Who Hijacked Our Country

Saturday, July 21, 2007

One Veteran’s View of the Veterans’ Administration

Here is one Iraqmire veteran’s account of his experiences with the V.A. It’s written by David Botti, who served as a rifleman with the Marine Corps in Iraq in 2003.

On his first post-deployment evaluation at a VA hospital, he was screened by a nurse because the doctor was “too busy.” Halfway through his interview the nurse “suggested I change one of my answers, or I would be spending all day waiting to speak with doctors in the psych department.” He walked out as soon as the “evaluation” was over and never went back, realizing this was the wrong place to be looking for help.

What country is this again? One of the most appalling things about the Soviet Union was that political dissidents were sometimes locked up in mental institutions. Are we making progress or what? At this rate, Russian conservatives will be saying to their own demonstrators “yeah, why don’t you go over to America and try that?”

Botti doesn’t slam outgoing VA Secretary Jim Nicholson. He says Nicholson inherited a terrible situation at the VA and his successor probably won't make much difference either. Nicholson is (was) one of the few members of the Bush Administration who isn't a chickenhawk; he's a Vietnam veteran with a Bronze Star and a Combat Infantryman Badge. But in a way this makes his failures even more maddening (unspeakable conditions at VA hospitals, the identity theft from millions of veterans); veterans are supposed to take care of other veterans.

Botti seems jaded about how fucked up and hopeless the VA is. “Secretary Nicholson's departure is significant only in that it will hardly make a difference for the average veteran. He will leave, someone else will come in—the confirmation hearings may or may not be heated—and in the end nothing will really change.”

At the end of his article, Botti gives a heartbreaking account of one of his fellow veterans and the hard times he's fallen on. And then he says “Do you think he cares who the secretary of Veterans Affairs is? I doubt it. Just get him some help.”

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Blogger Kitchen Window Woman said...

The battle for the care of our veterans is and always has been a huge one. To put it bluntly "this country doesn't give a shit about it's veterans"! Those who enlist are expendable - they are used up, broken down, and thrown away by those who wage and profit from Americas perpetual wars.

It's a hell of a mess and we have to clean it up for the sake of the thousands with PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Cancer from exposure to depleted uranium.

I'm so mad I could spit - not on a vet - on the damn president!

July 21, 2007 at 6:22 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Kitchen Window Woman: You're exactly right, this country "doesn't give a shit about its veterans." The louder the yell "Support Our Troops!" and the more yellow ribbons they have on their vehicles, the less they care about soldiers and veterans who are disabled.

They should've sent Bush to a VA hospital to have his rectal surgery.

July 21, 2007 at 7:00 PM  
Blogger Larry said...

Nickle Jim was told about Walter Reed by several families months before it was brought up in the press.

Nickle Jim, a former Chairman of the National Republican Party, was another veteran who forgot where he came from, and ignores those he left behind.

July 21, 2007 at 8:31 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Larry: Yeah, I'm sure he knew about Walter Reed long before the scandal broke. And he doesn't even have the excuse of being a chickenhawk like the rest of Bush's cronies.

July 21, 2007 at 8:37 PM  
Blogger Mentarch said...

Excellent post, Tom - thank you! :-D

Say - can I "borrow" Iraqmire? That's a *great* term. I would adapt it to "Afghanmire", with me being being Canadian and all ... ;-)

Kitchen window woman: aye! Thank you for making the distinction - "spitting" (or related figurative acts) has to be done on those who not only initiated said quagmires (Afghanistan *and* Iraq), but as well on those who facilitated and enabled the same quagmires ...


July 21, 2007 at 11:24 PM  
Blogger LET'S TALK said...

Tom Harper I did a post on Rep. Hare getting on VA Secretary Jim Nicholson. It seems that our Veterans, are catching pure hell just to get some kind of help with what a war causes. What a shame

July 21, 2007 at 11:57 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Mentarch: Thanks. Sure, use "Iraqmire" all you want. I didn't invent it; I just use it all the time.

Let's Talk: Yes, the treatment of veterans is definitely shameful and disgraceful. This should bring outrage from everybody regardless of their political views. I'll check out your post.

July 22, 2007 at 12:32 AM  
Blogger Suzie-Q (S-Q) said...

Excellent post Tom! :)

July 22, 2007 at 4:00 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Susie-Q(S-Q): Thanks.

July 22, 2007 at 4:19 PM  
Blogger PoliShifter said...

it's just history repeating.

We abandoned our Vietnam Vets, leaving tens of thousands homeless to wander the streets with mental disabilities.

The others with serious health issues as a result of Agent Orange exposure were denied claims for decades until after the military decided to finally come clean.

By then, those who were seriously affected were alread dead.

I can't speak for how Veterans of WW2 and the Korean War were treated.

But we treated Vietnam Vets horribly and in many cases still do.

We also turned our backs on those from Desert Storm. There are still tens of thousands (maybe hundreds of thousands) of sick soldiers as a result of that war.

Now we have Iraq Veterans coming home and getting the same shitty treatment.

My guess is that in 5 to 10 years when the VA is being crushed by the number of Vets it has to contend with, that Republicans will be the ones pushing to cut funds to the VA as the costs will raise astronomically.

I hear Republicans now: "Many of those soldiers are able bodied, they should get a job and not rely on the U.S. Government for handouts..."

These will be the same assholes that today claim to "support the troops"

July 22, 2007 at 10:30 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

PoliShifter: Very good analysis. It's Vietnam all over again, just like you said. It's been such a cliche for decades that Vietnam veterans are a huge percentage of every group that the general public hates: the homeless, drug addicts, hippies, street people, you name it. These same narrow-minded bigots who hate all the marginalized groups are the ones who are now yelling "Support Our Troops!" And like you say, these same people ten years from now will be yelling "get a job!" to all the disabled Iraq vets that they once "supported."

July 23, 2007 at 12:37 AM  
Blogger Leo said...

Good post! The VA is in sad shape and has been for years, which definitely shows just where this country's priorities are. Americans talk a great game of loving and supporting the troops, but when it comes down to actually getting up and doing something to make sure our troops are treated well, it's just too much trouble for most Americans. Our government is pathetic on this issue, but the average american holds some responsibility, because if there was a huge outcry of "this is unacceptable" our politicians would be forced to face the issue instead of ignoring it.

July 23, 2007 at 12:42 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Leo: Thanks. Yes, the VA is in terrible shape and the American public shares a lot of the blame. Veterans would get much better treatment if everybody who has a flag or yellow ribbon on their vehicle would show the same concern for injured soldiers and veterans.

I subscribe to American Legion magazine (I'm a member). About half of their articles are about the disgraceful treatment of veterans, and the other half are about those America-hating war protesters who are undermining the troops. They don't seem to make the connection that when soldiers come home injured or disabled, the people who are most concerned about them are those pinko war protesters who "hate America."

July 23, 2007 at 1:18 PM  

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