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Mar-17-2009 10:02printcomments

U.S. Casualties Mounting in Afghanistan

Four of the deaths happened in Kot, and one in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Negative shot of troops in Afghanistan image by Tim King

(SALEM, Ore.) - The U.S. casualty tables are continuing to shift toward the conflict in Afghanistan, and this report is possibly the only one we have issued that listed no members of the U.S. military killed in Iraq.

Three soldiers from Illinois, a Marine Staff Sergeant and an Air Force Staff Sergeant were killed in recent days. All but one of the deaths was combat-related.

Army Casualties at Kot

The Department of Defense announced today the death of three soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

They died March 15th as a result of injuries sustained in Kot, Afghanistan, when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle.

They were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 178th Infantry Regiment, 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Woodstock, Illinois.

Killed in the attack were Sergeant Christopher P. Abeyta, 23, of Midlothian, Illinois, Specialist Robert M. Weinger, 24, of Round Lake Beach, Illinois and Specialist Norman L. Cain III, 22, of Oregon, Illinois.

Specialist Cain died at the scene of the incident in Kot; Abeyta and Weinger were transported to Jalabad, Afghanistan, where they later died.

Marine Casualty in Kabul

The government announced today the death of a Marine who was serving in Afghanistan.

Staff Sergeant Archie A. Taylor, 37, of Tomball, Texas, died March 14th as a result of a non-hostile incident in Kabul province, Afghanistan.

He was assigned to 2nd Intelligence Battalion, II MEF Headquarters Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

The incident involving Staff Sergeant Taylor's death is currently under investigation.

Air Force Casualty

U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant Timothy L. Bowles, 24, of Tucson, Arizona, died March 15th near Kot, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device.

Staff Sergeant Bowles was assigned to the 3rd Logistics Readiness Squadron, Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska.

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Concerned Veteran March 18, 2009 9:40 am (Pacific time)

Mr. King and staff: The below does not deal with just poor judgement or insensitive incompetence, but something else entirely. This is about those who defend our very existence. The below is indefensible, so I imagine you who support Obama no matter what will remain mute, but this is an issue that will become a rallying cry for us service-connected veterans, our families, our neighbors, co-workers, etc. Please realize tho' we know it won't go anywhere "at this time", Obama has put it out there for discussion, how utterly disrespectful he is to American heroes. " Obama Proposes Soldiers Pay Own Medical The leader of the nation's largest veterans organization says he is "deeply disappointed and concerned" after a meeting with President Obama today to discuss a proposal to force private insurance companies to pay for the treatment of military veterans who have suffered service-connected disabilities and injuries. The Obama administration recently revealed a plan to require private insurance carriers to reimburse the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in such cases. "It became apparent during our discussion today that the President intends to move forward with this unreasonable plan," said Commander David K. Rehbein of The American Legion. "He says he is looking to generate $540-million by this method, but refused to hear arguments about the moral and government-avowed obligations that would be compromised by it." The Commander, clearly angered as he emerged from the session said, "This reimbursement plan would be inconsistent with the mandate ' to care for him who shall have borne the battle' given that the United States government sent members of the armed forces into harm's way, and not private insurance companies. I say again that The American Legion does not and will not support any plan that seeks to bill a veteran for treatment of a service connected disability at the very agency that was created to treat the unique need of America's veterans!" Commander Rehbein was among a group of senior officials from veterans service organizations joining the President, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki and Steven Kosiak, the overseer of defense spending at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The group's early afternoon conversation at The White House was precipitated by a letter of protest presented to the President earlier this month. The letter, co-signed by Commander Rehbein and the heads of ten colleague organizations, read, in part, " There is simply no logical explanation for billing a veteran's personal insurance for care that the VA has a responsibility to provide. While we understand the fiscal difficulties this country faces right now, placing the burden of those fiscal problems on the men and women who have already sacrificed a great deal for this country is unconscionable." Commander Rehbein reiterated points made last week in testimony to both House and Senate Veterans' Affairs Committees. It was stated then that The American Legion believes that the reimbursement plan would be inconsistent with the mandate that VA treat service-connected injuries and disabilities given that the United States government sends members of the armed forces into harm's way, and not private insurance companies. The proposed requirement for these companies to reimburse the VA would not only be unfair, says the Legion, but would have an adverse impact on service-connected disabled veterans and their families. The Legion argues that, depending on the severity of the medical conditions involved, maximum insurance coverage limits could be reached through treatment of the veteran's condition alone. That would leave the rest of the family without health care benefits. The Legion also points out that many health insurance companies require deductibles to be paid before any benefits are covered. Additionally, the Legion is concerned that private insurance premiums would be elevated to cover service-connected disabled veterans and their families, especially if the veterans are self-employed or employed in small businesses unable to negotiate more favorable across-the-board insurance policy pricing. The American Legion also believes that some employers, especially small businesses, would be reluctant to hire veterans with service-connected disabilities due to the negative impact their employment might have on obtaining and financing company health care benefits. "I got the distinct impression that the only hope of this plan not being enacted," said Commander Rehbein, "is for an alternative plan to be developed that would generate the desired $540-million in revenue. The American Legion has long advocated for Medicare reimbursement to VA for the treatment of veterans. This, we believe, would more easily meet the President's financial goal. We will present that idea in an anticipated conference call with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel in the near future. "I only hope the administration will really listen to us then. This matter has far more serious ramifications than the President is imagining," concluded the Commander."

stephen March 17, 2009 3:04 pm (Pacific time)

Thanks for the update Tim... Petraeus has been a strong supporter of the strategy of trying to divide the Afghan insurgency by offering money and jobs to those willing to accept the government in Kabul. He has said that his strategy of outreach to what he has described as “reconcilables” among the insurgents in Iraq might be applicable in Afghanistan as well. p.s. from me: While America crumbles, lets pay people to stop hating us for invading their countries. This is getting weird. :-)

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