Saturday, June 16, 2007

Adding Heartbreak and Insult to Injury for Our Troops

posted by Bill Arnett @ 11:51 AM Permalink

There is a story being reported today (a slow news day, hmmm, wonder it that had anything to do with it?) that in addition to our troops being sent off to be killed to gain control of Iraqi oil, causing thousands of unnecessary deaths, the wounding of tens of thousands more, then giving troops care in a facility that is insufficient for their needs, substandard in almost every way, now the government has really added to the individual heartbreak of troops and their families by adding insult to injury and failing miserably at the centuries old task of delivering the mail.

That's right, the mail wasn't, in thousands of cases, being delivered to the patients at what used to be the premiere medical facility for wounded soldiers. See this from the Huffington Post:
Turns out the trouble at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the focus of a firestorm of criticism over poor treatment of wounded war veterans, reached into the mailroom.

The Army said Friday that it has opened an investigation into the recent discovery of 4,500 letters and parcels _ some dating to May 2006 _ at Walter Reed that were never delivered to soldiers.

And it fired the contract employee who ran the mailroom.

In an indication of the Army's sensitivity to problems at Walter Reed, whose reputation as the crown jewel in the Army medical system was tarnished by the disclosures of poor treatment of soldiers earlier this year, officials put out a written statement late Friday afternoon detailing the problem with the mail.

Maj. Gen. Eric Schoomaker, commander of Walter Reed, said he ordered a team of 20 to 40 soldiers and civilians to launch an around-the-clock operation to screen, survey and forward all the letters and parcels. Items addressed to soldiers still at Walter Reed were being hand-delivered Friday night, he said.

"This delay is completely and absolutely unsatisfactory," Schoomaker said.
This isn't just unsatisfactory, it's a moral destroyer, and more than one head should roll, although I suppose it's a minor miracle that anyone got fired given bush's demonstrated predilection for crony appointments, tolerance of corruption and incompetence, and the GOP's usual nonsense of privatizing everything, even within the military. (I know the Postal Service delivers the mail, but once on site the local people take over for individual delivery to the addressees.)

This is truly more than just shameful. When I enlisted back in the early Seventies, one of the highlights of the day was mail call, with everyone anxious and excited at the prospect of hearing from home, family, friends, and/or anyone really, just to get the outside news and keep up with everyone. To not have your name called and receive mail was a always a bit of a let down. Hell, even the receipt of junk mail was better than nothing.

I have seen troops who, for whatever reason, didn't ever get any mail. Many were so depressed, angry, or frustrated from not hearing from home that they would act out inappropriately, getting into trouble sometimes leading to punishment, discharge, or in very rare cases attempted suicide.

And that's with a "healthy" soldier at boot camp.

I cannot imagine being tragically and seriously wounded, perhaps missing limbs, burned, struck blind, permanently disfigured, perhaps facing months of reconstructive surgery or the fitting of a prosthetic device, training in its use, and a very long hospital stay. And on top of all that, the one thing that is almost certain to bring some small measure of happiness, a brief respite from the pain and depression, and a valuable source of inner strength, the mail, through incredible incompetence, was not being delivered to those who would benefit the most from receiving it.

Only in the bush/cheney maladministration could such incompetency go on for so long, unnoticed, and only the bush/cheney maladministration would fire the lowest guy they could find on the totem pole and not the superiors who should have made sure everyone was sufficiently trained and were actually doing the job they trained for, so the blame rightfully goes up the chain of command to the top.

At the top? Our Fearful leader, commander-in-chief and bottom line the man with the responsibility to make sure the military runs smoothly. The Decider. What a guy. What a way to support the troops, eh?

Any rethuglican in congress claiming to support the troops, but who stands by silently after revelation after revelation of abuse, misuse, mistreatment of our troops through extended and repeated assignments in Iraq, failure to have a plan for success in Iraq, failure to provide adequate medical care, or who filibusters every attempt to change course in this Iraq debacle is a bald-faced LIAR, doesn't really care about the troops, and does not deserve to hold public office after having mislead and lied this country into a war of aggression that has made America much less safe, just to get control of all that Iraq oil.

How does it feel to have denied the troops the basic amenity extended to every America, the delivery of the mail? How could they screw up something so easy to do?

Heckuva job, bushy.

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