Saturday, March 10, 2007
Army's 'dog and pony show' surprises
I went up to Seattle a few days ago to investigate claims of crumbling buildings and other poor living conditions for wounded soldiers recovering at the Fort Lewis Army base. In the days prior, there had been reports of soldiers being exposed to asbestos and lead paint there. We thought these reports needed to be checked after all that's been learned about the ugly conditions at Walter Reed.

Sensing the PR implications, Fort Lewis commanders made a decision to hold a news conference and offer a tour to those who might be interested. They were basically saying, "Hey, we've got nothing to hide. Why don't you guys come and have a look yourself."

Not to be a cynic, but it's been my experience that these press tours sometimes amount to a "dog and pony show," meaning you're only shown the good parts, and the officials handpick soldiers they know will only say positive things. Although CNN did send a crew to the media event, my crew and I chose a different strategy to report the story. The general public is not allowed on an Army base without proper escort, so we hooked up with a soldier's spouse. She has the ability to bring guests onto the base.

We took a small DV cam with us, so we wouldn't attract a lot of attention. I consulted with a CNN lawyer to make sure we weren't breaking any laws.

Here's what we found: While some of the buildings are a bit old, they appeared to be clean and safe. We did notice some cracks in some asbestos pipes, but there were no obvious hazards. The Army assured us that those pipes are safe.

The real story is difficult to capture on camera. That's the story of the day-to-day care and treatment for injured soldiers. Many complained to us about the inefficiencies and red tape associated with getting their disability compensation. While a few talked to us on camera, several told us they were afraid of doing so in fear of retaliation from their superiors.

As for the Army's press tour, it turned out a bit differently than we might have expected. One of the handpicked soldiers spoke about the difficulties in his recovery. He complained as well about the bureaucratic headaches and the long wait time in getting his benefits.
Posted By Dan Simon, CNN Correspondent: 8:36 AM ET
  44 Comments
If you want to really see crumbling buildings, actually falling apart, take a visit to Fort Bliss, TX. Go to Beaumont Army Medical Center (which is not bad), but then take a drive through what we call "Lower Beaumont"-buildings that are in use due to the war effort that are crumbling, rat ridden, hulks......it's a travesty.
Posted By Anonymous Ed Wilson, El Paso, TX US Army (Ret) : 9:23 AM ET
After listening to stories about sub standard care in Veteran's Hospitals and the like, I would have to question the budget which these facilities are using to provide care. How can any hospital provide first rate levels of care when they are operating with an imbalanced expense to income ratio and diminishing resources? Patient care suffers, assuredly raising levels of concern, but the practitioners of medicine are also affected.
Posted By Anonymous Wayne Palm Springs Ca. : 10:05 AM ET
Dan, Stay with this story. The code of silence programmed into soldiers is starting to break. We need the truth.
I am hoping that blindly following the "commander-in-chief". without questioning what is right and what is wrong is a thing of the past. The media is the publics source of truth
in a democratic society so keep at it.
Posted By Anonymous Judy Stage Brooklyn, MI : 10:11 AM ET
Right on! As with so many things, it's not how they ARE but how they are USED that counts. Veterans' affairs, particularly medical ones, are long fabled for their general "lack of trying."
Posted By Anonymous John Ragle, Hadley, MA : 10:40 AM ET
After leaving the Corps in the late 80's, I watched Oliver Stone's "Born on the Fourth of July", and my heart broke at the depiction of veterans facing inadequate care in VA hospitals. While I realize Mr. Stone has a propensity for dramatic exaggeration, I never thought we'd be considering the same issues twenty years later.

The government creates procedures and rules to prevent waste and fraud, understandably. I have no idea what the comparison might be between the potential dollars wasted on unnecessary medical care and the dollars lost down some black hole in Iraqi 'aid'. What I do know is that there is no price too high to pay to show our veterans how important they are to the continued existence of the America they fought to preserve. If the red tape is cut and I pay more taxes, it's worth it. I don't feel like I have a say in where my money is wasted currently, anyway.
Posted By Anonymous Mike Burtner, Indianapolis IN : 11:07 AM ET
I'm a 30% disabled vet (from the 80s). Yes, the red tape is considerable. Medical review boards, appeals processes, etc. It took me a year of it to be certified. We NEED to do better on this. If we can spend 500million on a bomber, we can put our guys in better housing and hire people to do the paperwork and allign the IT systems so our tired vets don't have to jump through hoops.

