The answer to this question is obviously yes. Perhaps the real question should be; does America deserve the fine military it now has? Every American needs to think carefully about this question.
There is an old saying, "We can not have our cake and eat it too." Applied here it might mean that America can't expect to always have its fine military if Americans don't adequately care for its fine military. Presently neither the American government nor the American people are fulfilling this requirement.
The average American citizen does not possess the expertise to draft necessary laws and policiesand to appoint qualified experts to insure that our fine military is adequately cared for. To accomplish these missions the citizens elect government officials and empower them with the responsibility to appoint experts to manage the agencies that have the responsibility to care for our Armed Forces.
The elected government officials have the burden and responsibility to insure that the persons they appoint to run and manage all government agencies do in fact accomplish their responsibilities in a satisfactory manner.
The system is not effective. Neither the elected government officials nor the officials they appoint are effectively caring for America's military. All of these persons are certainly being paid unbelievably adequate salaries, but many are certainly not accomplishing their designated missions. The American voters have the supreme responsibility to correct this inexcusable failure and breach-of-trust.
America and all Americans presently depend on an all volunteer Armed Forces. Even today there are already problems obtaining and maintaining sufficient volunteers. This is only the beginning.
For the past 50 years there has been an arrogant ignorant assumption that the masses of the military are so dumb that they rely on the military for employment. As in any group this statement might be true to an extentin the past, but not today. We are facing shortages of volunteers because potential volunteers are smart and they are carefully watching how their government mistreats the wounded heroes returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and how their government reneged on promises of free life-long medical care to veterans that served twenty plus honorable years in America's Armed Forces.
Words alone are useless. Only actions count. It is inexcusable that the Department of Veterans Affairs, that is tasked by Congress and the American people too adequately and in a timely manner care for all veterans, especially the wounded returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, is not accomplishing this task in an acceptable manner. Why is this? Is it an inability or is it in part intentional?
Why is it that the Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, the Army, the Navy, military hospitals, civilian hospitals, combat medics, etc, are lacking "a standardized definition of traumatic injury or a uniform process to report all TBI (traumatic brain injury) cases?"
Approximately l.5 million troops have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, where TBI is an expected and accepted "daily" combat wound. Rep. Bill Pascrell stated that more than 150,000 troops may have suffered head injuries in combat. This number far exceeds the official numbers. Why? Yet after four years of dealing with road-side bomb attacks and other exposures to blasts that cause brain injuries, our troops are still not adequately examined and screened in the combat aid-stations and military hospitals. Why?
In Iraq and Afghanistan it is not sufficient to only check for body holes and blood to determine a wound. By now all medics and doctors should be trained to realize that headaches, nausea, dizziness and memory loss are signs of brain injury.
Thousands of troops are returning to the States with spinal injuries and without a leg or without any legs or without an arm or without either arms. These are life-long injuries just like brain injury. There is no cure. These veterans will need medical assistance and rehabilitation for the rest of their lives. This will be very expensive. Some dreamers or liars are saying this will cost the tax payers millions of dollars. This is dumb talk. These injuries will cost the tax payers billions and billions of dollarsand the bills will likely double if we are in Iraq and Afghanistan much longer.
But so what! The expense can never be an issue to the government or the taxpayers. Our government sent the troops to war because it could not prevent the war. This war is similar to Vietnam in as much as it seems more like the "politicians game-of-chess" than a military war. Remember that was the case in Vietnam. The politicians ran the warnot the very qualified generals. The enemy had not one single airplane. We had 500,000 of the best trained and equipped soldiers in the world. "It was militarily impossible for us to the lose the war in Vietnam, but we were not allowed to win it." Historians will question the logic of the "rules of engagement" in Iraq.
The future survival of America depends upon its military; that depends on how the American government and taxpayers adequately care for the wounded troops, veterans, and retirees.
At this moment our government is failing the test of caring for the wounded troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. USA TODAY reports that at least 20,000 U.S. troops who were not classified as wounded during combat in Iraq and Afghanistan have been found with signs of brain injuries (the hidden wound). The Pentagon's over all statistics of wounded is not accurate. Some veterans diagnosed with traumatic brain injury were never told. VA has made decisions that shrapnel from IED wounds are not service connected. Thousands of wounded soldiers were unable to complete their enlistment and are being asked to payback enlistment bonuses Many returning wounded troops are unable be seen by qualified doctors in a reasonable time period. Pentagon consultant, Army Col. Robert Labutta has stated that soldiers and marines whose wounds were discovered after they left Iraq are not added to the official casualty list. There are delays as VA doctors say more evaluation is necessary before a true diagnosis of brain injury can be confirmed in all of the screened 11,000 plus veterans with signs of brain injury.
Perhaps there is a need for immediate separation of powers between VA and DOD in order to eliminate the confusion incurring delays.
Many potential volunteers are apparently saying, "Why would anyone sign up to join the military when the Veterans Affairs and our government seem to be against the troops that serve, those that get wounded, the veterans, and the retirees."
Gene Hudgens honorably served in the U.S. Armed Forces for twenty eight years.
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