French Foreign Legion’s Accession Problems.

by Daniel Russ on June 15, 2010

French Foreign Legion

(Excerpted)

“June 10, 2010: The French Foreign Legion, has built up a goodly number of myths during its nearly 180 year history. From the deserts of Morocco to the jungles of Vietnam, the Legion has a well-deserved reputation for extraordinary bravery and fighting ability in the worst of battlefield conditions. Endurance in the face of deprivation has become a quality for which the Legion is legendary. During the 1950s Battle of Dien Bien Phu in Indochina (Vietnam), Legionnaires fought on despite their officers and NCOs all being killed or wounded. The Foreign Legion is quick to point out that its reputation of bravery, courage, and dogged determination is no exaggeration. Furthermore, the Legion likes to portray itself as one of the world’s most elite, professional fighting forces, much like the British SAS or the American Special Forces Groups.

Unfortunately for the Legion, other, less savory myths about life in the Foreign Legion are all too often very true, and are beginning to have a major affect on manpower retention, morale, and professionalism. The Legion has a lot of dirty laundry that almost never gets exposed due to the unit’s notoriously secretive nature……

Furthermore, substance abuse, particularly alcoholism, is even more of a problem in the Legion than in other  armies. It is not hard to see why, considering that the Legion has often sent its men to isolated duty stations in some of the most inhospitable and violent regions on earth. Finally, unlike the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Army, or British Army, corporal punishment (e.g., punching) is still very much alive and in practice in the Legion, and often comes in the form of sometimes savage beatings administered by NCOs as a means of instilling “discipline”. The Legion’s notorious military police section possesses an even more sinister reputation for brutality and mistreatment. Much of this abuse is directed towards captured deserters and the grim reputation of Legion stockades is well-deserved indeed. Many recruits often complain that some of the instructors are racist and fellow recruits often of an unsavory type, despite the Legion’s claim to conduct background checks on potential recruits.”

Source: Strategy Page blogrolled here

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{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Johnny Farkin-Rosbiff June 16, 2010 at 3:45 am

As a Brit who served in the FFL (mainly in the Paras) for five years in the early to mid-eighties; I can say that if you haven’t served in the unit; you shouldn’t make sweeping generalisations.

Physical Discipline was totally necessary given the type of person who joins the Legion. In Basic Training it moulded the man to the unit – or made him break, in which case he was unsuitable. In my view, it actually kept morale up – it weeded out the wankers. The odd NCO who overstepped the mark, usually got his comeuppance anyway.

As for deserters – they got what they deserved. Sometimes a genuinely good man (in the sense that he was a good Legionnaire) had to desert, normally for personal reasons. They tended not to get caught anyway.

Yes, the Legion attracts unsavoury characters – that’s its strength. If the character remains unsavoury towards his comrades then he gets a good hiding. A thief (of personal items and money) is not tolerated – I witnessed one (who got caught in the act) get his hand pinned to a footstool by a combat knife. Excellent lesson!

As for racism – some Legionnaires may be racist as individuals – you get that in the general population. However one of the best Company Sergeant Majors that I had was an Arab from North Africa, one of the best Caporaux-Chefs (Chief-Corporals) in the Regimental Police was a Senegalese who was as Black as the Ace of Spades and his buddy was a Finn who if he were any paler would have been an albino. A Colonel of the Regiment was French of Lebanese origin. A Chinese Sergeant was one of my instructors in Basic. There is no institutional racism – there is a meritocracy. You fit in. you shut your mouth, you do your job. If you don’t; you will get filled in.

There is no multi-culturalism. You are a Legionnaire, the Legion is a French unit, you adapt to French culture (which ain’t so bad – du vin, du pain et du putain!)

Alcoholism: From what I’ve seen of American puritanism, you can be called an alcoholic if you drink a few beers every day. Alcohol is regarded as a food in French culture. There was a beer machine in the “refectoire” so you could have a beer with your meal if you wanted or share a bottle of wine. It was usual to have a couple of small “canettes” (25cl bottles) of vitamin K (Kronenbourg – the regular stuff, not that sickly 1664) with your baguette sandwich for “casse-croute” or second breakfast in your Company club at 0900; after your morning 20km run in the hills. In the Amphibious centre, it was usual for all ranks to gather for a Pastis aperitif before lunch. In the temperate ration packs you got a small bottle of brandy (and a packet of cigarettes). In Djibouti at the official BMC on camp (BMC = Military Controlled Brothel), at the bar, you emptied half your can of Coke and topped it up with some Johnny Walker. Legionnaires and JNCOs before 2200 and SNCOs and Officers got sloppy seconds after that time.

