What We’re Reading, Week 11

By Chad Garland, News21

What We’re Reading, Week 11:

Judge Orders Disclosure for Veterans Subjected to Chemical, Biological Weapon Experiments (Steven Nelson, 7/29, U.S. News & World Report) The U.S. government must notify veterans who were used as test subjects in classified programs when authorities are made aware of new information related to their “well-being,” a federal judge ruled last week. The programs, which ran between 1950 and 1975 according to declassified records, exposed hundreds of soldiers to nerve agents, sarin gas, mustard gas and hallucinogenic drugs, though exactly how many soldiers were involved is unclear.

Mysterious Dancing Lights In Afghanistan (Robert Krulwich, 7/30, NPR) A curious thing happens some nights in Afghanistan as some helicopters settled onto landing zones, a curious and beautiful thing – the air around their blades sparkles and dances with trails of light. War photographer Michael Yon named the mysterious phenomenon – some attribute it to the piezoelectric effect or static electricity – and the name is catching on.

Brandon Harker’s dog Oakley missing after he returns from Afghanistan, left dog with “good friend” (Greg Botelho, 7/27, CNN) Brandon Harker returned home from an Afghanistan deployment last week to find his dog was missing. He hadn’t run away, the friend Harker asked to care him said the 2-year-old pedigreed yellow Labrador retriever named Oakley had been given away. Harker thought he might have been sold on Craigslist, and he’s turned to the site to post an ad seeking help getting Oakley back. He also started a Facebook page where he’s been posting updates about his search.

Marine rapper and photographer reflects on service

Anthony Cave, News21

Marine Sergeant Raymond Lott rapped about war when his camera lens wasn’t focused on battlefields.

Lott is a Marine photographer who was deployed in Iraq in 2006 and Afghanistan in 2008. He is now finishing his service in New Orleans.

The 30-year-old California native often reflects on his time overseas. But he unleashes the day’s “stresses” in a studio, rapping about his experiences.

In “Here Now,” Lott raps that he joined the military because he realized that “a little boy needed change in his life.”

When he wasn’t rapping, Lott was photographing – Iraqi women, firefights, Marines bandaging civilians and carrying out military duties. But Lott’s raps soothed him.

Marine photographer Raymond Lott received a 2007 Thomas Jefferson media award for this picture of an Iraqi woman. The awards are presented by the Department of Defense. (Courtesy of Raymond Lott)

Marine photographer Raymond Lott received a 2007 Thomas Jefferson media award for this picture of an Iraqi woman. The awards are presented by the Department of Defense. (Courtesy of Raymond Lott)

“It’s reflective therapy. You need to get out these emotions in any form; I use therapy through music,” said the man whose rap name is RSonic.

Lott has uploaded more than 50 videos on YouTube. He has more than 2,400 subscribers and his most popular video has almost half a million YouTube views.

“I’m helping people,” he said of his raps. “It helps them see the world in a different way.”

His photography also offers a worldview. Lott won a Thomas Jefferson media award presented by the Department of Defense in 2007 for his photo of an Iraqi woman.

What We’re Reading: Week 10

By Rachel Leingang, News21

What We’re Reading, Week 10:

For Combat Veterans, Life During Ice Time (Jerry Barca, 7/17, New York Times): The Fort Bragg Patriots, an amateur hockey team, is made up of post-9/11 active-duty combat veterans. They use their time on the ice to relax and forget about their time at war, and they bond over their shared experiences overseas.

Marine officer: Scope of sex assault problem exaggerated (Jim Michaels, 7/15, USA Today): Marine Corps Capt. Lindsay Rodman, who now works as a lawyer at the Pentagon, said the military’s sexual assault issues have been exaggerated. She called the Pentagon’s 2012 Annual Report on Sexual Assault survey into question, saying exaggerating the numbers doesn’t help the military address the core problems.

No veterans need apply? (Lisa Nagorny and Dan Pick, 7/15, American Legion): The Center for a New American Security conducted a survey of employers, asking them why veterans are unemployed at higher rates than civilians.

This is the way to return to your family from Afghanistan (Breach, Bang, Clear, 7/18): This heartwarming video shows how one soldier surprised his wife and kids upon his return from Afghanistan.