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MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS MONTHLY - FREE PRESS
(415)868-1600 - (415)868-0502(fax) - P.O. Box 31, Bolinas, CA, 94924

April, 2007



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Disposable Truths of the Wounded Warrior Commission
By Jacqueline Patterson

One might sometimes wonder if George W. Bush sits on his bedroom floor in his underoos playing with G.I. Joes, if perhaps such play inspired the invasive involvement in a religious war that has been raging since long before our great nation was even conceived.
Maybe he hides a dirty sock and pretends that his noble plastic soldiers are searching forever elusive "Weapons of Mass Destruction."

How else might one explain the commander in chief's reckless indifference to the needs of returning soldiers or his inclination to bureaucratically dispose of wounded soldiers as if they were dolls that had simply fallen forgotten behind the bed when they could no longer serve the "president's" intended purpose?

How else might one account for the discrepancy between his actions in the media which exude the proper airs of surprised horror and concern for our suffering soldiers and his war-centered budget, which decreases medical and prosthetic research, eliminates traumatic brain injury grants, and fails to keep up with rising medical costs?

In the Washington Post article that turned all eyes toward the atrocities being committed even by inaction beyond the spit-polished wings of Walter Reed, President Bush is quoted as having said during a holiday visit to the hospital, "We owe them all we can give them. Not only for when they are in harms way but when they come home to help them adjust if they have wounds or to help them adjust after their time in service."

It was the perfect Christmas sentiment and one might imagine that it was surprisingly well said in the fashionably war-disabled, oft celeb-studded amputee unit, Ward 57, but it is obviously not a statement that President Bush holds to be true as over the next five years, he will be cutting the veterans budget by ten billion dollars undoubtedly aware that many more war-torn soldiers will be returning home.

Some of them wish to recover and return to duty in Iraq or Afghanistan but others must retire and learn how to navigate newly acquired disabling conditions such as brain trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome that are damningly misunderstood, under funded, and will be subjected to more crippling cuts in 2009. George W. recently appointed media pacifying Republican World War hero to head a commission with an entitlement that might lead a concerned citizen to believe that the president is committed to at least identifying the problems that our returning wounded are facing most frequently if one does not realize that Bush is increasing health care co-payments to be paid by war veterans and imposing enrollment fees that effectively eliminate the ability of returning wounded warriors to attain the only health care coverage that might enable them to return to normalcy, the coverage that that these soldiers were promised. Though the Bush Administration, at the urging of Democratic legislators, has included a wounded soldier and the wife of another injured soldier in its "President's Commission on Care for America's Returning Wounded Warriors," one should take careful notice that Bush's proposed budget almost boastfully strangles any correction that his facing saving commission or the deceptive "Veteran's Health Care Empowerment Act (which expires in 2009) might endeavor to commit.

Under Bush's ministrations, 1.6 million soldiers have found themselves unable to obtain healthcare and millions more find themselves receiving only enough rehabilitative efforts to keep them functioning at an incapacitated level and even then, only if they have been able to effectively navigate the obstacles erected by such seriously defective systems at military institutions such as Walter Reed. Not only are returning soldiers subjected to frustrations such as lost paperwork and depilated living conditions but in 2005 only 3% qualified for sorely needed disability benefits whereas in 2001 10% of military retirees qualified for such benefits.

The men and women who are returning from the war forever changed by their experiences are not plastic action figures that anyone has the right to use up and dispose of to their own diabolical end; they are human beings who, in the line of duty, often develop life altering mental health problems that are as terrifying as they are socially unacceptable. Conditions such as depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder are often greatly exacerbated by the obscenely long waits for medical appointments with indifferent poorly trained military bureaucrats and the general hopelessness of the situation yet such issues are being ignored; some soldiers head to the bar at Walter Reed, others risk what little chance the do have to receive benefits by self-medicating with illegal drugs. They are returning with blood on their hands and violent loss seared into their memories, coming home to face a new unfathomable hell instead of the dignity and respect promised to them by our nation most treacherous leader.

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