Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A few flowers poking out of scorched earth...

It is perhaps ironic that the first proponent of the "scorched earth" policy in warfare, William Tecumseh Sherman, is the one who said "war is hell." War is also an unusual topic for a good news blog, but might as well face it since we're surrounded by it daily in all parts of the world, whether it's a war of words between neighbors, a war of ideals like the controversy swirling around Burma/Myanmar's recent sentencing of Suu Kyi or actual war in "insert a Middle Eastern/African nation here."

All of these wars have obvious effects, but the stories I have for this morning shine the spotlight on a few little-examined or even forgotten "side effects" to war. 

CNN.com posted a story on a man named Brad Blauser, a Texan who went to Iraq as a civilian contractor and stayed as an angel for children. Bartering security consulting for room and board (read: no income), Blauser works with charitable organizations to distribute pediatric wheelchairs to disabled children. Most of these children were not injured by bombs or guns; they simply suffer from physical handicaps from birth or resulting from disease. They are stigmatized and receive little help due to the health care shortage from the war. Blauser has provided over 650 wheelchairs to children and their families over the last four years. 

Wheelchairs are a frequent sight around the American Links Veterans' golf course. Staffed and run entirely by donations and volunteers (who average 72 years of age), the golf course is a haven for soldiers who come home from battle to combat physical and emotional injuries. MSNBC.com posted a video awhile back that profiled the golf course; its resident pro, Korean war vet Pepper Roberts; and some of the former soldiers who now play there. 

According to Haaretz.com, a 13 year-old bar mitzvah boy from New York has donated the $40,000 he received from his celebration to the town of Sderot, Israel. Better known as "Missile City," Sderot sits on the Israeli border and has been hit by tens of thousands of Gazan rockets during the war. Benjamin Sternklar Davis traveled to Israel to present the donation to the town, which he has asked be used to build a playground for Sderot's children, many of whom suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

(Photo courtesy of CNN.com)

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