John Furie Zacharias
having a bad day in a strange place
Thunderstorms Anywhere

Thunderstorms in the Imajica

 The different ways I don't like you 
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Wednesday, August 11, 2004
Compassionate Conservative Fatigue

Seahawk down at the Combat Hospital
A typical photograph of the thousands taken everyday in Bush's Iraq might not even get my attention in the constant blur of images to which we've all been exposed over the past year.  However, this photograph, just like every photograph in Bush's Iraq being taken, will forever capture and memorialize for eternity when the world changed completely for some everyday person.  Maybe you know that person, maybe you don't.  But, maybe that person is your co-worker, a neighbor, a friend, or someone in your family.

This particular photograph depicts soldiers from the 31st Combat Support Hospital off-loading the wounded in Bush's Iraq.  It was used for an ABC news reporter's story about Combat Fatigue among the medical corps.

It is no new discovery that people who care for other people in a stressful environment can suffer phsychological and emotional problems.  These problems can then manifest themselves in any range from emotional detachment or outward coldness as a psychological survival mechanism, or simple anxiety, stress, and anger.  Police officers can snap and lose it.  Emergency Medical Technicians can get burned out.  Even Certified Nursing Aides working in Nursing Homes can be totally stressed out.

Nobody's Home
If you've ever clicked on the name Helleena on the TAG board or in the blog comments at Thunderstorms, and then visited her blog, Life at Work, you can read some first-hand accounts of how stressful working in a nursing home can be for her.  If you haven't done that recently, I'd like to point out her second Life at Work blog entry -- the first one obviously saying, 'welcome to my new blog' -- is entitled What will break your heart and make you smile at the same time.

Helleena's CNA stories are not unusual.  Unfortunately, it is altogether very normal and business-as-usual in nursing homes all over the United States.  Besides visiting Life at Work, one need only read some of the description of Tom Gass' book Nobody's Home to get some idea of what is like for CNAs:

Gass brings the reader into his sterile building with its flat metal roof and concrete block walls. Like an industrial park complex, it is clean, efficient, and functional.  He is blunt about the institutionís goal: as long as the staff keeps those faint hearts pumping, the life savings and Medicaid dollars keep rolling in. With 130 beds in the nursing home, the owner grossed about three million dollars annually. As a relatively well-paid aide, Gass made $6.90 an hour.

In a calm, intelligent and matter-of-fact style, Gass describes his often unpleasant daily routines. He cleans, feeds and dresses the patients; tries to converse with them, although they are often senile; and mostly, attempts to preserve their dignity

Click here to visit the website of Captain Andy Houghton
Trying to actually care for people in an environment that seems to cause injury, impede care, and reward these overworked caregivers with low wages is stressful -- whether you're talking about a CNA in a Florida nursing home or a Combat Medic in Bush's Iraq.

"We call it compassion fatigue," says Lt. Col. Sally Harvey, a U.S. Army psychologist. "It's the cost of caring day after day. Our staff experiences many of those same emotions that our patients do. Some people can get depressed, can feel overwhelmed. It's very much akin to what we call battle fatigue for soldiers who are out there on the front lines."

Every photograph, whether in the news or on the cover of a book, tells the story of someone -- a real person -- someone you might know.  And, sometimes it captures the moment when your life changed forever.  My personal experience over the last few years causes me to see my mother in that wheelchair, alone in the hallway, and is why I dropped everything to come down to Florida to care for her.  Even looking at that book cover  -- even a year after my mom's death -- makes me want to start crying all over my keyboard, right now.

When I look at the photographs taken in Bush's Iraq, I get so angry.  What a fucking waste.  One of the soldiers being off-loaded from the Seahawk in that ABC news photo is could be someone like Andy Houghton, a real person with friends and family.  He was injured when a rocket-propelled grenade slammed into his Bradley Fighting Vehicle on July 10th while on a routine patrol in Samarra, Iraq.  He just died on Monday.

I'm fatigued from Bush's so-called compassionate conservatism.  I'm fatigued from looking at photographs of Bush's Iraq.  If I hear another brain-dead Fox News commentator ask us, "Do you think we should be reporting on more goods news stories from Iraq," I'm going to scream at the top of my lungs as I shove their talking head back down their Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole.  Honestly, for fuck-sakes!

Posted at 09:33 pm by John Furie Zacharias

August 11, 2004   09:39 PM PDT
You shold check out a documentary called "outfoxed", certainly interesting for anyone concerned with the concept of "fair and balanced".
August 11, 2004   10:16 PM PDT
Although I just mentioned FOX news in passing, it is definitely fodder for a future topic. I've been reading serious media analysts' articles and essays on the trend in the U.S. to move media toward the European model where the political bias in their news media is stated, obvious and expected.

The U.S. journalistic tradition of objectivity may be dying. It should honestly be no surprise about FOX, and News Corp since Rupert Murdoch is Australian. While the slogans 'Fair and Balanced' and 'No-Spin Zone' may be sincere ideas to *some* of the U.S. journalists and commentators working for FOX, it honestly comes across as hypocrisy, disguise, and a total joke to anyone paying attention.
August 12, 2004   01:57 AM PDT
Xav, I just spotted this conversation going on over on Plastic:;sid=04/08/09/06113624

It's about Jon Stewart's Daily Show seemingly being more newsworthy than the news outlets. Heh.
August 20, 2004   10:09 PM PDT
Stan Mathews, from near as I can tell from reading everything (again) on, is a friend of the family of Captain Andy Houghton and requested that I remove Andy's photo from this blog entry.

Out of respect for the feelings of the friends and family of Andy Houghton who must be grieving terribly from his death less than two weeks ago, I immediately removed Andy's photo when Stan Mathews asked me to do so.

I encourage everyone to visit Andy Houghton's web site.
August 20, 2004   11:33 PM PDT
Your words of sympathy mean little when you say one thing, and then turn around and oblige the friends and family of Capt. Houghton. That is two-faced and even more disgraceful than your comments about the war or the events surrounding Capt. Houghton. I hope you sleep easy tonight knowing that his friends and family suffer greatly at the loss. I hope you sleep very easily knowing that men and women are willing to make a sacrifice and defend this country when all you do is sit back and post on things you know nothing about.

"And thus I saw a pale horse: and with him rode the name of Death and hell followed close behind"~Rev 6:8
August 20, 2004   11:57 PM PDT
Having served in the military, I respect the personal sacrifices made by our military in the past and now. If my anger over the daily carnage happening in Bush's Iraq seems insincere to you, you are mistaken. If my personal condolences to Andy's family seem insincere to you, you are even more mistaken.
August 21, 2004   12:26 AM PDT
For having been in the military, your lack of knowledge of aerial vehicles seems a bit questionable... as is your lack of respect for those dead. It also occurs to me to tell you that being drafted and fleeing to Canada during Vietnam doesn't necessarily mean you were in the military.

More power to you if you are trying to be self righteous, but I can assure you his friends and family do not appreciate you doing that on his behalf.
August 21, 2004   12:50 AM PDT
First of all, Revelation, I wasn't drafted, I volunteered. I worked with SOCEUR for 3 years, among other things.

When I visited Andy's web site, I read everything everyone said about Andy. I looked at all the photos of him with his friends and family in happier times. It breaks my heart that such an obviously wonderful person did not fully recover from his severe injuries. If only. Andy was an eagle scout, Andy went to OCS, Andy had family. Andy was a real person - and not some daily 5-second sound byte on Fox News.


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