What Do You Know

Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Last year I blogged about what a Dumb Ass my Congressman was, because he failed to address my concern about military poeple's bonuses being rescinded if they were injured in the line of duty and had to leave active duty.

I still think Tom Tancredo is a Dumb Ass, but yesterday I received this e:mail from one of my Senators, Ken Salazar:

"Dear Janiece:

Thank you for contacting me. I appreciate hearing from you.

Like you, I was shocked and dismayed to learn the Pentagon sent a number of wounded veterans notices stating they would have to return all or a portion of their enlistment bonuses to the Army because their tour of duty had been cut short by serious injury. Such a policy is callous and illogical.

To their credit, Army officials have recognized this and stated that, henceforth, soldiers who are injured or become ill while on active duty may keep all enlistment bonuses they are owed. Moreover, the Senate took steps to protect enlistment bonuses by unanimously passing the Wounded Warrior Bonus Equity Act, which mandates that the DoD may not withhold or demand repayment of enlistment bonuses from a veteran who sustained injuries while on active duty. This bill currently awaits action in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Again, thank you for contacting me. Please rest assured that I will remain a strong advocate for America’s veterans in the U.S. Senate.

Sincerely,

Ken Salazar
United States Senator"


What do you know.

17 comments:

Jim Wright said...

What do I know?

I know this whole thing shouldn't have happened in the first place. I know that if people like you and I hadn't raised hell about it - if it had been just the guys who lost arms and legs and eyes - then Congress wouldn't have done shit. I know the Generals and Admirals didn't do shit. I know the SecDef didn't do shit. And I know the President didn't do shit - until we started raising hell.

It's great that they fixed, but they shouldn't have had to in the first place.

Janiece Murphy said...

Jim, I don't disagree. A clear example of the beurocracy running amok, and they all needed to be smacked with a clue-bat. I'm just happy the clue-bat was evidently effective in this case.

And it was my privilige to raise hell on behalf of my brothers and sisters-in-arms. And I know you feel the same way.

Anne C. said...

Especially as (as discussed on MWT's blog) the older the clueless gets, the less effective the clue bat becomes. There must have been a s**t load of clue batting going on. Congrats, guys, on the success.

Tom said...

So maybe we can make a difference.

But as Jim says, it shouldn't have happened in the first place. These people aren't just "our troops" to be supported while they are overseas. They're individuals doing a hard, thankless task, and they, and their families deserve tangible support, not just "the thanks of a gratefull nation."

"Broken" Veterans are the worst indictment of our Nation's philosophy. A law shouldn't be necessary to protect them. We as a Nation should be proud to support and protect anyone who has stood up for us.

I know. Preaching to the choir.

The Mechanicky Gal said...

It sort of implies that from here on out they will not make them payback, but what about that precious thing The Grandfather Clause?
We all know that from here on out is great, but did they make it retroactive? How many times have we been caught in THAT quagmire?

Nathan said...

Great that they appear to have this one fixed. Do you know what, if anything is being done about DoD's scam where they decide that PTSD was actually a pre-existing condition that was missed at enlistment, and since it was pre-existent, the VA doesn't have to pay for treatment?

Janiece Murphy said...

Nathan, I was not aware of that one. To move back to yesterday's comment, What the Hell is Wrong with Us? That's disgraceful.

Nathan said...

Yeah,

60 minutes did a story about it a while back. I'm not sure exactly how it was being done, but they were basically saying, "We should have never enlisted the guy in the first place because he has a disorder that makes him more susceptible to PTSD".

It's a lot more legalistic and (can't spell brearocratic), but that's what it boiled down to.

Yeah, disgraceful is one word for it.

Jim Wright said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jim Wright said...

(previous comment had too many typos, can't feel my left hand today, apologies).

Nathan, yep, that bit has been going on for a while - since Vietnam as a matter of fact - in one form or another.

See, post treatment costs money. Lot's of it. But it's not sexy, like building a new ship or a shitload of fancy, invisible airplanes that can't actually be used for anything. So what this means is that Senators and other such Congressional assholes can't earmark out a bunch of cash for treatment in their respective hog wallows.

And nobody likes a crybaby. PTSD? Suck it the fuck up, Soldier. The President (with the willing complicity of Congress, both Republican and Democrat) has done their very best to fight an invisible war, invisible to most Americans that is. And Americans are happy to have it that way. Admitting, officially, that fighting men and women are stressed, admitting that they a decent human beings who are horrified by the slaughter, but what they see every day, is admitting that there is an actual no fucking shit war on and that it's a lot fucking bigger than anybody is letting on. That's the message a lot of guys get. See, Generals, Admirals and power tie wearing fucktards don't get anywhere near the front lines. When GWB was called, he ran away and hid in the ANG Officer's Club with his privileged frat boy pals. PTSD? Yeah, maybe from a coke hangover. What this means is that not one of them actually understands how the stresses of combat can warp your mind. And it affects people differently, some folks don't seem much affected at all (me, for example, though there are nights when I close my eyes and dream of 300 dead bodies floating in the Shat Al Arab, bouncing off the front of my boat) but still it's there. And some folks come unglued from reality. There's no easy cure, and no drug you can take to make it go away - consequently there's no earmarks to pals in the drug industry. There's also no way to tell in advance who will be affected how. I've seen little dorky guys shrug off the worst things you can imagine and crack a joke, and I've seen the biggest toughest meanest sons of bitch you can imagine reduced to crying wretches.

