Saturday, February 09, 2008

Return to sender

I know in my heart that I worry about the sons and daughters and husbands and wives of those engaged in military combat. And I sincerely will never wish for such an experience for my son or daughter for I believe it is like Michelle Obama said, that they are the only ones really making a sacrifice for our country. I just wish that the government and military appreciated and understood such.

My work in prisons and with the homeless shows me too much. That for example, I get tiered and hurt at the same time that at least a third that I have come across were veterans of Dessert Storm and of recent wars. In fact it turns my stomach. But I try not to show it working with them. I wished that, and believed that my government is me, and that it would make all the considerations possible to make the return of these individuals admirable. Unfortunately, it appears, as under the surface this is not the case.

I have just come to find out that the Army Surgeon General Eric B. Schoomaker doesn’t have firm control of his administration. A few weeks ago, NPR ran a story reporting on a memo that advocated that the Army had told the Veterans Affairs Department not to assist soldiers with completing paper work that would challenge their disability ratings. Such paperwork can decide if a veteran will receive annual disability payments and health care after they're discharged from active duty.

Initially Schoomaker denied the allegations but latter recanted saying that at the time he did not have nor saw the memorandum. It just amazes me how the top dog of all Army medical affairs had no knowledge of the aforementioned. Either he is inept or ha a bum staff or worse, doesn’t read the material that comes cross his desk.

The memo was Dated March 31 and concerned the meeting held the day prior on March 30 at Fort Drum Army base in upstate New York. Last year around this time, Lt. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley, Army Surgeon General and Commanding General of Army Medical Command, Lt. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley, was forced to resign over similar concerns regarding providing services to veterans.

Some have suggested that the issue is completely economic, pointing to he notion that the more the Army has to shell out for veteran disability, the less money they have in their budget for other activities - humbug. In fact the current situation in trying to reduce benefits for Veterans started back when Caspar Weinberger served as Secretary of Defense. A March 25, 1985, memo from the DoD office of general counsel, provided the Defense health officials the legal ground to "restrain military disability ratings without a change in law."

Now I know that with the multiple battlefronts we have opened around the globe, that it is hard to deal with the number of soldiers wounded in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition, as a health professional, I know that the people under the big brass are competent, and only have in their heart to provide the best service possible for them and are working assiduously to do such. I just think it is ridiculous that the administration cannot meet the level of their zeal at servicing. Not having enough wheel chairs for example is not their fault, but that of those in command, for they should also know that such in itself for example is a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

I know my voice is limited, but I would like to say for the record, that treating anyone who serves in our military like an envelope without a stamp is foul. As if they (the DOD) just use up folks, and return them to sender as if their address is unknown. I figure if we have the resources to fight several wars, the we should, up front, have the resources avaliable to take care of veterans when they return, without question. Moreover, the resources in leadership to make sure this happens.

If this could be implemented, the we wouldnt have folks coming back not getting the help they require; folks like Louis Bressler, Kenneth Eastridge, and Bruce Bastien, who are charged with the murder of a fellow soldier, Army Spc. Kevin Shields - who had served two tours of duty in Iraq. Bressler, the trigger man, was reported to have been discharged for medical reasons with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. But that's another story. All i am saying is that it don't (im country) make no sense to live in a country where inmates get better medical treatment than our service personnel. This is America, no matter what your status is, we should get the best medical care, especially veterans.



Anonymous said...

Hi from Moon of Alabama.

Keep the faith.

enigma4ever said...

dead right on all of these issues...and how sad it is to have to say that....makes you wonder HOW broken is everything.....great post even though you were tired....

ChezNiki said...

Sorry to hear about your Granma.

Someone commented on my blog that they hope Obama doesnt get shot.

My sister commented that Hillary is the one that needs to watch her back due to her proposed changes to the Health Care "system" in the United States. See Michael Moore's "Sicko." Managed Care is the Mob.

The current situation in the military hospitals just underscores the disaster, the result of healthcare being turned into a business instead of being a right. CommonwealthCare

Sherry said...

Bless you for your work with the homeless and disabled veterans!

TheophaniaPaige said...

