Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Suckered Again by Uncle Sam

Suckered Again” by Ted Rall is a bitter piece that looks at how veterans have been cheated and mistreated in the past. So, in a way Rall cuts the Bush administration some slack, because in the wake of Walter Reed revelations, it allows for its apologists to say, “We’re just living up to tradition.” That, right before those same lame White House spin doctors chide Democrats again for “not supporting the troops.”

“...More than 300,000 soldiers were wounded in combat during World War I, but the Veterans Bureau, predecessor of the V.A., rejected all but 47,000 claims. ‘The Veterans Bureau,’ a columnist wrote in 1925, ‘has probably made wrecks of more men since the war than the war itself took in dead and maimed.’

“America’s first major military defeat led to mistreatment of those who had served in the Korean War by those who said they hadn't fought hard enough. Among other indignities, P.O.W.‘s were denied their back pay of $2.50 for each day of captivity.

“Thousands of Vietnam vets were discarded like used tissues, reduced to homelessness and starvation after being denied adequate medical treatment and cash benefits. As recently as 2004, according to the Christian Science Monitor, ‘an estimated 500,000 veterans were homeless at some time during 2004 [but] the V.A. had the resources to tend to only 100,000 of them.’

“It took a decade after the fall of Hanoi before Vietnam vets began turning up on the streets, but troops who served in Afghanistan and Iraq have already become homeless. ‘This kind of inner city, urban guerrilla warfare that these veterans are facing probably accelerates mental-health problems,’ says Yogin Ricardo Singh, director of a veterans advocacy program in Brooklyn.

“‘You can have all of the yellow ribbons on cars that say Support Our Troops that you want,’ adds Linda Boone of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. ‘But it’s when they take off the uniform and transition back to civilian life that they need support the most.’ As usual, they're not getting it.”

Click here to read the whole piece.

An honest person has to wonder what President Bush thinks the horror story that has oozed out of Walter Reed has done/is doing for morale in the armed services.

My own grandfather, a WWI veteran who served with the Richmond Light Infantry Blues in Europe, never forgave President Herbert Hoover for ordering the rout of the camp of the Bonus Expeditionary Force in 1932, which some observers still see as one of the most shameless episodes in American history.

So, today, when you hear someone chanting mindlessly about supporting the troops and staying the course, it’s worth remembering the history of what slogans of that sort of have actually meant to those who did their duty, then found themselves abandoned by Uncle Sam afterwards.

All of which serves to remind us of why war should always be the last resort.

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