November 12, 2007

Whatever Happened to the Marlboro Marine?

Back in March, I wrote a post entitled Serially Abusing the American Military that detailed the callousness with which the Bush Administration and the previous, Republican-dominated Congress has treated the men and women in our armed forces. At the top of that post was the same picture you see above, a photograph by Luis Sinco of Marine Lance Corporal James Blake Miller of Kentucky. It is a photo that has become emblematic of the stress under which U.S. forces in Iraq operate as they work to fulfill a poorly-defined mission without proper equipment and under the pressure of stop loss and multiple tours of duty.

As we celebrate those who have served our country in uniform this Veterans Day, pausing also to remember those who gave their lives doing so, it is unbelievably sad to me to learn that Lance Corporal Miller - the "Marlboro Marine" as he has become known - is now unemployed, divorced and borderline suicidal since being discharged from the military after being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Although he receives a disability check each month, little else in the way of help has been forthcoming from a government that was only too happy to send Miller out to risk his life. In one of the more publicly human gestures of recent years however, but the man who made him famous - Luis Sinco - has offered to help. Part one of Mr. Sinco's story in the Los Angeles Times can be found here, and the second installment is here. It is an important reminder that James Blake Miller - and all of our veterans - deserve far better than they are getting.

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