- The Washington Times - Monday, September 24, 2007

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

I was wondering what can be done about spousal abuse. My husband is in the Army and has become more aggressive and even abusive to me. What can I do to help him? My husband was never that type of person before he joined the military. There have also been some issues with him cheating. I am very afraid of him. He hasn’t even been deployed yet, so I can’t understand the issue. May you please help me?

A concerned wife

Via the Internet

Dear Concerned Wife:

I believe that it is important for you to contact your base chaplain, family advocacy office, or Military One Source (https://www.militaryonesource .com/skins/MOS/home.aspx). If physical abuse has occurred, you should contact base security without delay. Spousal abuse is a serious offense that can end a career and even result in criminal charges and imprisonment.

You both need help now, not later.

Shaft notes

Kudos to the federal employees who, once again, will reach into their pockets and make generous contributions to the Combined Federal Campaign. As many of you know, the Sarge is partial to the Blinded American Veterans Foundation, CFC Number 11282 (“BAVF”). Information about the BAVF can be obtained at www.bavf.org.

• I was very honored to share the emotional preview of three-time Emmy winner James Gandolfini’s return to HBO with the documentary special Alive Day Memories: Home from Iraq, his first project after “The Sopranos” — and the first production for his Attaboy Films. The documentary about wounded veterans conveyed the physical and emotional cost of war through memories of their “alive day,” the day when they narrowly escaped death in Iraq.

The last play date is Oct. 8 (11:30 p.m.). HBO2 play dates: Sept. 25 (11:00 p.m.), 28 (1:00 p.m.) and 30 (9:00 a.m.).

The documentary is available on HBO on Demand through Oct. 8, and has been streamed on hbo.com since Sept. 10. In addition to streaming the entire film, hbo.com will feature extensive soldier profiles, including personal videos and blogs, as well as exclusive portraits by acclaimed photographer Timothy Greenfield-Sanders. HBO Video releases the film on DVD on Oct. 23.

“Everybody makes a big deal about your ‘alive day,’ especially at Walter Reed,” said Sgt. Bryan Anderson on the HBO Web site about the film, www.hbo.com /aliveday/thefilm. “And I can see their point, that you’d want to celebrate something like that. But from my point of view, it’s like,’OK, we’re sitting here celebrating the worst day of my life. Great, let’s just remind me of that every year.’ ”

First Lt. Dawn Halfaker said on the site, “I think people come away from the war wanting to feel that they made a difference, wanting to feel like their sacrifice, or their time or their energy was worth it. War is horrible. I don’t like the sounds associated with it, the smells I associate with it. But I’m glad I did it.”

In a war that has left more than 27,000 wounded, Alive Day Memories looks at a new generation of veterans, according to the site. For the first time in American history, 90 percent of the wounded survive their injuries, but a greater percentage of these men and women return with amputations, traumatic brain injuries and severe post-traumatic stress. More than half of these injuries are too severe to permit a return to active military service.

Executive producer Mr. Gandolfini interviewed ten troops who reveal their feelings on their future, their severe disabilities and their devotion to America. Their first-person stories are augmented by harrowing footage from the war-torn streets of Iraq and from embedded cameras in the troops’ vehicles, which filmed when they were injured, as well as disturbing video of IED (Improvised Explosive Device) bombings released by insurgents, and the troops’ personal home videos and photographs.

The troops who spoke with Mr. Gandolfini on a sparse New York soundstage range in age from 21 to 41; six are from the Army and four are Marines. Their injuries range from triple amputees to severe traumatic brain injury to blindness.

“The fight doesn’t stop when you get home. In our cases, it’s just begun,” said Cpl. Jake Schick.

Take the time and share the alive day memories of these selfless men and women.

Send letters to Sgt. Shaft, c/o John Fales, P.O. Box 65900, Washington, D.C. 20035-5900; fax 301/622-3330; call 202/257-5446; or e-mail sgtshaft@bavf.org.

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