U.S. Army, Stop Kicking Your Wounded Out the Door

I’m tired of reading stories like this:

If this were the first or the second or even the third or fourth story of this sort I’d read, I might be ready to pass it off as a fluke. But these horrors just keep on coming.

Isn’t it bad enough, Bush and Rummy and Dick and Wolfie, that you lied us into this war, then you didn’t bother to provide enough body armor and Humvee armor to go around, and then if they survive, you send 'em back for a second or third trip to the Cradle of Civilization? So on top of that, when the kids fighting the war only get half blown up instead of completely blown up, you try to push 'em out the door well before you’ve patched 'em back together?

And of course, while this sorta shit is going on, you mouth a lot of “support the troops” happy talk.

I’ll tell you how to support the troops: fucking take care of the troops. Do everything you can to get them the best equipment, to maximize their chances of surviving and remaining in one piece during their all-expenses-paid vacation to Mesopotamia, and then you do everything you can to help patch the survivors together afterward.

So Walter Reed is overwhelmed? OK, build another Walter Reed. It’s on the base-closures list anyway, so you’re going to move it sometime soon; just build another one, and close this one when the war winds down enough, whenever that might be. You know how many Congresspersons would vote against that, given the apparent need? Not enough to matter, that’s for damned sure. We’ve spent $200B or so on this war; think we aren’t willing to pitch in a half-billion or so for a state-of-the-art facility for repairing the many seriously wounded soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan? I bet even Bernie Sanders would vote for that.

Oh yeah: and don’t kick widows of the fallen out of base housing the moment they cease to be a military spouse. Give them some time to deal with the transition, give them assistance to find somewhere new to live, and maybe even pay to move them.

“Supporting the troops” means more than knowing how to say “hooah.”

There used to be a saying in the military - “We take care of our own.”

I guess that no longer applies.

“Take care of our own”, eh? Don’t be too sure about that. Just ask my left knee, which will likely never move pain-free again for the rest of my life, courtesy of USAF. I can’t run for more than a few yards, I look like an idiot going up or down stairs, and while I can walk more or less normally (most of the time), there’s a twinge of pain with every step reminding me of what I gained for volunteering to serve my country.

There’s a surgery which will repair this particular ailment, but it’s expensive, and of course they weren’t going to give it to me…hell, they won’t even repair some poor wounded soldier’s head; I’m nowhere near delusional enough to think they’re worried about the knee of some kid who never even saw combat (damn good thing I didn’t, too). My total compensation for this injury: three E-1 paychecks and a bottle of Motrin from dismissive and uncaring “doctors” (I saw a grand total of one actual MD the entirety of my stay, and that was for my Separation Physical prior to being unceremoniously booted).

Does the military care about its people? From what I saw going on, not only in my own situation (quite common in its own right) but to others as well, the answer is “not a chance”. Hell, I’m one of the lucky ones…they let me go. For some perspective, let’s look at the poor trainee I met while in Medical Hold in Basic, who at that time had been in Basic Military Training for a grand total of 6 1/2 months. He had been placed in Med Hold for the same condition I have, but instead of discharging him, USAF decided to return him to training…five times. They’d send him back, his injury would worsen, they’d send him back to Med Hold for a month, and they’d send him back again. Now, he can barely walk, even with the aid of crutches, and when I left, he was scheduled to return to training again in two days. He’s probably still there; I have no reason to believe otherwise.

I could go on. But further specifics would serve only to reiterate the point I’ve already made – the military only pretends to give a damn about you if you’re in a condition to be useful to them – and I don’t know as the folks I’ve met would appreciate having their stories posted to the Internet, even anonymously. (The fellow I described above had consented for me to tell his story, provided I left his name out of it.)

Bottom line: judging from what I’ve seen, the military “takes care of its own” in the manner you’d expect of an L.A. street gang. While you’re useful to them, they can’t praise you enough. Become an inconvenience, though, and you’re not worth the price of the boots on your feet.

Oh, and lest anyone accuse me of being disingenuous: my injury occurred during the penultimate week of BMT. My personal knowledge is based solely on that experience. I never did enter operational active duty.

For a firsthand account of what changes after Basic regarding treatment of wounded/injured personnel, I suppose I’ll have to defer to Rory Dunn.

Of course, once the soldier is discharged, he or she is now a veteran, and is entitled to treatment as such; one does not have to be currently enlisted to receive care.

This statement by the Assistant National Legislative Director of the Disabled American Veterans is one you should read. The transition to the status of a veteran may help the wounded individual to obtain optimum care.

