These men and women are coming home from the middle eastern wars of the Bush Administration and being tossed dog bones and hoping they will be grateful enough to sit home and shut up. The trouble is the dog bones they are throwing are leaving a lot of empty stomachs, marriage problems, repossessed car, and homes in their wake. ENOUGH
We are slowly hearing stories of the fraud and abuse of the war profiteers, Haliburton, the Walter Reed Contractors (former Haliburton execs) Military officers taking kickbacks in Kuwait and Iraq, everyone has their hand in Uncle Sam's back pocket, and the truly deserving are being tossed a few dollars, to make up for life changing medical problems. There is one paragraph that brings tears to my eyes:
Before they leave, someone from Hampshire County's Heritage Days parade calls to see if Troy wants to ride on the veterans float. Troy declines. It's not just the crowds.
"Other people got wounded, and all I got was a mental thing," he says.
Michelle raises an eyebrow. "It's still an injury."
"I think about that doctor down there," Troy says, referring to a psychologist at Fort Stewart who suggested he was faking it. "Plus, the fact that guys are missing arms and have bullet holes and everything else. Ain't a scratch on me."
To remember who Troy used to be, Michelle keeps a photo of him hidden in her camera case. In the picture he is smiling and eager, ruggedly at home in his Army fatigues. Now she looks at the man in the recliner. "It's people like you that made our country," Michelle says. She goes back to filling out forms, and Troy goes back to Nickelodeon.
Troy's case is exactly the kind of discharge the Army has been accused of lowballing since this war began, at least in his case they did discharge him for PTSD apparently at the 10% rate which should have been a 30% or higher so his family would be entitled to TRICARE and they would have military ID cards to use military bases and their facilities. He could have been accused of having PDO like 22,000 other soldiers and denied any benefits.
But his statement "Other people got wounded, and all I got was a mental thing," he says. is indicative of so many veterans and soldiers, they have been ingrained that mental health issues aren't a "real injury" when in fact they are, there are no purple hearts for them or Traumatic brain injuries as they are "unseen wounds". These type of wounds are far more devastating than "flesh wounds" that are decorated for but in the military they are seen as "faking it to get out of work, or in some cases to get out of the military completely. Many men and women will surpress the symtpoms of PTSD and try self medication with alcohol, drugs, both legal and illegal, some people become work aholics. They blame everything on wives, kids, bosses, co-workers, customers, in some cases it takes decades before they come to terms with the real demons, the heart of the PTSD and their nightmares, their flashbacks of the incidents, their 0-angry outbursts in seconds. Even Max Cleland a famous Vietnam war vet did not seek help for PTSD until this past year, more than 40 years after his service in Vietnam, and he was a US Senator and the former Secretary of the VA.
PTSD and TBI are very real problems and instead of treating these veterans like leeches, the government should be doing everything it can to help these veterans and their families.
I read the story about Troy and Michelle, and I saw my wife Dori and myself in this article. I luckily have gotten the full help I needed and Dori stays on top of my treatment, I think both Troy and I would be lost without these strong women in our lives.
I SALUTE them both and all of the other spouses that stick by their loved ones dealing with these unseen wounds or war.
You can help by contacting your elected officials and demanding the Congress put the new VDBC Recommendations into effect, and the Dole/Shalala Commission also be given action. Congress has the blueprints for fixing it, they just need to take the action NOW not a few years down the road.
Let the Democratic majority take the lead to fix this broken system, let the military and veterans know who "truly supports" them and it has NOT been the Republicans, despite the flag pins and the magnets, the Republicans have failed to pass the badly needed overhaul of Veterans Affairs that are now out of date, the Omar Bradley Commission last looked at veteran benefits in the early 1950s.
Help the spouses like Michelle and Dori take care of their injured veterans.
P.S. I have started a NEW Blog about veterans and their news here with a lot of links to help for vets and other links http://vets4politics.blogspot.com/ by the way if you scroll down to the bottom of the page that man glaring at you is me taken last year when I still lived at Lake Murray...lol
UPDATE This was my response on the WAPO blog about the article
I am a disabled vet, and if his wife is his fiduciary that means the govt doesn't think he's capable of handling his own money, why would they then take the position he is employable, when they appointed her, his fiduciary they should have rated him Totally Disabled Individual Unemployable or TDIU which pays at the 100% rate or approx 2700 a month plus if he's determined to be P&T permanent and total her and the kids get medical benefits thru CHAMPVA and from this article I would say they deserve ALL of these benefits they have some piss poor representation helping them so far.
Veterans having problems with the VA claims system should go to www.hadit.com there are a lot of older vets that know the VA game system and can help new vets gladly we can even help their spouses
Here is a great http://www.estripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=56984&archive=true article about Traumatic Brain Injuries.
Maj. Barbara Severson-Olson also calls TBI the war's "hidden injury."
