As the military scrambles to pour more soldiers into Iraq, a unit of the Army's
3rd Infantry Division at Fort Benning, Ga., is deploying troops with serious
injuries and other medical problems, including GIs who doctors have said are
medically unfit for battle. Some are too injured to wear their body armor,
according to medical records.
Unfit for battle, yet they are still sending them? Incredible.
The AP released a story titled "Pentagon struggles to find fresh troops". The impact of the Pentagon's search has been felt throughout small towns in Minnesota as mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and neighbors have been ordered to spend 6 more months in Iraq. I met one mother on Saturday night who actually told her son they were getting extended before he had been told by his commander in Iraq.
The complex scheduling must identify which units would have been home for 12 months and be trained and ready to go, plus whether the needed equipment would be available and what impact a schedule change has on other plans for the equipment or troops months down the road.
Combat troops, meanwhile, are coming to realize that the Pentagon can't fulfill its commitment to give soldiers two years at home for every year they spend deployed.
As you know, the commitment to our soldiers health and welfare goes un-fulfilled as well.
Despite the fact we are sending unfit soldiers back to Iraq, and continuing to look for more to go, the President wants another 8200 soldiers to head to Iraq.
Grigsby said he does not know how many injured soldiers are in his ranks. But he
insisted that it is not unusual to deploy troops with physical limitations so
long as he can place them in safe jobs when they get there. "They can be
productive and safe in Iraq," Grigsby said.
How can a Brigade Commander not know how many injured soldiers he has? I recall my days working on a Battle Staff, sending pretty sensitive reports up to Brigade, that identified the number of vehicles with deficiencies that made them inoperative, the numbers of soldiers on P-3 profiles that would preclude them from deploying and more sensitive information on our ability to deploy.
Colonel Grigsby knows how many soldiers are hurt in his unit, you know those things as a military leader. I know his Command Sergeant Major knows.
The captain interviewed by Salon also requested anonymity because he fears
retribution. He suffered a back injury during a previous deployment to Iraq as
an infantry platoon leader. A Humvee accident "corkscrewed my spine," he
explained. Like the female soldier, he is unable to wear his protective gear,
and like her he too was ordered to Iraq after his meeting with the division
surgeon and brigade surgeon on Feb. 15. He is still at Fort Benning and is
fighting the decision to send him to Baghdad. "It is a numbers issue with this
whole troop surge," he claimed. "They are just trying to get those numbers."
It's sad when our leaders simply want to achieve a number, sacrificing soldiers and their families along the way.
But it gets better.
Dick Cheney, the chickenhawk VP, who fought to stay out of Vietnam, called out Democrats who opposed the President's plan.
"When members of Congress pursue an anti-war strategy that's been called 'slow
bleeding,' they are not supporting the troops, they are undermining them," Cheney said in a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
"Anyone can say they support the troops and we should take them at their word, but the proof will come when it's time to provide the money," he said.
Indeed VP Cheney, well said. The same holds true for our Veterans VP Cheney. The executives within the Executive Branch, continue to shortchange Veterans over time.
Bush Administration's Fiscal Year 2006 Budget Falls Far Short of Veterans' Needs
Inadequate funding for health care. Under the President's Fiscal Year 2006 Budget, budget authority for veterans' medical services will increase by only $522 million. This request fails to keep up with the pace of inflation and payroll increases, which are expected to total $1.12 billion, meaning that the Department effectively receives a cut. The request also falls nearly $3.5 billion short of the needs identified by the Independent Budget assembled by leading nonpartisan veterans organizations.
New fees and copayments. For the last two years, President Bush proposed establishing steep new fees and copayments for priority 7 and 8 veterans. Congress, acting in a bipartisan fashion, has increased the President's meager veterans' budget to block these proposals. Despite Congress's action, President Bush has proposed, for the third time, to establish $250 annual fees for Priority 7 and Priority 8 veterans, and to increase pharmaceutical copayments from $7 to $15 for these same veterans. American Legion National Commander Thomas Cadmus asks, "Is the goal of these legislative initiatives to drive those veterans paying for their health care away from the system designed to serve veterans?" (2/7/05)
Priority 8 enrollment ban. The Bush budget proposal extends the ban on enrollment of new Priority 8 veterans - who may have incomes as low as approximately $25,000 - for another year. The Administration estimates that 522,000 veterans will have been turned away by the end of Fiscal Year 2005 as a
result of this ban.
Nursing homes. Despite growing demand for extended care in VA nursing homes, the Administration's budget request cuts $351 million from nursing homes by serving 28,000 fewer veterans. It also would significantly limit assistance to states, by cutting state nursing home grants from $114 million to $12 million. This cut would place the burden of extended care almost completely on resource-starved state governments.
Medical research cutbacks. The President's budget would cut funding for VA medical and prosthetic research for the second year in a row. The VA Medical Research function funds research into development of new prosthetic technologies, treatment of mental illness, prevention of cancer, effects of
pathogen exposure, and other important initiatives. The cuts could translate
into the termination of 173 projects in valuable areas such as traumatic injury,
cancer, aging, and heart-disease research.
And...we're sending injured soldiers to Iraq?
Just when you think this administration could not fall any lower, they dig a bit deeper.