Every man in my family has been in the military. My father, a Gunny in the Marine Corps, has been through Desert Storm and in and out of Iraq since this war has started, he got injured so they sent him back to the states, "patched him up" then sent him right back out there. My brother who was in the Army was injured also only they didn't send him back because his knee is jacked up. Growing up I've seen a lot of how war and not having proper health care affects these men and our families and it's truly saddening...

KIKI said...

I totally feel your anger, sorrow, and disgust for whats going on as far as our government & the treatment of our soldiers/vets. Just thinking about it gives me a migrain!

I'm am so sorry for your lost! Just look at it as I do...she may be gone from this earthly place, but do BELIEVE that she will always be with you...watching, protecting, and guiding...stay strong & keeping you in my prayers...

Tom the Redhunter said...

Thank you for the work that you do for the homeless and in prisons, rawdawgbuffalo. You are doing a good thing and it is to be appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Peace Torrance,

This is the first time I have been on my pc for a couple days and I am so sorry for your loss.

I am left without words.
One Love,

A.u.n.t. Jackie said...


I'm so concerned about what will happen to our soldiers who finally make it home, as we are the generation of former Vietnam Vets and we know that those mens souls were bullet ridden, bodies were drug addicted and minds were blown away long before they were flown home.

True story, my best friend's dad in elementary school was a 'Nam Vet and he straight snapped one night, had us holed up in the house with him, with the lights off and all the guns out. Swear for God I could have died in that mans hands that night.

You are a men amongst men for caring about others after losing a family member.

Anonymous said...

Oh Hon My condolences, I just checked in today and saw this

And also WTF you mean to telll me that there is money to plan to nuke whole countries and for the Good Ol boys to give themselves raises but not for the poor 19 to 26 year old chump that signs up to defend this country and gets mentally or physically maimed??

This I call Bullshit!

dejanae said...

it's despicable how little our government seems to care for those fighting for us
the least they can do is provide adequate healthcare

Anonymous said...

Sup Dawg,

I think that most of us have this belief that the administration and the armed serrvices actually care about their troops. Unfortunately, it is obviously not true. They chew these people up and spit them out... just like anyone else they deem expendable.

We can try to deny it, but the fact is that this corrupt administration appoints cronies in every aspect who do nothing but tow their ignorant assed line.

I hope Obama can change it, before it changes him.

msladyDeborah said...

This is how it was in the Viet Nam Era too. My cousin served in Nam, came home completely traumatized by the experierences that he participated in. My aunt was given the run around about getting him help. The VA even told her that he was not going to receive services because Viet Nam was not really a war.

My aunt ended up calling the Pentagon and going the hell off on their crazy asses. Within two days he was admitted for the help he really needed.

I also just read recently that the military had issued out bonus pay to soliders who signed for an additional tour. But if you are injured in combat~The military is asking for the pay back because they are not actively serving. That is so cruel and lowdown.

There has not been one war~where some type of bullshit has not gone down.

If you ever get a chance check out this historical special on PBS about The Bonus Pay March. It is amazing to see black and white vets camped out in front of congress demanding money that had been promised to fight in the war.

They actually shot men who had made war in the name of America in the streets of D.C. for demanding that the government keep their promise to pay them.

I am hoping and praying that this current war begin the close out phase soon. It has always been a war of lies and revenge.

Anonymous said...

You're so right, it's baffling how we as a nation can take such good care of our prisoners and show such disregard for our vets. I don't understand it. I think it reflects an attitude held by this administration, this president, this DOD, that the vets are bodies, not people. They say they honor the soldiers but their actions speak otherwise.

Polls are showing that the economy is becoming the number one issue, not Iraq. But how can Iraq not be the number one issue, when we're pouring billions of dollars into it as fast as we can? That's what's driving the economy into the ground. And it's criminal, I think, for folks like McCain to talk about cutting domestic programs -- stuff that actually helps people here at home -- as if this were the source of our problems. It's like worrying about a drippy faucet when the dam has already burst.

Thanks for this post. I hope you get some sleep and feel better soon.

All-Mi-T [Thought Crime] Rawdawgbuffalo said...

Moon - thanks for the drive by. u will keep on seeing me at your page. its a great read.

enigma4ever - broke is being nice

cheznik - thanks, and i dont want anyone to ge shot, no more compassion in te world

Sherry - thank u.