Sadly, since then, French Socialist governments influenced by “les Intellos de Gauche” have tried to dilute the esprit and the traditions of the Legion, by making it more and more like the Regular French Army. Thankfully with the French Army becoming a fully professional force, in some aspects it has become more like the Legion.

And the Legion remains a potent fighting force. My old regiment is currently in Afghanistan, where it has been commended by Gen McChrystal.

LEGIO PATRIA NOSTRA & MORE MAJORUM

Daniel Russ June 16, 2010 at 10:07 am

Thanks for your thoughtful comments. Be mindful of the fact that I excerpted the article, so I am not the author. Also, I am astounded at the reputation of the FFL and its history. It is an incredibly tough fighting force that has helped France maintain its status worldwide and protect its own people and assets.

That said, I am a little disappointed that your argument boils down to ‘leftist socialists are destroying our army’. That’s a familiar argument I hear here in Texas all the time and after a while, it grows tiresome, and is also wrong. Armies are extensions of the political will of the governments they serve, and they generally tend to be paid and trained by the governments they serve. Countries ruled by armies tend to be fascist or dictatorships. All that boils down to one thing: no army, not even the FFl is allowed to make its own rules exclusively and rule itself exclusively.

Here is America, we have long since given up civilian control of our government to corporations and lobbyists. But in principle, and in practice some of the time, we act as a Democracy. In 1863 a three-day battle raged in southern Pennsylvania that resulted in 53,000 casualties. Afterward, President Abraham Lincoln gave a three minute speech that rocked this country and he reminded us why we were fighting. “It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom; and that this government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Thanks again for visiting our site and please come back.

Viva La France. And God Save The Queen

Also, this is for you:
Merci pour vos commentaires réfléchis. Soyez conscient du fait que je extrait de l’article, je ne suis pas l’auteur. Aussi, je suis étonné de la réputation de la FFL et de son histoire. Il est une force incroyablement difficiles combats qui ont aidé la France de maintenir son statut dans le monde entier et de protéger sa propre population et d’actifs.

Cela dit, je suis un peu déçu que votre argument se résume à «socialistes de gauche sont de détruire notre armée». C’est un argument bien connu que j’entends ici au Texas tout le temps et après un certain temps, il pousse ennuyeux, et il est également faux. Les armées sont des extensions de la volonté politique des gouvernements qu’ils servent, et ils ont généralement tendance à être payés et formés par les gouvernements qu’ils servent. Pays gouverné par les armées ont tendance à être fasciste ou des dictatures. Tout ce qui se résume à une chose: pas d’armée, pas même les FFL est autorisé à établir ses propres règles et se règle exclusivement exclusivement.

Voici l’Amérique, nous avons depuis longtemps renoncé à un contrôle civil de notre gouvernement pour les entreprises et les lobbyistes. Mais, en principe, et dans la pratique de temps en temps, nous agissons en tant que démocratie. En 1863, une bataille de trois jours ont fait rage dans le sud de la Pennsylvanie qui ont abouti à 53.000 victimes. Par la suite, le président Abraham Lincoln a fait un discours de trois minutes qui ont secoué ce pays et il nous a rappelé pourquoi nous nous battions. “C’est plutôt pour nous d’être ici dédié à la grande tâche qui reste avant nous – que de ces morts honorés nous prenons augmenté dévouement à cette cause pour laquelle ils ont donné ici la pleine mesure de leur dévouement – que nous décidons ici avec ferveur que ces morts ne seront pas morts en vain, que cette nation doit avoir une nouvelle naissance de la liberté, et que ce gouvernement du peuple par le peuple, pour le peuple, ne disparaîtra pas de la terre. ”

Merci encore pour votre visite sur notre site et s’il vous plaît revenir.

Viva La France. Et God Save The Queen

Johnny Farkin-Rosbiff June 16, 2010 at 12:11 pm

Sir,

I fully accept and agree with your eloquent and well argued retort. I also believe that a nation’s armed forces should not meddle in politics (“Non, rien de rien…….”) and should be 100% under the command of a democratically elected and accountable government. However, that government also has a responsibility towards its armed forces.

I apologise for making it seem as if I was attacking you personally with my “sweeping generalisations” comment. I was directing it at whomever wrote the original piece in the first place.

As for my comments about Socialists – well it was the French Socialist Government which changed the regulations and brought the Legion under the same legal statutes as the rest of the French Army and caused morale to nose-dive. Those “Intellectuals of the Left” who live in a utopian world and want to apply utopian principles to the real world, tried to apply them to the Legion. They tried to force the same training regime and training methods used for French Conscripts onto the Legion – with dire results.

