Bush Admin Caught Screwing Cold War Veterans

 Crime, Politics, Presidency, Society  Comments Off on Bush Admin Caught Screwing Cold War Veterans
Mar 112007
 

Anyone surprised? From the Rocky Mountain Daily News:

Federal officials secretly schemed to limit payouts for sick and dying nuclear weapons workers, including thousands from the Rocky Flats plant outside Denver, newly released documents show….

The U.S. Department of Labor oversees the program to compensate workers whose illnesses can be tied to working with radioactive and other toxic materials at nuclear weapons plants, such as the now-defunct Rocky Flats.

More than 60,000 ill atomic bomb makers, including thousands from Rocky Flats, have sought help. About 16,000 workers nationwide have received a total of $2.6 billion. Far more have been denied or still are waiting for help….

Rep. Mark Udall, D-Colo., said, “Clearly, the administration put dollars above honoring the nation’s promise to the Cold War veterans.”

He added this is “almost worse” than the bad conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. That was negligence, Udall said, where “this seems to be a pretty callous plan that the administration knew could harm sick veterans.”

U.S. Admits Using Chemical Weapons

 Corruption, Politics, War  Comments Off on U.S. Admits Using Chemical Weapons
Nov 172005
 

Uh?? Didn’t we invade Iraq because Hussein did this very sort of thing?

Reversing numerous prior denials, Pentagon officials said yesterday that white phosphorous was in fact "used as a weapon against insurgent strongholds during the battle of Fallujah last November." After first categorically denying any use of phosphorous, the Pentagon said months ago that the chemical was "fired into the air to illuminate enemy positions at night," but "not at enemy fighters." But in the March 2005 edition of the Army’s official Field Artillery Magazine, three Army artillerymen describe using phosphorous in Fallujah "for screening missions at two breeches and, later in the fight, as a potent psychological weapon against the insurgents in trench lines and spider holes when we could not get effects on them with HE [high explosives].  We fired ‘shake and bake’ missions at the insurgents, using WP [white phosphorous] to flush them out and HE to take them out." The use of phosphorous was uncovered in part by a new Italian documentary which depicts "a series of photographs from Fallujah of corpses with the flesh burnt off but clothes still intact," which is reportedly "consistent with the effects of white phosphorus on humans." Washington Post defense analyst William Arkin said yesterday, "What I’m sure of is that the use of white phosphorous is not just some insensitive act. It is not just bad P.R.  It is the ill thought out and panicked use of a weapon in an illegitimate way. It is a representation of a losing strategy."

Fighting Abroad and Fighting At Home

 Congress, Corruption, Politics, War  Comments Off on Fighting Abroad and Fighting At Home
Nov 102005
 

Tomorrow, America will observe Veteran’s Day in honor of the sacrifice and contributions of the more than 25 million men and women who donned the uniform to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces. The occasion will surely be marked with remembrance of, and respect for, a future generation of veterans — the 160,000 soldiers fighting in Iraq and another 18,000 soldiers currently deployed in Afghanistan. Regardless of the respectable differences that exist regarding the Iraq war, the nation is united in honoring a current generation of soldiers who continue to showcase the courage, bravery, and skill worthy of the honor bestowed upon previous generations of American soldiers. There is increasing widespread concern, however, that as soldiers return from their overseas assignments with physical and mental impairments, the Department of Veterans Affairs may not have the capacity to properly serve them. Because "soldiers in Iraq are surviving wounds that in earlier wars would have been fatal," there will continue to be an increasing need for the Bush administration to provide the necessary resources to "care for those who shall have borne the battle," a mission the administration has not yet properly prepared itself to fulfill.

A NEED THAT HAS NOT BEEN MET: National Adjutant of the Disabled American Veterans, Arthur Wilson, recently wrote, "[I]nstead of honoring its commitment to those whose service and sacrifice have kept us free and safe, our government has launched a devastating assault on benefits for America’s veterans." The frustration results from watching an administration incompetently deal with the need to fund veterans health care and disability services. When President Bush released his annual budget in February 2005, Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI) said, "If this budget — and its misguided proposals — were enacted, it would devastate VA health care." The American Legion offered similar criticism. A few months later, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) warned, "There is a train wreck coming in veterans’ health care." Rather than address the issue, VA Secretary Jim Nicholson claimed, "I can assure you that VA does not need" additional funds. But then in June, Nicholson came back to Congress and admitted the department didn’t have the sufficient resources to deal with the incoming number of wounded soldiers. Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) called it an "embarrassment." The Senate then voted to approve an extra $1.5 billion for veterans’ health care. Yet, given the increasing demand for VA services, the need still has not been fully met.

UNPREPARED FOR PTSD: As soldiers return from the battlefront, many are reporting that they are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. "PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that can occur after life-threatening events such as combat. Victims often suffer with nightmares, flashbacks, sleeplessness and anger and feel detached or estranged." As one soldier described his experience, "My nightmares are so intense I woke up one night with my hands round my fiancee’s throat." Studies show 20 to 30 percent of combat vets will suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, and a recent Army study of veterans returning from Iraq suggests that as many as 240,000 could suffer from some degree of PTSD. USA Today reported that more than "one in four U.S. troops have come home from the Iraq war with health problems that require medical or mental health treatment." Veterans receiving disability checks for PTSD jumped 80 percent from 1999 through 2004, from 120,000 to 216,000. That increase alone cost the VA an additional $2.6 billion in benefits." Secretary Nicholson seems to recognize the problem, recently stating that many of the wounded "will be in the VA system for the rest of their lives." But whether the VA is ready to make a lifetime commitment to these veterans remains to be seen.

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