Saturday, May 3, 2008

Support Our Troops: Don't Start Wars!

The problem with the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq is not that it was bungled. The problem is that it ever happened at all. The known costs of the war were too great for us ever to have chosen it ourselves. It is America's shame that we let Bush choose this war for us.

Before we ever let Bush send in the troops, we should have said to ourselves, "Am I willing to see young men and women suffer brain injuries that will cripple them for life? " As the N.Y. Times

reported last year:
Largely because of the improvised explosive devices used by insurgents in Iraq, traumatic brain injury has become a signature wound of this war, with 1,882 cases treated to date, according to the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center.

We should also have asked, as I did last April, "When the Army will tell brain-injured soldiers that their symptoms result from pre-existing personality disorders 'to cheat them out of a lifetime of disability and medical benefits, thereby saving billions in expenses,' can I feel proud and patriotic?" Because even though Joshua Kors of The Nation just won a Polk Award for investigative journalism for breaking the story of how we screw our soldiers, he only uncovered the details. That is how the military treats its soldiers, and has been ever since Vietnam. It was predictable.

We should now ask, "How can I say I support the troops when I let them come home with brain injuries and ignore them?" Because that is what is happening now, today, at this very moment. According to the Boston Globe, the Veterans Administration itself says, "At least 8 of 49 veterans we contacted" in a randomized study of brain-injured patients "had significant unmet needs and no evidence of VA case management in the previous year." (my emphasis)

This is what you support when you go to war. Support the troops instead. Keep them home.

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