Vets shouldn't be filling out one piece of paperwork. Not even one. The army and VA already have all the information (or should).
Posted By Anonymous Bruce, Falls Church VA : 12:11 PM ET
Dan:

I love your determination to get the facts here! I'm also content in knowing that in the end both "angles" of getting the story ended up with basically the same result. However, what really intrigued me the most was why the soldiers were afraid to speak on camera. What retaliation are they afraid of? Is there a case where this actually happened? More to come, I hope.
Posted By Anonymous Jolene, St. Joseph, MI : 12:29 PM ET
It must have been refreshing to see mold-free walls at this particular army base. I cannot believe that this administration praises soldiers verbally, but don't provide them with proper medical facilities (Walter Reed Hospital), poor pay and delayed benefits.
Posted By Anonymous Melody Chapin Harbor Springs : 12:39 PM ET
Glad to hear you recognize a good dog and pony when you see it. I'm an 11-year Navy vet, my hubby is currently on active duty with SSBN's out of Kings Bay, Ga. Shoddy medical treatment isn't restricted to vets - active duty and their families experience it as well. As a Navy journalist/pr gal, I was right in the middle of the "spin" and it wore on me. My husband will be done when his contract ends. Go Navy.
Posted By Anonymous Jennifer, Kings Bay, GA : 1:06 PM ET
So what is the reporter saying? Is he happy that he was given a truthful view, or is he disappointed that he didn't find more "dirt"?
Posted By Anonymous Jim, El Paso, TX : 1:57 PM ET
You should have been with me in 1997 Dan. I filed I.G., Whistle Blower, and OSHA complaints against Irwin Army Community Hospital, Ft. Riley, KS. They "investigated" them and I showed them plenty of problems. I was a Union Steward for AFGE #2324 and a Custodial Worker for the hospital. They basically ignored me and eventually, I was fired from my Civil Service job. The soldiers are right about retribution and reprisal. It is alive and well in the Department of Army.
Posted By Anonymous Merl E. Johnston, Solomon, KS. : 2:05 PM ET
So Dan Simon, what you're blog report is really telling us is that all of your pre-conceived notions about the Army at Fort Lewis were wrong.

You mention facilities that you filmed covertly were not the hazards you thought they were. The press tour actually had opinions and remarks from Soldiers discussing the good and the bad qualities of the medical care they've received.

The real story here is that you had had an agenda...it was proven wrong...and you haven't owned up to it. This is just the sort of thing I've come to expect from the MSM.
Posted By Anonymous Bill, Fort Campbell, KY : 2:09 PM ET
You mean you were mistaken in believing we in the military are all a bunch of liars? We don't tell our soldiers what to say and we aren't intimidated by our superiors.
Posted By Anonymous Joe, Fort Belvoir, VA : 2:16 PM ET
What about the rest of us??? How about we veterans who were injured on active duty, injured in the line of duty, or Vietnam? So, now all the technocrats in Washington will just focus on Iraq and Afganistan???
Posted By Anonymous Peter, Camilla, Georgia : 4:13 PM ET
Dan Simon continues to do the kind of hard-core investigative reporting that we expect from an institution like CNN. We want more Dan!
Posted By Anonymous John, Baltimore Maryland : 4:32 PM ET
As a former ft lewis soldier, and native of Tacoma, Wa. I can tell you that Ft' Lewis is a shining example of a best case scenario for our soldiers. I've been to some really great places (ft lewis, Schweinfurt, Germany), as well as some not so great ones (ft knox, kentucky, ft riley,ks). Poor housing and poor healthcare are a problem army-wide. The military cost-control model boils down to delay delay deny. Delay upgrades and repairs, delay them some more, then eventually deny all but the cheapest ones. Same thing with disability claims. Delay, delay, more delay....then either deny or give a lower disability percentage. One of my former soldiers had the furnace in his post housing explode. He had burns over 70 percent of his body, and they told him he was only going to get 10 percent disability! Eventually, after much delay and red tape he was upgraded to 40 percent due to the extensive nerve damage, loss of eyesight, etc. But this is just one example. It is so much like the insurance industry. They must all be reading the same playbook. Sad....
Posted By Anonymous nathan, junction city, ks : 6:20 PM ET
Sounds like it could have been a lot worse! Hopefully, by bringing these conditions to everyone's attention, something positive can be done. I hope the situation improves.
Posted By Anonymous Jess, Paris, KY : 6:29 PM ET
What can we do to get better support for our troops? It is a total outrage! Is there a place where local doctors can offer their help on a pro bono basis? Are there other organizations like Fisher House (www.fisherhouse.org) to which we could contribute?

