As a follow up to my posting “The Tragedy of Building 18 continued”, my wife and I have sent the following letter to our Congressman and Senators. We are also mailing a copy to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
We encourage each of you to write your Congressman and Senators and speak out against the treatment of our veterans and to end this war. If you need to get the contact information for your congressman, go to http://www.house.gov/. You can find your representative’s web site through a search at the top of the page; if you do not know who your representative is (and you might be surprised how many people do not know who there representative is or found that the state legislature redrew the districts and change the district we lived in) by searching for your representative by state in the search link below the connection to web sites. Similarly, to get the contact information for your senators, go to http://www.senate.gov/ and select your senator through the search links provided.
In the Sunday, October 21, 2007, issue of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch was an Associated Press article entitled “Veterans are denied medical help.” (see http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/washington/story/A4781B1563BC2E448625737A0011D862?OpenDocument).
That we are outraged would be an understatement! To say that we are mad and angry at the way our government is treating veterans would be putting it mildly. You would have thought that following the exposure of the scandal at Walter Reed Army Medical Hospital that there would have been an improvement in the treatment of veterans. The Associated Press article suggests otherwise.
We have been told that we go to war with what we have, not what we desire. That is fine but we should not have gone to war in the first place.
First, we are fighting a war that was based on lies. At every step where an attempt at justification was made, more lies were given. From the very start of this war, the troops that we sent into Iraq have been under-prepared and ill-equipped for the tasks that they faced. Countless stories have come out about troops having to improvise equipment in order to defend themselves; countless stories have come out about troops having to call their loved ones in order to get basic items that should have been provided in the equipment issue before deployment.
Troop deployments are being constantly extended. This only adds stress to an already stressful situation.
Our troops are under-equipped and overextended. They are fighting a war by methods that cannot win the fight. How long must this war continue before we realize what we are doing to not only our troops but the people at home?
And this story does not end when the troops come home.
When the troops have come home, we have been told time and time again that the veterans of this war have been ignored by the very administration that set them overseas. Now, the problems with the Veterans? Administration are not the sole preserve of the current administration; this country has a long and sad history of mistreating its veterans after every war.
It is not so much the scandal last spring at Walter Reed. Now the Defense Department is telling soldiers that their problems existed before they enlisted. So any problems that they had overseas are none of the Defense Department?s concern. And what is more aggravating is that the Defense Department is asking for the return of the enlistment bonuses plus interest these soldiers were given.
If these soldiers had problems before they enlisted in the army, why were they allowed to enlist in the army in the first place? Is the Defense Department so desperate that they will take anyone willing to serve this country and then just throw them away after they have served?
The soldiers in the AP story and the countless soldiers that are not mentioned whom the Defense Department is treating in a similar matter served this country with honor and to the best of their abilities. The Defense Department chose to ignore pre-existing conditions until such time that it was a convenient excuse to throw them away.
It is time that we stop the maltreatment of our veterans. It is time that we provide each veteran with the support that they need when they need it and until such time as it is no longer needed. It is time that we treat soldiers as humans and not parts of a machine that can be thrown away when used up or broken.
And it is also time that the Congress of the United States do what it has failed to do. Congress must exercise its Constitutional Authority and state that this war must end. This war has been fought under the most dubious and flimsiest of excuses and Congress has accepted those excuses, even when common sense and the truth have shown otherwise.
From the very start of this war, the mantra from the present administration and its supporters has been that it is our patriotic duty to support the troops. It is convenient for the supporters of this administration to call those who speak out against the present administration cowards, unpatriotic, or phony. It seems that those who call for others to support their efforts have often failed to do what they ask others to do. It is more convenient for them to question the motives of others than to be questioned about their own motives.
No doubt, we will be called unpatriotic for what we have written in this letter. Well, we are the ones who are supporting the troops.
And one day, when the people of this country look around and wonder where the youth, the best and brightest of this country, have gone they will look to the leaders and ask why those who seek to lead this country were silent. And when the bill for this war comes due and the debt must be paid, the youth of this country will ask their parents why they, the ones who are left, must pay the bills of the past.
What are we going to say to the veterans we have cast aside? What are we going to say to the future generations of this country?