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From: Jaq (204.180.197.197)
Subject:         "Stop-Loss Is A Very Ugly Lie"
Date: November 18, 2005 at 10:02 pm PST

"Stop-Loss Is A Very Ugly Lie"
News "Mother blames policy for son's Iraq injuries."
By Megan Holland and Julia O'Malley
Anchorage Daily News, November 16, 2005

The soldier son of an Anchorage poet, playwright and anti-war activist was critically injured in Iraq two weeks into a second tour of duty he did not want to serve, his mother said.

Latseen Benson, in the 101st Airborne, was struck Sunday by a roadside bomb in Tikrit, north of Bagdad. Monday night, the 26-year-old he had not regained consciousness, Diane Benson said from her Eagle River home.

Benson said her son's first four-year tour was over Oct. 31 and that he was forced to extend his service under the controversial Stop-Loss Program.

"My son is now fighting for his life with half a body left," Benson said.

Latseen lost his legs and possibly part of an arm on Sunday, and was in a coma Tuesday night in a hospital in Germany, according to Ruth Sheridan, a family friend.

Diane Benson and Latseen's stepfather, Tony Vita, left Tuesday morning to join their son by his hospital bed, according to the Micki Boling, who circulated an e-mail to raise money to cover the last-minute plane fare.

They had initially been headed for Germany. However, friends later said, her son was being transferred to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

Diane Benson said she wrote letters to U.S. Rep. Don Young, Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Sen.
Ted Stevens asking them to intercede after his first tour, so her son could return home. She was not successful. Latseen decided he couldn't abandon the rest of the soldiers in his unit, who were also forced to serve the extra time.

"This is criminal when we have people who are not willing to step up to the plate to take over," she said. "It must not be that critical when nobody wants to serve."

Cathy Gramling, an Army spokeswoman in Fort Campbell, Ky., where Benson was stationed, could not immediately confirm that his tour had been extended. Under privacy laws, she said, she could not say when, where or even if he had been injured.

"Every soldier is made aware of the potential for Stop-Loss. It's a general part of being in the military," she said.

After he had served a year as a machine-gunner in the Middle East, Latseen was featured in the Rural Alaska Community Action Program publication Village Voices in the spring of 2004.

In the article he discussed what drove him to enlist.

"Most of it had to do with 9/11. I wanted to go to Afghanistan, but I never quite made it there," he said. "I just wanted to fight. I don't like it when people s--- in my back yard, I guess."

According to the article, Latseen Benson's first name is the Tlingit word for "strong." The young man, the father of a preschool-age son, described his plans for returning home, which included martial arts study and dirt-biking.

"What can I say about combat? It's a rush," he said. "Mostly those in the infantry units, we were just there, in the middle of everything."

Diane Benson said her son had plans in January to attend college in Texas and marry his girlfriend, before he was ordered to serve until 2007.

"Stop-Loss is a very ugly lie," she said. "They drafted my son so he could go over there and get blown up."

President Bush's speech in Anchorage on Monday added to Benson's anger and heartache.

"I would have appreciated a little house call while he was here," she said. "To tell me why a very fine boy has to be fighting for his life."

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