That unfortunatly occurred during the late eighties and coincided with a very dry period for operations. The Legion needs a conflict. Many men join the Legion because they want to go on operations (get on the “two-way” shooting range). By the time Basic Training is over MOST legionnaires are itching to “get amongst it”. Luckily the Legion cadre discovered that it could apply a lot of flexibility in adapting (or not) to French Regular Army regulations by the time Combat Operations started up again at the end of the Eighties and it was back to “Au Baroud”.

I’m no conspiracy theorist, but back in the mid eighties, it certainly seemed that the Socialists who had tried to disband the Legion officially were now trying to do it in an underhand way by destroying the effectiveness of this “corps insolite”. When Mitterand had got into power in 1981, there was a general idea among the French Left that the Legion was an embarrassing anachronism and it should be disbanded. However, they failed in their aims because the French General Staff basically told them that if they did disband the Legion, France would lose a third of its (then) projectable troops. In addition these were also the ones ones that could be politically expendable if a difficult decision had to be made. After all, to paraphrase the old saying of De Negrier, “Legionnaires are to be sent where they can die”.

Oh and another thing – A French (female) Socialist Defence Minister withdrew alcohol and tobacco from French ration packs and also closed down the last remaining Legion BMCs. What a kill-joy! If you are happy to go off and die “pour la gloire” then you should be able to partake in a few subsidised vices!

By the way, hats off to your written French. I haven’t got a French keyboard and I’m too lazy to fiddle about time-consumingly with the accents otherwise.

Oh, and Alex Rowe, a British Sous-Officier Superieur (Sergeant-Major) from the Foreign Legion is about to be made a Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur” on Bastille Day. Not bad for a “Rosbiff” as the Frogs used to call us.

p.s C’est quoi la difference entre le 2REP et le 1REC? Les uns, ils ont des parachutes; les autres, ils ont des chars a putes! And if any “Cavaliers Legion” read this – sometimes I wished for some “chars a putes” myself!

Once again,

LEGIO PATRIA NOSTRA & MORE MAJORUM

and maybe with a bit of

MANUI DAT COGNITIO VIRES

Daniel Russ June 16, 2010 at 4:37 pm

Johnny,

Britain and France and Italy are socialist nations. Or at least they have socialized services and a free market economy. So do most of the countries in northern Europe, like Denmark, and Finland and Sweden. Greece, Italy, Hungary and poland are all firmly socialist nations and every single one of them has a robust military and a high military expenditure for their size and gross domestic product.

The US is decidedly not socialist yet we have one of the smallest armies given our size. (Although we pay more than almost anyone else in the world or almost any combination of other country’s defense budgets).

The fight between guns and butter goes on everywhere. Here in America, we send people across the world to fight and die so people have the right to vote to medicine and to schools. At home, we let people die in the street for treatable illnesses, we let our schools rot and our children are among the least educated of the top industrialized nations.

Yet the socialist nations on that list almost all have lower infant mortality rates and in general have higher standards of living. So perhaps socialists are try to defund and defang militaries. Even so, socialist Canada and Socialist Britain and Socialiat France and Socialist Denmark and Socialist Germany and Socialist Australia are fighting and dying across the world shoulder to shoulder with us. The real difference is that in any of those Socialist nations, a destitute soldier can get top shelf medical care. In America, a destitute soldier who needs medicine will not be treated.

Like my brother, a US Navy veteran, and my father, a WWII veteran, both died from poor or non existent health care despite the fact that when their country asked them to show up, they did. And when they needed medicine they died.

You seem to be equating socialism with anti-military attitudes and implementation. But the facts don’t bear out the case.

Daniel Russ June 17, 2010 at 8:24 am

Johnny

Thanks for all the attention. But your last comment was so filled with pre-chewed, much debunked extreme right wing batshit crazy assertions, I had to remove it. I figured you were either drunk, or you literally are sucking Rupert Murdock’s tit while you were typing.

If Socialism is dead and failed, then why is your own country still around and why haven’t you left? And once again, another right wing revisionist note about Hitler being a leftist versus a right wing nutcase. Why did you spend five years in the FFL fighting and dying for a failed Socialist state? Why do right wing nutcases feel they have no other choice but to rewrite history?

Personally, I think you should have stayed in the FFL.

Take care. Keep coming to the blog. But no more comments from you.

Tant pis pour toi.

Johnny Farkin-Rosbiff June 17, 2010 at 8:51 am

The answer of someone who has no answer.

And I am no right wing nutcase.

Take the log out of your own eye before you remove the splinter from mine.

