Tuesday, February 20, 2007

On all counts, Bush Administration Fails our Men and Women in Uniform

Now that we actually have a Congress that understands its role of oversight, we're learning just how badly the Bush Administration has bungled the War in Iraq. From start to finish, the men and women in our military are getting shortchanged. It's absolutely appalling.

Congressman Jack Murtha is introducing legislation that would prevent the Department of Defense from sending troops that are not properly equipped or fully trained into combat situations. What a novel idea! Frankly, I can't believe that BushCo has been putting troops in danger without either the proper training or equipment. That's a gross dereliction of duty on the part of the Administration. This legislation should be addressed immediately. The message is simple and we should NOT allow Republicans to frame it any other way: the United States Congress will not send our men and women into battle without proper training and equipment.

Today, Steve Clemons posted an interesting take on recruitment practices in the Military versus the debate over discharging gays and lesbians under the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. Apparently, the Bush Administration would rather have a felon defending our freedoms than a gay man who is highly educated and speaks multiple languages. Talk about screwed up priorities!

In Sunday's Washington Post, we learned about the awful conditions that wounded soldiers are enduring at the so-called "flagship" of all Army Hospitals, Water Reed. Holes in ceilings, black mold, and cockroaches are just the beginning. Here's what the situation is like:

The common perception of Walter Reed is of a surgical hospital that shines as the crown jewel of military medicine. But 5 1/2 years of sustained combat have transformed the venerable 113-acre institution into something else entirely -- a holding ground for physically and psychologically damaged outpatients. Almost 700 of them -- the majority soldiers, with some Marines -- have been released from hospital beds but still need treatment or are awaiting bureaucratic decisions before being discharged or returned to active duty.

Farther down in that article, we learn that the White House is more concerned about the image of an amputee sitting in the front row of a ceremony than they are the amputees themselves. It's disgusting.

David tangled with Walter Reed's image machine when he wanted to attend a ceremony for a fellow amputee, a Mexican national who was being granted U.S. citizenship by President Bush. A case worker quizzed him about what he would wear. It was summer, so David said shorts. The case manager said the media would be there and shorts were not advisable because the amputees would be seated in the front row.

" 'Are you telling me that I can't go to the ceremony 'cause I'm an amputee?' " David recalled asking. "She said, 'No, I'm saying you need to wear pants.' "

David told the case worker, "I'm not ashamed of what I did, and y'all shouldn't be neither." When the guest list came out for the ceremony, his name was not on it.

John Aravosis, in a post at AmericaBlog, shows how disturbing our treatment of veterans is. Lack of Medical care, budget cuts, lack of access to mental health care, and long waiting lists at hospitals only scratch the surface of how low a priority veterans are for this Administration.

I could go on and on, but the facts are simple. From start to finish, the Bush Administration has failed our men and women in uniform. All along the way, he has used them for political gain. At the same time, he sends them into battle unprepared, offers sub-standard health care to the wounded, and slashes budgets for veterans.

Cross Posted at Huffington Post