Friday, September 25, 2009

Emergency leave confirms -- baby Carter is the man

Robert Grinage is back in Iraq after an emergency trip to Wisconsin to help care for his son, Carter, while the youngster's mother recuperates from a serious car crash.

Well I am back home from the great state of Wisconsin. Carter Matthew is doing great. We had a lot of great times while i was home on E-Leave. We went mudding with the Jeep Stroller. Went farming, Went to a Barron High School Football game.
Let me tell you he is going to be a chick magnet. Carter made me pull over in the middle of the night to change his pants. He actually said in an English voice. "Father can you pull this buggy over. I seem to have wetted my trousers." I was shocked when i heard it. HAHAHA. No I was kidding about the talking part. But he really made me pull over in the night and change his pants. But i don't care tho. Its just another great memory i have with my main man.

Carter's mother, Jaci Laursen, is doing great by what I am told. She came home to Cumberland WI, three days before I left for overseas again. And she was and is still in high spirits. I would like to say thanks to all who sent flowers, and the prayers. The Laursen and the Lindquist, and the Grinage family's thank all who have prayed for Jaci and my son Carter during this time. Thanks again.

Carter, dad will be home sooner then you think. Then we can go sledding. Ah sledding, what havoc can me and you bring on the snow hills. Love ya Carter Matthew Laursen. Love Dad

Friday, September 18, 2009

I lost my son -- let's save other returning warriors

From Kathy Rodrick of Racine.

Hello, I am a mother
of a Marine who recently committed suicide.
I have a few ideas that I would like someone to listen to and maybe adapt. Let’s do this so we can help our soldiers. First, according to the VFW NEWS WISCONSIN, the VA’s Suicide Prevention Program Adds Chat Service. This is a wonderful idea but I think it is too hard for soldiers to access. How many people do not have a computer and how long will it take to begin talking to a live source. I think that a business card with the front of it saying something like, “SUICIDE IS NOT PAINLESS TO THE LOVE ONE LEFT BEHIND” with the phone number of someone they can speak to instantly. This is something they should be given at their debrie
fing, something they are told to put in their wallet. At this time, I would impress upon them that it is not the strong person that thinks they can handle this on their own. It is the STRONG person that calls this number and ask for help. Also, Mandatory Counseling!

We need to impress upon our soldiers that it is the strong that seek help. They are not weak. Other people have these thoughts.

Even if we stress that they need to come to these group meetings to help their comrades, we all know that by helping others we are actually helping ourselves. Let these meetings be in the outlying areas, not everything at the VA. It would make it convenient for our soldiers and maybe they would find it easier to attend. Have the counselors and psychiatrist be mobile for our
soldiers, they were for us.

Second, maybe they need to find someone outside of the military who has been through this to talk to these returning soldiers so it becomes h
umanized. I don’t have all of the answers but I do know the pain that this has caused a loving family.

Cpl. Kevin E. Rodrick 1977 - 2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Major Wisconsin Guard operation ends as last detainee leaves Bucca

The Army announced this afternoon that the final 186 detainees have been moved out of Camp Bucca today. Several units of Wisconsin National Guard soldiers had been operating Bucca's detention facilities.
Several Wisconsin units continue working on other missions at Bucca.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What's wrong with this picture? Wisconsin troops destroy beer in Iraq

From the Wisconsin National Guard Public Affairs Office in Baghdad:
"Because U.S. soldiers are not allowed to possess or consume alcohol in a combat zone, a 5-ton truck crushes beer left behind at a foreign compound formerly occupied by those who don’t have such a rule. Alpha Troop, 105th Cavalry reports there wasn’t a dry eye on the base as the beer was destroyed. Photo provided by Troop A, 1-105th Cavalry." For more from the PAO, go to

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

We're recycling Camp Bucca

Lt. Col. Leah Moore of Monona is 6,714 miles from home at Forward Operating Base Bucca, aka Camp Bucca, in southern Iraq. She is the base deputy commander. When not deployed she works as the Wisconsin National Guard deputy surgeon in Madison, and commands the guard armory in Portage.

At FOB Bucca, there are several permanent infrastructures originally
built to sustain Army forces and missions. These include a brick factory capable of producing up to 1 million bricks per month, an ice plant capable of producing up to 45 tons of ice per day, and a Waste Water Treatment Plant with the ability to sustain a population of over 50,000 people.

In addition -- and most importantly --
we are also currently overseeing the completion of a new water treatment facility capable of producing 2 million gallons of water a day. FOB Bucca is located above the largest aquifer in the region. The new water treatment facility is able to drill down to the water, retrieve it, and then treat it so that it is drinkable. While deployed here, our goals are not only to see through the completion of the construction of this water treatment plant but also to complete several projects that will provide local cities/villages direct access to our water, waste plant, brick, and ice factory assets in the near future. We also intend to provide the vocational training required to sustain these assets after our departure.

