"They helped kill my daughter"
Dear Traveling Soldier,
Hello. My name is Lindsay Wiedman. My daughter SSgt. Danielle Nienajadlo died from her battle with AML Leukemia on March 20th. She was in the University of Washington’s cancer center. Danielle was exposed to the toxic chemicals from the Burn Pits in Balad, Iraq.
The Army still did not consider Danielle a Iraq casualty! And she was!! Her very bosses that she went to while being very sick didn’t belive her that she was sick. She suffered. SFC Addy was whom she went to and he said she was just trying to get out of Iraq! That was not who my daughter was. She valued her Army career, her family, me, her sister and would never not complete a hard days work. She could work Addy!
Danielle died on the 20th. She would have completed her chemo the 21st. They were trying to get her to the stage of stem cell transplant. I miss her and am grieving! I blame Addy, and Balad, Iraq. And I believe she should have been considered a casualty! She deserved a big medal and the honors worth so more! I pray with time that Addy and her other bosses realize they helped kill my daughter. She died! It’s hard to believe.
Please help save others.
– Lindsay Wiedman, Spokane, WA
P.S. Danielle was interviewed by Kelly Kennedy on the Burn Pits. This was posted on www.armytimes.com. I wish I could get an apology from SFC Addy and others that made her suffer and work in the ill state she was in. I happened onto the article on the computer today. And this address was at the bottom. I wanted Kelly Kennedy to know that Danielle didn’t make it.
Dear Lindsay Weidman,
Hello, my name is Jeff Englehart, an Army veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom II, and a proud member of the Editorial Board of Traveling Soldier.
Much to my own personal dismay, I was forwarded a letter that you had written in regards your daughter’s passing. I quickly volunteered to respond back to you. I feel honored to be able to comment on your daughter’s service, as well as to her lost battle with a combat related illness she received while in Iraq.
You quite elegantly pointed out that your daughter, Staff Sergeant Danielle Nienajadlo, was no less a hero of this conflict who had died from leukemia that she received from burn-pit exposure in Balad, Iraq. Heroism in war comes in many different variations, and we here at Traveling Soldier have no doubt whatsoever that Danielle served her country honorably, and her loss as leader is enormous beyond words.
The act of war brings out the very best and worst in humanity. There is a certain dignity that you will find in people facing extreme hardship. On the other hand, war can also cause good people to commit some of the most incomprehensible acts imaginable. Danielle’s devout service and brave commitment to a mission in a combat zone should be loudly commended.
Her needless death at the hands of uncaring criminals should be duly exposed. To hear of such a loss is devastating and infuriating. I will never be able to completely understand the pain you and your family must feel for your loss, but I can say that based on my own experience in Iraq, I can surely sympathize.
Our brigade lost many fine soldiers in Iraq. Yet many were not killed in the heat of battle. Many soldiers were killed in vehicle crashes and roll-overs, accidental firearm discharges, and because the most powerful and wealthy nation in the world did not issue them adequate body and vehicle armor.
Other soldiers in Iraq have died to protect Halliburton convoys delivering empty containers, while other soldiers were rendered horribly ill from consuming contaminated food and water. I have two battle buddies who are still undergoing intense operations battling cancer from exposure to depleted uranium while in Iraq.
Other friends of mine battle through Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, fighting bouts of depression, substance abuse, and urges of suicide on a daily basis.
As they say, the war is not over; it’s in their face every time they look in the mirror.
Many young Americans have laid down their lives in Iraq. They fought in a mission that has always been extremely vague and clouded with controversy. Yet nonetheless, every one of those soldiers bravely stood their ground for what was expected of them as defenders of a democracy. As far as I’m concerned, that can never be taken away from them.
I would like to believe that Danielle’s loss is an isolated incident, based on a rare occurrence of negligence and incompetence in her chain of command. The sad fact is that many soldiers have died needlessly in Iraq simply because the orchestrators of this war do not have the same human compassion and level of camaraderie as the soldiers who fight it.
It grieves me to hear of Danielle’s lost battle to leukemia, but it infuriates me to no end to understand of her pitiful treatment by the Army.
Indeed, I am angry about all of this, because from the Revolutionary War to the Occupation of Afghanistan, the American government has a long tradition of treating its soldiers as disposable tools whose loss is inconsequential.
We as a country should demand more for those who fight to preserve our Constitution and our liberties at home.
Those in uniform are the backbone of this country, and should be honored and revered, not betrayed and abused by their own chain of command.
In my humble opinion, Mr. Weidman, your daughter was unfortunately lumped into a category of the unspoken and unknown many others who were betrayed by those over them, and who were needlessly killed by military incompetence. It is to those soldiers whom I tip my hat at the end of the day, and consider them fallen heroes in service of their country.
Again, I am terribly sorry to hear about your loss.
Without a doubt, your daughter served her family and her country with a loyalty and integrity that deserves much more=2 0respect than she received. We here at Traveling Soldier express our deepest sympathies to you and your loved ones, and we proudly acknowledge the duty and sacrifice paid by SSgt Danielle Nienajadlo.
– Jeff Englehart
United States Army
Operation Iraqi Freedom II
P.S. I very much believe that stories such as Danielle’s need to be exposed for the benefit of many other soldiers in our readership. It would be an honor to run your letter – as well as our response – in our next edition of Traveling Soldier.