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Army wifeTamara Bell:"Everyone has a breaking point, and that was mine,"

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dajoki Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-30-06 07:55 PM
Original message
Army wifeTamara Bell:"Everyone has a breaking point, and that was mine,"
The Making of a Dissident
How one Army wife came to mistrust Pentagon 'timetables on Iraq.

Courtesy of Tamara Bell
Tamara and Nicholas: Missing Edward

WEB EXCLUSIVE
By Karen Breslau
Newsweek
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15487960/site/newsweek /

Updated: 5:21 p.m. ET Oct 30, 2006

Oct. 30, 2006 - For the first year of her husband's deployment with the 172nd Stryker Brigade, Tamara Bell says she was a "good Army wife." She supported her husband's mission and trusted the military to bring him home safelyand on time. After all, Tamara, 32, grew up as a Navy brat, and she and Staff Sgt. Edward Bell have been married for 12 years, weathering several overseas deployments in South Korea, Bosnia and the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003, when Edward was with one of the first units to enter Baghdad. Even during his second Iraq deployment, Tamara, waiting at home in Fairbanks, Alaska, with the couple's infant son, did everything she could to keep her spirits up. She and Edward counted the days remaining in full moons ("It seems a lot shorter that way") and communicated nonstop about their baby Nicholas, now 11 months old, whom Edward last saw at birth.

But last July, only days before Edward was to return home to Fairbanks following a year of combat duty in Mosul, Tamara learned that his infantry battalion, the 4-23, was being sent to Baghdad to quell violence in the Iraqi capital. The extension was to last four months. That was the moment she snapped, she says. "Everyone has a breaking point, and that was mine," says Bell. "He was exactly seven days away from coming home. With the extension, I said, 'Wow, I need to be a lot less trusting of what the military tells us.'" Her husband, she adds, feels his own country is using him. They are no longer showing us any loyalty."

These days Tamara has become, by her own admission, something of an Army dissident. "If people don't speak up and say this treatment is wrong, it's going to keep happening," she says. From her home off-post in Fairbanks, Bell is more vocal than most military spouses about her unhappiness. She and a small group of likeminded family members have written to their lawmakers and to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld protesting the 4-23's last-minute extension and continued ambiguity about their return date. Others vent on a Web site http://www.bringhome172nd.org / launched by an Air Force veteran of the First Gulf War, Travis Pittman, who says he is "appalled" by the way the military has treated the 172nd.

Such public grousing is frowned on by the Army, which stresses the importance of family support to "mission success." Soldiers with unruly spouses can expect adverse career consequences. There is also peer pressure: many wives in the 4-23, interviewed by NEWSWEEKwho say they and their children also miss their husbands terriblysay the dissidents attract an undue share of media attention and reflect poorly on the sacrifices all 4-23 soldiers and their families have made during an unbearably long deployment, now 15 months and counting. At Fort Richardson in Anchorage, where some 4-23 families are based, the Army offers free counseling and babysitting services to families who are having trouble coping. But the growing outspokenness of some family members, especially those of career soldiers such as Bell, could become a problem for the Bush administration: after all, keeping the trust and support of military families may be critical to the success of its Iraq strategy, which will require a drawn-out U.S. effort to stabilize Baghdad. George W. Bush himself, at a White House news conference on Oct. 25, obliquely referred to the 4-23's mission when the president said he was "taking new steps to help secure" Iraq's largest city.
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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-30-06 07:59 PM
Response to Original message
1. Good for Mrs. Bell, and I imagine we'll be hearing many more
spouses expressing their opinions, hopefully very loudly. I've wondered what took so long though appreciate no one wanting to tick off the brass.
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dajoki Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-30-06 08:05 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. I hope...
but:Such public grousing is frowned on by the Army, which stresses the importance of family support to "mission success."
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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-30-06 08:20 PM
Response to Reply #2
5. But Mrs. Bell made a great point:
"If people don't speak up and say this treatment is wrong, it's going to keep happening,"

The Army's attitude sounds like people I hear on CSPAN in the a.m. "He's our president and we must stand by him and agree." I can't and won't buy that. The Army is saying don't make waves regardless of how they treat people; there is a breaking point.
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dajoki Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-30-06 08:30 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. Maybe we must go back to the '60s...
Arlo Guthrie's "Alice's Restaurant"

