Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Disrespecting The Troops

As if sending the men and women of our Armed Forces, Reserves and National Guard to fight a war under false pretenses wasn't disrespectful enough.  As if sending those same troops to fight without the proper armor, intel or decent working equipment and then telling them that you go to war with what you have when you had been planning to go to war all along wasn't disrespectful enough.  As if hiding the troops who have fallen fighting this war and sneaking their bodies back in the dark of night wasn't disrespectful enough.  As if forcing the wounded to recover in hospitals that were falling down around their ears wasn't disrespectful enough.  As if the veterans weren't homeless and joblesss after returning from active duty wasn't disrespectful enough.  As if all the lies about the friendly fire deaths wasn't disrespectful enough.  As if the troops being forced to live and work in 90,000 substandard and dangerous facilities in Iraq wasn't disrespectful enough.

As if all of those weren't disrespectful enough, Salon has confirmed (with audio for the doubting Thomases of the 101st Fighting Keyboarders) what those of us who really support the troops have suspected for some time.  That the previous administration regarded injured troops as pieces of equipment that should be thrown away unmended as often as possible.  If this soldier hadn't carried a tape recorder because of his PTSD and traumatic brain injury induced CRS (can't remember shit) disease we might still be waiting for the truth to come out.  Again.
But what Sgt. X wants to tell a reporter about is one doctor's appointment at Fort Carson that his wife did not witness. When she couldn't accompany him to an appointment with psychologist Douglas McNinch last June, Sgt. X tucked a recording device into his pocket and set it on voice-activation so it would capture what the doctor said. Sgt. X had no idea that the little machine in his pocket was about to capture recorded evidence of something wounded soldiers and their advocates have long suspected -- that the military does not want Iraq veterans to be diagnosed with PTSD, a condition that obligates the military to provide expensive, intensive long-term care, including the possibility of lifetime disability payments. And, as Salon will explore in a second article Thursday, after the Army became aware of the tape, the Senate Armed Services Committee declined to investigate its implications, despite prodding from a senator who is not on the committee. The Army then conducted its own internal investigation -- and cleared itself of any wrongdoing.


McNinch added that he also received pressure not to properly diagnose traumatic brain injury, Sgt. X's other medical problem. "When I got there I was told I was overdiagnosing brain injuries and now everybody is finding out that, yes, there are brain injuries," he recalled. McNinch said he argued, "'What are we going to do about treatment?' And they said, 'Oh, we are just counting people. We don't plan on treating them.'" McNinch replied, "'You are bringing a generation of brain-damaged individuals back here. You have got to get a game plan together for this public health crisis.'"
When McNinch learned he would be quoted in a Salon article, he cut off further questions. He also said he would deny the interview took place. Salon, however, had recorded the conversation.
Hmm, they must have learned that trick from all the wiretapping stories.

As a taxpayer I am concerned that my dollars aren't good enough for the troops but are good enough to bailout highly paid and incompetent banking and insurance executives.  As a veteran my heart is breaking that those who served faithfully under trying circumstances are being discarded as if they were trash.  As an American I am flabbergasted that the troops are being treated this way after the Walter Reed scandal.  As a human being I am disappointed by the inhumanity of it all.

Our troops and veterans deserve the best that we can give them, no matter what the cost.  After all, isn't that what we ask of them?


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