I am going to call the offices of my rep and senators and ask them to take specific action and by what date they will do it. If you would like to do the same, you can contact your pols via www.congress.org.

I guess we shouldn't expect Iraq to be running smoothly-- electricity and all-- when we have such incompetence in government that we can't even have accountability for taking care of our wounded troops or getting all of the services back for the people of the Gulf Coast affected by Katrina.

How many people in government talk about "supporting our troops" (and claim that those of us against the war in Iraq DON'T support our troops-- a total crock!) while ignoring the most basic of needs of our men and women in uniform. It is time to turn in your yellow ribbon bunker stickers if you don't demand that our troops get the care they deserve.

First, the right-wingers sent our troops into Iraq without proper armor, backup, and planning, and now they can't even get adequate care.

Is this another example of "Your tax CUTS at work???" Kinda sad that people put getting a few extra dollars back on April 15th over the health and safety of our fellow Americans. Just think about how much more money you might have to pay (for example, art classes to supplement your child's education if they have been cut from his/her school) and you can see that your "tax break" is really a broken way of getting you to pay more for services the government would usually cover. And look at the men and women we sent into battle who now have to struggle to get basic care. Your tax cuts at work.

We need to refocus our funding priorities and stop giving huge breaks to oil companies and more to the people who really deserve them.

When is Congress voting on the further cuts to the VA budget that had previously been proposed (thank you, President Bush)?

Stories like this make me even sadder that more people didn't listen to those of us who said we shouldn't get into this war in the first place.

And in Iraq, a better use of our taxes would be on building bridges (literally--and schools, and water facilities and electric grids) instead of burning them.

Peace...and peace for our wounded soldiers and their families.
Posted By Anonymous Norah, West Chester, PA : 7:41 PM ET
I do not understand why the soldiers in the armed forces are not getting the help that they need after they have gone to battle for our country. It just doesn't make any sense to me. Why are the facilities that supposedly treat these soldiers old and in disrepair? I am glad that in this particular facility things are safe, but it just appears to me that if we are going to be in this war, we need to make every effort to have our soldiers taken care of the best way we can.
I really beginning to wonder about our country and it commitment to itself. There just seems to be so many cracks in so many parts of our governemnt. It is really unsettling.
Posted By Anonymous Summer Williams, Atlanta,,Georgia : 9:45 PM ET
Hi Dan,
I don't think it's ever been a secret that the Veterans haven't had tip top facilities for many, many years. It's something that needs to be fixed, once and for all. However, my dad is a veteran and receives good care from his veterans clinic, and says the people who work there are very good. So I guess we can't paint this issue with one stroke of a brush. The bottom line is our troops, veterans of the past, present and future deserve the best. They have been there for us, we need to be there for them. Take Care
Posted By Anonymous Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif. : 10:20 PM ET
My son who was stationed at Fort Lewis for Officer training was very ill from the dirty molding barracks. Everyone was sick in his training unit from the damp and old molding sleeping quarters I remember. They where from WWII era and very bad.
Posted By Anonymous Jennifer ..Hazel Park,MI : 10:02 AM ET
The conditions of the military hospitals are a direct result of cost of war what's called COW cuts in defense spending.

Remember Rummie when he said "you go to war with the army that you have, not with the army that you want."

Where's bin Laden.. "Dead or Alive!" And, "Bring it on!" And, when will this mission be acomplished?

This whole thing sickens me! How about we take some oil profits to pay for military infastructure improvements? Why not? We're defending and protecting their product!
Posted By Anonymous Susie, Chesapeake, VA : 10:34 AM ET
while i understand that the situation there could have been worse, i think thier misstreatment is bad enough. When a solider is stuck in a hospital bed & is too scared to tell the truth, fear of retaliation we have a serious problem.

