Mostly what the soldiers do together is wait: for appointments, evaluations,
signatures and lost paperwork to be found. It's like another wife told Annette
McLeod: "If Iraq don't kill you, Walter Reed will."
Wow! One soldier spoke of taking 23 different pills a day.
But at this bar, the soldier who orders a vodka tonic one night says to the bartender, "If I had two hands, I'd order two." The customers sitting around the tables are missing limbs, their ears are melted off, and their faces are tattooed purple by shrapnel patterns.
Most everyone has a story about the day they blew up: the sucking silence before immolation, how the mouth filled with tar, the lungs with gas.
"First thing I said was, '[Expletive], that was my good eye,' " a soldier with an eye patch tells an amputee in the bar.
The amputee peels his beer label. "I was awake through the whole thing," he says. "It was my first patrol. The second [expletive] day in Iraq and I get blown up."
When a smooth-cheeked soldier with no legs orders a fried chicken dinner and two bottles of grape soda to go, a kitchen worker comes out to his wheelchair and gently places the Styrofoam container on his lap.
A scrawny young soldier sits alone in his wheelchair at a nearby table, his eyes closed and his chin dropped to his chest, an empty Corona bottle in front of him.
Another generation of Veterans will be around sharing these stories for the next half century and beyond.
Some soldiers and Marines have been here for 18 months or longer. Doctor's appointments and evaluations are routinely dragged out and difficult to get. A board of physicians must review hundreds of pages of medical records to determine whether a soldier is fit to return to duty. If not, the Physical Evaluation Board must decide whether to assign a rating for disability compensation. For many, this is the start of a new and bitter battle.
More of the hurry up and wait mentality. I think it's unconscionable that a Veteran would need to fight harder for their benefits than they did for this nation.
While Mologne House has a full bar, there is not one counselor or psychologist assigned there to assist soldiers and families in crisis -- an idea proposed by Walter Reed social workers but rejected by the military command that runs the post.
So the Veterans will continue to self medicate until they get the attention they deserve.
Doctors have concluded that Dell was slow as a child and that his head injury on
the Iraqi border did not cause brain damage. "It is possible that pre-morbid
emotional difficulties and/or pre-morbid intellectual functioning may be contributing factors to his reported symptoms," a doctor wrote, withholding a diagnosis of traumatic brain injury.
Annette pushes for more brain testing and gets nowhere until someone gives her the name of a staffer for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. A few days later, Annette is called to a meeting with the command at Walter Reed. Dell is given a higher disability rating than expected -- 50 percent, which means he will receive half of his base pay until he is evaluated again in 18 months. He signs the
The process is so disturbing. Dell was rated at 0% by the Walter Army "doctors" and only after "a Congressional" was launched, they got 50%. That alone could make the 535 members of the US House and Senate very busy elected officials.
We know Congresswoman Bachmann will do nothing about this. Kline? Nothing.
Thank goodness we have people in Washington like Congressman Walz and Senator Klobuchar to work for our Veterans.