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John Wayne's Holster: Surely Bush Supports the Troops...Or Does He?
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Saturday, December 01, 2007

Surely Bush Supports the Troops...Or Does He?

The current war in Iraq has been going on for over five years now. Despite some setbacks after major combat operations ceased in 2003, the US military’s recent troop surge is making significant progress. That being said, there are still many Americans who are fed up with the war and would like to see it come to end sooner rather than later. Moreover, many of the Democrats and a few of the Republicans vying for their party’s respective Presidential nominations have some version of troop drawback or outright ending of the war as part of their Presidential platform.

The Bush administration’s vision of the Iraqi War is somewhat different. Obviously, the administration (and many Americans) would like to see the war come to a successful conclusion. In an effort to drum up support for the war here in the US, the administration and its supporters have resorted to a tried and true strategy – playing the patriotism card.

As an essential component of the patriotism strategy, war supporters have waved their flags, adorned their cars with bumper stickers and ribbons, arranged for photo-ops with soldiers, visited the troops in the field, resurrected the ghosts of past military heroes, and provided us with an assortment of catchy and heartwarming phrases. Perhaps the most well known of these phrases is “Support the Troops”.

As we have all know, Bush has, on multiple occasions, publicly stated his support for the troops. And I for one would like to take him at his word. However, one must bear in mind that actions speak louder than words. I think most reasonable people would agree with this axiom. That being the case, it would seem that the President has a real problem on his hands. As commander-in-chief, Bush is responsible for the actions taken by the military, including administrative decisions made by the Pentagon here on the home front. Some of those actions are downright disgraceful and reprehensible!

Military service in this country is not mandatory, as we have no laws allowing for conscription. On the contrary, service in the US military is voluntary, as it should be in all free democratic societies. Fortunately, many brave souls among us have put their personal lives on the back burner and stepped up to the plate to secure our safety and protect our national interests. We owe our soldiers a huge debt of gratitude.

Unfortunately, many of our soldiers never make it home alive. And still more come back profoundly and irreversibly changed. Many are critically wounded in the field. As a result of these injuries, many soldiers can never return to a normal life. They may be hobbled or handicapped. Many have lost limbs or their abilities to hear or see. Surely the military would want to reward these soldiers for their loyalty by providing them will top-rate health care, and making sure that these soldiers receive military benefits. Sadly, the truth is just the opposite.

Wounded soldiers are typically brought home and treated in an military medical facility, such as the Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington. To be generous, Walter Reed is a second rate facility, mostly due to inadequate funding. The facility dates to a time prior to WWII and is currently in need of a major retrofit. Anyone visiting Walter Reed should not be surprised to find out-dated equipment, paint peeling of walls and ceilings, and floors littered with mouse droppings, belly-up cockroaches, and stained carpets.

Soldiers who are not able to return to active duty are typically discharged from the service and sent home. However, they are sometimes treated and a vile and contemptible manner. Last month, the case of Jordan Fox came to our national attention. Fox was seriously injured in Iraq when his vehicle was blown-up by a roadside bomb. Fox was knocked unconscious, injured his back, and lost the vision in his right eye. As a result of his injuries, he was unable to fulfill his military commitment. One would think that the military would reward Fox for his loyal service and for the life-changing sacrifice he made in the name of his country. Sadly, they did not. Shortly after returning home, Fox received a letter from the military demanding that he pay back nearly $3,000 of his signing bonus. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case.

Many wounded soldiers are frequently denied benefits. According to a report in The Nation, US Army specialist Jon Town was injured while serving in Ramadi. Town was injured when a 107-millimeter rocket struck a target a few feet away from where he was standing. The rocket’s impact threw him to the ground, left shrapnel in his neck, and caused blood to spill out of his ears. As a result of his injuries, Town has struggled with deafness, memory failure and depression, and was declared not fit for combat and subsequently discharged. However, Town was surprisingly not given a discharge for his injuries. Rather, military doctors claimed his wounds were actually caused by a "personality disorder", which is considered a pre-existing condition. As such, the army was relieved of their responsibility to provide disability and medical benefits. And once again, Town’s case was not an isolated one.

Although Bush is not personally responsibile for these actions by the military, he is the commander-in-chief and it is his responsibility to stop it. If Bush really supports the troops as he claims to, he better man up and see that our military personnel are not treated like dogs in an animal shelter, and that they get the care in treatment they deserve.


At 3:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has Iraq been liberated? 1.5 million civilians have been killed so far... For God's sake, look outside of your tiny minds (like a frog in a pond) to see the sufferings caused by so-called saviors of the world...


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