You could also check out the U. S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs to discover some actual facts about services, including medical and rehab, that are available for veterans.

I concur with those who say we should not be stingy with treatment and benefits for our veterans, wounded or not. But the implication that they push these folks out the door to fend for themselves is not entirely accurate.

BTW, if you want to be of help to the wounded soldiers, one place to look is the Landstuhl Hospital Care Project.

Or go to the Other Efforts page of anysoldier.com for links to lots of ways you can help. There are some who would rather rant and complain, but I’m sure that does not apply to anyone here.

Instead of saying this here, why not say it to some poor dumb kid that’s about to sign up? Save a life.

It’s not like they were going kick him in the street without a forehead- he would have been transfered to the VA, freeing up a bed at Walter Reed.

Where in the article did it mention anything about kicking “widows of the fallen out of base housing the moment they cease to be a military spouse.” Do you know somebody this happened to?

Or what MLS said. :smack:

Multiple instances of this have been reported in the papers over the past couple years. No cites handy; I haven’t been bookmarking everything I’ve read.

True. But there are millions of veterans for the VA to take care of, and it’s historically been a system that deals with remediation of the effects of combat injuries over a period of years, rather than weeks.

I got this far before my gag reflex set in:

Whoa Nelly! Enough money for an additional 44 prosthetic limbs! Thank goodness we’re meeting the need.

Got anything specific?

I figured I was looking for info on what medical assistance a returning vet from Iraq that was still in the midst of a complex rehabilitation could expect. So I went to the VA page on Health Benefits and Services, and clicked on Returning Service Members - Seamless Transition. Once I was there, I clicked on Medical. Notice anything about the first and last links?

Cites would be appreciated.

Let me explain: I’m happy to help with stuff that is a matter of making the lives of our men and women in uniform a bit more tolerable around the edges; as Lucretia can attest, I’ve already done some of that.

But essential rehabilitation (and other essential matters like providing body armor) should be taken care of, lock stock and barrel, by the Government of the United States of America which sent that poor chump off to war. We don’t have bake sales to pay for bombers, and we damned well shouldn’t have to have them to ensure that soldiers wounded on the battlefield have surgeries and rehab in a timely manner.

Got it? Good.

If you’re addressing the OP, my answer is, I don’t know any poor dumb kids; hell, I don’t know that many kids, period. (Being over 50 and childless will do that to you.)

But if you know someone who’s considering enlistment, feel free to pass my rant, and link, on to them.

But . . .and correct me if I am wrong here . . .wouldn’t he stop getting paid? And isn’t that a serious consideration, since he certainly can’t work? Even if he is then entitled to pension/disability benefits, I’d guess they are lower than his normal pay.

He might continue to receive some pay, depending on the level of disabilty at which he’s rated. Even if he’s rated at 100% disabilty, that doesn’t mean he can’t continue to work in the civilian world; it means he’s no longer physically fit for the military.

And, if a person is still in rehab and unable to work just yet, isn’t he then eligible for various disability payments? Certainly Social Security disability if nothing else.

Right, but will his pay–either military disability or social security–equal what he is currently making?

I have absolutely no idea. I not only have never been in the military, I have no personal friends in the service. [I’d enlist, but there is no place there for arthritic 59-year-old women.]

I don’t know what military pay is, exactly, but I am lead to believe that it isn’t superb, especially for the ordinary enlisted person.

The point was simply that there are resources. In some situations, as in jobs with the government in New Jersey, veterans receive preference on civil service jobs.

Again, if the point is that we should do more for our veterans, especially those injured in the line of duty, I would wholeheartedly agree.

100% disabilty is just that…100%.

Means you are physically unable to work.

They do have levels of disability though. I’m 10% disabled which is the lowest they go. I draw a small check every month. Have since 1974.

I don’t think we are in disagreementL my point is that right this minute, this kid is missing a piece of his HEAD. He’s not going to be in a positon to take advantage of special preference in civil service jobs for quite some time. His bills likely continue unabated: if he has an apartment, rent still has to be paid, if he had a family (which in this case, it appears he doens’t, but lots of enlisted do) they would still have to eat, if he has credit card debt, interest is accruing, if he has a car payment, it still has to be made. Even if pressuring him out of the service doesn’t effect his level of care, because of the VA, it will likely effect his level of income, and that seems unsporting: certainly it shouldn’t happen until the primary effects of his injury (like missing a piece of his head!) have been repaired.

But is 100% disability 100% of your previous pay? I am assuming it is not.

It’s not called 100% for nothin (says the unemployable 100% disabled veteran)