VA War Zone

September 4, 2008

As the bungled, terrible wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue to kill and maim US troops, the return home can be just as tedious and terrifying as the war zones.
As of yesterday, 4,151 US GIs have died in Iraq since the invasion in March 2003 while 582 servicemen have been killed in Afghanistan, where the casualty rate has been rapidly climbing this past year.
Wounded: 30,568 in Iraq, but that figure is debatable with the realistic number closer to 100,000.

And coming home?
Least we forget the Walter Reed Hospital scandal — once the crown jewel medical facility of the US military — and the barracks scandal, which proved “Supporting the Troops, meant only if their fit and able to shoot and kill.
And what about that huge, blundering red-taped Veteran’s Administration?
If those people working the VA are so-called “Supporting the Troops” they should be taken out and shot.
In an eye-opening, stomach-churning piece in the Nation, Joshua Kors documents the insane procedure for GIs to prove their wounds are “service-connected” before any aid is made available.
Kors spotlighted Sgt. Juan Jimenez, who returned home with two Purple Hearts and shrapnel lodged in his right arm.

  • The VA requires all veterans to prove their wounds are “service-connected” before it writes them a check.
    Jimenez thought that hurdle was merely a formality. The Army sergeant had been struck by two roadside bombs. The first sliced into his arms; six months later, a second bomb sprayed scrap metal into his face, knocking him unconscious and leaving him brain damaged. He began having seizures and suffering from memory loss.
    The blast left a persistent ringing in his right ear. The stress sparked nightmares, flashbacks and acid-reflux disease.

    The VA’s diagnosis: too much caffeine. “They said I was drinking too much Red Bull. That’s what was causing my problems.”

    “The system really pisses me off,” says Bob Handy, chair of Veterans United for Truth. “These soldiers are seriously injured and emotionally traumatized, and when they get home, they make them jump through hoops to get their benefits.” Handy’s organization joined VCS in its lawsuit against the VA. He says he’s especially disturbed by cases like Sergeant Jimenez’s.
    “When you go into the VA with two Purple Hearts and X-rays show that you have shrapnel in your body, and you still can’t get your benefits, that’s punishing someone who’s done a tremendous amount for this country.”

    Jimenez’s claim was denied and so was his request for disability pay.
    “I couldn’t believe it,” he says. “The VA is saying I don’t have seizures. But they watched me have a seizure. And they’re giving me medication for it. It doesn’t make sense.”
    The VA also turned down his claim for chronic headaches.
    “Everything the VA doctors said I had, the VA rater turned around and said I didn’t have.”

Talk about being highly pissed!
Kors article can also be viewed at AlterNet.

And last May Veterans Affairs Secretary James Peake said the concern for the number of reported post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) injuries from Iraq vets was “overblown” and likened PTSD to an old football injury.
This despite a study released by the Rand Corporation the month before that about 20 percent of military personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan — about 300,000 GIs — report symptoms of PTSD or major depression.

Of course, Piss-head Peake was then visiting Alaska’s corrupt Sen. Ted Stevens, who just by himself is a total asshole.

Although the US military can’t cut the bullshit and aid its returning vets, the Army can reach out to Sears:

  • Sears, Roebuck & Co. has signed a deal with the U.S. Army to launch the All American Army Brand’s First Infantry Division clothing collection.
    It marks the first time the U.S. Army has officially licensed its marks and insignias; licensing fees will be used to support military programs for troops and their families.

The powers-that-be should have worked the deal with the Target stores.
It would have been more appropriate.

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