Friday, February 23, 2007

No excuses for the treatment of our Veterans

I thought I recalled hearing about this a few years ago while I was active on the public speaking circuit.

Sure enough, we heard these complaints in 2003.
FORT STEWART, Ga. -- Hundreds of sick and wounded U.S. soldiers including many who served in the Iraq war are languishing in hot cement barracks here while they wait -- sometimes for months -- to see doctors.

The National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers' living conditions are so substandard, and the medical care so poor, that many of them believe the Army is
trying push them out with reduced benefits for their ailments. One document shown to UPI states that no more doctor appointments are available from Oct. 14 through Nov. 11 -- Veterans Day.

"I have loved the Army. I have served the Army faithfully and I have done everything the Army has asked me to do," said Sgt. 1st Class Willie Buckels, a truck master with the 296th Transportation Company. Buckels served in the Army Reserves for 27 years, including Operation Iraqi Freedom and the first Gulf War. "Now my whole idea about the U.S. Army has changed. I am treated like a third-class citizen."

Where is the accountability? We have always heard of the VA issues, but what about care for Active Duty and Reserve or National Guard hero's who have honorably served our nation?

We knew the system was failed in 2003. Four years later, the incompetence still exists.
One month after President Bush greeted soldiers at Fort Stewart -- home of the famed Third Infantry Division -- as heroes on their return from Iraq, approximately 600 sick or injured members of the Army Reserves and National Guard are warehoused in rows of spare, steamy and dark cement barracks in a sandy field, waiting for doctors to treat their wounds or illnesses.

The Reserve and National Guard soldiers are on what the Army calls "medical hold," while the Army decides how sick or disabled they are and what benefits -- if any -- they should get as a result.

Some of the soldiers said they have waited six hours a day for an appointment without seeing a doctor. Others described waiting weeks or months without getting a diagnosis or proper treatment.

600 soldiers here, 700 at Walter Reed, how many more?
The soldiers said professional active duty personnel are getting better treatment while troops who serve in the National Guard or Army Reserve are left to wallow in medical hold.

"It is not an Army of One. It is the Army of two -- Army and Reserves," said one soldier who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, during which she developed a serious heart condition and strange skin ailment.

It would appear as though this pandemic has spread to other installations across the nation.

Soldiers have to work their way to morning formation and sit in the rain and snow in their wheelchairs, hobble across the base on crutches! It happened years ago as well.
Soldiers make their way by walking or using crutches through the sandy dirt to a
communal bathroom, where they have propped office partitions between otherwise
open toilets for privacy. A row of leaky sinks sits on an opposite wall. The latrine smells of urine and is full of bugs, because many windows have no screens. Showering is in a communal, cinder block room. Soldiers say they have to buy their own toilet paper.

Same shit, different day I guess.

The more and more I dig about this, the more and more I find. It truly is disgusting. The saying "if you're not outraged, you're not paying attention" can't even touch the surface of what I feel right now.

It's pathetic, it really is.

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