Daniel Russ June 17, 2010 at 9:20 am

Johnny,

While you genuflect at the altar of unfettered capitalism, I want to thank you and your national treasure BP for stewarding into my country’s Gulf Coast a natural disaster of a magnitude not seen since Krakatoa erupted; one that could have been prevented were it not for the holiness of shareholder dividends and backroom deals with Darth Cheney.
Thanks to your holy BP, the Gulf of Mexico will be a new Dead Sea, and the millions of businesses that depend upon it will be destroyed and not see the life they dedicated themselves to ever return. And that does not even address the sensitive eco systems under the sea that have been destroyed and continue to be destroyed – and upon which life in the surrounding oceans is inextricably tied to.
And yes Johnny, you are an extreme right wing nut case. You are probably a very good person. But you are a very wrong person.

And thanks also for taking this decidedly non partisan military history and culture blog and using it to sell your moribund Ayn Rand wingnuttery.

Bon Chance

Joseph Gunther September 25, 2010 at 7:05 pm

“If no one has ever been a “Legionare”? do not talk about them. For you have no right!!! To even look in there direction! Because you do know what they have been through to be called a; “Legionare”!!!

Disbelief September 26, 2010 at 2:27 pm

I cant believe the leftist, conspiracy ridden garbage I am reading here from someone who proports to be American. Americans are not Socialists by any means. Should you desire that type of governance, move. Youre free to relocate. Youre arrogant demeanor, and apparant blindness to the faults of Socialism make you seem more looney than the Brit you proport to be a “right wing nutcase” and “a very wrong person.” Who the hell are you to judge? You are what is wrong with America today…a self righteous, finger pointing, boo hooing pansy who wants everything handed to him without any self sacrafice. My undying respect goes out to your Father and brother for thier service. Its no secret the VA was no great help to Vets..but that is not so now. You do not know what youre talking about when you report that, “In America, a destitute soldier who needs medicine will not be treated.” It is a total lie. No one here gets turned away. Get an honest perspective before you portray yourself as an American to others. Your comment, “Take care. Keep coming to the blog. But no more comments from you.” is very Hitler-esque…how appropriate. Im sure youre pompous, power controlling self wont post this either…..

Daniel Russ September 27, 2010 at 9:05 am

What it is about this post that brings all the lonely wack-jobs out of the closet? Disbelief, you are going to be very disappointed on the day when you discover that many other people think you have an unbalanced extremist viewpoint. My guess is that you are an avid teabagger.

That said, we are all Americans and are all entitled to our views.

Tell me, why is it that people like you are the first to compare anyone who disagrees with them with Hitler?

I suggest you read a little history, maybe even listen to someone other than Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh and Fox ‘News’. Get some other perspectives and get out of your echo-chamber. Perhaps you should actually have discussions with people who disagree with you and try not to call anyone Hitler.

That said, I invite you to travel a little and see the world and maybe read a newspaper and get a realistic view of how things are in the United States. And yes, my brother a US Navy veteran was kicked out of a hospital because he was uninsured and died while calling 911. My father, a US Air Force veteran received an operation from a medical student still in his residency at the VA hospital (I don’t how that happened either) in Atlanta and died of the botched operation. When I was 18 and visited him, that hospital looked like a moribund bus station. That was the kind of care this country gave them for their service.

OK. Enjoy and thanks for visiting my blog.

Army Nurse September 27, 2010 at 6:30 pm

Mr. Russ, It appears to me that you are a master of discussing things that you have no experience with and little to no information that is current or accurate. I was drawn in by the comments of others who seem to feel the same way, but the true reason that I am commenting has nothing to do with the main topic of this article. First, I would like to invite you to visit an Army, Navy, Air Force or VA Hospital and talk to the Soldiers about the care being provided. Speak to some veterans and/or active duty members about the care they received or are receiving from these providers. It does not sound as you have a clear understanding about the care provided to your father and brother, and I’d advise you to do some homework before commenting about the lack of care and “botched operations”. Did you do anything to improve the hospital you referred to as a “moribund bus station”? I am sure that you did nothing except to complain about the problems and conditions and expect someone else to come save the day and fix your problems.

Now to address your skewed comments that need edited and rewritten to reflect the truth or backed up by some sort of data:
“The US is decidedly not socialist yet we have one of the smallest armies given our size. ” – What?! Are you serious. Wrong.

“Yet the socialist nations on that list almost all have lower infant mortality rates and in general have higher standards of living. ” – Haha this one makes me laugh. You need to review how the countries that you are attempting to refer to classify infant mortality vs how the US does. In the United States we are able to save the lives of babies at 23 weeks gestation and if we lose a baby that young and immature it is considered an infant death, while the other nations consider a baby this young to be unviable and they do not attempt to deliver, save or care for these infants, hence do not classify them as an infant death.

