This from 2005 Sylas:
The Bush administration has expanded its order to cut veterans’ health care benefits. Meanwhile, a Pentagon survey indicates that tens of thousands of returning war vets are reporting high rates of mental trauma and physical ailments.
USA Today reports that Pentagon screening shows that nearly 1,700 returning vets say they had thoughts of hurting themselves or that they might be better off dead. Close to 4,000 told military health screeners they feared they might hurt someone around them. About 20,000 described having nightmares and bad memories.
In total, says USA Today, 28 percent of those returning from Iraq have battle wounds, health problems, a range of mental health issues, and serious problems in their personal relationships. In total, the war has adversely affected the health of 50,000 service men and women.
The figures were derived from military surveys of about 190,000 returning servicemembers between January and August of this year.
The 50,000 estimate includes 2,000 killed and over 15,200 wounded.
A 2003 survey conducted by the Army found that 15 percent to 17 percent of front-line troops suffered depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Studies from past wars show that PTSD diagnosed veterans have higher rates of suicide or other fatalities than other veterans of the same conflicts do. For many veterans, this means that the war will continue for them literally even after they come home.
[b]Meanwhile, the administration has ordered the Veterans' Affairs Department to pursue vigorously deep cost-cutting measures. Included among potential cuts, says the VA, is $4.3 billion in health care benefits distributed to veterans for treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).[/b]
The VA claims that it provides too much in benefits for this ailment and will review and withdraw benefits for thousands of veterans diagnosed with PTSD.
Cuts in benefits for veterans was rationalized last January by Pentagon spokesperson David Chu who told the Wall Street Journal that the cost of veterans' benefits is "hurtful" to national security. The Pentagon feels that spending to care for veterans shifts money away from other pressing needs such as more weapons.
And with a ballooning federal budget deficit, "savings" have to come from somewhere, the Defense Department rationalizes.
Meanwhile, a Knight-Ridder story published just last week shows that the Pentagon’s outsourcing of its military procurement projects is gouging taxpayers by billions of dollars each year and is enriching a few favored corporations.
Still further, the Bush administration and congressional Republicans continues to push for more tax cuts for the rich and to make previous tax cuts, overwhelmingly beneficial to the very rich, permanent.
In the view of the administration and the Republican leadership, it is not the wealthy or the corporations, their favored constituents, who must sacrifice for the good of the country.
It is the suffering vets and their families who must continue to sacrifice.
--Reach Joel Wendland at firstname.lastname@example.org.