"People walk away from these attacks. They're not bleeding and they don't appear cut," said Severson-Olson, who also works with TBI patients. "They don't want to see the doctor. Sure, everyone wants to go home, but they want to go home when their unit goes home."
This contradicts the belief held by soldiers that TBI isn't a "real" injury or that those who seek treatment are trying to get out of their service, said Sgt. Gary Scott. "I haven't seen any fakers," said Scott, 38, of Bay City, Texas. "The overwhelming majority - 98 percent - wants to return to the field."
While there is always some "malingering," there are far more cases of those trying to downplay their illness, Johnmeyer said. Diagnosis is often reliant on aptitude tests, as CT scans aren't sensitive enough to show a mild concussion, Johnmeyer said.
Imagine not being able to remember your own childrens names?
Is that a real brain injury or a faker?
In a news release on US Newswire Congressman Roy Blunt the Republican Whip showed the ridiculous side of the politics of veteran issues, he attacks the Democratic controlled Congress for failing to pass the Veterans Affairs Budget before Veterans Day,
"But even with all that, many of us thought they'd treat the veterans'
funding bill differently. This is, after all, a piece of legislation that
honors and serves the men and women who have done so much to protect the
country in which we have the privilege to live today. These are the men and
women we will honor on Monday - Veterans Day - with parades and accolades.
But thanks to Democrats in Congress, we won't be honoring them with the
spending bill they deserve. And the reason? The politics of the moment won
out over the needs and priorities of our men and women in uniform."
While this may be true the budget that has been proposed by the Democratic Party is 6 nillion dollars more than President Bush wants, but due to the pressure from Congress and the Walter Reed fiasco, and the problems with Veterans Affairs he has indicated he will NOT veto this bill, but he wants the Congress to deduct the 6 billion from other Budgets, after the past 6 years of approving every bloated spending bill the republican controlled Congress sent to his desk, he has suddenly found his "fiscal conservatism" he has started using his veto pen.
The other glaring fact that Congressman Blunt has ignored is last year the republican controlled 109th Congress did not send any budget authorizations to the desk of President Bush, let alone the Veterans Budget, they left Congress in November 2006 with a continuing resolution to fund the government at FY 2006 levels for 2007. In January 2007 the new 110th Congress passed an omnibus bill funding the government for FY2007 at the same levels they used for FY2006.
The Republicans can all pound their chests at the failure of the Democratic failures for veterans, but if you will review the voting records compiled by the DAV as shown here
1st (2005) & 2nd (2006) Sessions of the 109th Congress showing
the % of Yes Votes for Veterans Benefits*
House (8 votes) 100% 88% 75% 63% 50% 38% 25% 13% 0%
Democrats 115 49 29 7 2
Republicans 1 2 4 20 170 33 2
House Committee on Veterans' Affairs
Steve Buyer, IN, Chairman 25% Lane Evans, IL, Ranking Member 63%
Michael Bilirakis, FL, Vice Chairman 38% Bob Filner, CA 88%
Terry Everett, AL 25% Luis Gutierrez, IL 75%
Cliff Stearns, FL 25% Corrine Brown, FL 88%
Dan Burton, IN 25% Vic Snyder, AR 88%
Jerry Moran, KS 25% Michael Michaud, ME 88%
Richard Baker, LA 25% Stephanie Herseth, SD 75%
Henry Brown, SC 25% Ted Strickland, OH 75%
Jeff Miller, FL 25% Darlene Hooley, OR 100%
John Boozman, AR 25% Silvestre Reyes, TX 88%
Jeb Bradley, NH 25% Shelley Berkley, NV 100%
Ginny Brown-Waite, FL 25% Tom Udall, NM 100%
Michael R. Turner, OH 25% John Salazar, CO 75%
Brian Bilbray, CA 13%
Senate (19 votes) 79% 74% 68% 47% 42% 37% 32% 26% 21%
Democrats 38 5 1
Republicans 1 2 7 12 26 4 2
Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs
Larry E. Craig, ID CHAIRMAN 32% Daniel K. Akaka, HI RANKING MEMBER 79%
Arlen Specter, PA 68% John D. Rockefeller IV, WV 74%
Kay Bailey Hutchison, TX 42% Patty Murray, WA 79%
Lindsey Graham, SC 37% Barack Obama, IL 79%
Richard Burr, NC 32% Ken Salazar, CO 79%
John Ensign, NV 32%
John Thune, SD 37%
Johnny Isakson, GA 37%
James M. Jeffords, VT Independent
*The above information came from the Disabled American Veterans - Key Votes in Congress webpage. The Vote Scorecard for both sessions of 109th Congress were added together to get the grand total for each Senator or Congressman for both sessions.
This record of the votes shows which party supports veterans issues and which party doesn't, you make your own decisions.