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Sunday, August 20, 2006

Veterans Issues: MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: SUPPORTING OUR TROOPS "AND" SUPPORTING BUSH


How many cars have you seen with those magnetic yellow (or red, white and blue) ribbons that read "Support Our Troops?" Supporting our troops is, of course, a sentiment that we can all get behind. I personally feel very strongly about this---the troops deserve our unwavering support. These man and women are performing their duties with honor and valor, in the most extreme conditions, putting their lives on the line so that we might enjoy the many liberties that are all too often taken for granted by the American people.

I must insist, however, that "Support Our Troops" means just that---that we support our troops. This is a completely seperate and distinct issue from whether we support the Bush Administration's policies---especially in regards tohow this Administration has treated our troops, and how the Administration has handled the war in Iraq.

How many of the cars with those magnetic ribbons also have bumper stickers supporting President Bush? That really bugs me. The people who believe that they can support our troops while simultaneously supporting President Bush are either simply uninformed---totally, completely, catastrophically uninformed---as just to how terrible the Administration has been to our troops, or they are using the phrase "Support Our Troops" as a euphemism for "Support Bush Policies," which would be outrageous---a blatant attempt to use the weel-intentioned support we all feel for our troops for partisan political gain. I would argue that if you support President Bush, you support policies that actually do great harm to our troops. To demonstrate why this is true, I offer the following summary of President Bush's policies regarding our troops:

In a time of WAR,

1. He opposed new tax provisions that would have helped military homeowners, reservists who had traveled long distances for training, and parents deployed in combat zones.

2. His 2005 Budget Proposal cut veterans' health care.

3. He opposed full health benefits for reservists and guardsmen serving in Iraq and Afghanastan.

4. He supported closing Walter Reed Army Hospital.

5. He supported closing seven VA hospitals.

6. He opposed increasing our veterans' health care benefits by $1B.

7. He proposed doubling the cost of prescription drugs for veterans.

8. He proposed cutting our troops' combat pay by 30%.

9. He proposed cutting assistance to our troops' families by 60%.

10. He opposed an amendment to the 2005 Bankruptcy bill that would have exempted military personnel returning from a combat zone from the fees for the credit counseling required by the bill.

11. He opposed an amendment to the 2005 Supplemental Defense Authorization bill that would have added $1.9B to the VA system. (the system ran out of money in June of 2005; Congress had to pass an emergency spending authorization for the system to remain open)

12. He instituted "Stop-Loss," preventing troops whose enlistments had run out from leaving the military. (this amounts to a "back-door-draft" and undermines the notion of an all-volunteer military).
13. Over 2 years into the war, the Bush Administration had still not provided proper armor for the vehicles used by our troops, forcing our troops to rummage through junkyards looking for sheets of metal they could bolt to the outside of their vehicles.

14. He cut funding for VA staff that evaluate health care and disability benefits claims at a time when the number of these claims were rising dramaticlly due to the wars in Iraq and Afghanastan, creating a backlong that forces our veterans to waits month---or, in some cases, years---before those claims are resolved.

15. Under President Bush, more and more of the families of our Reservists and National Guard are having to declare bankruptcy as a result of their service to our country.

16. Under President Bush, wounded soldiers are charged for their meals while they recover from their injuries in military hospitals.

17. Under President Bush, the final paychecks sent to the families of our soldiers killed in combat are docked for the number of days the soldier was dead.

18. The Pentagon has identified over 330 troops hit with military debts after being wounded in combat in Iraq and Afghanastan. This "financial friendly fire," instituted under President Bush, includes being charged for equipment (Kevlar helmets, rucksacks, etc.) not properly accounted for after their battlefield injuries, being given unreasonably short notice on having to return large lump sums of "combat pay" inadvertently paid to them while they were recovering in military hospitals (and were therefore no longer in a "combat zone), etc. Many wounded troops have even been aggressively hounded by collection agencies while learning to live without an arm or leg, and now have derogatory information on their credit reports.

19. In October of 2005, or about two and one-half years into the Iraq war, the Bush Administration finally committed to reimbursing troops for body armor they (or their families) had purchased on their own---armor that should have been provided to them by the military in the first place, but....