TheophaniaPaige - u sdhould be proud of the men in your family, i am

Kiki - and we got all this money, its pitiful

Tom - its our work tha i do, i know mos folks dont have access. inmates do come back and i just dont want the to keep on going back to prison

D - hanks hon, and i cant belive u, wo words

Jackie - tha would mke a gea short story, ever thought about writing one on it

Qucifer - thank u hon, and it is bullshit

dejanae - your comment is great, and reads like a poem, but wha can be expected from a great poet

msladydeborah - i don think the pentagon is competent anymore they need to let soldiers run it

buelahman - so right, they get on tv and give lip service and their actions dont mean it. I hope doesnt change either, but im glad he has michelle, and i dont think she will let him LOL

Doug - thanks man, but McCain is not the problem, I think i is folks too busy taking vacations and trying to get ambassador positions. The only think of themselves, last i heard only one member of the house has a child in he active military

Jaded said...

This is something that has been part of my life since I was born. My dad is now retired, but he was Colonel in the US Army. He is a nuclear weapons/logistics expert, and was commander of an artillery division. I only know a fraction of the things my father experienced, but I can tell you that he's no longer the man I knew when I was a child. He's now cold, uncaring and shows pretty much no emotion. He has no problems like the men you've described as far as health care and benefits are concerned because he was a high ranking officer. They don't generally get cast aside. While I'm proud of him for his accomplishments, because he's very decorated soldier, I believe that change comes from within any organization, so men like him should be doing something to take care of the men and women who are now floundering. It's something he and I disagree about.

You are 100% right about it being an economical decision, especially now. We're at war and that costs more money than most of us can even fathom. The military budget is what it is, period. The money to finance the activities abroad is maximized by cutting corners here at home. They can cut the health insurance and benefits of those who have no means to fight it and they get away with it. They're destroying lives to save a few bucks. It's disgusting.

I do have to say that the Ft. Drum sign brought back many memories. I have been there many times in my life, primarily when I was a child. I also spent a lot of time at Ft. Sill Oklahoma. That was back when my dad was still my dad, so the memories are good ones. Thanks for that.

And thanks for stopping by. You all still remain in my prayers.

christina said...

Hey T, I am so sorry to hear about your Grandma, I will keep you and your fam in my prayers.. always.

PS: your right, the medical care in this country for our veterans in 3rd class even compared to to prison health care, it's sad.

Anonymous said...

What really strikes me is that so many of those banging their drums and shouting "support our troops" are the same ones willing to deny quality health care to those they ask the rest of us to support.

The men and women are discarded like worthless pawns in a criminal game of chess where only the powerful pieces are of any value.

I'm glad you're an advocate for the good.

Mes Deux Cents said...

HI Torrance,

I work indirectly with the homeless. In my experience a huge number of homeless are veterans.

The toll of war lasts much longer than the war itself. Its effects play out in the lives of those who have served for years and decades after their service.

The surprising thing to me is that people continue to serve when the Military has shown time and time again that it considers everyone expendable.

It's just bad management and incompetence to continue down this road.

Unfortunately the only thing that will make the military change the way it treats or doesn't treat veterans is when citizens stop enlisting.

heather said...

amazing post for me to 'discover' you at.
i live and work in the fort drum area. and my husband is one of the many disabled vets in the area. while he isn't a war veteran, he is physically disabled due to an accident during ranger training. i think the guilt over that is the cause of a lot of his psychological issues.
i'll definitely be back. and feel free to hang at my place anytime.

Mizrepresent said...

This is all too true, i would say approximately 75% of the homeless in and around Atlanta are vets. They care nothing about them once they returned from serving, even getting good medical care is difficult. All of my brothers served in the military in one form or another, and each them lost something upon their return, or they had a serious drug, alcohol addiction, and other physical and mental ailments. It is so sad and i think much needs to be done about it.

Jameil said...

and stop LYING and telling vets they will get the medical care they deserve even when you know they won't. the nytimes, washingtonpost and latimes have done a number of excellent post on the post-war effects of living in a combat zone-- physical and mental. its outrageous that these men and women can VOLUNTEER under the assumption they will be cared for should the mission go awry and IT'S A LIE!!!!