<<snip>>

You can get anything you want, at Alice's restaurant.". And walk out. You know, if
one person, just one person does it they may think he's really sick and
they won't take him. And if two people, two people do it, in harmony,
they may think they're both faggots and they won't take either of them.
And three people do it, three, can you imagine, three people walking in
singin a bar of Alice's Restaurant and walking out. They may think it's an
organization. And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day,I said
fifty people a day walking in singin a bar of Alice's Restaurant and
walking out. And friends they may thinks it's a movement.

And that's what it is , the Alice's Restaurant Anti-Massacre Movement,
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bobbolink Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-31-06 08:34 PM
Response to Reply #6
15. Thanks for that. I gotta go back to starting my day with Alice's Restaurant
every morning.

It was the only thing that helped me cope in those dark days. And the dark days are back.

And, yes, one person singing "they may think he's really sick".

We need each other folks..... let's stop all the divisiveness, and sing together!

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dajoki Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-31-06 08:43 PM
Response to Reply #15
16. Yep...
I remember it well. Who would have ever thought we would be in that situation again?
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bobbolink Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-01-06 05:17 PM
Response to Reply #16
17. It's making us sick, those of us who fought all this before.
We never thought we'd see our country do another invasion like that....surely we learned something. NOPE.

Just a look around DU shows that sexism is again alive and well, and (mostly) unconfronted.

All (or at least most) semblance of community, which we did so well, is gone, and divisiveness rules the day.

Poor folk are invisible to "liberals", and just die quietly.

:cry:

So much for learning from history....
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dajoki Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-01-06 09:50 PM
Response to Reply #17
19. They seem to WANT to forget history n/t
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RamboLiberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-30-06 08:13 PM
Response to Original message
3. Boots on the ground know a whole lot more than shoes on marble
That quote is in article from Army wife Jennifer Davis - that's definitely a Top 10 quote of the month IMHO.
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dajoki Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-30-06 08:19 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. Great quote!!
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Jim Lane Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-31-06 05:50 PM
Response to Reply #3
13. Or: "Boots on the ground know a whole lot more than Guccis on marble"
My suggested improvement, with hopes that Ms. Davis wouldn't mind.
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bobbolink Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-01-06 05:26 PM
Response to Reply #13
18. Perfect!
:thumbsup:
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midnight Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-30-06 08:52 PM
Response to Original message
7. How does she hang on so long. These women are so brave.
Bring them home-Now.
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dajoki Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-31-06 03:33 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. I agree...
These women are brave, not to mention the children. And I want them home NOW!!
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TheBaldyMan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-31-06 04:20 PM
Response to Original message
9. this has been happening since 2003 k&r
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KurtNYC Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-31-06 04:31 PM
Response to Original message
10. That is a line from "Apocalpyse Now!" -- re: Kurtz
CORMAN
"Well, you see Willard... In this war, things get confused
out there, power, ideals, the old morality, and practical
military necessity. Out there with these natives it must be
a temptation to be god. Because there's a conflict in
every human heart between the rational and the irrational,
between good and evil. The good does not always triumph.
Sometimes the dark side overcomes what Lincoln called
the better angels of our nature. Every man has got a
breaking point. You and I have. Walter Kurtz has reached his.
And very obviously, he has gone insane."

WILLARD
"Yes sir, very much so sir. Obviously insane."


http://corky.net/scripts/apocalypseNow.html

Kind of a non-sequitor but it struck me as ironic.

My heart goes out that family. I cringe when I hear Rumsfailed say that "they volunteered for this" -- can they un-volunteer?
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Cha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-31-06 04:34 PM
Response to Original message
11. KNR~ for Tamara Bell and all
the brave dissidents of the bushco War On Iraq for Oil. How many other wars would they start if they could get away with it?
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No Exit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-31-06 05:34 PM
Response to Original message
12. GO TAMARA BELL!!!
You are a true American and I hope your husband comes home safe soon--and for good!!
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dajoki Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-31-06 07:35 PM
Response to Reply #12
14. Ditto...
Along with the rest of them!!
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