Walk It Off

George BushPredictably the media has completely missed the point of this Walter Reed story (Part 1, Part 2). Everywhere I turn, the emphasis is on the rodent infestation and mold, yet the important detail they’re ignoring is that thousands of veterans are being denied disability as a rule, and only those with enough awareness to contact Congress end up with anything close to what they deserve. I’ve been advising soldiers and marines for years now that their hope must not be placed with a lawyer, but with their Congressman and Senator in DC. Whether it be an issue on the job, during a courts martial or non-judicial punishment, while confined after a conviction, the appeal to a higher power than whatever General deciding their fate is the ONLY effective strategy. The portion of the Washington Post article I was most satisfied with was this:

Doctors have concluded that Dell was slow as a child and that his head injury on the Iraqi border did not cause brain damage. “It is possible that pre -morbid emotional difficulties and/or pre-morbid intellectual functioning may be contributing factors to his reported symptoms,” a doctor wrote, withholding a diagnosis of traumatic brain injury. Annette pushes for more brain testing and gets nowhere until someone gives her the name of a staffer for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. A few days later, Annette is called to a meeting with the command at Walter Reed. Dell is given a higher disability rating than expected — 50 percent, which means he will receive half of his base pay until he is evaluated again in 18 months. He signs the papers.

The mold and holes in the ceiling are temporary, whereas the veteran with severe brain damage, that the Army is insisting to be a pre-existing condition, is being tricked into signing off on their 0% disability discharge with a severance payment is permanent. Two years into the future when this individual is at college and some ruckus at a frat party causes them to break down or when a week has passed and they’ve logged a total of 5 hours sleep, they’ll be out of luck. The game is over and they’ve lost. A well represented veteran would fight for what the government surely owes them, and a brainwashed veteran all geeked up on patriotism might realize it is their duty to jump off a bridge before requiring the USA to pay them for just sitting around in the wheelchair he/she should have bought on their own…it not being fair that the government have to pay for it considering all they’ve done up to that point. Indeed…once the GOP gets rip roaring on their reasons to diminish the suffering of these veterans, I’m sure a radio host somewhere will begin eluding to this dynamic. I’d be surprised if Ann Coulter hasn’t already.

The ARMY TIMES has to slap the media around with a further breakdown of this problem, but I’m not at all certain that even this will make a difference. Here’s an excerpt:

The numbers of people approved for permanent or temporary disability retirement in the Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force have stayed relatively stable since 2001. But in the Army — in the midst of a war — the number of soldiers approved for permanent disability retirement has plunged by more than two-thirds, from 642 in 2001 to 209 in 2005, according to a Government Accountability Office report last year. That decline has come even as the war in Iraq has intensified and the total number of soldiers wounded or injured there has soared above 15,000.

So let’s not get fooled by this feigned outrage being expressed in various areas of the media over the conditions at Walter Reed. They ignored the systematic murder of these veterans through the denial of benefits for years, and as far as I can see, that will be the standard in this new era where the acceptance of failure is carried over. (Read my prior posts on soldiers being shortchanged: 2/8/05, 4/18/05, 5/1/05, 6/21/05, 6/25/05, 6/30/05, 8/8/05, 8/10/05 – Birthday Post, 9/21/05, 10/5/05, 10/20/05, 11/10/05 (GOP: “Fuck off you broke ass veteran cocksuckers! We’ve got missile defense to pay for.”), 11/12/05, 1/13/06, 1/15/06, 1/19/06, 1/24/06, 2/23/06, more to reference, but my point is made.)

Point being…the stupid building will be repaired, the chatter will die down and the larger issue will be glossed over. When Robert Gates holds a press conference and not a single member of the press gaggle brings up the administrative policy of denying all claims is asked, I start to identify with Tim McVeigh all of a sudden. What drives someone to the point where they decide it’s time to deliver a wake up call? For that maniac it was Ruby Ridge, so by that standard, we’re in for something serious if this chance is missed to pull the curtain back all the way. Call me an unpatriotic criminal if you want, but considering the amount of waivers being issued by the Army for recruits found guilty of assault, robbery, vehicular manslaughter, etc…how can anyone pretend that a mass murder couldn’t have been predicted?

In McVeigh’s war it was a syndrome that our nation’s military is still unwilling to admit is real, along with the proven effects of exposure to depleted uranium. And up until the day McVeigh was caught, you can bet that every politician banking a government paycheck in this country would have commended him for his service and uttered a few throw-away lines on how the military is wonderful, all the people wonderful, worthy of our gratitude, that your children would be speaking Canadian if it weren’t for them, and the like. That’s the cost to you and I, but the cost to these individuals who were dumb enough to sign a contract with an organization as heartless and spreadsheet-driven as the United States Army shouldn’t be this high.

