Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

The military and its Asian members

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This sounds like another example of the US government—the military in particular—working to keep secret their failures. Story by Kirk Semple in the NY Times:

Friends and relatives crowd into Su Zhen Chen’s small apartment in an East Village housing project, bearing food and solace for her and her husband. A community leader sometimes shows up to pay respects, or a military official arrives with papers to sign. Adults gather in the cramped living room for hushed chats in Chinese as children do homework at the kitchen table. For Ms. Chen, these are welcome distractions.

But at night, when the apartment goes quiet, the grief surges back, and Ms. Chen sits with a portrait of her son, her only child, and ponders what unfolded on a dusty military base half a world away. “It’s so sad that he loved the Army and this happened,” she said.

On Oct. 3, her son, Pvt. Danny Chen, was found shot to death in a guard tower on an American outpost in Afghanistan. He was 19 years old.

Three days after his death, a military official told Ms. Chen and her husband, Yan Tao Chen, that investigators had not yet determined whether the shot to the head was self-inflicted or fired by someone else.

But the official also revealed, the Chens said, that Private Chen had been subjected to physical abuse and ethnic slurs by superiors, who one night dragged him out of bed and across the floor when he failed to turn off a water heater after showering.

Since then, the military has given little information about its investigation to the Chens, immigrants who speak no English.

And though military officials have reassured the Chens that a thorough investigation is being conducted, their grief is laced with suspicion, shared by their supporters in the local Chinese community, that they will never learn the truth.

For decades, Asian-Americans have had an uneasy relationship with the military, enlisting at lower rates than other ethnic groups.

Many Asian-American families have emphasized higher education and white-collar occupations, rather than the armed services, as a way to get ahead in America, experts say. The dearth of high-profile Asian-Americans in the upper echelons of the military may have also discouraged enlistment.

In New York’s Asian population, the reaction to Private Chen’s death has underscored this feeling, and community leaders say the case threatens to chill attitudes toward the military.

“The family deserves the truth — the honest truth,” said Melissa Chen, one of Private Chen’s aunts.

Private Chen kept a journal while deployed, relatives said, but military investigators have so far shared only three pages of it with the family. On one, a cartoonish face with an angst-ridden expression is scrawled alongside the misspelled message: “Watever happens happens.”

On another, a list of notes, in what looks like Private Chen’s handwriting, describes procedural failures, including “Didn’t clear weapon,” “Didn’t hydrate,” and “No attention to detail (little things).”

Relatives said they had no idea what to make of the pages. The military’s decision to release them while retaining the rest of the journal has only added to their bewilderment. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

31 October 2011 at 1:20 pm

Posted in Mental Health, Military

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