“In America, a destitute soldier who needs medicine will not be treated.” – I ask you to look into the programs provided to Soldiers, the hospital providing medical care, Tricare that provides access to healthcare for Soldiers and their families.

Have fun fact finding, it may serve you well to learn a little truth.

Army Nurse

Daniel Russ September 28, 2010 at 10:41 am

Dear Army Nurse,

I wish more than anything that you and Disbelief and the others who disagree with me could just disagree without calling me Hitler and suggesting I leave my own country. That said, my father was butchered at the VA. At one point he was in a room with three other veterans and went into insulin shock. A Vietnam veteran who was there to have shrapnel removed from his feet had to hobble out and find a nurse.

My brother was kicked out of a hospital because he was uninsured. So I don’t see how two deaths in my own family render me as “not knowing the truth”.

I include for you some editorials from the Post and the NYT, various articles from Politico and advocacy groups, and even comments from the VA’s own website.

Finally, this is not an indictment on every jot and tittle of care administered to veterans. I know vets who love TriCare and those who have problems with it. I know vets who were treated well after injuries, and vets who felt they were abandoned.

The point here is that there enough poor care delivered to be upset about it.

Thanks for your service to the country btw.

Here you go.

From A Harvard Study:

Lack Of Health Care Killed 2,266 US Veterans last Year: Study
November 12, 2009 –WASHINGTON — The number of US veterans who died in 2008 because they lacked health insurance was 14 times higher than the US military death toll in Afghanistan that year, according to a new study.

The analysis produced by two Harvard medical researchers estimates that 2,266 US military veterans under the age of 65 died in 2008 because they lacked health coverage and had reduced access to medical care.

That figure is more than 14 times higher than the 155 US troop deaths in Afghanistan in 2008, the study says.

Released as the United States commemorates fallen soldiers on Veterans Day, the study warns that even health care provided by the Veterans Health Administration (VA) leaves many veterans without coverage.

The analysis uses census data to isolate the number of US veterans who lack both private health coverage and care offered by the VA.

“That’s a group that’s about 1.5 million people,” said David Himmelstein, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program who co-authored the study.

Himmelstein and co-author Stephanie Woolhandler, also a Harvard medical professor, overlaid that figure with another study examining the mortality rate associated with lack of health insurance.

“The uninsured have about a 40 percent higher risk of dying each year than otherwise comparable insured individuals,” Himmelstein told AFP.

“Putting that all together you get an estimate of almost 2,300 — 2,266 veterans who die each year from lack of health insurance.”

Only some US veterans have access to medical care through the VA and coverage is apportioned on the basis of eight “priority groups.”

“They range from things like people who were prisoners of war, who have coverage for life, or who have battle injuries and therefore have coverage for their injuries for life,” said Himmelstein.

Veterans who fall below an income threshold that is determined on a county-by-county basis can qualify for care, but many veterans are “working poor” and fall just above the bracket.

“The priority eight group, the lowest priority, are veterans above the very poor group who have no other reason to be eligible and that group is essentially shut out of the VA,” according to Himmelstein.

The study comes as the US Senate weighs health care reform legislation and whether to offer government health insurance.

Himmelstein warns that congressional proposals could still leave veterans uncovered and favors a national health care program similar to those in Britain and Canada.

From the VA’s facebook page:

Edward Serious
One major issue the VA should definbately address is character VET UPSET. For example in White River Junction VA medical center, veterans get turned away from homeless housing or sent to shelters in the woods. But meanwhile local residents …of the area if they are in need of assistance get FUNDS ALLOCATED to them to stay in local HOTELS, like the SUPER 8 across the street. This is where all the partys take place after they get everbody away from the VA that needs help. You better be a local or bring your SUCK THE COUNTRY DRY CARD! Meanwhile the country collapses around us.

Allen Cheesman
The VA does not have an effective tracking system for documents submitted by veterans! I had a veteran counselor call me last Thursday (24 JUN) about a document that I submitted for my daughter attending college. He called to inform me that… he was working the dependent education claim form that I had submitted and that the form was blank. He also mentioned that a copy of the surgical report from my recurrent hernia operation was attached to the form. He told me that I needed to fax him a new completed form so that he could complete the action. I called the VA main line and spoke with a representative to verify the status of the dependent education form that I had submitted along with my daughter’s class scheduled and financial aid information. The VA representative verified within the VA system receipt of the completed form, the class schedule, and the financial aid information. She further verified that the claim is open and being worked. I also asked her to verify the status of the documentation that I had previously submitted and resubmitted regarding two hernia operations (initial and recurrent). The representative stated that she did not see any other active or closed claim. She verified the historical calls, IRIS complaints, surgical documents and VA forms receipt for the hernia operations. This has been going on for over a year now. It is quite apparent that the VA system does NOT have an effective document receipt, processing, and tracking system for veteran’s documents. How did a surgical report end up in the hands of a call center counselor??? What part of HIPPA is not enforced by the VA??? As a retired Command Sergeant Major I am gravely concerned that there are tens of thousands of veterans encountering the same issue. This is not acceptable, especially considering our Wounded Ill Injured Warriors. How may Warriors with amputations or traumatic brain injury encounter the same problem with submitting additional documents after their initial award letter? The VA Strategic Communication and Outreach Office is doing a great job in getting the message out regarding the expedition of claims processing for the initial claim. The issues and problems that I and I suspect tens of thounsands of other veterans are encountering tells another story. See More

