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Thursday, March 01, 2007

Walter Reed: the military scandal no one was supposed to know about
Posted by Jill | 7:27 AM
I don't ever again want to hear another Republican accuse anyone of not "supporting the troops". It is the Republicans who have looked the other way while returning wounded veterans lived in squalor. It is the Republicans who want to cut veterans' medical benefits to continue to feed the corporate war machine. It is the Republicans who regard these kids as just so much breathing carrion -- nameless, faceless (except when needed for a photo op), expendable.

The Army's own surgeon general knew about conditions at Walter Reed -- and did nothing:

Top officials at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, including the Army's surgeon general, have heard complaints about outpatient neglect from family members, veterans groups and members of Congress for more than three years.

A procession of Pentagon and Walter Reed officials expressed surprise last week about the living conditions and bureaucratic nightmares faced by wounded soldiers staying at the D.C. medical facility. But as far back as 2003, the commander of Walter Reed, Lt. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley, who is now the Army's top medical officer, was told that soldiers who were wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan were languishing and lost on the grounds, according to interviews.

Steve Robinson, director of veterans affairs at Veterans for America, said he ran into Kiley in the foyer of the command headquarters at Walter Reed shortly after the Iraq war began and told him that "there are people in the barracks who are drinking themselves to death and people who are sharing drugs and people not getting the care they need."

"I met guys who weren't going to appointments because the hospital didn't even know they were there," Robinson said. Kiley told him to speak to a sergeant major, a top enlisted officer.

Every day there is another horror story about this Administration's callousness where the men and women who fight is completely gratuituos wars are concerned. Every day hey give lip service to patriotism and supporting the troops, and every day they show that these kids mean no more to them than the kid in the rat-infested tenement does. And through cuts in edcation, in Pell grants, in health care; though policies that encourage plant closings and outsourcing, they are making damn sure that the kid in the rat-infested tenement grows up with no other options but to be cannon fodder for them. It would be one thing if these kids really were being sent to defend their country. But it's criminal when they are being sent to fight corporate wars -- and then neglected when they are wounded in the line of duty.

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