20. In January 2006, a secret Marine Corps report determined that 80% of the Marines killed in Iraq and Afghanastan between April of 2004 and June of 2005 could have survived if their body armor was more effective. Some troops have complained about the body armor issued by the military, the "Interceptor OTV" system, arguing that it limits mobility and has gaps in critical areas. Many have opted to use their own money (about $6,000) to purchase a different brand of body armor, Pinnacle's "Dragon Skin," which they consider to be far superior in both ballistic protection and in mobility. However, the Bush Administration has actually threatened our troops that if they are killed in battle while wearing any body armor other than the "Interceptor OTV" body armor issued by the military, their families "could" lose the $400,000 death benefit they would normally be entitled to.

All of this is in addition to the Bush Administration policy of pre-emptive war, which sent our troops into harm's way without sufficient cause. A simple test we can use to determine whether there is sufficient cause for war is that the reason for going to war should be obvious---it should not take a year-long "PR" campaign to convince the American people that we need to go to war! After Pearl Harbor, no one doubted the need to go to war. After the attacks of 9/11, no one doubted the need to go to war (I supported---and still support---the war in Afghanastan, but I wish President Bush would have put the effort he has out into Iraq---a troop level around 150,000 and $300B spent over 3 years---into Afghanastan and the search for Osama bin Laden instead).

The above list does not include the Bush Administration's poor handling of the Iraq occupation, the apparent inability to eliminate the insurgency, or the complete lack of planning for getting the troops out of Iraq. President Bush keeps saying we are going to stay in Iraq until "the job's done," but he has offered no explanation as to just what that phrase means. How will we know? What benchmarks have to be reached for the job to be considered "done?" We (and the Iraqi people) reached the big ones: the January, 2005 election was an incredible success (seriously---kudos to the Iraqi people on that one!) Phenomenal turnout. The new Iraq Constitution has been drafted, and was then ratified in yet another amazing turnout. Great! On December 15th, 2005, the first Parliamentary elections under the new Constitution took place---the Sunnis even participated in large numbers this time---and from that Parliament was chosen a new Prime Minister, who set up a Government. Wow---Democracy has taken root in Iraq! (But now is up for grabs because the Bush Administration can't get a hold on security, which will lead to civil war, which has already started!)


The Mission has been accomplished!

So why aren't we able to leave? Is there some other benchmark that must be met? No one in the Bush Administration seems to be able to give specific answers on this, and Haliburton is currently building 14 "enduring" (meaning "permanent") bases in Iraq. It kind of makes you wonder if we're ever leaving, eh? Why won't Bush give our troops a straight answer?

All of these policies are widely known and have been published in the press, meaning that anyone who supports President Bush also supports, by extension, each and every one of the policies listed above, and therefore cannot possibly claim to support our troops. If you voted for Bush in 2004, you voted to continue these policies, and you have done great harm to our troops in the process. Perhaps you didn't know---you didn't realize how significantly your vote would harm the troops serving our country. Perhaps you believed the now-discredited "Swiftboat Veterans for Truth," or you just coulnd't stand John Kerry. Whatever.

ALL I CAN SAY, IS IF YOU REALLY SUPPORT OUR "TROOPS," THEN YOU NEED TO BE BETTER INFORMED ABOUT HOW OUR TROOPS WILL BE TREATED WHEN YOU CAST YOUR VOTES (FOR THE REPUBLICANS).


It matters

Frankly, I find the misuse of the "Support Our Troops" sentiment by our elected leaders (and their appointees) to be outrageous and disrespectful to the troops---as stated earlier, it is an attempt to use the well-intentioned support we "all" feel for our troops for partisan gain. Those who would manipulate the honorable sentiments of well-intentioned Americans as a means of actually harming our troops should hang their heads in shame.

What policies would support our troops? That's easy---the following list is fairly obvious and straightforward:

1. Pay the troops as much as our nation can possibly afford.

2. Give our troops every tax break that we can think of.

3. Provide the troops with the best training ever devised by military minds.

4. Arm them with the best equipment and weapons we can develop---"before" they enter a combat zone.

5. When troops are wounded in combat, provide them with world-class medical attention, at no financial cost of any kind to the troops.

