You Might Find This Hard To Believe

by James Glaser
October 21, 2003

I Don't! There is a report written by Mark Benjamin, a United Press International Investigative Editor, "Sick, Wounded U.S. Troops held in Squalor."

"The National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers' living conditions are so substandard, and the medical care so poor, that many of them believe the Army is trying to push them out with reduced benefits for their ailments.

One document shown to UPI states that no more doctor appointments are available from Oct.14 through Nov.11—Veterans Day."

One month after President Bush greeted soldiers at Fort Stewart—home of the famed Third Infantry Division—as heroes on their return from Iraq, approximately 600 sick and injured members of the Army Reserves and National Guard are warehoused there, in rows of spare, steamy, and dark cement barracks in a sandy field, waiting for doctors to treat their wounds or illnesses.

I know this report sounds like it was written in the Civil War, but it is an October 17 th, 2003 report. Some of the soldiers say they have waited six hours a day for an appointment without seeing a doctor. Others described waiting weeks or months without getting a diagnosis or proper treatment.

If you have never had to deal with Veterans Medical Care system,this sounds impossible, but nothing in this report surprises me. I have seen Veterans totally destroyed by drugs given to them by the VA. I was given over 500, 10 MG valium at a time by the VA when I first got back from Vietnam. The only thing I can think is, they were hoping I would take them all at once.

Veterans taking Thorazine, nicknamed "liquid Straight Jacket" are driving themselves to the VA Hospital and home again. I have been to VA Hospitals that any ponds or fountains had to be fenced off so patients wouldn't drown themselves. I have seen Veterans begging to be hospitalized, others begging to have more shock therapy. Hey, sometimes it gets pretty weird at the VA.

I have seen Desert Storm Veterans in wheel chairs waiting day after day for help at a VA Hospital, only to be told that their sickness was in their heads. These were young men whose sickness had wasted them away to just over a hundred pounds. They could no longer walk and their parents were pushing their wheel chairs to the hospital. because the veterans didn't have the strength to do it themselves.

It must be twenty years now that the new VA Medical Center in Minneapolis has been open and still the wards on the forth floor are closed. Lack of money. Go to any VA Medical Center and you will see hundreds of dedicated employees trying their best to serve those veterans. You will quickly see that they are overwhelmed with the amount of people needing help. Lack of money.

When Congress just passed this new eighty seven billion dollars for George Bush's War, did you hear of any companion bill to help with the increased cost for treating the Military after the war is over?

Does anyone remember Congress asking the President or the Pentagon what this war or the one in Afghanistan would cost the American people for future Veterans care?

There is a cost to America for treating its veterans like shit. Those veterans have children and they see what their dads or moms go through for their service to this country. The children of veterans that have been screwed over, don't join up and this is happening more and more with every war.

Did Washington ever tell the American people that we actually had about 26% casualties in the first Iraq War? 148 Americans died over in Iraq, but over 8,000 died after they came home and another 155,000 are disabled. You think Congress thought of those costs?

When a young man or women joins the military to protect our country, they just assume that if they are hurt while working for us, we will take care of them. That is how it works with every other branch of the government. You get hurt in a National Park working for the Forest Service and they take care of you, the same is true for the FBI or the ATF or any other federal job, but the military is different. Yes there is the VA, but it is under funded and George Bush has just cut it again.

If we keep treating our military poorly it will come back on us. Congress and the President and those that work for them have the best medical care in the world. They have no idea of what sick or wounded veterans have to go through, to get even basic care. Money is always there to kill people, but after the killing is over, Washington doesn't want to be responsible for what they have done.

BACK to the Politics Columns.