From Letting Our Veterans Down by Aaron Glantz
The sorry state of care of American veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan is not accidental. It’s on purpose. Since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the Bush Administration has fought every effort to improve care for wounded and disabled veterans.These stories have come out in drips and drabs since the Bushistas took control and the mass media chooses to ignore them. The bush lapdogs in congress support cutting back on the VA, yet claim to support the troops more than the Democrats.
“The Department of Defense went to war in Iraq. They hired hundreds of thousands of extra soldiers from the Guard and Reserve to make the military larger so that they could do the invasion of Iraq,” noted Paul Sullivan, a veteran of the first Gulf War who was working as a high-ranking civil servant at the Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington when America invaded Iraq.
“However, the Department of Veterans Affairs, they didn’t hire more doctors, and they didn’t hire more bureaucrats to help them with their paperwork.
Indeed, as the country prepared for war, the Bush administration was actively involved in scaling back veterans’ benefits. In January 2003, the VA announced that, as a cost cutting-move, it would start turning away middle-income veterans who apply for medical benefits.
The administration also proposed making the VA’s prescription drug benefit less generous, increasing co-payments for many veterans from $7 to $15 and requiring a $250 annual fee as well.
President Bush even proposed eliminating disability payments for veterans who abuse drugs or alcohol, despite the fact that substance abuse has long been connected to psychological trauma caused by the horrors of combat.
All in all, the Bush administration proposed cutting hundreds of jobs at the Veterans Administration at precisely the time programs should have been expanded to care for a tidal wave of troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
As a result, for example, the number of people charged with reviewing and approving veterans’ disability claims has actually dropped since the United States invaded Iraq in 2003. According to the American Federation of Government Employees, the VA employed 1,392 veterans service representatives in June 2007, compared to 1,516 in January 2003.
What was the president thinking? Read on
Just another reason why I tell kids not to join the military under this administration.