Saturday, February 24, 2007

Spitting on Soldiers

With its usual displacement activity tendencies, the maladministration has reacted to Walter Reed revelations with a coat of nice fresh paintover. Pictures on all the news stories are of dedicated workers plastering, painting, repapering the premises of the infamous Building 18.

Contrary to their obvious great hopes, the story continues. While the discussion of who is at fault, VA or Army or those lower tier soldiers who didn't get the mold, roaches and rats taken care of before the bad publicity, the treatment of wounded soldiers remains the issue.

The suffering is personal and eats away at individuals' lives. I have several friends who have had incredibly negative reactions to their own disabilities. It has been stated a number of times that the review personnel are dedicated to saving the government money by refusing claims unless they are totally unable to. As Barndog at Eschaton has experienced, and as a friend in my office experienced until recently, the support dictated for those ex-soldiers with disabling conditions is fought tooth and nail when they go into hearings. Doctors' statements of disability are ignored, and judges with no medical background routinely rule against awarding the 'troops' we are 'supporting' the means to survive when they are unable to work.

This has been told to the reporters who worked on the story at Walter Reed over and over. Today WaPo used the materials they encountered to editorialize that the system is deliberately working against the former soldier.

Post reporters found that the stresses on outpatients at Walter Reed included not only their physical recovery, dank rooms or long waits but also the difficulty they have in getting fair disability compensation. Army review boards searched for reasons to deny maimed soldiers disability funds, often blaming "preexisting conditions," not wartime service, for physical and mental disorders. In one instance, a review board claimed that a middle-aged soldier's poorly healed broken foot was the result of "late-life atrophy," not a severe car wreck in Iraq. There's no excuse for the Army to try so hard to deny disability compensation to wounded soldiers. After sacrificing their health, they should get the benefit of the doubt in such decisions. After all, improperly denying compensation can bankrupt soldiers and their families for years.

After we asked, a Defense Department spokesman told us in an e-mail that the Disability Evaluation System will be improved "across the board" and that the Pentagon will ensure that it is a "full and fair due process with regard to disability evaluation and compensation." Even if the Defense Department weren't so committed, it might soon have little choice in the matter. Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) plan to introduce legislation next week that would require the secretary of defense to review the Disability Evaluation System as well as address some of the other problems The Post uncovered. Either way, veterans too seriously wounded to return to active duty should get the benefits they deserve without having to beg for them.

The misery of all this mistreatment by the system is felt by individuals who served in the military, attempting to serve their country. Although the maladministration has warped their intentions in this Iraqi war and the Vietnam war, they have earned our gratitude, not neglect.

This rotten treatment is the new spitting on soldiers. If they'd stayed out of the line of fire, those grunts would not be clogging up the system. And we'd have had to reinstitute the draft. This attitude traces to the White House, its detestation of the wage earners, and especially of those who are having a struggle making it.

Watching the moral reprobates in this administration squirm is not a new experience. Their being forced to mend it is fervently hoped for.

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Anonymous Barndog said...

The basic problem with my considering to utilize VA services is;

I would go backwards in treatment for my Rheumatoid Arthritis - the meds used when I was first diagnosed, would be used again. Unless I was to receive these 'new' biologics from another source (along with all meds of my needs - would be generic - hence that would make me sicker, because of the reaction I have to most generic meds). I would without doubt - be confined to either a wheelchair, or some other type of movement device.

Luckily I have good health insurance, and do not need the VA. Thankfully.

5:23 AM  
Blogger RoseCovered Glasses said...

Excellent Post.

For contrast, I would like to provide a description of something our government is doing right these days with regard to Vets.

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:

When my disorders became life threatening, the Commissioner of Veteran's Affairs for the State of Minnesota, Clark Dyrud, stepped in and saw to it that 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:,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.

9:03 AM  
Anonymous Nora said...

And don't forget that when these wounded soldiers go bankrupt, our Republican overlords have made it all but impossible for them to be able to ever fully discharge their debts.

Sort of the icing on the cake.

4:41 PM  

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