Rich George Well, I don’t know about propaganda. My opinion is “Everything is just fine” the cigar smokers sit back and tell you how wonderful everything is when in fact, there are a great number of veterans who have had their rights, dignity and benefits trampled upon by people within the VA System that are ONLY out for themselves, and that includes some former military types and civilian employees of the VA.

From Politico:

The GAO also found continuing frustrations and shortfalls in care for the increasing number of military returnees from Iraq.

“Delayed decisions, confusing policies, and the perception that DOD and VA disability ratings result in inequitable outcomes have eroded the credibility of the system,” the GAO says in testimony to be released on Capitol Hill today. “Thus, it is imperative that DOD and VA take prompt steps to address fundamental system weaknesses.”

The government is still not properly screening and treating traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder, in part because not enough health professionals have been retained, the report says.

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=c67_1258087921&comment_order=newest_first

US veterans sue over ‘poor care’
By Maggie Shiels
BBC News, San Francisco

US veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are suing the government, claiming inadequate care is leading to an increase in suicides.
A San Francisco court will hear the class action lawsuit against the Department of Veteran Affairs.
The veterans say the department has been unable to deal with the growing incidence of depression and suicides.
But government lawyers argue the department has been devoting more resources to mental health.
In court papers the two non-profit groups representing the veterans write “that failure to provide care is manifesting itself in an epidemic of suicides”.
“The bottom line is that we’re not taking care of the veterans and we need to change that,” says lead lawyer, Gordon Erspamer
Raft of complaints
An average of 18 war veterans kill themselves each day – five of them under Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) care – according to a December e-mail between top department officials that has been filed as part of the federal lawsuit.
“ What I would like to see from the VA is that they actually treat patients with respect ”
Bob Handy,
Veterans United for Truth
The Rand Corporation has recently released a study that shows some 300,000 US troops – about 20% of those deployed – are suffering from depression, or post traumatic stress disorder, after serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.
“We find that the VA has simply not devoted enough resources. They don’t have enough psychiatrists,” said Mr Erspamer.
In 2006 suicide rates were reported to be the highest in 26 years, at 99 confirmed suicides.
The two organisations involved in the legal action are asking US District Court Judge Samuel Conti, a World War II army veteran, to order the VA to overhaul its system drastically.
“What I would like to see from the VA is that they actually treat patients with respect,” says Bob Handy, the head of Veterans United for Truth, one of the bodies suing the agency.
Mr Handy formed the group after hearing a raft of complaints from veterans about their treatment, when he was a member of the Veterans Caucus of the state Democratic Party.
More professionals
Government lawyers say the VA has been making mental health and suicide prevention a top priority.
In court filings, the VA states that for 2008, $3.8b will be spent on mental health.
Also, more than 3,700 new mental health professionals have been hired in the past two-and-a-half years, bringing the total to just under 17,000.
The VA’s lawyers have filed papers arguing that the courts have no jurisdiction to tell the VA how to operate, and no business wading into the everyday management of a network that includes 153 medical centres nationwide.
The case will be heard without a jury and is expected to last about two weeks.
Plaintiffs are hoping the judge will order broad changes in the administration of veterans’ benefits, or perhaps even appoint an outside administrator to oversee changes.
Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/americas/7357909.stm

Published: 2008/04/21 11:02:16 GMT

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7357909.stm

From NYT.

