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Bush's Bureaucracy Stiffs Wounded Vets

The scandals of George W.'s Iraq attack continue to come home to haunt us.
 
 
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Not only did he use false pretenses to get Congress to rush into his invasion, not only did he send our men and women into battle without the protective gear they need to save their lives, not only did he grossly understate the depth of opposition our troops would face during the ongoing occupation, not only did he completely miscalculate the number of troops required to pursue his ideologically-motivated mission — but now we learn that he rushed America into the hell of war without preparing for the medical needs of thousands of soldiers who are coming home with severe wounds.

A February study by Congress' bipartisan investigative arm found that the Pentagon lacks the ability even to track the wounded, much less assure that each of them gets the full attention they've earned in battle. The report notes that hundred of those wounded in Iraq have returned home only to be ground up in Pentagon bureaucracy, going months without receiving the medical benefits and pay they earned.

Sgt. 1st Class John Allen of New Jersey, for example, suffered extensive injuries in a helicopter crash and grenade blast, but he says it was only when he got home that his "real troubles began." He had his leave cut short because a commander lost his paperwork, he had to reapply for medical benefits every 90 days, often denied pay and medical treatment. Now wearing an eye patch and walking with a cane, Allen says that this bureaucratic morass causes many of the wounded to give up and "just go home."

This is scandalous. Pentagon officials respond that they were simply unprepared and are now swamped, noting that 15,000 disabled troops came home last year alone. Not only have the chickenhawk Bushites failed these vets, but most shamefully they continue to try to keep the media from even reporting that so many of our people are being wounded in George's war.

Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Let's Stop Beating Around the Bush , from Viking Press. For more information, visit jimhightower.com.