Thanks Dan, for asking the hard questions and keeping them honest!
Posted By Anonymous marissa, independence, MO : 10:51 AM ET
I'm glad all of this is being revealed. It stinks for our military. But, it is an indicator of a greater problem with healthcare in America. The government has screwed up healthcare period, not just for soldiers. When public school teachers have to put their kids on Medicaid because they can't afford insurance for them, something is wrong. When elderly people on fixed incomes have to rely on their children to pay for medication because the cost is too high something is wrong (the prescription drug program doesn't work for everyone). And when people have to wait for months on end to get appointments in charity clinics and the best hospitals in America for cancer evaluations and treatments, it's really screwed up. Rats and walls and paint jobs can be easily fixed. It's the quality and cost for everyone that concerns me. That is what we should be complaining to our reps and senators about. It's not a DOD problem (sorry if you all needed to trash the military on this one). It's a national crisis for us all.
Posted By Anonymous TA Cheramie, Berwick, LA : 11:03 AM ET
Now, check out the budget cuts that congress has made to the VA over the past 10-15 years. Therein lies the cause.
Posted By Anonymous Elaine Organ NM : 11:45 AM ET
Re: Jolene's question concerning retaliation.
Yes, Jolene retaliation is alive and well in the US military. Oftentimes, a service member is either threatened or bullied into not speaking to the press. What are some of the after effects? Some examples are: bad fitness report (or job evaluation), petty punishment (i.e., picking up trash at 6 am for a senior member of the military, or my favorite - the important paperwork becoming "lost."
A commanding officer of a base or installation does not want any bad press. Unfortunately, the commanding officers seem to forget that it is their responsibility to take care of the troops and know what is happening on their base. Some of these commanding officers are worried more about their next promotion than about the troops they command.
Keep up the dogged reporting. You are giving a voice to soldiers, sailors and marines who do not have a voice.
I am retired from the US Navy - 23 years.
Posted By Anonymous Kathleen, Pittsburgh, PA : 1:22 PM ET
As usual, CNN shows the worst and hand picks the complainers. Are you sure this is not another vendetta to get Bush? Fair and balanced your news network will never be. I would rate your coverage about as low as the AJC. That's pretty low,huh? No surprises here....just beat America to the ground.
Posted By Anonymous Butch Gaddy, Palmetto, Georgia : 2:19 PM ET
I feel that there is quickly becoming a "feeding frenzy" on this issue by the media and the politicians of all types. Remember, no soldier has complained about the medical care they have been given, complaints have been about facilities soldiers have been housed in after immediate care awaiting the long, drawn out (too much so) medical rehabilitation and medical board process. Let's not forget the excellent medical care that has been provided. People need to consider the impact this is having on the military medical community, who likes to hear that 25 years of your dedicated service is overshadowed by issues out of your control. Are there problems - Yes. Make sure people understand the care is not the issue, this is an administrative/policy issue. Let's not drive out the dedicated care-givers in your zeal to "bash the administration".
Posted By Anonymous Bob Smith, Gettysburg, PA : 2:49 PM ET
Aside from shoddy buildings I find it amazing how few American doctors are on staff at our V.A. hospitals across the nation. NOt to say that the care the foreign doctors render is sub par but where are the American doctors in the V.A. system??
Posted By Anonymous tina rutkowski shickshinny pa. : 2:57 PM ET
Soldiers Living With Mold Is Nothing New
I was deployed in Kuwait in 2003. We lived in tents Rented from K.B.R. The tents wre not water-proof. Not long after The rainey season we noticed that there was black and green mold on the roof of our tent, and not just my tent many others aswell. We made many complaints about it but nothing was done. A few of us had upper respitory Infections , colds like symtoms etc. I still get respitory infections about twice per year. I have pictures of the mold to prove this If you are interested.
Thanks, Joey
Posted By Anonymous Joey, Bossier City ,LA : 6:46 PM ET
Norah:

I commend you for your comments. I can't profess to know the situation with the US Military Servicemen other than what I hear via the news. However, I believe what you've posted to be true due to also hearing military members via the news tell their stories.

The comments on this Blog sound very similar to the military situation in Canada which hasn't seemed to change since my Father served in WWII as a Seargeant overseas on the Front Lines. After six years of fighting he arrived home with many medical problems. The pension he received from the Army would barely pay his oil bill per month. He gave up a good career to serve in the army. Due to his health problems my mother worked all her life to provide for the family. Dad died at 57 yrs of age resulting from his health problems. But right to the end he shined his many medals and marched in the Remembrance Day parade even though it took all the strength he could muster for him to do so. He said, his medals were all he and many more ever received from the Army and he was marching for his fallen brothers and the many Canadians he knew truly appreciated their military service.

