Way To “Support� Our Troops!

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For, those conditions which include: dysfunctional elevators, stained carpets, cheap mattresses, mouse droppings and rat infestation symbolize the hypocrisy of the Bush White House. Is this how they purport to “support the troops?� Remember, this is an administration that enacted tax breaks—even after the Katrina debacle—to give more money to the filthy rich.

 

Over the course of the last four years we have repeatedly heard the words we must “support our troops.” Early on, the Bush Administration called anyone who criticized this war as “unpatriotic” and an enemy of the troops. Given what we now know of the deplorable, dilapidated, rundown conditions of neglect at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the irony here is more than a little galling.
    
For, those conditions which include: dysfunctional elevators, stained carpets, cheap mattresses, mouse droppings and rat infestation symbolize the hypocrisy of the Bush White House. Is this how they purport to “support the troops?” Remember, this is an administration that enacted tax breaks—even after the Katrina debacle—to give more money to the filthy rich.
    
Billions of dollars have been spent on the Iraq war. Additionally, thanks to no-bid contracts much of that money has made its way into the coffers of Halliburton—who according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO)—has overcharged soldiers for meals. Question: why isn’t anyone pushing for legislation to force these leeches to give back some of those hefty profits to build the facilities that these soldiers recovering from wounds in the hospital deserve?
    
Once, when a soldier addressed the issue of lack of equipment and body armor he was told by then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, “You have to go to war with the army you have, not the one you want.” The president has spoken about the need for Americans to sacrifice something in this so-called war on terror. Over 3,000 Americans have paid the ultimate price in blood. But, what have Bush and the economic elites in this country sacrificed? If this Administration had any scruples the money from those tax-breaks would have gone to securing the needs of these soldiers.
    
However, the truth is they don’t give a damn about these soldiers or their families. The soldiers are nothing but expendable pawns to be used to further corporate geopolitical aims. These politicians care about profits not people—pawns on a chess board. The fiasco now emerging from Walter Reed is only the tip of the iceberg regarding the scandalous disregard our government shows for soldiers and veterans.
    
For all the talk of “supporting the troops,” many soldiers lost income by going into the army. According to a 2003 GAO study 40% of the country’s part-time soldiers lose income when called to active duty. This reality has prevented many from being “all they can be” and has led to a host of social ills for soldiers including the horrors of homelessness, after they’ve returned from the killing fields.
    
In fact, according to the Veterans Administration, at times, during 2004 there were between 400,000 to 500,000 homeless veterans. The Veterans Administration says that on a given night there are at least 200,000 homeless veterans. In New York, the number of homeless veterans is around 13,000 and in New Jersey it hovers at 7,000.
    
Why isn’t this disgrace given maximum media coverage? Why isn’t this White House being asked the vital questions regarding this treason being perpetrated upon veterans? True, homelessness among veterans was a problem before this administration. Politicians from both parties have failed veterans miserably. But given this administration’s propensity of talking about “supporting the troops” they have worsened the problem. Yet, why should we expect a bunch of draft dodgers and chicken hawks to have empathy for these soldiers?
    
Bush touts his supposed National Guard service. But we must rightly ask what service? It is obvious that he chose the Guard so he wouldn’t have to fight in Vietnam. Moreover, there is still the little matter of all those unanswered questions regarding his AWOLs.
    
Then there is VP Dick Cheney. Here is a man that had the temerity to question John Kerry’s courage. He likes to talk tough about not “cutting and running.” Yet, Cheney took five deferments so he wouldn’t have to face the horror of the very bombs and bullets that he has subjected thousands of Americans soldiers to face. 

The horror stories coming from Walter Reed shouldn’t surprise anyone. Transparency should be a fundamental function of any democracy. But from the start of the war this criminally secretive administration has tried to keep a lid on what was going on at hospitals like Walter Reed, as well as at Dover Air-force Base where soldiers are flown in under the cover of darkness with broken bodies, lost limbs and damaged lives.


Benjamin is a member of The Black Star News’ Editorial Board.


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