Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A late Memorial Day comment

Yesterday was Memorial Day, and today I received a call from a charity devoted to veterans. It made me think about several problems veterans face.

First, I must make a digression to remember my father. Pop was in Italy, on the border with Yugoslavia, when WWII ended. He served as a medic, due to being a conscientious objector. He never spoke of his experiences there, until late in life. He witnessed some bloody events and did his best to alleviate the suffering of wounded comrades. He never wanted to have anything to do with the military again. I had a difficult time convincing him to let me take him to the Veteran's Hospital and register him for assistance. It proved to be a very good move, as he received excellent care from that organization through his last years.

A second little side trip comes to mind. Even as W stood on the rubble and proclaimed that supporting first responders would be a top priority for his administration, his cronies, on capitol hill, were pushing to cut funding for first responders. They continue to do so today. In similar fashion, as they lied us into the war in Iraq, they were cutting funding for veterans' benefits. And, they continue to push for more spending to make war, but less to handle the results of war.

Recently, a news story out of Texas revealed a directive to veterans' doctors to quit diagnosing post traumatic stress disorder, because treatment was beginning to cost too much. That must be another example of compassionate conservatism. The war in Iraq is producing more cases of PTSD than any previous conflict. It probably has to do with soldiers going over there thinking they are promoting democracy and finding themselves in a hell hole, where civilians are dying by the thousands for no good reason.

Also brain injuries are being produced by this war faster than ever before, and many are not being properly diagnosed.

Where are the follow up stories on Walter Reed Hospital? Has that mess been cleaned up?

Another recent news story revealed discussions among upper echelons about the growing suicide statistics among vets and whether to fudge the numbers, try to bury the problem or be honest, in case someone else discovered the problem. Approximately 1000 veterans attempt suicide every month, and almost half of them succeed. In 2005, an average of 17 veterans killed themselves every day!

During his campaign, Edwards mentioned homeless veterans. O'Reilly the greatest of Fox News' talking shit heads said there were no homeless veterans. He offered to pay the support of any homeless veterans anyone could document. According to the VA, there are hundreds of thousands of homeless veterans on the streets of U.S. cities. Someone should call O'Reilly and tell him to start paying up.

Where's the outrage? Everyone should be calling on the government to take care of our veterans. A small percentage of the billions wasted on war and preparing for more war would make a world of difference to injured and homeless veterans.

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