Minerva Exertion said...

It's sad the way veterans are treated poorly by the government they fight for. I agree with another blogger that in order for the military to change, maybe people need to stop enlisting.

Thanks for the compliments on the blog and stop by anytime.

All-Mi-T [Thought Crime] Rawdawgbuffalo said...

Minerva - thank u, and mes deux, well she a trooper, and u will find yourself agreeing with that sister alot. and thanks, do return pls.

jameil1922 - well said but u know asking a politician to stop lyning is like asking them to stop giving them selves a raise

miz - no wonder u so tight, fine men in your family indeed

Heather - im sorry to hear that, hoe he gets what he has earned and deserves, and thanks for the drive by

Mes Deux Cents - point well taken, i dont understand either, but my father and step father served and i will never question a person who is a patriot. but we still need to keep the fire to the feet of the big brass even though they dont listen

Jali - and they singing in the rain, regardless if we support whats up in Iraq, Americans love the service folks, thats the bottom line, and he want the safe...the politicians are the real enemy

Christina - id let a laymen run the va over the current and past army SG. and thnks for your prayers

Jaded - and u should be proud of him, service in itself is sefless, regardless of the reason. I know many foks do it to reach the educational goals they set for themselves. but he is still we, and as u, i feel my duty to have his back, i enlisted or tried too, but i ws an only child and i was not selected.

EsLocura said...

speaking from experience, the VA is also told never to volunteer any info on services available. If you find out on your own that's OK but they make it damn hard to get what they claim is due to you. Like anything else, you need to educate yourself to fight the good fight, government is never gonna make it easy ... sad but true.

Unknown said...

sorry im late...but im sorry to hear about your grandma, i hope you feel better! peace & blessings &hugs.

Anonymous said...

Great report Raw Dawg!

We have a similar problem in the UK; last year it was reported that there were over 2000 AWOL most of whom needed treatment for war trauma.

Anonymous said...

Yea, and wasnt Casper down with Ronald Regan? Great post, you one of the few bloggers I have found talking about this. The elections numb us.

Unknown said...


Anonymous said...

I'm glad you posted this. I was just contemplating posting something similar just this morning but haven't yet.

What you mentioned has been on my mind a lot with regards to the issue of post-combat care; but then as you said there is the whole other issue of the military kicking soldiers in the teeth and using them as scapegoats with regard to punishment for "crimes" they commit when they're suffering from sleep deprivation, gawd-awful extended and repeated tours, fatigue, other mental issues, etc.

In the case I'm referring to specifically (can't look it up right now), a solder just received a life sentence for killing an Iraqi civilian--soldier claims that the civilian "compromised their position." Well hell, if that is indeed true, that's what you do when that happens--after all, this is WAR, right??? I know if the situation called for it I'd sure as well take out anybody that compromised MY position and the position of my fellow soldiers if I couldn't take them down any other reasonable way. That is simply what happens in a war! Unfortunately.

Now, if what the soldier said is *not* true, then, that's different. The whole notion of war sucks, but it is what is. And back to what you said, they (all) certainly don't deserve to be treated like second class citizens after putting their lives and health on the line like that.

So, will look into it further and post later. Really bummed about this whole damned war--it's just wrong. Sad and wrong.

[Would be interesting to open up the can of worms that is tracking of the money spent/and that we're continuously pouring into this MESS.]

Anonymous said...

I really wish that I was completely surprised by this but I'm not. Gov't always seems to fall short on providing for the people. Ahh, the spoils of politics.

And of course you can add me to your blog roll! I've added you to mine. Talk to you later.


Jonne Austin said...

They are vile for the way they treat the very same men and women they send out to do their bidding. SICK!

All-Mi-T [Thought Crime] Rawdawgbuffalo said...

EsLocura - that sounds like a test, dang. and do come back

Seattle slim - vile is being nice, thanks for the drive by

Tayo - yep, laziness and incopetence on behalf of the gov is never suprising

Tamara - i read aboiut th some where, but there are so many cases like that it is too much to keep up with

Olamild - thanks 4 the love

Memhiz - thanks for he love hon

Hillblogger - they should give a disclaimer up front before folks join like drug companies

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