re: "A Gross Injustice to the Foreign Service"
"The Foreign Service has been painted in the media and in right-wing blogs as a bunch of spoiled disloyal cowards, elitists who value their own well being while at the same time considering our colleagues in uniform to be expendable. A great deal has been unfairly taken out of context."
"(T)he issue is not that FSOs oppose directed assignments to Iraq. Rather, the issue is that the State Department is asking of us something it has never ever asked of the Foreign Service before, and thus far has failed to keep its most important promises with regard to preparing FSOs for this difficult mission and assisting those who return from a war zone damaged by the experience."
"FSOs are not unwilling to serve, rather they want training, the support necessary to do their job, and a minimal amount of support when they return. The State Department has made many promises which it has not kept, and rather than keep those promises, now wants to force FSOs into an active war zone without the promised support."
"FSOs are supposed to be available for world-wide duty, but they are supposed to be available to work in civilian jobs (anywhere in the world) under reasonably safe and supported conditions. In enticing FSOs to volunteer for duty in Iraq, the State Department originally offered training and support. Much less training and support than is given to our military colleagues, but nonetheless some training and support. The State Department has not seen fit to keep its promises, and has taken to criticising FSOs as a way to deflect attention from that fact."
"Although many FSOs have worked in many countries at war before (such as Saigon during the Vietnam war), Iraq happens to be the only post in the world, and arguably the only post in the history of the foreign service, where unarmed, untrained, unprotected FSOs are being asked to serve in large numbers in such an actively "hot" war zone."
"Over 80 percent of the FS-designated positions in Iraq for have already been filled through next summer's turnover period, by volunteers. Many were filled as much as eight months in advance. FSOs are so willing to serve that Embassy Baghdad has a lower vacancy rate than almost any other U.S.embassy in the world. And again, unlike the military, these FSOs are volunteering to work as unarmed civilians in a combat zone.
Unlike the military as well, FSOs who return damaged are given nearly no support by the State Department. Much has been made in the last year of the sad state of America's military hospitals. The DoD and Congress have poured large amounts of money into improving hospitals and building a variety of facilities to help military personnel recover not only from their physical wounds but also from their psychological wounds. Our President has repeatedly stressed that priority."
"The American public needs to know that the Foreign Service includes some of the most loyal and dedicated Americans in government service. We did not join for the money (any one of us could double our income in the private sector). We joined to serve our country. We routinely serve in difficult hardship postings, often under threat of serious disease, terrorist attacks and in countries with rates of violent crime far in excess of our own. FSOs were being targeted and killed by terrorists long before 9/11. We would happily serve in Iraq, as many hundreds of us have done, but we want to be treated honestly, and be given the training, tools and support, that our colleagues in other services can properly take for granted."