But the real problems are those Generals and Admirals, who fight from behind a desk. They spend billions on the latest leadership fad - which basically says "Take care of your people," and they'll talk a good line full of cute platitudes like "People are our number one asset," but when it comes down to actually doing it - actually sending troops into combat properly equipped, or standing up to Congress and demanding that their families and jobs be taken care while they're gone, or actually inspecting Walter Fucking Reed Hospital for Fucking RATS and peeling paint - well, suck it the fuck up soldier. Don't be a cry baby, it's embarrassing.

Assholes. Sorry, I'm in serious pain this morning from injuries I sustained in the combat zone and in a rotten mood, and this subject reduces me to kicking and screaming and biting on a good day.

I will shut up now.

Nathan said...

Jim,

No apologies needed in my direction. I think you just said one of the most succinct and illuminating rants I've ever heard on the subject. Certainly better than I could have said it.

Janiece Murphy said...

Jim, you don't have anything to apologize for, at least around here. This is a topic that deserves some passionate discussion - our brothers and sisters-in-arms deserve no less. The "Generals, Admirals and power tie wearing fucktards [that] don't get anywhere near the front lines" certainly don't appear to be doing much in the way of passionate defense of our service members, so it's up to us to wave the flag.

It's a fucking miracle that anyone continues to volunteer for service at all.

Jim Wright said...

Thanks guys.

Rereading the above, I see I got maybe 2% of the typos, I'm surprised anybody could understand the ranting at all.

The problem is that I'm left handed, but I really don't have a lot of feeling in my left hand any more, even on the best of days, and it doesn't always push the buttons I want it to. I used to type in excess of 120 wpm, but nowadays, I just can't most times. So I think much faster than I can type, and as a result - well, typos. Lot's of them. And for some reason I just don't see them in the comments box - until I push post.

This problem is much worse for me this morning, because as I noted on my blog, I fell on the ice yesterday and landed on my bad shoulder. I'm in serious pain, and the fact that I can't use my hand very well is making me much more irritable than usual - and then Janiece brought up this subject, which pushes all of my buttons - because of the pain and the fact that I suffer a bit of PTSD my self. It's very minor, and mostly involves bad dreams and irritability - but it makes me impatient around my kid and especially around other people, and that makes me even more irritable because I know it's childish and unreasonable and I can't seem to do much about it. And now you know why I live in rural Alaska away from most people.

So, again, thanks.

Michelle K said...

Nice rant Jim, in that it got all the high points, but it's NOT nice in that one has to rant about things like this.

Nathan,

It's even worse than you think.

Soldiers are being denied benefits not just for PTSD, but even for actual physical injuries as long as some schmuck at a desk decided it doesn't reach correct percentage of "disabled"--and those levels are arbitrary and dependent upon what branch of the service in which you served.

What's even worse about the PTSD, is that they're taking the symptoms of PTSD--acting out, drinking, drug use, etc--and dishonorably discharging soldiers, even with a diagnosis of PTSD.

And what Jim said about soldiers being told to suck it the hell up is rampant. On some bases soldiers are actively discouraged from getting treatment for their PTSD, and of they insist upon getting treatment, are on the receiving end of endless SHIT from their superior officers.

It is not just embarrassing that we treat our soldiers this way, it is humiliating.

And to make things even worse, since GWB took office they've been closing VA hospital and clinics around the country. This means that soldiers who actually qualify for veterans' benefits have to travel further to reach a VA hospital--and don't even think that they can get treated in a closer local hospital.

Never mind the cuts in benefits and other cuts for those who are actually serving the country in the military. Our fuckwad of a president thinks that all you need to be patriotic is to *say* your patriotic, and that saying anything against him, or his plans, or the way this administration treats soldiers is not patriotic. But when it comes to doing what's right for our men and women who have served... well, that's just not part of their patriotism.

BTW, I'm lucky that my senators (especially Jay Rockefeller) are two that have been pushing for soldiers and veterans' rights and benefits for as long as I can remember. Unfortunately, there's not a lot they can get done without support from the rest of congress and the executive branch. So there don't give up on all our politicians.

Just most.

Janiece Murphy said...

Michelle, you've hit on why I continue to donate money to Fisher House, a nonprofit that supports vets and their families when they have to travel to get to a VA hospital. They do good work, and really help the folks who need it.

I wish more organizations did more where the rubber meets the road.

Tania said...

I'm not feeling especially eloquent right now, but the thing that burns my ass is the government doesn't seem to grasp that the obligation goes both ways.

1)Soldiers are agree to be put in harms way on behalf of the Government.

2)The Government agrees to provide for the treatment of harms incurred while acting on behalf of said Government.

But somehow the weasels always manage to get out of #2 without any repercussions. I know a lot of former service members, and they get dicked over by bureaucrats all the time. It's just wrong.

This make me angry, which makes me tense, which makes my muscles start to contract, so I'll stop now.

Janiece Murphy said...

Tania, I hear you. I certainly don't want to be tense or angry, but as I said before, these people deserve our support, and putting an "I support the troops" magnet on my vehicle doesn't count.