More media attacks on vets *UPDATED*

The media supported the troops when they felt they could attack the War. Now that the Surge is working, with dramatic downturns in overall violence (setting the stage for political stability), making attacks on the War somehow doesn’t work anymore, so the media has found a tried and true target: the troops themselves. The first salvo was the NY Times “troops as killers” tripe, which Iowahawk skewered. Round two in the media’s undeclared war is “the troops as insane, drug addicted homeless people,” an attack emanating this time from AP. What’s marvelous (in a twisted way) about the AP report, is how it relies on the media’s original myth about insane, drug addicted homeless Vietnam Vets to support its central tenet. Thus, after one anecdote about a poor, lost soul, the report hits its stride:

This is not a new story in America: A young veteran back from war whose struggle to rejoin society has failed, at least for the moment, fighting demons and left homeless.

But it is happening to a new generation. As the war in Afghanistan plods on in its seventh year, and the war in Iraq in its fifth, a new cadre of homeless veterans is taking shape.

And with it come the questions: How is it that a nation that became so familiar with the archetypal homeless, combat-addled Vietnam veteran is now watching as more homeless veterans turn up from new wars?

What lessons have we not learned? Who is failing these people? Or is homelessness an unavoidable byproduct of war, of young men and women who devote themselves to serving their country and then see things no man or woman should?

(Incidentally, Erin McCalm, the author of this “report,” repeats this myth again later in the article.) Pardon me while I take a short trip to the vomitorium to purge myself of that kind of trite psychobabble.

I’m not someone who deals comfortably with numbers, so I’ll leave it to you guys to tell me what’s wrong with these:

For now, about 1,500 veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan have been identified by the Department of Veterans Affairs. About 400 of them have taken part in VA programs designed to target homelessness.

The 1,500 are a small, young segment of an estimated 336,000 veterans in the United States who were homeless at some point in 2006, the most recent year for which statistics are available, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

And yes, I am willing to bet that this minuscule statistical sampling is somehow very wrong. That is, I’m assuming that if someone compares Vet homeless figures to general homeless figures for young men and women in the same demographic, the numbers will be the same or, as seems often to be the case (whether the subject is alleged rises in Vet suicide or murder) lower.

Anyway, Ms. McClam, isn’t really interested in actual numbers. She’s much more interested in predicting imminent social breakdown because of the return of vast numbers of dysfunctional vets:

Still, advocates for homeless veterans use words like “surge” and “onslaught” and even “tsunami” to describe what could happen in the coming years, as both wars continue and thousands of veterans struggle with post-traumatic stress.

People who have studied postwar trauma say there is always a lengthy gap between coming home — the time of parades and backslaps and “The Boys Are Back in Town” on the local FM station — and the moments of utter darkness that leave some of them homeless.

In that time, usually a period of years, some veterans focus on the horrors they saw on the battlefield, or the friends they lost, or why on earth they themselves deserved to come home at all. They self-medicate, develop addictions, spiral down.

How — or perhaps the better question is why — is this happening again?

“I really wish I could answer that question,” says Anthony Belcher, an outreach supervisor at New Directions, which conducts monthly sweeps of Skid Row in Los Angeles, identifying homeless veterans and trying to help them get over addictions.

“It’s the same question I’ve been asking myself and everyone around me. I’m like, wait, wait, hold it, we did this before. I don’t know how our society can allow this to happen again.”

I suspect that poor Mr. Belcher can’t answer the question because it’s probably not happening again, just as it didn’t happen before.

And so the article goes. Broad, unsupported conclusions, breathless anguished questions, a complete absence of hard facts. This is not reporting. This doesn’t even rise to yellow journalism. This is so bad Ms. McClam couldn’t even make it as the writer of daytime soaps — the audience would expect more in the way of plot development and verisimilitude. This is the stuff of 1930s Hollywood spoofs about bad female journalists, trafficking in breathy innuendo, emotions and fantasy.

(The picture at the top, by the way, is of a Canadian homeless man.)

UPDATECurt, at Flopping Aces, is doing the math:

If my math is right (and there no guarantee it is, jarhead remember) those numbers work out to be .004% of the veteran homeless were from the Iraq/Afghanistan war.

So .004% is worthy of a 1,947 word article from the AP? This article from the NYT’s in November puts the number of Iraq/Afghanistan homeless veterans at 400. In two months it went up 1,100. That’s some jump.

And how about that 336,000 number. HUD reports that in 2006 the number of homeless in the United States was

The number of chronically homeless people dropped from 175,900 in 2005 to 155,600 in 2006, according to data collected from about 3,900 cities and counties.

Anyone see a problem there? This article from HUD puts it at 744,000. Pretty big discrepancy there. It even says 41% of that number are whole families which means only 416,000 are singles. I’m thinking that most of these veteran homeless are not taking their whole family with them so the majority of single homeless are veterans?

Any other math work from readers will be much appreciated.

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Killing a canard quickly *UPDATE*

After the Vietnam War, one of the favorite liberal tropes was that the vets came back as deranged, dysfunctional, often savage subhuman creatures. I never understood that. I was the daughter of a veteran who had served in two wars, one of which was WWII, where he saw hand to hand combat at El Alamein and was strafed for three days in Crete. (The other war was the Israeli War of Independence, and he never told battle stories about that one.) My Dad was often an angry man (not violent, just put-upon), but he was that way before the war, as a result of having been brought up in one of Weimar Berlin’s worst slums before his mother (abandoned by his father before he was born) could no longer handle him and therefore delivered him, at age 5, to an orphanage. The orphanage saved him, but I don’t think he ever got over the anger that went with being abandoned — and that went with being raised a Communist. In any event, my father’s personality, which was mostly compounded of intelligence, wit, humor and hard work, was in place long before war began. I also took note of the fact that, not only did the WWII vets return to extraordinarily productive lives (think of the booming 1950s), but so too did most of the concentration camp survivors, people who experienced things horrors even soldiers couldn’t imagine.

When I’d query my parents about the difference between Vietnam Vets and all other veterans, they could only reply “Drugs. It must have happened because they all came back drug addicted.” The fact that, statistically, that wasn’t true either was something none of us could deal with intellectually. So, we simply accepted the MSM trope and, because we didn’t know any vets personally (my parents were too old and I too young), it really didn’t matter anyway.

The trope — the vet as psychotic killer — is unsurprisingly being recycled. The MSM supported the vets when they could attack the war’s progress. With the war progressing well (that darn Surge), the MSM has now turned on the vets, most recently with the infamous NY Times story about killer vets. Sadly for the NY Times, unlike the golden days of yore when it enjoyed a media monopoly, there is now a way to analyze the story and disseminate corrections — and, boy, does this story need correcting, since it is basically a fraud, not through misstatements, but through omission. That is, it retells several horrific stories about crimes involving vets, without any giving any context about either the vet or the nature of crime in society at large. (As a matter of law, in California, one form of deceit is “The suppression of a fact, by one who is bound to disclose it, or who gives information of other facts which are likely to mislead for want of communication of that fact.” Calif. Civ. Code sec. 1710.)

Thankfully, Bob Owens, who has become something of a specialist at his own blog exposing gross acts of media malfeasance, has turned a jaundiced eye on the Times‘ latest whopper, and produced a clear amalgamation of his own analysis, and the analyses that others have done. You should definitely read the article, but the bottom line won’t surprise you: through the combined sins of fraudulent omission and sheer hysteria, the Times has produced something that is wrong, wrong, wrong. I’d cry shame, but the MSM has none.

UPDATE:  It seems appropriate to include year the American Thinker’s catch about the Times’ double standard when it comes to Presidential war powers.