Two months ago I’ve blogged about the passing of Mustafa Akarsu, the local guard at the US Embassy in Ankara who was killed in the suicide attack on February 1 (see US Embassy Turkey: Suicide Bomber Kills Local Guard Mustafa Akarsu, Wounds One and also US Embassy Turkey: Mourning Mustafa Akarsu).
A week after he was killed, his supervisor at the US Embassy in Ankara David Root started a fund-raising drive for Mustafa’s wife and children. David, a Special Agent with the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security and Assistant Regional Security Officer did it in his private capacity via Indiegogo. (see DS Agent David Root Starts Fund for Mustafa Akarsu’s Family, Guard Killed in Embassy Ankara Suicide Attack – You Can Help.
During the 60 day campaign, David posted photos and did 31 updates to supporters of the fund. The fund-raising effort generated 1,294 funders and 147 comments. Best of all, the final amount of $107,551 is more than 35 times over the original goal of $3,000.
For some who may not know it, local employees are in a non-US compensation system. They are not considered FS or CS and do not typically get U.S. Social Security (used to, but not in the last 30 years if I remember correctly). I don’t know if they are covered by the death gratuity rules that cover American employees or if they get one on a case by case basis subject to the decision of the Secretary of State. I was told that while local employees do get life insurance when they are hired, the plan that covers the employees in Turkey apparently states that it does not cover terrorist attacks, sabotage, etc.
I hope the next step is to get the family members SIV if they want it, a much more complicated step now that the employee is no longer here. If I can get an update on that, I’ll post it here.
If you are a reader of this blog and have donated to the Akarsu fund, thank you for your kindness and support.
On April 11, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Matthew C. Armstrong to serve on the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG). The WH released the following brief bio:
Matthew C. Armstrong is an author, speaker, and strategist on issues related to public diplomacy. In 2011, he served as Executive Director of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy. Previously, Mr. Armstrong was an adjunct professor of public diplomacy at the Annenberg School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Southern California. In 2010, he founded and served as President of the MountainRunner Institute and published a blog on public diplomacy and strategic communication. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Public Diplomacy Council and a member of the International Institute of Strategic Studies. Mr. Armstrong received a B.A. and an M.P.D. from the University of Southern California.
BBG Watch, a website that covers the BBG and maintained by former and current BBG, VOA and RFE/RL employees and their supporters released the following statement:
“BBG Watch welcomes the nomination of Matt Armstrong to serve on the BBG board. His expertise in public diplomacy will strengthen this very important institution and will help other BBG members and any future CEO in their efforts to reform the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB), the worst managed organization within the federal government. We hope that Mr. Armstrong will help to transform the IBB from a centralized bureaucracy bent on increasing its power into a lean support organization that serves rather than issues commands to individual media entities.”
I have blogged previously about Matt Armstrong and ACPD (see Matt Armstrong Joins the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, PD Commission KIA by Congress; Welcome Back, Matt Armstrong, U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy Re-Authorized – Where the Heck Is It?).
Sorry to see that he won’t be returning to the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy (ACPD). So now, we’ll have to wait and see how much work the re-authorized ACPD gets to do with “support” from the “R” bureau.
- Sequestration Prompts Attempt to Silence U.S. Radio Broadcasting (heritage.org)
- Matt Armstrong to the BBG! (toinformistoinfluence.com)
- U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy Re-Authorized – Where the Heck Is It? (diplopundit.net)
- Bruce Gregory’s Public Diplomacy Resources #64 (takefiveblog.org)
Alan Cutter is a Presbyterian reverend who served in the US Navy from 1969-1975. He also worked as teacher at the Naval Academy Preparatory School and is currently a member of the International Conference of War Veteran Ministers. He wrote Learning to come home from war: no one said ‘thank you’ to Vietnam vets for The Guardian.
What has not changed over the centuries is the profaneness of war; the frustration of returning to a society preoccupied with mindless vicarious thrill seeking, enthralled by “reality” shows; the loneliness one feels even in the midst of a crowd; the terror of the unexpected sight or sound or smell; the rage so easily triggered; and the profound disquiet of the wounded soul.
I am waiting for someone to say “Forgive me?” That question both admits complicity for what happened and initiates a conversation. I’d like to tell that person this: my friend, we share responsibility. I’m proud to have served my country, even if it meant going to Vietnam. I’m sinfully proud of having been both an enlisted man and an officer. I did my best in an untenable situation. But I wasn’t prepared for the haunted eyes in the refugee camp, or the cries of the wounded, or the angry, wary stares of the villagers. Forgive us, yes, if that will ease your mind. But if you will stay and listen to the story, then together we may find salve for our wounded souls.
Thus begins the risky pathway of healing. Will you, beloved and fortunate citizen, do that duty for some returning warrior who has served our nation?
Read in full here.
- Vietnam vets finally have their day (wiscnews.com)
- A Vietnam veteran reflects: How I found peace 40 years later | Andonios Neroulias (guardian.co.uk)
- Learning to come home from war: no one said ‘thank you’ to Vietnam vets | Alan Cutter (guardian.co.uk)
- The Vietnam Veterans Memorial (francineinretirement.wordpress.com)