Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Administration Imitates Art

It seems that we are constantly being reminded of the similarity between “art” and reality… at least in this current administration. For example, the events of September 2001 were horrific, but what we heard from the administration officials, who were incapable it seems not only of imagination but also of speaking the truth, was incredulity that this could happen. How many times did we hear someone from the in-crowd say “who could have imagined that someone would take airplanes and use them to fly into buildings!” Tom Clancy foresaw that eventuality in not one but two novels - Debt of Honor, 1994 and Executive Orders, 1996. But that’s old news to those who follow the news. Someone in one agency I heard had hired film and TV writers to help come up with potential scenarios for training purposes – I don’t know whatever became of that but at least they chose people who have some imaginative competence.

But again, I find myself seeing similarity between “art” and reality. Many years ago, there was a Star Trek the Next Generation episode where a man and some of his fellow prisoners escaped from a prison colony. He was brought on board the Enterprise and it eventually came out that he and his fellow prisoners had been trained and genetically modified to be optimum warriors. These warriors fought the society’s wars and when it was time to go home, there was no place for them. Those that created them did not want to take the time or devote the resources to healing them, making it so they could fit back into society without being a danger to themselves and everyone else because of their extraordinary modifications, training, experiences . . . So society’s leaders rationalized it was all for the best and put them in a colony where they dealt only with each other. That was their reward – not welcome back heroes, but thanks now go away where we don’t have to be reminded.

Perhaps it is not as closely analogous, yet listening to and reading the articles written by Dana Priest in the Washington Post about the horrendous conditions our wounded are placed in for rehabilitation and convalescence, horrified me and brought back the lessons from that long ago Star Trek episode. You see, we have improved medical techniques, battlefield triage, wounded evacuation, to such a degree that deaths are way below what they would have been one or two wars ago like say Viet Nam, but our wounded have increased ten fold. The facilities are overwhelmed with injuries that are not only horrendous, both psychologically and physically, but require complex and comprehensive long term care. There are more coming everyday, forcing those that aren’t ready to go home into another facility for rehab.

One such facility was detailed in this article… affiliated with the renowned Walter Reed Medical Center, it’s an old hotel across the street where they are currently housing 700 convalescent wounded soldiers. This building known as Building 18 is infested with rats and cockroaches; there is mould in the rooms; there is dry wall peeling off the ceilings and walls; showers are rotting to the degree you can see the bathtub in the room above when you take a shower. And NONE of this was being addressed until this story hit the stands – then crews started going in and cleaning it up and repairing the drywall. Why did none of the vaunted visitors, senators, cabinet secretaries, White House officials, et al see these conditions?

This administration in an effort to at least partially pay for the debacle that is Iraq is cutting back on VA funds, talking about closing bases that are medical facilities around the country, leaving so many of our wounded untended, and incapable of getting to a facility for the help/treatment they require. It was left to private donations to build a hospital in Texas – the government wouldn’t do it. It feels like if they can’t be patched up well enough to be cycled back in… then they take what they get.

The story is worse than what I have detailed above; there is so much more wrong being perpetrated on our wounded – but we are told we must support our troops! Tell me, where is the support from the administration – from those that created the situation that caused the wounds – that continues to perpetuate it?

Is this how we repay those who gave their best along with time out of their lives, psychological well-being, arms, legs, arms, etc.? Is this the way this administration thinks you should treat your heroes! Is this supporting the troops???


marybishop said...

That Washington Post article made me sick. We keep hearing about the new amputee hospital that's state of the art, while these poor soldiers are being housed in a kennel.

With the surge in troops, there will be so many more ripped up and torn soldiers returning...and to what?

EvilChime said...

Hi Mary -nice to have this conversation with you :). I don't know about the coverage this is getting up there, but down here it is major news finally!!!! And the broadcasters like Olbermann, Imus, etc. are really harping on it along with those on Progressive Radio...
What is even more shameful is that it took this article to move in an "army" of repair folks to finally address it. And don't you think it is virtually criminal that the Intrepid state of the art hospital that was recently opened in San Antonio was opened with private money a lot of it raised by Imus from his listeners! Where are the chicken hawks that sent our kids, husbands, wives, etc. to war? Why aren't THEY taking care of them??? One talk show host, Ed Schultz, today wanted to know why W was in TN talking about health care today when he could have been at Walter Reed with his entourage pointing out the shame, and rolling heads to get stuff done! :(

marybishop said...

W is a wuss. Maybe when the draft comes back..there are new rumblings of a draft with two choices: combat or home stationed assignments... people will wise up.