And if it takes another 10 McVeighs to wake us up, then one of them could kill the building I’m in someday. I’ll be having a drink with Dr. Hunter S. Thompson somewhere when my killer reveals himself as a straight A student given 0% disability, unable to handle a job at McDonald’s, just fed up with everything. The Army’s doctors decided he was crazy before he enlisted. I’ll forgive and forget. Occupy the bar with Gonzo, Jerry and a few others…wait a couple hundred years for my next body. The afterlife relocation program having been outsourced and fucked up worse ever since for twice the cost.

15 comments

  1. S. R. says:

    For sure, the congressperson is your best friend as a soldier. From personal experience, it is just the cattle prod needed.

  2. captain_menace says:

    Save a seat at the bar for me.

  3. Will do – as long as you bring some matanuska thunderfuck! I figure that’d be a hit w/ Jerry and Gonzo.

    How’s the winter chill up in Alaska this year? Car starting alright? Good to see you back menace – – – I need to reach out to RT and make sure he’s alright.

  4. bernie kosar says:

    Amy Goodman’s “Democracy Now!” has a very poignant review of the Washington Post’s article, describing how the army goes way out of its way to ‘nickel and dime’ good folks, soldiers, out of their service injuries. Annette Mcloud, the wife of Dell who was featured in the Post’s article, is interviewed:

    http://www.democracynow.org/index.pl?issue=20070222

    My experiences with congressional representation:
    They’re used car salesmen with Constitutional backing. Remember Gary Condit?
    The Senators are better then the regular, non-knowing Reps…Sales Reps!!!

  5. bernie kosar says:

    Al,

    What’s the genesis of the photograph of this post?

  6. Google search for terms I can’t even remember now. I had this for a month or so, and got to looking for a photo that worked w/ the words, realized I already had the one.

    This was part of a photo series that won the photographer awards if I’m not mistaken. A lot of the photos I’ve got in waiting, filed away, are award winning photos. Ever since you linked to that painting a while back, I’ve taken an interest in visual art, sometimes browsing just for images.

    I thought about whether or not this was disrespectful, and my internal ethicist decided it was in honor of the man’s sacrifice. Regardless of either of our politics, that is his condition, and at this point it’s difficult to pin down exactly what his honest service represented in terms of the level of honesty in regards to the actual mission. The Libby trial transcripts have renewed something in me, a tremendous amount of resentment towards the idea that lies are truth as long as those telling the lies are in charge. It’s all falling apart, the back story…Cheney especially, when you take in his Meet The Press appearances in context with what is revealed in the courtroom…these guys just flat out made it up.

    They leveraged the legitimacy of our institutions, corrupted them not only to be able to go on television and pump up shaky intelligence, but to also have a scapegoat when the shaky intelligence proved to be false. Use the CIA as a puppet, and then throw the puppet in front of the onslaught when it begins.

    Cowardly on a level I’ve rarely seen outside of the movies…and this guy’s face resembles the way I feel inside about my country.

  7. bernie kosar says:

    The photo is just, well…ghastly. One of the worst I’ve seen. Is this bride, well, willing (she doesn’t look it)? I don’t know. It’s like a Civil War photo. Don’t get me wrong, I’m as patriotic as the last mope, but….

  8. captain_menace says:

    It’s frickin cold man. Was -10 or so this past week. I’m lucky I’ve got a garage for the car. The days are starting to get longer now (about 5 minutes a day) so things are looking up.

    I’ll see what I can do about the legendary thunderfuck. The origins of the strain are shrouded in secrecy. Some say it came from a college laboratory in Washington state. Others refuse to speak about it at all. For my part, I’ll continue with my thorough investigation.

    I haven’t been blogging much. I took on too much work and am completely stressed out. Will be better after the beginning of April.

  9. S. R. says:

    Bernie, I had thought that Al photoshopped that pic. Looks like the Toxic Avenger.

  10. Jim says:

    You can read that story that goes with the photo in the Times of London. (Good luck reading it on anything from the US). The photo led to the story IIRC. The Marine’s name is Ty Ziegel and his wife is Renee. You can read their story here.

    I was going to blog about it. But I just don’t have much to add. This is what you get when you go to war, and if my fellow citizens who voted for these asshats can’t bear to look war literally in the face, then I think they should all go straight to hell.

