This is Support for the Troops?

After five years of bumper stickers and magnets on cars proclaiming support for our troops, reality has begun to rear its ugly head. Yes, it is ugly. For lo these five years, the right wing – who still controls the White House agenda as well as the results of what comes out of the Democratic-majority Congress (read: threatened vetoes of nearly everything war-related) – has berated nearly everyone about how opposition to the war equals opposition to the troops. Of course, it is possible to oppose the decision to go to war, the war itself, and those who fight the war. Unlike Viet Nam, this hasn’t been the case. This time there has been overwhelming support, at least in public pronouncements, from everyone everywhere that no one opposes the troops or that anyone denigrates their valiant efforts. Well, out loud, that is.

We’ve all heard Donald Rumsfeld say, “We go to war with the military we have, not the military we want.” The fallacy there is that we (well, no not “we” — Bush) chose when to invade, and we could have waited until we did have the military we wanted. There is no excuse for sending our troops into war ill prepared and under-equipped. It’s immoral to have done so and then pretend there was no alternative.

We’ve also heard the choruses of “support the troops” every time Congress has to consider the supplemental bills to fund the war. The choruses reach deafening levels any time anyone questions the very concept of this war or its conduct.

And we’ve also heard about the care offered to our vets and how it compares to care provided on the battlefield. If you have any question about the inadequacy of the state-side care, think Walter Reed and the brilliant, Pulitzer-prize winning reporting by Dana Priest of the Washington Post.

Well, it seems that the boards and committees convened to resolve and improve the medical care offered state-side to returning veterans have failed utterly and the situation is even worse than we’ve been made aware, unless we are individually acquainted with a returned veteran.

From an article at the BBC online, the lead paragraph:

US veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are suing the government, claiming inadequate care is leading to an increase in suicides.

And another excerpt:

An average of 18 war veterans kill themselves each day – five of them under Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) care – according to a December e-mail between top department officials that has been filed as part of the federal lawsuit.

The Rand Corporation has recently released a study that shows some 300,000 US troops – about 20% of those deployed – are suffering from depression, or post traumatic stress disorder, after serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.

“We find that the VA has simply not devoted enough resources. They don’t have enough psychiatrists,” said Mr Erspamer.

In 2006 suicide rates were reported to be the highest in 26 years, at 99 confirmed suicides.

You can read the whole article here

This is how the Bush Administration supports our troops? The administration holds up the troops as great heroes and gives them a kiss-off when they come back, battered and broken. McCain consistently declines to comment on the new GI bill sponsored by Sen. Jim Webb. [full disclosure: if McCain has said anything, I’m not aware of it, and anything less than full support is inadequate]

This is how those who start a war support those who actually fight it? Hypocrites! And they demonstrate no shame.

  9 comments for “This is Support for the Troops?

  1. Northcountystorm
    April 21, 2008 at 9:07 pm

    Nice post Bill. Its shameful the way this Administration has sent these men and women into combat and then had them come home to inadequate benefits and a broken down health care system.

    But of interest, its a few Democrats, not Republicans, in the California Legislature who are holding up educational assistance to veterans and California National Guard troops. These Democrats are also quick to proclaim they support the troops–they want to support them by bringing them home. Ok, I get that. Problem is, they won’t provide the benefits when they do get home. California is the ONLY state in the country that does not provide tuition waivers for its National Guard forces. The shame.

  2. Bob
    April 22, 2008 at 9:50 am

    California is the ONLY state in the country that does not provide tuition waivers for its National Guard forces.

    But we do provide them for Illegal Aliens.

    Please contact Assemblyman Chuck DeVore and ask him to reintroduce his bill that would have corrected this travesty. Or you can contact your Dem friends who killed his bill in committee and tell them to stop their shameful actions.

  3. Northcountystorm
    April 22, 2008 at 10:36 am

    Bob– You’re wrong. In fact illegal aliens do not get tuition waivers in California. Only citizens and legal residents who meet economic criteria get tuition waivers.

    Devore is a strong supporter of the National Guard but he was doing no favors for them by including a financing mechanism which was a non starter for a majority of the legislature. He wisely agreed to cutting that provision out in committee.

  4. April 22, 2008 at 11:12 am

    Northcountystorm – Thanks for your compliment. They are few and far between.

    With regard to tuition benefits, I acknowledge that while tuition benefits is a related subject and indeed important, it is distinct from the one I raised. Also, I would add that tuition benefits are moot if one is incapable of leaving one’s home — or commits suicide.

  5. Bob
    April 22, 2008 at 11:46 am

    California already gives illegal aliens the same in-state tuition discounts that U.S. citizens who are residents of California receive. Now, the state Assembly has passed a bill that goes a step further and gives illegal aliens the same rights to financial aid as citizens.

    The bill is SB 160 (the “California Dream Act”) and was authored by state senator Gil Cedillo with the assistance of Gloria Romero. It now goes to the Senate for their stamp of approval.

