Friday, March 04, 2005

Bush AWOL Again

Mark Hyman’s latest “Point,” entitled “Volunteer, Fight, Get Forgotten,” rightly points out the despicable treatment of our Guard and Reservists when returning from Iraq. Unfortunately, Hyman misses the larger issue.

Hyman’s “solution” for the problem of a poorly-functioning benefits system for these vets is to privatize it. After all, as any of you who have to deal with for-profit health insurance companies know, private companies have no bureaucratic mumbo jumbo to deal with and are always a model of efficiency. [Editor’s note: my tongue is firmly affixed to my cheek.]

I suggest a different solution. Perhaps the Commander in Chief and his subordinates in the White House could actually make our veterans a priority. The problem our veterans face isn’t simple Pentagon red tape; it’s an administration that’s happy to send them to fight and die (as well as use them for the occasional campaign photo op), but that doesn’t give a rip about them once they’ve served their purpose.

When it comes to our veterans, both Guard and regular duty, the president is guilty of dereliction of duty. Here are just a few examples:

The problems in processing benefits might have something to do with the
fact that the Bush’s 2005 budget cut the number of staff members at the Veteran’s Administration who process claims.

Lack of sufficient healthcare staff has caused many
Guard and Reservists to languish in hot cement barracks while waiting to finally get treatment.

The 2006 budget proposes
cutting 3,700 more VA healthcare staff.

Bush opposed
allowing National Guard members to participate in the Pentagon’s health insurance system, which is a particular hardship to the roughly 20% of Guard members who have no health insurance at all.

Bush’s 2006 budget
proposes cutting veteran’s benefits by $910 million, including funding for nursing homes and research on prosthetics for disabled vets.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars calls Bush’s 2006 budget proposal for veterans “disappointing.” John Furgess, the VFW's commander-in-chief says “it's clear that the proper funding of veterans health care and other programs is not an administration priority."

Peter S. Gaytan, director of health care and benefits at the American Legion, charges Bush with trying to "balance the V.A. budget on the backs of America's veterans."

Bush has increased the amount of money military members and their families must pay out of pocket for prescription drugs.

Undersecretary of Defense, David Chu, recently claimed that
"Congress has gone too far in expanding military retiree benefits" and that benefits to those who fought for our country are hampering the military’s ability to fight.

According to
Inside Defense[7/12/04], Guard and Reserves face a $280 million dollar budget shortfall that will further erode the minimal training they receive before deploying to Iraq.

The Bush administration has cut funding for schools that serve the children of those who live on or near military bases. The administration also cut military housing funding by $1.5 billion and blocked attempts to make up this shortfall by reducing the tax cuts to millionaires by $5,000.

According to
Army Times, Bush requested rolling back danger pay (from $250 to $150) and family separation allowances (from $250 to $100) for troops in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Stop Loss (a.k.a. the “backdoor draft”) program keeps Guard and regular troops in the field long after they have fulfilled their commitments and are entitled to be discharged.

Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld cannot be bothered to personally sign letters of condolence to families of fallen troops. He has a machine do it for him.

The president has yet to attend the funeral of any U.S. soldier killed in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Volunteered, fought, and forgotten indeed.

And that’s The Counteproint.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Cost of the War in Iraq
(JavaScript Error)
To see more details, click here.