July 25, 2008
Editorial
Wounded Warriors, Empty Promises
The bad news about the Army’s treatment of wounded soldiers keeps coming. The generals keep apologizing and insisting that things are getting better, but they are not.
The latest low moment for Army brass came on Tuesday in Washington, where a subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee held a hearing to examine the sorry state of the Army Medical Action Plan. That’s the plan to prevent the kind of systematic neglect and mistreatment exposed by The Washington Post last year at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
After a flurry of apologies, firings, investigations and reports, the Army resolved to streamline and improve case management for wounded soldiers. Under the plan, “warrior transition units” would swiftly deliver excellent care to troops so they could return to duty or be discharged into the veterans’ medical system. Each soldier would be assigned a team to look over his or her care: a physician, a nurse and a squad leader. It all sounded sensible and comprehensive.
It has not worked out so well. Staff members of the House subcommittee who visited numerous warrior transition units June 2007 to February found a significant gap between the Army leadership’s optimistic promises and reality.
Among other things, the Army failed to anticipate a flood of wounded soldiers. Some transition units have been overwhelmed and are thus severely understaffed. At Fort Hood, Tex., last month, staff members found 1,362 patients in a unit authorized for 649 — and more than 350 on a waiting list. Of the total, 311 were identified as being at high risk of drug overdose, suicide or other dangerous behavior. There were 38 nurse case managers when there should have been 74. Some soldiers have had to languish two months to a year before the Army decided what to do with them, far longer than the goal the Army set last year.
Under skeptical questioning during a hearing in February, Lt. Gen. Eric Schoomaker, the Army surgeon general, told the subcommittee that “for all intents and purposes, we are entirely staffed at the point we need to be staffed.” He also said: “The Army’s unwavering commitment and a key element of our warrior ethos is that we never leave a soldier behind on the battlefield — or lost in a bureaucracy.”
That was thousands of wounded, neglected soldiers ago. There are now about 12,500 soldiers assigned to the warrior transition units — more than twice as many as a year ago. The number is expected to reach 20,000 by this time next year.
The nation’s responsibility to care for the wounded from Iraq and Afghanistan will extend for decades. After Tuesday’s hearing, we are left pondering the simple questions asked at the outset by Representative Susan Davis, the California Democrat who is chairwoman of the military personnel subcommittee: Why did the Army fail to adequately staff its warrior transition units? Why did it fail to predict the surge in demand? And why did it take visits from a Congressional subcommittee to prod the Army into recognizing and promising — yet again — to fix the problem?

James October 22, 2010 at 2:35 am

I was thinking of joining the legion myself i am an American currently serving in the Mass National Guard as a Infantryman. I am deploying in the spring to Afghanistan down the line when my term of service is up i want to take a break from the military and do some traveling but i dont want to abandon soldering entirely witch is exactly why i was thinking about the FFL. There are a few things that i think are appealing about the FFL. The lack of regulations that perhaps regular professional armies might have to follow as well as the general exoticness of the legion. I also dont really mind serving In in the FFL because I know that America and France are all on the same team. Anyway if you are in the FFL or served in the FFL if there is anything you can tell me about the legion or your experince in the legion please tell me because I would be more than happy the hear about it.

army pay October 29, 2010 at 3:54 am

I agree 100%

parker randal November 3, 2010 at 3:06 pm

Hello,

If there are any FFL in the USA looking for television I have immediate work in the states

Cheers,
Parker
8182330921 ext 275
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parkerrandal@gmail.com
http://www.spiketv.com

Issac Maez January 14, 2011 at 4:21 pm

Good stuff, thanks.

Paddy January 16, 2011 at 5:51 am

If you want an eyewitness version of life in the legion I highly recommend David Mason’s book “Marching with the Devil”. It paints a picture of a very backward and poorly led and trained organization. He spent 5 years in the legion, and his sharp observations and concluding analysis of the root causes of the legions problems are very compelling.

chuck1rar February 10, 2011 at 1:22 am

Just a very short comment.
Usually the people who comment about the FFL being a tough professional outfit are those who have never been there or those who joined as a civilian and know no better.

I enlisted in the Legion in August 1988, and then went back to Australia and joined the army and served in an infantry battalion.
I was 17 when I joined and didnt know any better and believed the hype of the Legion being the only place I could see combat at the time..
Looking back the legion was a joke in any professional military way.
Even at 17 I knew the place was never going to offer any formidable training to be able to survive a conflict.

The only advice I have for others thinking about joining is first enlist in ur own army see how they train you and if ur still kean then go take a look.

Steve Latta February 10, 2011 at 3:35 pm

The French Foreign Legion is one of the most elite forces on the planet and is a VERY unique fighting force. All this hate and mis-conceptions are just Americans talkin out of there proverbial ass’s as the FFL would destroy any American Infantry Unit in short order!

