Thursday, October 20, 2011

Veterans, the Human Rubble of Our Wars

Not quite in toto but almost. From Other Words:

[Back those troops
Where e'er they roam;
But let them suffer
When they're home.

But fast-forward to their return from the front. Many vets disembark at Andrews Air Force Base in boxes, others on gurneys, lots more in wheelchairs. These don't make it onto TV. Neither do those who carry the images of gory bodies or repressed guilt as tiny cancer-like cells in their brains. All too often these cells metastasize into explosive violence or solitary suicide.

For those who survive the transition to home, a new war begins, this time with our government. The government is eager to dodge the inconvenient costs of caring for the same lads it earlier lured into war. It's also reluctant to acknowledge some of their worst afflictions, specifically the ones that might hint at real but unspoken war crimes.

Thus it took the Pentagon 25 years to admit that perhaps Agent Orange might indeed have some connection to the cancer, lung disease, birth defects, and death visited upon our troops who served in Vietnam. (Never mind the millions of similarly afflicted Vietnamese.) Likewise, by 2006, around 11,000 veterans of the first Iraq war had died mysteriously of "Gulf War Syndrome," a euphemism for the poisonous effects of the depleted uranium (DU) used in our tank and artillery shells. Other thousands struggle to get DU's effects counted in their disability benefits. Iraqis need not apply.

Those yellow "Support Our Troops" magnets that the Pentagon bought to gin up enthusiasm for the war are now out of date. They don't stick to wheelchairs. And the military no longer hankers for paternity of those expensive suffering veterans.

Troops suffering from emotional disorders or PTSD have it bad too. Commanders often want to order them right back to the front to advance the mission, even if they are emotionally too frail to go. But if they are plainly too ill, the brass commonly just discharges them. That way the military washes its hands of their problems and they can begin their long slog through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Did we mention addiction? Not surprisingly, many heroes in Afghanistan turn to drugs to escape the daily game of dodge ball with death and dismemberment. After all, they grow the opium and heroin right there.

Post-traumatic stress disorder, drug addiction, and suicide are rampant among our veterans. Nevertheless, Republican lawmakers aim to further trim veterans' services.

OtherWords columnist William A. Collins is a former state representative, former mayor of Norwalk, Connecticut, and a member of Veterans For Peace's national board. ]

"No pull trigger, no get food" is holding. Another despicable Repug policy, one that is little noticed by people with no investment in our imperial wars other than their yellow ribbon magnet and who have never worn the uniform.


Grung_e_Gene said...

When the Walter Reed scandal broke, or the large # Veteran suicides became known to the public, or the epidemic of homelessness amongst Vets, or the shoddy contractor work causing service members death became known do you know what Haliburton, KBR, Blackwater (Xe) et al. did?

Nothing. Didn't help, didn't care, didn't create a fund, didn't dedicate a new Haliburton hospital wing, didn't do anything. Because once that monies in their hands who gives a fuck about the cogs killed in the Warmongers Machine?

Fixer said...

... people with no investment in our imperial wars other than their yellow ribbon magnet and who have never worn the uniform.

Bring back the draft. Nobody but the soldiers and their families have any skin in the game anymore.

Gordon said...

Grung_E_Gene, all those outfits you mentioned did one thing - they damn sure cashed the checks.

zdogk9 said...

I went into a public-'ouse to get a pint o'beer,
The publican 'e up an' sez, "We serve no red-coats here."
The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:

O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, go away";
But it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins," when the band begins to play,
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it's "Thank you, Mr. Atkins," when the band begins to play.

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls,
But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!

For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, wait outside";
But it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide,
The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,
O it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide.

Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap;
An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.

Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy how's yer soul?"
But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll.

We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints:
Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;

While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, fall be'ind,"
But it's "Please to walk in front, sir," when there's trouble in the wind,
There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
O it's "Please to walk in front, sir," when there's trouble in the wind.

You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.

For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it's "Saviour of 'is country," when the guns begin to shoot;
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
But Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool - you bet that Tommy sees!

Nothin' new here.

David Aquarius said...

This is one 'tradition' we could do without.

"They sit upon their gilded chairs above the streets of grey, Gold flows from their fingertips as our leaders give them sway.

The wretched and the wounded vet, who bled so we could live, empty as their pockets with nothing left to give.

The princes and the barons, upon their chairs of gold, wave their canes and scream aloud 'How dare you be so bold!

We give you crumbs to feed your kit, rags to wear about. But where's the thanks, the gratitude. You worthless commie lout!'

So here we stand, kit and kin, the soldier and the fray. We stand and fight to win our right to walk these streets of grey.

The people come and shake the ground despite the barons' whine. For they are but one percent and we are Ninety-Nine!"

The Class War is heating up. The kettle's on the boil.