6. Support our military families at a level that guarantees that, "at the very least," no military family will ever have to declare bankruptcy as a result of serving our country.

7. Most important, we should honor our troops' willingness to put their lives on the line for our country by only asking them to go into harm's way when it is "ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY"---and "NEVER" just for our leaders' economic or political gain.

The Bush Administration has done none of these things, AND OUR TROOPS ARE PAYING THE PRICE!

YOU HAVE A CHOICE TO MAKE: DO YOU SUPPORT OUR TROOPS, OR DO YOU SUPPORT PRESIDENT BUSH? (...and the Republicans?)

YOU CAN'T SUPPORT BOTH!


***It's not Bush and/or his Republican Congress that is giving you your freedoms, ( as a matter of fact, Bush is "unconstitutionally" taking away your liberties!) it is a veteran that gave you those rights! So think about it when you go to the polls this November. All of those who support Bush, do not support our troops, you are actually doing great harm on them! It is our troops' fighting to keep us free, no Bush!


Discourse and Diatribe dot com
By: David Bleidistel
2006









4 Comments:

  • At 2:01 PM, Anonymous Monkeyman said…

    To the right these are the facts on the record. Any one who thinks they are not are a far right RNC talker and should just go away . and let real veterans put out the truth. Facts are real Your Talking points are bull. God Bless Our Troops and Vote the cut and ran people out of office. When it was their time to serve they cut an ran. While we bled in Vietnam.

     
  • At 6:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thank you for these comments-

    I am a veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan, and am currently serving in Iraq. I am in no position to debate policy of the current administration; after all, I did sign up for this, right? However, I do wish that my troopers could receive support that goes beyond a yellow car magnet, or undying alegiance to one political party or the next.
    I would be extremely interested to know if the public really understands how little an American Soldier makes when compared with the contractors who rarely, if ever, leave the secure confines of the American base. Truthfully, whether or not you agree with fighting in Iraq doesn't matter to most American Soldiers. If we die, our statistics are listed on the ticker of a news network; but we understand what we do is dangerous business and accept that much. I'm glad to know that Congress thinks our efforts are worth a meager 2.2% payraise next year.

    Again, thanks for providing a forum in which to vent for a few minutes.

     
  • At 10:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW WHO STARTED THE CUT AND RUN. I HAVE NEVER EVER HEARD ANYONE SAY THESE WORDS BUT RNC TALKING HEADS. To me it's a buzz word that don't make sense. i feel that we sould start saying "stay and die" that what W is really saying to our troops. Our troop need to have the best of the best in heatlhcare and rehab. If congress can have the best then out troops that are being killed for our country should have better than them. I like all the ads on TV about the mans son that was on one of the airplanes on 9/11. He says to fight them over there than over here but he don't understand that out troops is fighting and dieing over there everyday and if they come home many have lost there JOBS, Homes and famly because the Congress(both parties) and "W" don't really support out troops. THERE WAS A SONG BACK IN THE FIRST IRAQ WAR THAT SAID" GOD IS WATCHING US" WELL HE IS AND I KNOW THATS HE IS NOT HAPPY WITH WHAT WERE DOING. 1000'S OF IRAQ PEOPLE DIE EVERY MONTH. FOOD ,HEAT AND OTHER BASIC NEEDS ARE NOT BEING MET. OUR TROOPS HAVE TO BUY THERE OWN BASIC NEED ITEMS. VA HOSPITAL DON'T HAVE THE MONEY TO TREAT OUR TROOPS BUT HOW CAN WE SAY WE SUPPORT OUR TROOPS BUT TREAT THEM LIKE DOGS. JUST FOR THE RECORD I VOTE BOTH PARTIES FOR THE BEST PERSON NOT EVER DOWN PARTIES LINES.

     
  • At 1:27 AM, Anonymous Julie Tackett said…

    Hi, first of all it's nice to see a blog about Veteran and War that is PINK. Bring a woman's perspective into this. Thanks for the article.

    Julie Tackett

     

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