So many of them died in vain.
In Feb. 2005, the Marines sent a "priority 1 urgent" request for more than 1,000 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles. In spite of the MRAP's proven ability to withstand blasts from IEDs and to save lives, it was 21 months (Nov. 2006) before this urgent plea was acted upon. After a few MRAPs trickled into the area and their life-saving value was recognized, both the Army and Marines requested as many as 18,000 to replace the totally inadequate humvees. Although Defense Secretary Robert Gates "talked the talk" that the MRAP is the Pentagon's "highest priority" new gear buy, until the Pentagon "walks the walk," Americans will continue to be slaughtered by the ever-present IEDs.
Supporting the troops is ensuring they have sufficient equipment and materiel in order to survive, and providing the proper care for the wounded and maimed when they return. This type of support is not a high priority with the Bush administration. In addition to forcing soldiers to dig through scrap piles for metal to reinforce vehicles, injured troops are billed for damaged or lost body armor, charged for food while in the hospital and routinely have their pension benefits cut. Because of Bush's brand of support, troops are faced not only with having to deal with the traumatic reality of their injuries, but most of them face financial ruin as well.
Bush has relentlessly fought supporting the troops from the outset. He not only opposes, but "strongly opposes" any pay raise for his troops. He threatened to veto the 2008 defense authorization bill if it included a paltry 3.5-percent raise for the military, a $40 monthly increase for widows and survivors, or any attempt to curb prices for prescription drugs the troops are forced to buy under TRICARE. Current pay and benefits are "sufficient," he said, echoing the refrain of Barbara Bush, his mother, as she looked out over the Katrina refugees penned up in the Houston Astrodome -- "...so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this -- this (she chuckled slightly) is working very well for them."
And, on Mar. 18, 2003, the day before Bush's bloody invasion of Iraq, the former first lady appeared on ABC's "Good Morning America" to shrug aside the death sentences he was imposing upon an entire generation of Americans. “Why should we hear about body bags and deaths? Oh, I mean, it’s not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?”
Bush is truly his mother's son -- shallow, unfeeling, incapable of compassion. In a recent meeting with five families of slain soldiers, one, Elaine Johnson, asked him why we were in Iraq. Bush could not answer that, nor could he explain what we were fighting for. But he did toss each of them a presidential coin and quipped, "Don’t go sell it on eBay.”
To Bush, body bags and deaths are simply an inconvenience and, with the help of the corporate media, he is very adept at hiding them from prying eyes. Bush is on a righteous mission -- he is the President, the Decider, the Commander-in-chief and God has chosen him to lead this country to its destiny.
And the troops? They have learned when it comes to support, all they have is each other. All they have is each other.
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