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.
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.