Been There, Doing It Again – Badly

23 May

August 3, 2009It’s harrowing to consider, that the Vietnam War sparked a national debate about how to treat wounded warriors that the nation seemingly has forgotten. The Colorado Gazette has a three-part series, featured in a Democracy Now! segment, that highlights how combat veterans in the Army and Marine Corps face crises, both medical and bureaucratic, for the services they performed for the nation in its perpetual war against terrorism.

AMY GOODMAN: As we wrap up, just this issue that you, in sum, find in this remarkable three-part series, more soldiers being discharged for misconduct than at any time in recent history. The feeling you get from this piece: The military sends these guys off to war, men and women, and now doesn’t want to pay for them being taken care of—to do with sequester, to do with downsizing. And no matter how horrific their crimes are, like this guy Sasse beating up his wife, they are then just released into society, if they’re not arrested, and they’re not taken care of at all.

DAVID PHILIPPS: That’s right. You know, first, let me say, if you want to see more photos and video and read these guys’ stories, it’s at gazette.com. But you’re absolutely right. The Army’s difficulty in dealing with this is not an Army problem; it’s a societal problem. We’re talking about over two million people who have deployed in the last 10 years. Over 500,000 of them have more than three deployments. These are people who, you know, may have issues that they need our help with. And if the Army isn’t sort of the first responder, the person that gets them on the right track, and the Army in fact, through its actions, is banning them from care for the rest of their lives, that’s going to affect our society for a really long time. You know, we may be experiencing another thing like we saw with Vietnam vets.

As with the sexual assault issue, I think the military service is experiencing crises beyond its competence to handle and it needs help from lawmakers and other civilian experts to address. The nation has been here before, so there should be precedent for the solutions.

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