Monday, February 19, 2007

George Bush Doesn't Care About Wounded Vets

And that's only the beginning of the abject horror wounded veterans are facing during life as "outpatients" at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, some of whom "have been stuck there for as long as two years." Black mold invades the walls. Veterans aren't given the most basic help they need, including assistance finding their rooms. People go missing and no one knows what happened to them. Forms are lost, and lost again, and again. "The wounded manage other wounded. Soldiers dealing with psychological disorders of their own have been put in charge of others at risk of suicide. Disengaged clerks, unqualified platoon sergeants and overworked case managers fumble with simple needs: feeding soldiers' families who are close to poverty, replacing a uniform ripped off by medics in the desert sand or helping a brain-damaged soldier remember his next appointment." Veterans are required to prove who they are and that they fought in the war. It just goes on and on and on.

By the end of the article, I felt nauseous and furious. Jill's spot-on when she says, "when our troops are wounded, they come home and are put into a facility that is more like the weird hospital scenes in the film Jacob's Ladder than like the kind of state-of-the-art recuperative facility these young men and women deserve." It truly does sound like an inescapable nightmare—a place I wouldn't want to convalesce after a paper cut received at an office job, and a place I can't even fucking imagine being sent to to recover from wounds acquired during a goddamned war.

Why aren't we taking better care of these men and women?

Honestly, this should rightly be regarded as yet another planning failure. The architects of this war thought it was going to be a cakewalk; they didn't in their wildest dreams consider the war would last this long, and thusly failed utterly to prepare contingency plans, as has been acknowledged even by the administration. The military healthcare system isn't designed to manage a constant influx of wounded soldiers, and I would bet that not a modicum of thought was given to readying it for that possibility. The war was going to last six weeks, remember? But instead, the war became "a long hard slog," as Donald Rumsfeld described it in November 2003, and now "Three times a week, school buses painted white and fitted with stretchers and blackened windows stream down Georgia Avenue. Sirens blaring, they deliver soldiers groggy from a pain-relief cocktail at the end of their long trip from Iraq via Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany and Andrews Air Force Base." The Pentagon numbers the wounded from Iraq and Afghanistan at 23,000, as of January.

Our wounded veterans, 96% of whom received their injuries after "Mission Accomplished," were first casualties of the utter lack of competent post-war planning for the war theater, and are now casualties of the utter lack of competent post-war planning at home. They're pratically stacked on top of each other in a rotting building, all but abandoned to circumstances unfit for a dog, no less a veteran.

There was no needed to plan for anything likes this, because at first it was going to be a cakewalk, and then the pony was always a Friedman Unit away, and the Final Friedman never really comes, no matter how many One Last Chances and Biden Shots we're promised.  We owe these people better, much better, and Congress needs to allocate the money and force the executive to act.

Maybe this is one of those moral issues where the souls and consciences of the party could step up.

...adding, I forgot to point out that Shakes's use of the word "fucking" is very uncivil.