Marine Life

Letters from the week of December 5, 2002

A Few Good Letters

Ex communication: Job well done on your cover story ("Welcome Back, Warrior," Paul Rubin, November 21). As a former Marine, I would like to take the opportunity to enlighten you on a couple things. Remember in the movie A Few Good Men, the line went something about the Marines being fanatics, and it was asked what they were fanatics about. The answer was they were fanatics about being Marines.

Heard the rule "Once a Marine, always a Marine"? Most people could care less about the traditions of a group they are not a member of. However, being a Marine, I would like to point out something you may already know. There are NO ex-Marines. We are "former" Marines. Likely, we are not soldiers. We leave soldiering up to the Army. We're Marines and, after dedicating myself to protect my country, I, as all Marines, would prefer to be referred to as a Marine and not a soldier. It's tragic what happened to Callan, and in his memory and in his honor, I felt you may appreciate knowing how he would liked to have been written about. Thank you for making everyone aware about the events surrounding an American Warrior Marine whose life ended far too early. Semper fi.

Jeff Raiffie
Washington, D.C.

An "ex" what?: I read the article in this week's issue about the Marine. I'm an ex-Marine myself and felt that the article was well written and very accurate. There are numerous veterans that fall through the VA system. I am in my 20s and I find that there are some good VAs and some lousy ones, just like any hospital. There are a lot of people with different degrees of mental instability, and even people close to them might or might not know. I haven't read a good article like this one in a while.

I also like your paper as well. You guys seem to uncover and take a different side than a lot of magazines or newspapers would. I salute your efforts, and keep up the good work.

Joey Brodala

Praising awareness: Poignant and riveting exposé! Thank you for your in-depth coverage! An awareness could help prevent another veteran's death. This spotlights the necessity for a major overhaul of the Veterans Administration's procedures with respect to so-called "treatment," overmedicating and denial tendencies towards its vets. If the "powers that be" see change as imminent and take measures, then Brian will have accomplished something he was incapable of while living!

Peggy Hutchens
Via e-mail

Sensationalism: I am writing to express my disappointment in the Phoenix New Times' decision to allow reporter Paul Rubin to exploit the tragic suicide of Brian Callan in the article "Welcome Back Warrior." It is understandable that members of Mr. Callan's family might look for others to blame for this catastrophe, as expressed by one of Mr. Callan's brothers, who blamed the tragedy on "those pigs at the dealership, and their total greed." However, I would have hoped reporter Rubin would take a less emotional view of the matter and not exploit this family's pain and sorrow to create sensational journalism.

Are we to believe that Mr. Rubin is better qualified to assess the treatment method on a 100 percent psychologically disabled veteran than both a trained psychiatrist and clinical psychologist simply because he read an article in the New England Journal of Medicine and spoke to a member of NAMI? This is like the guy qualified to investigate your background because he clipped a PI's license out of a Dick Tracy comic book. Mr. Rubin's arrogant self-promotion to expert status on psychological matters would almost be laughable if it were not so hurtful.

There are avenues through which the family may seek justice if it is believed that the Veterans Administration mishandled Mr. Callan's case. However, there is no justice in Mr. Rubin's article. There is only exploitation of a family's grief and the dragging of professional people's names through the mud based on the reporter's amateur analysis.

If ever there is a proper inquiry held to examine Mr. Callan's treatment by the Veterans Administration -- and those professionals named in Mr. Rubin's article were found to have acted properly -- I hope Mr. Rubin is as quick to write a front page article clearing their names. However, I doubt the Phoenix New Times will run such an article on the front page, because it will lack the sensationalism of Mr. Callan's heartbreaking story.

My sympathy goes to all those who knew and loved Laurence Brian Callan II. May he finally rest in peace.

Kevin Taylor

Sensational: Paul Rubin, take a bow! Your feature "Welcome Back, Warrior" was perhaps the finest example of journalism I've read in the New Times. You captured the life and death of Brian Callan in such a way that I was nearly moved to tears -- tears of both sadness for a decorated Marine and anger toward the Veterans Administration that was supposed to help Chief Warrant Officer Callan overcome his "demons."

Brian Callan should still be alive. The VA failed him with ineffective medications and insufficient psychotherapy. They failed him with red tape. They failed him as they have countless thousands of other military veterans, including my own father. The sales staff at Bell Road Toyota merely pushed him over the edge, but for that, they should still bear some responsibility in the act that took CWO Callan's life.

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