Friday, June 15, 2007

Combat Trauma: Injured Vets Find Scant Concern, Little Care, But LOTS of "Command Hostility"

From the Seattle Times, via TruthOut.Org
By the end of his tour in Iraq, Command Sergeant Major Thomas Adams was crushed by memories. Too many memorial services for dead soldiers. Too many visits to the wounded in hospital wards. Too many innocents - men, women and children - blown up by insurgent bombs or killed inadvertently by his Fort Lewis brigade. "What I'm telling you is that there's absolute carnage out there," Adams said. "We have to be ready for the trauma of today's battlefield."

This is an important story. Sgt. Major Adams is right at the top of the NCO Hierarchy. And the story comes on the heals of reports recently that USer Military and Veterans services for psychologically and brain-damaged victims of combat traume in Iraq were NEVER up to the task of helping returning vets, even in peace-time. Reports in USA Today, and other news sources tell of lack of care, substandard treatment, scarcities of professionals to treat returning vets, and attitudes in the command structure itself which punish injured soldiers for 'weakness' if they seek help.

This is exactly the situation faced by vets of the Vietnam conflict. Not coincidentally, mentally/psychologically injured vets comprise as many as 40% of the nation's perpetual homeless. This is not a recent phenomenon, either. This headline, from 2005, proclaims "Republican Budget Cuts Target Veterans…again". The theme was repeated again, barely a year later, under the headline, Dean: "Bush Balancing Budget on Backs of Wounded Veterans
For the second time in a week, the Bush Administration will deliver a major address to the nation's largest veterans' group the day after the Associated Press revealed drastic cuts to veterans' benefits in the President's budget. Vice President Dick Cheney addressed the American Legion's annual convention today, one day after the Associated Press reported that "draconian" cuts in the Bush budget will mean that "at least tens of thousands of veterans" will face "delayed or even denied care" in coming years. [Associated Press, 2/27/06]
I'm a vet--who fortunately was spared the kinds of combat which takes such a horrific toll--and I take this betrayal of injured troops personally.
(Fookin BRILLIANT poster by Micah Wright,


notwatchingtelevision said...

Makes me sick, and I feel it personally, too. All the invalids -- physical, mental, spiritual -- that we continue to make. I think a lot about the Vietnamese, whether they have healed any more successfully that we from that war. If so, I wonder if it's because for a long time we left 'em the fuck alone.
Sparkle Plenty

Anonymous said...

Good post, Woody.

I am sure the reason for sending troops back again and again is so as many as possible will be killed off. The returnees from Vietnam pro'ly pushed peace over the top then, and will do it again for Iraq - this time by the spectacle of the failure to take care of them.

from Ruth

Virginia said...

We're supposed to have learned the lessons about PTSD, at least, from VietNam. We're supposed to know what to do. It makes me physically ill that these sick fucks constantly pound the drum of "support the troops" bullshit while simultaneously ignoring, sometimes aggressively, the psychic wounds they've been subjected to.

Makes me ill.