Supporting the Troops, Republican Style
Ronald Glasser, frequent contributor to Harper's Magazine on medical issues, has an article in the July 2005 edition that says, among other things,
"Some 12,500 American G.I.s have been wounded in Iraq. Eight soldiers have been wounded for every one killed, about double the rate for Korea, Vietnam, and the Gulf War. The percentage of soldiers who have undergone amputations is about twice that of any of our past military conflicts; nearly a quarter of all the wounded suffer from traumatic head injuries, far more than in our other recent wars...
The true legacy of this war will be seen not in the memorials to those lost forever but in the cabinets of files in the neurosurgical and orthopedic wards at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, in the backlog of cases at Veterans Affairs."
Those of us who follow these kinds of things do not find this a surprise. The combination of heavily-armored torso protection coupled with huge advances in combat medical technology has resulted in a much higher number of the critically wounded hanging on and finally surviving, but it is survival with astonishingly debilitating injuries. This is something we've seen in no other war, and something that the Bush Misadminstration refuses to contend with, refuses to acknowledge, refuses even to believe.
The serious underfunding of VA medical care is now an open secret, common knowledge, so accepted that it is not even debatable by the shrill frothy-mouthed crazies on wingnut radio and Faux News. Thanks to the almost single-handed determination of Washington Democratic Senator Patty Murray, Congress has authorized a special spending bill that will restore a lot -- but not all -- of the "missing" funding, but that amount will deal only with current needs. It will not address the future needs of our returning disabled veterans.
It will be to the everlasting shame of this nation if we continue to turn our backs on the disabled veterans who badly need medical care and who are not going to get it because it is "too expensive" for the DOD budget. These are our children, our brothers and sisters, our mothers and fathers, that were deliberately sent into harm's way based on a lie, and they are coming home to try to rely on a VA health care system that is itself on life-support.
Jesus, people, we can do better than this.