Friday, March 14, 2008

The Crisis in Veterans Health Care

*Note – We are Live Blogging Winter Soldier Friday through Sunday. *
You may see more typographical errers errors than usual
as we type like @$#!
*Please bear with us as we get the news out to you*

11:30AM Tod Ensign reports suffering a back injury while serving in Iraq and being asked to not report this until he returned to the States. He then came home to California where he received immediate and excellent care. At the time of discharge he was assured that the VA system would continue to take care of this injury sustained in combat. He became a student and came into contact with "the realities of the VA health care system". He experienced delays, endless paper work and talk and counseling but no treatment or diagnosis of his problems. He also experienced adjustment issues and needed psychiatric care. It took 2 months to get an appointment and he realized that 2 years of medical care promised by the VA would not be sufficient at the time. His savings and and financial situation and was unable to work due to his injuries. He became another homeless Iraq War and the realization of this led to depression and suicidal thoughts. He finally was helped by a member of IVAW and that is where he found help while the VA system still would not help him.


Eli Wright was treated at Walter Reed for injuries in Iraq. He was finally treated for a shoulder injury two years after the injury occurred and the surgery was not successful, probably due to the lack of immediate care. He also recognized symptoms of traumatic brain injury that also was not treated. Kevin sees the problems he experienced as systemic inthe military. He only began to get care for his injuries after going to the press. He then immediately got treatment after 6 months of waiting.

Eli said "After serving our country that proper health care should be a bare minimum ofwhat we should receive in return.

Adrienne Kinne reported on the plan to prioritize care for wounded vets. She pointed out that prioritizing health care for vets means that some would have to go without so others could get care and that is unacceptable. It is unacceptable for veterans and for all Americans to go without health care. She ended with these statements: that hiding behind the red tape at the VA is the fact that there are not enough resources to do the job and that our soldiers should not be sent to fight an illegal immoral war in the first place. (Applause!)

12:05 am: Joyce and Kevin Lucy spoke of their son Jeffrey who returned to from Kuwait in 1993 changed forever. Jeffery was having nightmares, throwing up daily, suffering from hallucinations and panic attacks. He was drinking and was on medication for anxiety and depression. He feared that the stigma of mental illness would get back to his Marine unit and follow him through his life.

He was hospitalized at the VA after a break down and only saw a psychiatrist there once in six months. After discharge he continued to struggle and the family finally took him back to the VA and begged for help but none was forthcoming.

No Family should have to beg for help for their combat veteran sons.

His family tried to protect Jeffrey and others by taking away weapons and his car. Jeffry told stories of death and destruction that he participated in in Kuwait and Iraq and now could not forget. Jeffrey did not make it. His health deteriorated further until his father came home and to take him in his arms one last time as he took him down from the tree in the back yard where he had hung himself.

Background Information:

Critics say U.S. shorts care of veterans --

The number of wounded soldiers has become a hallmark of the nearly 5-year-old Iraq war, pointing to both the use of roadside bombs as the extremists' weapon of choice and advances in battlefield medicine to save lives. About 15 soldiers are wounded for every fatality, compared with 2.6 per death in Vietnam and 2.8 in Korea.

But with those saved soldiers comes a financial price - one that veterans groups and others say the government is unwilling to pay. Those critics also say that the tens of thousands of soldiers wounded in Iraq are part of a political numbers game, one they say undermines the medical system meant to care for them.

The most frequently cited figure is the 29,320 soldiers wounded in action in Iraq as of yesterday. But there have been 31,325 others treated for non-combat injuries and illness as of March 1.

"The Pentagon keeps two sets of books," said Linda Bilmes, a professor at Harvard and an expert on budgeting and public finance whose newly published book, The Three Trillion Dollar War, was co-authored with Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz.

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