Monday :: Feb 11, 2008

Why Does Bush Hate Our Troops?


by Turkana

A theme I return to, again and again, is the political frame dishonestly constructed by the Republican Party and the Corporate Media that the Democrats are somehow soft on defense and national security, or that they don't support the troops. Much much too often, the Democrats are unwilling to challenge Bush because they fear how it will be spun against them. The best defense against that spin is a little thing called reality. Again and again, it is Bush and the Republicans who prove weak and inept on defense and national security, and again and again it is Bush and the Republicans who prove they don't support the troops. Getting them killed and maimed in an illegal, immoral, and disastrously planned war is the most obvious example, but there are many separate specifics that underscore the point. To Bush and the Republicans, the troops are just sacrificial pawns in their sinister schemes of conquest and profit. Today's Washington Post provides further evidence:

President Bush drew great applause during his State of the Union address last month when he called on Congress to allow U.S. troops to transfer their unused education benefits to family members. "Our military families serve our nation, they inspire our nation, and tonight our nation honors them," he said.

A week later, however, when Bush submitted his $3.1 trillion federal budget to Congress, he included no funding for such an initiative, which government analysts calculate could cost $1 billion to $2 billion annually.

Bush's proposal was added to the speech late in the process, administration officials said, after the president decided that he wanted to announce a program that would favor military families. That left little time to vet the idea, develop formal cost estimates or gauge how many people might take advantage of such a program. Some administration officials said the proposal surprised them, and they voiced concerns about how to fund it.

How despicable is that? He wanted to make a dramatic announcement, but he didn't want to bother actually developing a policy to announce. As I've previously noted, Bush wants $170,000,000,000 more for the Iraq War, next year, but helping educate the families of those fighting the war is too expensive. All Bush can do is to cynically use the idea as an applause line, before a national television audience, but when the cameras are off, the families of the troops no longer matter. Congress, on the other hand, might take matters into their own hands. Because they do actually care about the troops and their families.

Some critics in Congress cite the episode as a case study of what they consider the slapdash way Bush has put together the legislative program for his final year in office. Still, the idea is generating bipartisan interest from members of Congress who are eager to assist military families coping with long-term absences of loved ones deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have drawn up legislation that would remove restrictions that currently prevent most troops from transferring education benefits to family members.

And for further information about Bush's complete disregard for our military personnel, here is my continually updated list of links:

Overused and over-extended.

Christian Science Monitor: As of the beginning of 2006, Stop-Loss policy had prevented at least 50,000 troops from leaving the military when their service was scheduled to end.

USA Today: Multiple deployments are adding to the troops' stress.

United Press International: Nearly two-thirds of polled veterans from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars consider the military over-extended.

Spiegel Online: Troops stationed in Germany are increasingly going AWOL rather than be cannon fodder for Bush's insanity.

New York Times: The army had to revise updwards its understated desertion rate.

Associated Press: The army now has the highest desertion rate since 1980.

Boston Globe: West Point graduates are leaving the military at the highest rate in three decades, as repeated tours of Iraq drive out some of the army's best young officers.

Los Angeles Times: Both Republican and Democratic governors warned Bush that using National Guard troops for his escalation was overburdening units already stretched to their limits.

Associated Press: Two army brigades had to forgo their desert training to accomodate Bush's escalation schedule.

Associated Press: Deployed single parents are having to fight to retain custody of their children.

CNN: In April of this year, tours of duty were extended from 12 to 15 months.

New York Times: Republicans killed Senator Webb's attempt to give troops more down time between deployments

Inadequately protected

New York Times: A 2006 study showed that eighty percent of marines killed from upper body wounds would have survived, if they'd had adequate body armor.

Newsweek: Troops have been having to improvise their own vehicle armor, because the military hasn't been providing the real thing.

Washington Post: Even as the escalation began, thousands of Army Humvees still lacked FRAG Kit 5 armor protection.

Inadequately cared for, when wounded or scarred.

Salon: The Veterans Administration knew as early as 2004 that there were serious problems with the conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center- and did nothing.

Salon: The Department of Defense also knew about the problems long before public exposure and the resulting outcry forced them to actually do something about it.

National Public Radio: Veterans are receiving fewer medical disability benefits now than before the war.

MSNBC: Up to twenty percent of Iraq Vets may be suffering Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Washington Post: A Pentagon task force concluded that the available medical care for those troops suffering psychological problems is "woefully inadequate."

Actually being sent back into battle, when medically unfit.

Salon: Wounded soldiers classified as medically unfit for battle were being reclassified as fit, so they could be sent back into battle.

Salon: These reclassifications were done to provide enough manpower for Bush's escalation.

Salon: Even soldiers with acute Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder were being sent back to Iraq.

The bottom line.

Stacy Bannerman, in Foreign Policy in Focus:

Pentagon statistics reveal that the suicide rate for U.S. troops who have served in Iraq is double what it was in peacetime.

Soldiers who have served -- or are serving -- in Iraq are killing themselves at higher percentages than in any other war where such figures have been tracked. According to a report recently released by the Defense Manpower Data Center, suicide accounted for over 25 percent of all noncombat Army deaths in Iraq in 2006. One of the reasons for "the higher suicide rate in Iraq [is] the higher percentage of reserve troops," said military analyst James F. Dunnigan.


CBS News:

About 38 percent of soldiers and 31 percent of Marines report psychological conditions such as brain injury and PTSD after returning from deployment. Among members of the National Guard, the figure is much higher — 49 percent — with numbers expected to grow because of repeated and extended deployments.

Journal of the American Medical Association, reported that:

The prevalence of reporting a mental health problem was 19.1% among service members returning from Iraq compared with 11.3% after returning from Afghanistan and 8.5% after returning from other locations (P<.001). Mental health problems reported on the postdeployment assessment were significantly associated with combat experiences, mental health care referral and utilization, and attrition from military service. Thirty-five percent of Iraq war veterans accessed mental health services in the year after returning home; 12% per year were diagnosed with a mental health problem. More than 50% of those referred for a mental health reason were documented to receive follow-up care although less than 10% of all service members who received mental health treatment were referred through the screening program.

Washington Post:

Suicides among active-duty soldiers in 2007 reached their highest level since the Army began keeping such records in 1980, according to a draft internal study obtained by The Washington Post. Last year, 121 soldiers took their own lives, nearly 20 percent more than in 2006.

At the same time, the number of attempted suicides or self-inflicted injuries in the Army has jumped sixfold since the Iraq war began. Last year, about 2,100 soldiers injured themselves or attempted suicide, compared with about 350 in 2002, according to the U.S. Army Medical Command Suicide Prevention Action Plan.

From war funding, to FISA deform, failing to hold the Administration accountable for its many crimes, whenever the Republicans or the corporate media trot out the same old lies about opposition to Bush being unpatriotic or unsupportive of the troops, all the Democrats need do is list these facts. When reality is on your side, it helps to keep bringing it to people's attention.

Turkana :: 3:16 PM :: Comments (11) :: Digg It!