Monday, April 23, 2007

Supporting the Troops

Last Friday, NPR reported that injured soldiers are being taken advantage of by the military with injury ratings. Soldiers who are injured and cannot perform their duties get a disability rating when they leave. If the rating is less than 30%, the military doesn’t have to pay them a monthly stipend (they get a small one-time severance instead), and they don't get to be part of the military health care system (they go into the VA system instead). One guy had a serious head injury in Iraq where they had to cut out part of his skull. He received a 10% disabled rating. In order to get health care, he has to fight long delays at VA hospitals. Sadly, this isn’t an isolated case. Vets are continuing to have troubles getting the health care they legitimately need.

This hits home for me because a very good friend of mine is in this exact position. He wasn’t in combat, but has debilitating back pain from an injury he sustained while in the Air Force. He had 16 years in towards a 20 year full retirement, but had trouble standing for much of the day (he was a teacher), so he was forced out of the Air Force with a 20% disability rating. He got a severance, but no monthly stipend, and because his back pain is so bad, it is hard for him to work and support himself.

The Mennonite part of me has nothing but compassion for the injuries soldiers sustain, regardless of whether they are physical or not. They are the ones bearing the cost of lessons not learned a generation ago by those running this war, and deserve to be taken care of. Actually, the Mennonite part of me thinks everyone should be entitled to quality health care, even if one’s health issues are not the result of arrogance or greed on the administration’s part. But that is probably a Minor Mennonite position.

The Liberal part of me wonders how in the world Conservatives can accuse us of not supporting the troops. They are the ones who put soldiers in harms way for no good reason, underfund their body armor and medical care, and whose contempt for government makes them seemingly unable to run any part of it. The idea that we are not supporting the troops by attempting to put a time-limit on the amount of blood they must spill is ludicrous.

The Snarky part of me (which often undermines the Mennonite and Liberal parts of me) wonders why NPR wants military health care to fail. After all, if reporting bad news from Iraq undermines the war, then reporting bad news about health care must threaten health care. Why didn’t they choose to interview people with serious head injuries who do get monthly stipends and reasonable health care? I would even bet that some hospitals have been freshly painted. No wonder NPR is constantly being threatened with its funding. What's a government-run organization useful for if it isn't to trumpet the success of those in power?


brownie said...

I know someone very much like your friend you mentioned in your post... and frankly, he's sick and tired of fighting the beuractratic behomoth for what he is entitled to, because of what he sacrficed for his country (namely, his health and well-being for the rest of his life). Maybe someday he'll see a little justice come down the pike and he'll get his legal and just compensation...but unfortunately, justice on earth is a rare thing indeed.


Fingtree said...

There is a pattern I discovered in the late 80's and 90's of this age of Republicanism. Whatever they say, you invert it 180 degree's. Example's; Liberal media, weapon's of mass destruction, no child left behind, patriot act (should be Un-patriotic act), homeland security (were more vulnerable now than ever at home), contract with america (they ended up being more corrupt than any congress in history), Osama Bin Laden ("were gonna get em, smoke him out of his hole": George W. Bush), fiscally responsible(they have created the worst debt in our history), it goes on and on. The worst being this 'support the troops' mantra and their name calling of Patriotism. It offends me more than anything else. especially to see that they don't practice what they preach and have asked these soldiers and their families to sacrifice, only to be denied fair treatment. Not to mention the facts that they lied and deceived us to get us into this in the first place, shame on the Neo-Cons!!