Ryan smith March 7, 2011 at 5:09 am

I recently got kicked out the british army after a drugstest which i had been caught taking cocaine! stupid stupid thing to do but it is done now and im the one that has to live with it! regret is the only word that can describe it.My battalion is going to afghan this year and that was my dream. I was a very good soldier and thats all i want to do. Since ive been out ive read and watched a lot about the ffl and i want to do it. does anyone know if i will still be able to join the french foreign legion?

okidoki May 6, 2011 at 4:35 pm

http://youtu.be/pjxsFH7qngQ
And how are US military looked after once there service is over.methinks not so well………..More Majorum

Clem August 22, 2011 at 7:21 pm

“Ryan smith
March 7, 2011 at 5:09 am
I recently got kicked out the british army after a drugstest which i had been caught taking cocaine!.. . Since ive been out ive read and watched a lot about the ffl and i want to do it. does anyone know if i will still be able to join the french foreign legion?

The answer is YES, as long as you state that it is no longer a problem. You will get tested, and they are VERY good at finding facts, especially from the UK military or interpol.

good luck.

Edward Cullen August 29, 2011 at 4:32 pm

I wanted to know if the rumors are true that the legion is going to be disbanded? I am finishing up college and want to join the legion after. can you tell me if the legion is being shut down or it is a rumor?

Daniel Russ August 29, 2011 at 8:18 pm

During WWI, The Legion lost so many soldiers at Verdun that many battalions were dissolved. Over the years they have been re-invigorated. So, no I doubt seriously that with colonial holdings and protectorates around the world, that the legion would be disbanded.

Edward Cullen August 29, 2011 at 8:59 pm

Thank you very much. I appreciate you taking the time to answer me.

danny September 20, 2011 at 5:42 am

a few weeks ago i went to france from the uk to join the ffl i had no passport but the french guy at dover let me on the ferry when i told him where i was goin {the ffl} he checked my driving license n birth certificate and said on you go so now i was on the ferry buzzin the first hurdle smashed wen at the other sid i travelled down to lille reacruitin office arrived at 2230hours not a person in site despite on there recruitin web page sayin they r open 24 7 not a big deal just crashed in a park the night the next morning i presented my self with a valid driving n birth certificate they turned me away cos no passport i finally got bac to the uk the next day in my dads car boot as the uk border angency wouln let me travlel with out a passport people may ask why not wait till u get a passport well its one of those decisions 4 me to go there n then or id just find myself still talkin about it in a year from now as soon as i got bac to the uk i applied 4 my passport as its my 1st passport i have to go the long road n wait up 2 8 weeks for it now i need to know if somone can tel me if they except criminal records im no thief or druggie just used to b a bit of a hot head in my teens got in fights n stuff imm 33 now into hard intense fittness and extream sports i want a new start put my mistakes behind me its just iv read so much crap on line about wat the ffl except hense why i went to lille with no passport n found the hard way these people dont no wat the *uck there talkin about im sorry if this is hard to follow as my english pontuation isnt to good i only hope i get the chance to do better with a second chance this time in french lol many thanks if u took the time to read this .

Alexander August 5, 2012 at 7:36 am

hey guys.. i am 27 years old.. and day in and day out i am getting ready to enrole into the foreign french legion.. i have lost sleep countless times in order to find our the realities and requirements needed to be accepted and not turned down.. i just sometimes beat myself up a bit because i wish i knew about them earlier.. but it said.. the legion is a family… its got loyalty and if you want to start your life over. then to go to them.. and this is what i am doing.. i lost my job.. my fiance when i was an english teacher back overseas.. and the two pups.. and i cant live here in australia because it just has never felt like home to me.. i just have to be honest and tell you guys because then in return comes an honest answer. :) i read that medical requirements are very strict.. and that i could fail from the paperwork also.. even though i have done martial arts my whole life. and a marksman with a bow.. and am fit.. still might not be suffice.. because i know this is all i got left.. and i heard the tales.. of people like me.. in my situation .. this is the calling.. and i have nothing left and it what i want.. and have to do… even though i know nothing about the legion i can see in there eyes.. loyalty..valour and courage.. and i need all the help i can get.. because i have failed so many times in life.. and this is my chance to do something i am good at and do it right..i have perfect eye sight. can hit a bird with an arrow moving at 35 yards no problem.. and can run.. did muay thai and m.m.a. but i know there is much more to it than that.. i need to learn. :) so please guys i would love to make your aquaintance.. i apologies for the desperation but.. its my last chance.. :) i hope you can help my email is st-saintlex@hotmail.com

thank you.

Daniel Russ August 5, 2012 at 7:41 am

I cannot vouch for the authenticity of the above email, but I see no reason why I shouldn’t publish it.

arnie August 20, 2012 at 7:40 pm

I was rejected by the Army for having hernia. Would the French Foreign Legion except me? I’m in shape and the hernia has never been a problem.

Daniel Russ August 20, 2012 at 8:10 pm

Arnie, I am going to guess you’re a miserable lonely unhappy asshat.

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