As far as the future of Bucca -- based on our location and established
assets -- there are many potential uses. As of yet, a final decision has not been made on which if any of the uses will come to fruition. Regardless, we work daily not only to sustain normal operations incumbent to running a FOB (i.e. logistics, engineering, housing, safety, and contracting operations) but also to prepare the Base for its re-missioning (whatever that may be).

The challenge is to
keep what we need now, anticipate what we may need in the future, and reallocate the difference to help out our fellow forces and minimize waste and cost. So far, we've identified and reallocated over 8 million dollars worth of supplies and equipment that may have otherwise gone to waste. We are very proud of our work and success here.

- LTC. Leah Moore

New York Times photo at left depicts a portion of Camp Bucca's detainee facilities months ago. Thousands of detainees have been moved north to other facilities for release or transfer to Iraqi custody.

More from Moore:
LTC. Moore, who works full time in the Wisconsin National Guard medical office in Madison, was among the experts quoted in Sunday's Wisconsin State Journal article on new efforts to combat suicides by military personnel and veterans.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Acknowledgements to sources in today's Wisconsin State Journal article on USMC Cpl. Kevin Rodrick

Personal note of thanks to everyone who helped in the reporting of today's Wisconsin State Journal article on members of the military who take their own lives:

Special thanks to the family of USMC Cpl. Kevin Rodrick
for their courage and forthrightness in making sure Kevin's story is heard, and for their sincere desire to make his story part of the solution.

Kevin's mother, Kathy, praised the Marine Corps for its concern and assistance after her son died Aug. 15. But she confronted a psychiatrist at the Veterans Administration about doing more to prevent suicides.

"He said, 'I'm sorry ma'am to tell you this has been happening more and more often,'" she said.

" 'Well then let's fix it,' " she told him. " 'You can't help Kevin, but you can help someone else.' "

"These guys don't know how to ask for help," she said. "They've been trained not to ask for help. We need to change that."

The Rodrick family sent us several wonderful photos of Kevin, including several that you can see in the print or online versions of the article. Here you can see three others. That's Kevin, above, on a transport aircraft in theater.

image at left shows Kevin with his twin sister, Karen, who is a veteran who saw up close the ravages of that war on military personnel and civilians alike while on duty in Afghanistan .

In the bottom photo, that's Kevin at center in the background, preparing for a mission.

Those of you who are overseas are no doubt aware of the command's latest efforts to prevent suicides.

Here are some resources
for those who would like more information and for anyone who wants to help a buddy or family member. The national suicide prevention hotline is 1-800-273-TALK (8255). If you are a member of the military or a veteran, press 1 after you connect.

The gist of what the experts are saying is this: the military teaches its warriors to be tough and self-reliant. In order to be as tough and self-reliant and you can be, you need to know when to reach out for help.

For what it's worth, here's my definition of suicide:
A permanent solution to a temporary problem. And they are all temporary problems.


Iraq colonel's daughter in Wisconsin wants to aid 32nd

West Salem High School senior Catey Greenwood plans to let members of Wisconsin’s 32nd Infantry Brigade know that they are not forgotten. Read the story in the Coulee News.

Greenwood’s efforts are part of her senior exit project. How did she get become aware of the deployment? The brigade's deputy commander is her father, Col. Mark Greenwood, the News reports

“I’m hosting a support group for teens whose family members are currently overseas and we are also creating care packages to send over to the 32nd Brigade by Christmas,” Greenwood said.

- Steve

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Madison's million-gallon airman breaks record in Iraq

From Air Force Staff Sgt Jason M Klingbiel of Madison, who is deployed 6,400 miles from home at Sather Air Base, west of Baghdad.

Things are going well. Right now, I've been here in Iraq approximately
110 days, and have issued around 1,074,000 gallons of fuel - far
exceeding the previous record. The only "drought" in aircraft that
comes to mind was during the dust storm that hit this area the first
week of July, where the sky was practically orange from the dust in the
air, and it pretty much grounded most all the air traffic.

My replacement will be arriving soon. With new equipment, I can say
that we did receive a new R-11 fuel truck, but I imagine the need for
new equipment won't be great, especially with the eventual withdrawal
from the area.

Aircraft variety has definitely been one of this place's positive sides.
In addition to servicing our own aircraft, I have worked with aircraft
registered from the former Soviet republics including Kazakhstan,
Armenia, and Georgia, occasionally still wearing traces of their former
Aeroflot striping or the outline of the red star of the Soviet Air
Force, all chartered to air freight companies throughout the Middle
East. When the Royal Air Force left here back in July, they contracted
for an An-124, the Russian counterpart of our C-5 to airlift their
helicopters from here.

As for off-duty time, I've found myself most frequently visiting the
morale tent, to converse with family back home online. While there are
an assortment of other options, one classic piece of advice always comes
to mind - you can't breathe dirt or dust for that matter, and there's
certainly days here where there's a lot of dust in the air.

- Jason Klingbiel