Predictably 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.