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Monday, February 19, 2007

More on how the Bush Administration and their Republican lackeys "support the troops"
Posted by Jill | 9:54 AM
If Anne Hull and Dana Priest don't win a Pulitzer for this, there truly is no justice in the world:

The conflict in Iraq has hatched a virtual town of desperation and dysfunction, clinging to the pilings of Walter Reed. The wounded are socked away for months and years in random buildings and barracks in and around this military post.


Mologne House is afloat on a river of painkillers and antipsychotic drugs. One night, a strapping young infantryman loses it with a woman who is high on her son's painkillers. "Quit taking all the soldier medicine!" he screams.

Pill bottles clutter the nightstands: pills for depression or insomnia, to stop nightmares and pain, to calm the nerves.


Bomb blasts are the most common cause of injury in Iraq, and nearly 60 percent of the blast victims also suffer from traumatic brain injury, according to Walter Reed's studies, which explains why some at Mologne House wander the hallways trying to remember their room numbers.

Some soldiers and Marines have been here for 18 months or longer. Doctor's appointments and evaluations are routinely dragged out and difficult to get. A board of physicians must review hundreds of pages of medical records to determine whether a soldier is fit to return to duty. If not, the Physical Evaluation Board must decide whether to assign a rating for disability compensation. For many, this is the start of a new and bitter battle.

Months roll by and life becomes a blue-and-gold hotel room where the bathroom mirror shows the naked disfigurement of war's ravages. There are toys in the lobby of Mologne House because children live here. Domestic disputes occur because wives or girlfriends have moved here. Financial tensions are palpable. After her husband's traumatic injury insurance policy came in, one wife cleared out with the money. Older National Guard members worry about the jobs they can no longer perform back home.

While Mologne House has a full bar, there is not one counselor or psychologist assigned there to assist soldiers and families in crisis -- an idea proposed by Walter Reed social workers but rejected by the military command that runs the post.


Dell and Annette's weekdays are spent making the rounds of medical appointments, physical therapy sessions and evaluations for Dell's discharge from the Army. After 19 years, he is no longer fit for service. He uses a cane to walk. He is unable to count out change in the hospital cafeteria. He takes four Percocets a day for pain and has gained 40 pounds from medication and inactivity. Lumbering and blue-eyed, Dell is a big ox baby.
Annette puts on makeup every morning and does her hair, some semblance of normalcy, but her new job in life is watching Dell.

"I'm worried about how he's gonna fit into society," she says one night, as Dell wanders down the hall to the laundry room.

The more immediate worry concerns his disability rating. Army doctors are disputing that Dell's head injury was the cause of his mental impairment. One report says that he was slow in high school and that his cognitive problems could be linked to his native intelligence rather than to his injury.

Anything to avoid paying a disability claim.

I can't even begin to describe how angry this makes me. Every day I am at the computer at 6 AM, documenting the horrors of the day as perpetrated by the evil men who run this country. Every day there's something else to make your brain scream, "No more!" But few things I've read of late make me this angry.

It's isn't that these are Americans and so are somehow more important than the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi casualties that our leaders have created as they crow about the sanctity of fetal life here at home. It's because for five years we have been bludgeoned with messages of "supporting the troops", both by Republican leaders and the assholes with their ribbon magnets we encounter on a daily basis. You know, the ones who would key your car and slash your tires if you dared put a bumper sticker that said "Support the troops -- bring them home" on your own car. It's this notion that in order to make sure that over 3000 Americans like the ones portrayed in this WaPo series didn't die in vain, we have to send another few thousand to die in vain.

And what's worse is that the ones who die are the lucky ones, because they are at least out of their pain and not having to face a government that writes them off the minute they are no longer acceptable cannon fodder while using them as a political sledgehammer. Republicans seek to make tax cuts for the wealthy permanent while their leader's budget cuts veterans' health care funding as a way of cooking the books enough to tout a balanced budget by 2012. The VA has a backlog of 600,000 disability claims. In Bush's home state of Texas, the VA office in El Paso says that more than 21% of the claims are over six months old. And a veterans clinic in Texarkana is forced to cancel appointments because they don't have adequate staffing.

When I posted on the first article in this series, I said that everyone -- EVERYONE -- who still supports this war, who supports this "surge"; every Senator who voted for this war and refuses to admit that it was wrong, everyone still driving around with those fucking yellow ribbon magnets -- they are ALL worthy of nothing but disgust and contempt. There was a time when we could say that there's no crime in wanting to believe that the government is truly acting for what it believes is the good of the country. But when you have the kind of proof that we have seen, over and over and over again, that this government is out for its own enrichment, for its own power, for its own greed, and that our leaders don't give a shit about ANY Americans, particularly those who are supposed to be serving this country and are entitled to thanks, there is no longer an excuse for that continued delusion.

It's time for the 28-odd percent of morons who still cling to their delusions about this president to wake the fuck up. Meanwhile, the rest of us have to start fighting for those stuck in the hell that is the VA medical system. Becuase damn it, someone has to, and the greedy Republicans in Congress won't, and the cowardly Democrats who are STILL afraid of being branded "soft on terror" sure as hell won't.

UPDATE: The intrepid Pam wades into the mile-high pile of human waste that is the collective posters at Frei Republik, so you don't have to. Go see what the wingnuts are saying...if you want to be positively ill. And Roxanne reprints a comment she received from an actual soldier -- as opposed to the armchair warriors who think we should just keep sending more kids over to die.

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