Coffee Strong, the GI coffee house near Ft. Lewis, WA. A newspaper account in the Tacoma News Tribune also covered the story.
Today, military spouse Ashley Joppa-Hagemann and anti-war veteran Jorge Gonzalez went on Joint Base Lewis-McChord to meet with Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld, most infamous for his part in leading the United States into the bloody wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, was at JBLM to promote his New York Times bestselling book Known and Unknown: A Memoir.
Mrs. Joppa-Hagemann introduced herself by handing a copy of her husband’s funeral program to Rumsfeld, and telling him that her husband had joined the military because he believed the lies told by Rumsfeld during his tenure with the Bush Administration. She then recounted her husband’s painful story of eight deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, his battle with PTSD, and eventual suicide, for which she blamed the military and Rumsfeld himself whose only response was to callously quip, “Oh yeah, I heard about that.” Despite the reply, Mrs. Joppa-Hagemann continued to lay the blame directly at the feet of Rumsfeld and the military for not providing enough care for soldiers and veterans returning from deployments in combat zones. However, within moments Ashley and Jorge were dragged from the Post Exchange by a group of 5-6 security agents and military police officers, and told not to return.
Former Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld’s uncaring response is demonstrative of the attitude taken by many at the top-levels of the U.S. government. While they seize any opportunity to participate at a photo-op in front of expensive new barracks facilities or publicly praise the sacrifice of service members, they rarely take even a moment to honestly listen to those whose lives are overturned by their failed policies and poor planning. If politicians and top-level officials truly care about Joint Base Lewis-McChord and other military communities they’ll begin to listen to the folks¬like Ashley Joppa-Hagemann¬who are most affected by the negative consequences of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
photo from Coffee Strong