Vets Get Screwed Again

Does anyone else think that it is just a little bit strange that everyone is Washington is so surprised about the conditions at Walter Reed? That all of a sudden there are investigations under way by the Pentagon and Congress to see who is at fault for these outlandish conditions? Aren’t these the guys who tell us they regularly visit the vets there?

While I am glad to see this problem exposed, the only reason this action is being taken is because it went public. And sadly, this is just the latest in a long line of abuses that our vets have had to tolerate. Just to recap a few examples….

Paul Rieckhoff, the Executive Director and Founder of IAVA, (Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America) wrote this about the high incidence of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) among troops who had been too close to a bomb detonation.

“…the blast can cause the Troop’s brain to slam against in the inside of his skull. The result is (TBI), and it is most often treated nearby at Walter Reed Army Medical Center or the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda.and hundreds of thousand of new veterans have been affected. One in ten Iraq veterans has suffered from a concussion during his or her tour of duty. The number reaches one in five for infantry soldiers like the men I led in Iraq.
Yesterday, it was revealed that Congress is ready to
cut funding for research and treatment of brain injuries caused by bomb blasts. The House and Senate versions of the 2007 Defense appropriation bill contain 7 million dollars for the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center –only half of what was allocated to the center last fiscal year. How on earth could they explain this unpardonable cut”?

And ofcourse, there is this to justify the cuts.

A spokeswoman for the Senate Appropriations Committee named Jenny Manley was quoted by USA Today as saying, “Honestly, they would have loved to have funded it, but there were just so many priorities,” She continued to insult all veterans by stating, “They didn’t have any flexibility in such a tight fiscal year.”

400 billion dollars, created to support a war in Iraq that has already cost hundreds of billions of dollars, Congress can’t find an extra 7 million dollars to treat troops wounded with brain injuries? That is ridiculous. America’s wounded warriors deserve better. And the members of the Senate Appropriations Committee should be ashamed of themselves.

And this issue is also yet to be resolved…

Despite a congressional order that the military assess the mental health of all deploying troops, fewer than 1 in 300 service members see a mental health professional before shipping out.Once at war, some unstable troops are kept on the front lines while on potent antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs, with little or no counseling or medical monitoring.And some troops who developed post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in Iraq are being sent back to the war zone, increasing the risk to their mental health.

These practices, which have received little public scrutiny and in some cases violate the military’s own policies, have helped to fuel an increase in the suicide rate among troops serving in Iraq, which reached an all-time high in 2005 when 22 soldiers killed themselves – accounting for nearly one in five of all Army non-combat deaths.

And this….

Even more troubling than perhaps complicating soldiers’ mental-health illnesses and endangering their combat-readiness, is the allegation from Steve Robinson, director of the National Gulf War Resource Center in Silver Spring, Md., that the Pentagon is trying to pare its budget by cutting needed services to soldiers and vets.
Robinson said three Army doctors have told him about being pressured by their commanders not to identify mental conditions that would prevent personnel from being deployed.
“They are being told to diagnose combat-stress reaction instead of PTSD,” he said. “That does two things: It keeps the troops deployable and it makes it hard for them to collect disability claims once they get out of the military.”

And CNN reminds us about this…

CNN feb 13 WASHINGTON (AP) — The Bush administration’s budget assumes cuts to veterans’ health care two years from now — even as badly wounded troops returning from Iraq could overwhelm the system. Bush is using the cuts, critics say, to help fulfill his pledge to balance the budget by 2012. But even administration allies say the numbers are not real and are being used to make the overall budget picture look better.

And Save Our Vets, chimes in on the results of money being allocated to Vet Outreach Centers but not being sent…

Well, they passed the law, but the Appropriations Committees have not funded it! So the Vet Centers have yet to see a dime of the funds they so desperately need for outreach and counseling our Veterans returning home! The direct consequences of this inaction is that we lost another Marine! Marine Jonathan Schulze sought treatment from the Minneapolis VA Medical Center in December and after failing to receive
help sought care from the St. Cloud VA Medical Center. According to the veteran’s family, staff at the St. Cloud VA Medical Center placed Mr. Schulze on a waiting list for treatment. Mr. Schulze later committed suicide at the age of 25.

I could go on and on but I’m starting to feel like I am beating a dead horse.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Bush/Cheney, Indecency, Iraq, Military

2 Comments on “Vets Get Screwed Again”

  1. Ken Larson Says:

    We need to be careful to differentitate between the Active Service Hospitals and the Veteran’s Administration. There are major differences.

    I am currently a resident in a Veteran’s Home after having undergone treatment through the VA for PTSD and Depression, long overdue some 40 years after the Tet Offensive that cap stoned my military 2nd tour in Vietnam with a lifetime of illness.
    My blog has attracted the stories of many veterans such as myself and other sufferers from PTSD who were victimized by elements of society other than the VA system of medical and mental treatment. I, for one, became trapped in the Military Industrial Complex for 36 years working on weapons systems that are saving lives today but with such high security clearances that I dared not get treated for fear of losing my career:

    http://rosecoveredglasses.blogspot.com/2006/11/odyssey-of-armaments.html

    When my disorders became life threatening I was entered into the VA System for treatment in Minneapolis. It saved my life and I am now in complete recovery and functioning as a volunteer for SCORE, as well as authoring books and blogging the world.

    When I was in the VA system I was amazed at how well it functioned and how state of the art it is for its massive mission. Below is a feature article from Time Magazine which does a good job of explaining why it is a class act:

    http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1376238,00.html

    I had state of the art medical and mental care, met some of the most dedicated professionals I have ever seen and was cared for by a handful of very special nurses among the 60,000 + nursing population that make up that mammoth system. While I was resident at the VA Hospital in Minneapolis I observed many returnees from Iraq getting excellent care.

    I do not say the VA system is perfect but it is certainly being run better on a $39B budget than the Pentagon is running on $494B.
    We have bought into the Military Industrial Complex (MIC). If you would like to read this happens please see:

    http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2007/03/spyagency200703

    Through a combination of public apathy and threats by the MIC we have let the SYSTEM get too large. It is now a SYSTEMIC problem and the SYSTEM is out of control. Government and industry are merging and that is very dangerous.
    There is no conspiracy. The SYSTEM has gotten so big that those who make it up and run it day to day in industry and government simply are perpetuating their existance.
    The politicians rely on them for details and recommendations because they cannot possibly grasp the nuances of the environment and the BIG SYSTEM.
    So, the system has to go bust and then be re-scaled, fixed and re-designed to run efficiently and prudently, just like any other big machine that runs poorly or becomes obsolete or dangerous.

    This situation will right itself through trauma. I see a government ENRON on the horizon, with an associated house cleaning.
    The next president will come and go along with his appointees and politicos. The event to watch is the collapse of the MIC.
    For more details see:

    http://www.rosecoveredglasses.blogspot.com

  2. Kathy Says:

    I think those journalists at the WaPo should get a Pulitzer for writing about this and finally lighting a match under the collective asses in Washington. My husband and I spent the evening at a VFW hall on new year’s eve and the lack of proper health care for vets was the number one topic that night. It’s bad enough that they’re losing their lives and health for this war based on a lie, but then to be neglected after they followed orders and lived up to their oaths is a disgrace.


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