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Who really supports our troops?

Item: "Hundreds of sick and wounded U.S. soldiers including many who served in the Iraq war are languishing in hot cement barracks here while they wait--sometimes for months--to see doctors," reported a UPI dispatch from Fort Stewart, Georgia, on October 17. "The Reserve and National Guard soldiers are on what the Army calls 'medical hold,' while the Army decides how sick or disabled they are and what benefits--if any--they should get as a result." A few days after this report, Pentagon officials "shifted professional staff from regional medical facilities to Fort Stewart to help reduce the backlog where appropriate," according to a follow-up UPI story.

Item: The Bush administration, concerned about the public impact of television images of flag-draped coffins returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, "has ended the public dissemination of such images by banning news coverage and photography of dead soldiers' homecomings on all military bases," reported the October 21 Washington Post. In March, on the eve of the war, a Pentagon directive to all U.S. military bases banned "arrival ceremonies for, or media coverage of, deceased military personnel" returning from overseas. The policy, first issued in November 2000, "apparently went unheeded and unenforced, as images of caskets returning from the Afghanistan war appeared on television broadcasts and in newspapers until early this year," noted the Post.

Item: "Veterans groups ... are furious that the White House is blocking legislation that would help ease the burden of medical bills for 670,000 disabled vets," reported the October 2 issue of the online journal Salon. "The Pentagon says it cannot afford the $5-billion-a-year budget-buster and has recommended a presidential veto.... Adding to the drop-drip frustration [of military families] was a trial balloon floated this summer by the Pentagon to cut hazardous pay for soldiers in Iraq. Also, some G.I.s recovering from battle wounds were getting billed for their hospital meals."

Speaking before an audience of cadets at the Citadel, a presidential contender summarized the grim situation quite tidily: "[R]esources are over-stretched. Frustration is up, as families are separated and strained. Morale is down. This administration wants things both ways: To command great forces, without supporting them. To launch today's new causes, with little thought of tomorrow's consequences." Those words were spoken by then Governor George W. Bush in 1999.
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Title Annotation:Insider Report
Publication:The New American
Date:Nov 17, 2003
Words:383
Previous Article:Descent into degeneracy.
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