in Afghanistan, and some people are truly making a lot of money. But Afghanistan is no place for rookies

Monday, May 01, 2006

Interview with Michael Yon

Interview with Mr. Michael Yon Veteran, and Writer who was submitted for the Pulitzer Prize in three catagories.

Intro from the website: Why is Michael doing this?
I traveled to Iraq in December 2004, but the prime impetus to go
almost nine months earlier, after two friends were killed in two days
Iraq-one in Falluja, the other in Samara. In March, 2004, I attended
their funerals, also days apart, one in Colorado, the other in Florida.
met many veterans of the war on terror, some of whom encouraged me to
go to
Iraq or Afghanistan, and write the truth.

Michael, first of all let me say Thank you for the interview. The work
are doing for the troops is fantastic.

Question 1.
We know why you started but what drives you to keep going back?

The same reason I started. The media is doing a terrible job.
speaking, the mainstream media is like a series of fast-food
Much volume, little substance, and low quality. If you want the truth
about Afghanistan or Iraq, you must find competent writers who are willing to
go into harm's way, and stay there.

Question 2.
How do you deal with all the politics concerning the war?

I don't. I do not pay attention to day-to-day politics, but I pay
attention to the big picture and what the top leaders are saying.

Question 3.
How is the morale of the troops you have visited? Any particular story
that sticks in your mind so far?

The morale among combat troops who are actually fighting tends to be
very high. The morale among reserve and guard units tends to be a bit
lower; many of the reserve and guards have jobs and businesses they left
behind, and also their deployments can be longer after factoring in the months
it takes to train up for deployment, the deployment itself, then upon
return the have other tasks to complete before being cut free. So, among
combat units, the mood tends to be very good, and on the other end of the
spectrum there are soldiers who definitely do not want to be there.

Question 4
How is the morale of the people in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Though I have been to Afghanistan, I was not with our troops so cannot
speak for it. But for Iraq, please refer to the previous answer.

Question 5
How can we as a website and blog help you help the troops?

The biggest thing you can do is to alert troops and their families that
we are beginning to publish stories from soldiers in harm's way. They are
welcome and encouraged to send us stories for publication in our "Frontline

Question 6
How has the support been from the U.S. government? How can we help?

I get no support from US government. You can help be spreading the
word about our Frontline Forum.

Question 7
How can the average citizen help you?

Just be reading what I write on my website.

Question 8
What kind of media coverage have you been getting? Is there something
more you would like in that area?"

More than I can handle at times. Media coverage has been nearly 100%
positive and supportive. It's been more than I should hope for.

Question 9.
What can we do together to make sure Veterans benefits are increased
not cut for the soldiers returning from War?

That's something I'll think about down the road, but I am still very
much involved with the tip of the spear and so have not had time to even
consider those important aspects for our veterans.

Question 10.
Is there anything you would like to tell our readers?

Thank you, and God Bless America!

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Quotes on bravery

This will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave
Elmer Davis

Bravery is the capacity to perform properly even when scared half to death.
General Omar Bradley

If men were just, there would be no need of valor

If you're scared, just holler and you'll find it ain't so lonesome out there.
Joe Sudgen

From Abounding Grace M. Scott Peck

Donate help to Michael Yon's work

Michael is risking his life so we can hear the real stories from the soldiers.

I do not care what side of the political fence you are on, this young man needs and deserves financial support.

If you have a son or daughter in the military, are a Vet. or just want to support freedom of speech please consider donating so Michael can continue his important work


Website we highly reccommend

Michelle Malkin was the first serious blogger to suggest that my work deserved consideration for the Pulitzer Prize. Her sentiment was echoed by thousands of email messages and comments on the open forum site, asking me about a Pulitzer Prize, and whether my work might receive such a great honor. I was clueless. I knew that Pulitzer was synonymous with first-rate and prestigious, but that’s about it. A Pulitzer Prize was as far from my mind as the moon was from my feet.

I never considered my work on par with highly trained professionals: I have no photography or journalism training, and the competition is fierce, smart, and any year there are tens of thousands of potential contenders for these awards. Maybe hundreds of thousands for all I know. Many work for top publications and their work is seen by millions of people by virtue of circulation statistics and the power of syndication. Professional journalists, laboring with top editors, all with fully equipped –and staffed–offices, access to the world, and expense accounts to get into the field, have a clear advantage over independent writers and photographers. My office has often been a tent, and my only company has often been a field mouse or a squirrel.

There is also a Pulitzer proviso that requires any material, written or photographic, submitted for consideration, to include documentation that it was published in a U.S. newspaper during the previous calendar year. That leaves most of the work of bloggers out of consideration. The odds of being nominated were long.

Despite the odds being what they are, there are three Pulitzer submissions for my 2005 work. Two are in photography, and one for my writing. Please keep in mind that a submission is not a nomination. That designation is reserved for the two or three works in each category (out of potentially thousands of submissions) that the jury panels select as most distinguished examples of writing or photography published in the preceding year. From these select pools of nominations, the Pulitzer Board makes the ultimate determination of the finalist. I am humbled by the prospect of having my work considered among such worthy competition. I’ve met several recipients of Pulitzer Prizes, and I have learned from each of them. I may not have had much training but I do have a competitive spirit, so I humbly hope to beat the competition.

To learn more about the Pulitzer Prize, its history, and guidelines, please visit:

To see a slide show of those photographs of mine that were included in one of the submissions, please click here.