  11. Jim says:

    …I start to identify with Tim McVeigh all of a sudden. What drives someone to the point where they decide it’s time to deliver a wake up call?

    I actually have to credit McVeigh with the real beginning of my own personal skepticism. When he pulled that deadly stunt, I remember the coverage of the event and later the man. I remember saying to my Dad, “I don’t condone what he did, but why isn’t anyone asking what would make someone so angry at their own country that they would decide to do something like that?”

    As far as I can tell, that question has never been seriously asked. What makes 9/11 so pathetic is that it was another perfect example of our complete lack of introspection: people don’t grow up desiring to be suicide bombers. What would make someone decide to do that? What would piss them off so badly that they would volunteer for certain death?

    Until we become sincere about those questions, we’ll keep making the same stupid mistakes.

  12. S. R. says:

    Now I feel like an awful bastard…Toxic Avenger…

  13. -10 sounds like a nightmare dude…do you ever get acclimated to something like that? It reminds me of all the stuff I’ve read about the gold rush up there, and how they knew what temperature it was in the winter by whether or not the whiskey froze…how they’d melt the permafrost to sift for dust.

    I’ve heard about the legend of the thunderfuck for years now…then it dawned on me one day that I knew someone from Alaska. Not too often have I ever met anyone from up there. One sergeant I served with was stationed up there for a spell…his claim to fame was having met Ian Zhering and his wife, hit it off and had dinner with them. He had a thunderfuck story or two.

    Like a bush version of babe and the blue ox or some such storybook bullshit you talk about when you’re drunk. I figured he was overestimating, but what the hell did I know being 19 or 20? Confirmation was something like…well, tent city outside of Deer Creek Ampitheatre in Indiana, peddling my wares and happen upon some folks from north dakota, and we exchange some hiya’s and talk about the vegitation, then they get on about this and that which they brought down…I asked them what the best ever happened to be and they all agree, (ACDC voice)…”you been, THUNDA*******”…

    Of course they didn’t say it like that, but I felt like I had gained confirmation of the sergeant’s story from way back.

  14. captain_menace says:

    -10 isn’t so bad. I just don’t spend any time outside. Fairbanks is much worse. It’s about 6-7 hours drive north of here. They get into the minus 40’s and such. No bueno!

    As for the thunder… yes it is legendary. I was deckhand to a skipper who used to grow it. He said it actually came from the University of Washington.

    I must tell you that shitty mj just doesn’t exist up here. If there is a seed in the bag most folk will turn their nose up. I think a lot of it is due to the history of Alaska and mj. It was legal to possess up to 4 ounces in your home at one time. The last governor (Republican) threw us all a curve ball and tied some anti-mj legislation to some anti-meth legislation. He really backdoored it. Anyway, I think there’s a case in court right now over the issue. There is a law on the books that provides privacy in the home (which overrules drug laws), and the governor’s legislation is at odds with the privacy law. Guess we’ll see which way the wind blows.

    Whatever. A tightassed Republican governor isn’t likely to change the mood of Alaskans regarding their favorite indoor winter activity. If anything he’s just made those who commercialize on it a bit better off… risk/reward. I always say if you want to deal a crushing blow to drug dealers, then legalize their product.

    If you want to have a real good time, go to Amsterdam the last week or two of November (during Thanksgiving week). The annual Cannabis Cup is held then. Unbelievable. I could describe it to you but you wouldn’t believe it. The friendliest folks you’ll ever meet… and everyone with the same interest ;)

  15. Heh – believe it or not, I’ve made my way to A-dam quite a few times up till now. Stayed at the flying pig each time. Details aren’t important, but the understanding that comes with existing in that environment for any stretch of time is irreplacable. Europe in general really…how the legalization of the vice leads to less outrageous behavior in the people engaging in it there compared with here. The frat party types of things I’d attend once back in the states seemed to tip off something about what’s fucked up about American culture, like how these kids are literally shot out of cannons into the world, with the novelty of being out from under someone’s thumb telling them it’s time to experience what bile tastes like in the morning.

    I’m a lover of whiskey and well brewed beer, but both turn me into either a sluggish beast or a talkative fool depending on the moon. In the span of a lifetime, let’s take mine for instance, it’s hard to imagine something making me sick or sorry as many times as has alcohol. Albeit the frequency has been reduced by parenthood, though along with it also the feeling that I’ve been fooled all along into believing it is better than it actually is.

    That’s where I’m at now. Kind of nervous when I’m not sober, as opposed to the years prior when the opposite was true. Green transcends all of this. And there being no bile to taste once in a while from it is just another good to add to the scales already tipped completely to that side.

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