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May 03, 2007

Jane's Thoughts on Returning to the U.S.

I continue to be intrigued with the blogger who went to Iraq, just up and went.  Jane Stillwater is back now and she's a pretty good writer.  It's like sitting down with a neighbor for coffee.  This woman goes on wildly interesting adventures and she is attentive to what's around her, like a writer might tend to be.   She is also a good thinker, putting together ideas that draw from a pretty good knowledge of what us humans have been up to over time.  At the same time, she is just a regular next-door neighbor person who has many of the same concerns and interests you and I have.  And we get to see that.

It's also clear that Jane connects to people no matter where they are on the political spectrum.  We can see that because they call her up after she gets back and tell her what is happening to them and she listens and commiserates and then tells us about it.  Here's what she says about a contractor friend she made while in Iraq:

Then I got a phone call from a man who used to work as a trucker for KBR in Iraq and I realized that he had a LOT more to worry about than me. "I was only over there for four months but already my body has aged 30 years and my muscle mass is just melting away." KBR paid him $8,000 a month to drive the big rigs all over central Iraq. "And I'd give every cent of it back in a heartbeat if I could get my health back." Fat chance of that happening.

"After four months living in a tent pitched over an old bombed-out bunker, blood and pus started coming out of my eyes. It really scared me and I tried to get back to the states to get treated. But the moment I left Iraq, KBR canceled my health insurance. I used to be able to hang 160 sheets of drywall a day. Now I can hardly help the neighbors move their front room couch."

KBR promised this guy COBRA after he was out but that never came through and now he's fully disabled and living on Social Security.  As Jane says, "In other words, the American taxpayer is now taking up the "benefits" slack for KBR -- just like we do for Wal-Mart."  And:

The contractor has lost three inches off of his biceps. What happened over there? Depleted uranium? "I wouldn't be surprised. Iraq is the most polluted country in the world. It scares the hell out of me." Then he added, "I think part of my nerve damage comes from wearing 56 pounds worth of body armor for 12 or 15 hours at a time because rather than up-armor the trucks, they up-armored the drivers."

In a previous post, Jane is talking about the cost of this war and what it will mean for us as a country:

Why has no one in America yet realized -- aside from possibly Harry Reid -- that we cannot AFFORD to continue to stay in Iraq? All of us pay our bills and balance our checkbooks every month. We all know the facts of life. If you ain't got the cash, they cut off your electricity. Can America afford to continue to pay the credit card bill on Iraq month after month after month? Ask the USSR for the answer to that one. We are going to HAVE to get out. But I digress.

Digress away, Jane, digress away.  Nice to have your perspective.

Posted by Lynn Allen on May 3, 2007 at 10:11 PM in Media, National and International Politics | Permalink

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