Letter from an Antiwar Soldier: Patrick Resta, Specialist E/4, Responds to a Lieutenant Colonel
- by Patrick Resta, Specialist E/4
Left Hook co-editor Derek Seidman recently interviewed Patrick Resta, an antiwar Army medic who returned from Iraq in November, 2004 and began speaking out against the war and occupation. Resta's words were published far and wide, and he received a huge response from readers. Almost all the feedback was positive; some of it was negative. He received one email from a Lieutenant Colonel Lusk criticizing the interview (the subject of the email was "Disgraceful Interview"). Patrick Resta responded. We thought readers would be interested in reading this exchange, printed below. The original email sent by the Lieutenant Colonel is first, followed by Patrick Resta's response. (Resta can be reached at Eosonifilic@aol.com. He is involved with Iraq Veterans Against the War, www.ivaw.net)
Having just returned from Iraq with the 30th BCT [Brigade Combat Team] at the end of 2004, I want to thank you for your service, commitment, and willingness to defend our country. I congratulate you and your embarkation into this forum so that you may solicit personal praise and notoriety from the public.
I must admit that I was simply amazed by how two people, with the same experiences can have such opposite views.
Where you see disaster, I see opportunity for a long suppressed people. Where you see corporate corruption as the basis for this war, I see the United States taking a proactive stance to defend herself, its citizens, and OUR future generations. Where you see a people that didn't want us occupying their country, I see a people that are tasting freedom and independence for the first time ever.
I think that our different viewpoints can best be explained by our individual focal points. Where you apparently spent most of your time gazing into a mirror and seeing only yourself, I looked around the FOB and saw many selfless soldiers proud to carry out their duty and return home having contributed to a cause bigger than themselves.
I challenge you to seek this Army Value of selfless service as I think it will add more pride and positive outlook to your personal life. If you should try and fail, then please continue to express yourself, however, don't do so at the expense of every National Guardsman and family who see hope and promise resulting from their actions.
LTC Greg Lusk
What's Really "Disgraceful"?
I want to thank you for your service to our great country as well. It's senior officers like you that have made the military what it is today. You can save your time, I'm not in the 30th anymore and will be out of the military all together fairly soon. Your attempt to threaten or intimidate me won't work anyway sir. It only motivates me to speak out that much more. Perhaps you can tell me what unit you are in so I may contact them. Where and when were you in Iraq? What type of unit were you in?
As for your premise that I'll receive personal praise and notoriety from the public I can only surmise that you refer to emails like your own. I read your email several times trying to make sense of it. I think the thing that intrigued me the most was that you didn't even attempt to refute anything I said. But, how could you? I didn't really talk about anything that hasn't been widely reported in the media already. You call my interview disgraceful, why? Because you don't like what I have to say? It's "disgraceful" to me that you would try to use your rank to quiet someone in a public forum with a viewpoint that you don't agree with. Is that freedom? I think that your real problem is that I criticize this administration and/or make things public that the military would rather keep secret. Freedom means changing the channel, station, or URL when you don't like what's on. (Just out of curiosity why were you reading an online magazine like Left Hook anyway?) Isn't the foundation of freedom voting? Why didn't my vote count in Iraq? Isn't that "disgraceful"? I submit that maybe you're putting your politics before principle. A wise man once said that when someone can't dispute your premise (either they're not intelligent enough or the facts aren't there) they resort to anger and personal attacks. As I read your email I caught a distinct hint of both. Maybe it's just a coincidence.
I think that your main problem with my interview is that I spoke out at all. You would like to see the current situation in Iraq continue indefinitely. Was it "disgraceful" when that TN [Tennessee] Guardsman questioned why over two years after the buildup for war began he still didn't have armor for his vehicle? I would think that those that are really concerned for the lives of the service members wouldn't let a situation like that go on and on. Have you used your rank to address this issue? Isn't it "disgraceful" that an E4 had to stand up and risk punishment before someone would even address the issue? Isn't it "disgraceful" to send soldiers into combat with half inch thick sheets of plywood as armor? Isn't it "disgraceful" to try to send soldiers on a several hundred mile journey through Iraq with only 100 rounds per person? Isn't it "disgraceful" to send soldiers into combat with weapons that aren't zeroed, gas masks that were never tested, and gas masks that don't even fit? Isn't it "disgraceful" to try to send a medic on a several hundred mile journey through Iraq without basic medical supplies such as bandages and IV fluid? Where is your outrage at these things? I can tell you plenty of things that are disgraceful. Obviously, you don't want to hear about them or address the issues.
It's pretty disgusting for you to pose the invasion of Iraq to me as having something to do with September 11th. My aunt and uncle were killed that day in the World Trade Center. Obviously you fail to see the big picture and history behind and in front of that event. Where are all these Iraqis that love us and want us in their country? Why aren't they being interviewed by the media? Why haven't we seen an opinion poll to see what the Iraqi's really think and want? After all, this is all about them right? I don't know how often you left your FOB, but I saw plenty of devastation through out Iraq. The hospitals, sanitation, pollution, lack of jobs, infrastructure and on and on.
As for your contention that I spent most my time looking in the mirror, it's really not that funny. We didn't have KBR [Kellogg, Brown, and Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton that runs a lot of chow halls and recreation facilities for soldiers in Iraq] at my FOB [Forward Operating Base] so mirrors were hard to come by. You're right though, having one would have been nice. I stayed pretty busy in our BAS [Battalion Aid Station], going on convoys, and going on missions. Have you ever asked your fellow soldiers (especially the enlisted) for a straight up and off the record opinion about Iraq? I know I did. I looked around my FOB also, but I saw something different. I saw 650 lives. I saw 650 families. Those lives and families are worth more to me than what is going on in Iraq. Obviously, we have a fundamental difference of opinion on this issue. Is it "disgraceful" to you that I put a human face on the people dying and getting maimed? Why? As a medic it is my job to look out for the welfare, safety, and health of the members of my unit. It would seem that senior officers have a problem or are hesitant in doing this. As I've said, why aren't people like yourself addressing these problems so I don't have to speak out? Isn't that your job also? It is my hope that the selfless soldiers in Iraq that you talk about are equipped properly and not another one of them is killed or injured senselessly.
In your last paragraph you talk about selfless service. You don't know me do you? I don't believe we've met, but I guess I could be mistaken. You don't know the sacrifices I made during the two years that I was put on active duty. I know the sacrifices that are made by those that are in Iraq, especially Guardsmen and Reservists. That's why I'm speaking out.
The Army value that is the most important to me is integrity. To me it means doing the right thing even when it's not easy or popular. I could not sit here with a clear conscience knowing that soldiers in Iraq are still getting killed or maimed because of clearly avoidable circumstances. But more importantly, how could you? Why isn't it "disgraceful" to you that soldiers are still dying and getting maimed because of plywood armor? I'm one person, but there are many like me. I never claimed to speak for everyone in the military. I did an interview that I answered bluntly and honestly. I never took an oath to lie for the military and I never will. What Army value is that? Perhaps your time and your rank would be better spent comforting the widows and wounded of this war that are struggling to receive the care that they are owed. Thanks for writing, and I hope I have given you some ideas of things that need to be worked on. GOD BLESS AMERICA.
PS - - I noticed in your email that your AKO email link doesn't work. Why is that? It kind of makes me think. Any future contact by you is unwanted and uninvited. Just so I'm perfectly clear - - - DON'T CONTACT ME AGAIN. You're not in my chain of command and I'm not active duty.
(Resta can be reached at Eosonifilic@aol.com. He is involved with Iraq Veterans Against the War, www.ivaw.net)