    From this:

    Students who came to the country illegally could apply for state financial aid when they attend California colleges and universities under legislation approved Tuesday by the Assembly in a party-line vote… Supporters said immigrant children who have graduated and completed at least three years of high school in California should not be penalized for their parents’ decision to bring them to the U.S. illegally.
    This explanation is just for the “liberals” out there: When allocating limited resources, someone’s always going to get “penalized”. There is only a limited amount of such financial aid, and there will always be more applicants for that aid than there is aid money.

    So, to put it another way, those supporters think we should give some of those benefits to foreign citizens even if U.S. citizens are “penalized”, and the opponents think we should reserve those benefits for U.S. citizens. If we don’t do that, aren’t we continuing down the dangerous slope of devaluing U.S. citizenship? Those who’ve supported this bill don’t just represent U.S. citizens, they also represent citizens of Mexico. Everyone in the state would be better off if they would renounce their U.S. citizenships and run for office in Mexico.

  6. April 22, 2008 at 11:58 am

    But of interest, it’s a few Democrats, not Republicans, in the California Legislature who are holding up educational assistance to veterans and California National Guard troops.

    NCS, we got off on the wrong foot the other day, but this is important information. Tell us who these Dems are who are holding up the funding, I’ll look up their contact info, and between the OJ and the Liberal OC we should be able to get them to change their tune!

    If just the readers who bothered to vote yes or no on 86ing my blog could get up the same amount of energy to support our troops – why, that would be 125 calls right there!

  7. just...asking?
    April 22, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    CA should/could give the tuition waivers, even thought they are not needed, if only for morale. The feds pick up 100% of these fee’s today for reserve who apply.

    If state implements this CA would pick up the fees. It’s not a lot of money, but with budget issue it’s bad timing.

    The original bill was never intended to pass, DeVore was once again eff…ing with everyone. Provisions of his bill were non-starters. Other than hemp DeVore has been a non-starter!

    But back to the post, Great Job!

    The best support we can give our troops is proper training/equipment and deployment strategies. The latter would include clear mission goals and definition of success. Fighters need a cause and a goal, our troops didn’t sign up to be babysitters (who get shot at).

  8. Northcountystorm
    April 22, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    Bill–I thought you covered well the lousy medical care system that returning vets come home to …and I agreed that was not supporting the troops. Sorry if you thought I was off post. I followed your headline. And by the way, educational benefits can benefit those that can not leave their home(distance education in higher ed now provides opportunities for the homebound and others to obtain degrees and certificates–of course, if you can afford it). And deaths in a combat zone–including suicide–would be covered under some plans for tuition wavers for dependents of returning National Guard troops.

    Bob- First you assert that illegal aliens get tuition waivers and then when confronted with the fact this is not true, you fail to admit you were wrong. Bad form.

    Second, illegal aliens do not automatically qualify to pay in state tuition rates. To qualify for in state tution rates a citizen or legal resident must reside in California for one year. To qualify for in state tuition rates an alien here without legal documents must do ALL of the following 1) attend a California high school for 3 or more years, 2) graduate from a California high school or receive a GED diploma, 3) register or be enrolled at a UC, CSU or community college and 4) certify to the college or university that you will apply for legal residency as soon as eligible to do so. Most of these aliens here illegally who qualify for in state tuition rates were brought by their parents as young children and have attended California schools most of their lives.

    Third, the Assembly has not passed the current SB 160. It sits in the Senate Appropriations Committee where I doubt it will see the light of day this year. And if it does, Governor Schwarzenegger(like his predecessor Governor Davis)vetoed prior bills such as SB 160 and I have no information that the Governor will not do the same assuming it reaches his desk.

    Vern-As for getting off on the wrong foot—-that’s beer under the bridge. But FYI, O’Hares is not my watering hole(too loud, too many Brits)

    As for the info on who is holding this up, it’s the Senate, specifically DonPerata and Jack Scott. With Perata it reportedly is part of some anti-Iraq War portfolio. This misses the point and ignores the fact that California had problems meeting its National guard recruiting quotas BEFORE the Iraq War. With Scott its a philosophical position about keeping tuitition waivers means tested. Scott’s a good guy but he’s wrong here. 49 states get it right–that our men and women who serve their State and country–and therefore have put their lives on hold and at a competitive disadvantage with others-deserve this benefit. Personally, I think the waiver should include those who serve in the Peace Corps as well, but one battle at a time.

  9. April 22, 2008 at 5:16 pm

    Northcountystorm, I apologize for giving you the impression I was landing on you. I guess, being still fairly new to this blogging, I saw what I took to be message creep and likely over-reacted. Yes, education benefits for vets is (are?) important. No question. Some vets can access distance learning from home; some cannot. We need to care for them all. And I know you already knew that. Thanks for your kind words.

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