Monday, February 19, 2007

Tragedy of Wounded Soldiers Returning from Iraq and Afghanistan

The Washington Post has two heart-wrenching articles about soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. The first, about Walter Reed Army Medical Center, showcases the inability of the Army to take care of its own in their time of need. Soldiers are kept in limbo for months, even years, after they have been out of inpatient treatment. Lost paperwork, computer systems that don't interact with each other.

The second is about the lucky few who get to stay at a nice hotel on post, Mologne House. But still, the soldiers struggle to find their way--to get their disability support from the Army, to cope with the aftermath of ware, to get discharged or given an assignment.

Even among the gazebos and tranquility of the Walter Reed campus in upper Northwest Washington, manhole covers are sidestepped for fear of bombs and rooftops are scanned for snipers.

The same fight is being waged by their friends, who aren't the young warriors in Army posters but middle-age men who left factory jobs to deploy to Iraq with their Guard units. They were fit enough for war, but now they are facing teams of Army doctors scrutinizing their injuries for signs of preexisting conditions, lessening their chance for disability benefits.

Soldiers are being denied disability as doctors claim that their conditions were pre-existing.

And the government wants to put more soldiers out in Iraq. We can't even take care of the ones that are coming home now, how are we going to take care of the rest that will surely come?

"He was okay to sacrifice his body, but now that it's time he needs some help, they are not here,"

I want to cry. I wanted to shred my print copy of the Post, to make the problem disappear. I have friends in the Army and the other armed forces. I want better for them. I pray that they are safe and that they return home with as few bad effects as possible. I pray for every soldier and his/her family. I am thankful every day that my husband was medically discharged from ROTC before he was commissioned. I do not know how the military wives handle it; it is hard enough being a friend. Worst of all, I do not know how to help, how to bring forth change. The beaurocracy of the government and the military and the DoD is immense. Change is slow, and literally, takes an act of Congress at times.

I am depressed.

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