The Disgrace of Military Health Care

In light of recent budget cuts at the state and federal level, benefits for veterans are under attack.  Again.  The Knights Party Veterans League wants American servicemen to get the best treatment possible.  Not second class treatment, and without great delay.  The poor quality of care that female veterans are typically given does not receive as much attention as it should, and yet treatment that is specific for women is also on the “chopping block” to be removed from budgeting.  Our female veterans deserve just as much care as our male veterans.

Seems like a week can’t go by with­out hear­ing some new deficit reduc­tion planwith vet­er­ans’ ben­e­fits in the crosshairs of politi­cians. All the while, these same politi­cians appear more than will­ing for us to “help lib­er­ate” one oil coun­try after another. Con­flicts like these are great for mak­ing head­lines and dis­abled vet­er­ans, but they also take from the lim­ited tax dol­lars needed to care for vet­er­ans after the con­flicts end. has more on this story here.

Female veterans still face significant frustration getting medical care, even in Veterans Affairs facilities with female-specific services, according to a new survey released by the American Legion on Tuesday.
One in four female veterans said the availability of gender-specific health care was poor within the VA system, and more than half felt the sexual trauma services at those facilities were inadequate, according to the report.  You can read more about this at


Reposted from

The Disgrace of Military Health Care

by Jeff Davis

It’s not just Walter Reed Medical Center that’s treating our “wounded heroes” from the Iraq War disgracefully; there’s plenty of incompetence, apathy, poor sanitation and chaos reigning throughout the entire military health care system.

The neocons just love to say they support the troops. Apparently “supporting the troops” doesn’t include quality long term care or clean and sanitary conditions or even a responsive staff at the Walter Reed military hospital. One patient pulled a bandage off his leg and the sight of his injury left him screaming for over an hour. Apparently none of the staff noticed the screaming. A USA Today article notes “The newspaper reported on moldy walls, rats and roaches at the outpatient facility where soldiers are sent after their initial treatment at the main hospital… The panel heard wrenching testimony… ‘My life was ripped apart the day my husband was injured,’ said Annette McLeod, whose husband, Walter, was hit in the head by a steel cargo door while working in Iraq… She said that when hospital officials found out her husband had had trouble with math in high school, they tried to use that to claim he had a learning disability and was mentally retarded, and therefore didn’t qualify for treatment of a brain injury.”

While it’s true the veteran hospitals were in bad shape before the Iraq War, very little has been done to improve them. A prolonged occupation of a hostile country is going to produce lots and lots of wounded soldiers. Adding over 24,000 seriously wounded to a system that wasn’t working is yet another blunder that should have been avoided. The Walter Reed scandal is being compared to the Katrina disaster response.

An astounding 1.5 million service men and women have seen service in Iraq and Afghanistan, and they are coming back with horrible wounds from home-made IEDs and the same kind of psychological scarring that marked Vietnam veterans. Forty per cent of those are National Guard and reservists. The strain on the military’s medical system is almost overwhelming. Those who are considering joining the military because it’s the only way to get medical insurance (of a sort) need to think again.

According to the Washington Post, “Across the country, some military quarters for wounded outpatients are in bad shape…The mold, mice and rot of Walter Reed’s Building 18 compose a familiar scenario for many soldiers back from Iraq or Afghanistan who were shipped to their home posts for treatment. Nearly 4,000 outpatients are currently in the military’s Medical Holding or Medical Holdover companies, which oversee the wounded. Soldiers and veterans report bureaucratic disarray similar to Walter Reed’s: indifferent, untrained staff; lost paperwork; medical appointments that drop from the computers; and long waits for consultations. Sandy Karen was horrified when her 21-year-old son was discharged from the Naval Medical Center in San Diego a few months ago and told to report to the outpatient barracks, only to find the room swarming with fruit flies, trash overflowing and a syringe on the table. ‘The staff sergeant says, “Here are your linens” to my son, who can’t even stand up,’ said Karen, of Brookeville, Md. ‘This kid has an open wound, and I’m going to put him in a room with fruit flies?’ She took her son to a hotel instead.”

The Post goes on, “Capt. Leslie Haines was sent to Fort Knox in Kentucky for treatment in 2004 after being flown out of Iraq. ‘The living conditions were the worst I’d ever seen for soldiers,’ he said. ‘Paint peeling, mold, windows that didn’t work. I went to the hospital chaplain to get them to issue blankets and linens. There were no nurses. You had wounded and injured leading the troops.’” Other reported conditions around the country were asbestos in the barracks (Fort Campbell, KY); bedbugs (Fort Bragg, NC); and various kinds of harassment.

This from a government that shipped twelve billion dollars in cash, 363 tons of $100 bills loaded onto pallets, to Iraq and managed to lose $8 billion of it. Bush and the neocons can literally throw billions of dollars to the desert winds, but they can’t spend any of that money on decent care for the young people who come back mangled from their wars.

Any kids out there who may be naive enough to be considering joining the military should take a good long and hard look at how Uncle Sam keeps his promise to wounded soldiers. VA hospitals have always been notoriously on the bottom rung of American health care. But apparently things are getting worse; the system simply isn’t prepared to handle the new influx of crippled, maimed and shell-shocked GIs coming back from Iraq. Stay at home and take any job you have to, guys. At least you won’t get your arms or legs blown off flipping burgers.


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