Our politicians Praise and Salute our Veterans also. But when it comes to providing our military with adequate care or well deserved disability or military pensions they too fall sorrowfully short on their promises.
It still breaks my heart to hear the stories of servicmen who are still treated so disrespectfully by Governments. Maybe they should all leave their battlefields for home and let our politicians fight the good fight. I'm sure their sacrifice would be recognized then. God Bless all our heroes past and present.
Posted By Anonymous Pat Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada : 7:05 PM ET
I was so heartbroken when I heard the nightmares vets talked about regarding their care at Walter Reed in the hearings before Congress that I talked to a good friend who is a Vietnam vet as I wanted his perspective. He said, nothing has changed. He talked about red tape, red tape,and more red tape and on the flip side, the incredible people who actually WORK in the VA hospitals. He said the movie, July 4th, wasn't far off, and that the recent firings were nothing more than "smoke and mirrors". He said what was going on at Walter Reed was the tip of the iceberg. My two cents-- And "GWB" says: "Mission Accompllished"? Sure, send our brave heroes over to that disaster called Iraq/Afghanastan, have them suffer horrific injuries, than bring them home to suffer more when they actually try to get some help for those injuries. This is an outrage! Keep on this story, Dan!
Posted By Anonymous Sue, Buellton, CA : 4:12 AM ET
Its amazing how the different military services services approach social services including health care. Go to any Air Force base, and you will see spotless facilites with flat screen TV's in the waiting area and customer service better than civilian hospitals The patient rooms are clean and the treatment top notch. Why can't all the services be the same?
Posted By Anonymous Dave. Ft. Worth, TX : 5:34 AM ET
A bunch of leftist idiots. Why are our military facilities in disrepair? Because YOU the American public have taken away our budgets, left US the military to protect YOUR rights without the basic needs which we require to protect you. Don't act like you are shocked! You have done it to your own military. Guess what people, being the world's preiminent military force as well as the police force for the world costs billions of dollars. You say you want us, you care about us, yet you continually cut our budgets. I have been serving for 18 years, proud to have done so, however today's military has been whithering on the vine since the early 90's when the slash and burn budget cuts started. Yes your deficit went down but at what expense? The veterans of previous wars and "police acitons" which you called upon have gone without care. Does the VA care about it's patients? I believe so. I have volunteered in the V Ahospitals and the people there seem to be frustrated by the same lack of budget that the rest of the military experiences. So for all you people who have an agenda to blame this President and administration the blame started along time ago with the previous Bush who started the ball rolling, your idol Slick Willie who castrated the US military in his four year effort to destroy it, and yes these wars have hurt the US military, yet morale still remains high amongst most and they still want to protect your rights to complain about things you understand very little about. Instead of complaining about things get out and help your Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines through local charities. Oh wait, nevermind, most of you have agendas and an unspoken hatred of the US military. Glad to serve you and protect your rights to hate us.
Posted By Anonymous Jeff, San Antonio, Texas : 8:38 AM ET
I'm glad someone went and looked into the conditions at Fort Lewis. I was stationed there and had surgery at Madigan. The hospital looked nice but the staff was terrible. It�s an army training hospital and the staff there isn�t top notch. After my surgery I was allowed to stay the night, but the next morning the staff laid a trash bag with my clothes in it at my feet and told me to leave. Being in a sling and heavily medicated made it an interesting trip back to the barracks, but this kind of treatment was typical. I was never told what my injury was, even after asking, and what I learned is that once you�re injured, the army no longer has any use for you. It was disappointing because I really enjoyed being in the Infantry, but after my surgery I was treated like an outcast. Eventually, when it was time for deployment I was considered non-deployable and discharged. I really hope the guys coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan are treated well behind the scenes and not just for the cameras.
Posted By Anonymous PogieBait, Arlington, VA : 9:14 AM ET
I say amen,

I am a Viet Nam Vet and put a claim in on 1 May 06 and am still waiting for the answer. I know I waited for a long time to put my claim in and the reason why is that I knew it would be this way, all this red tape is it worth it. With all the so called high tech. in this day and time there is no excuse for a claim to take one year to fine out an answer.
Posted By Anonymous Mack, Muldraugh, KY : 9:55 AM ET
Dan,
There were dog and pony shows in Vietnam and they probably take place in Iraq. I'm a totally and permanently disabled combat veteran. The paper work was/is, I believe, meant to be intimidating but it also serves another VA purpose - CYA. In retrospect,the Army medical care I received at Fitzsimmons in Denver in 1968-69 was adequate - albeit I have a few horror stories about it. The care I receive at the Sioux Falls VAMC is excellent.
Posted By Anonymous John, Marshall, MN : 10:01 AM ET
Maybe the real story is that people need to think abot socialized medicine. I am a medical provider in the Army so have some experience. It's not lack of caring by the providers - it's the flood of patients. And when medical care is free then everyone comes.
Posted By Anonymous Bob, Clarksville, TN : 10:30 AM ET
If you really want to see the vast difference in the way troops are taken care of as to visit the famous or not so famous Ward 72 at Walter Reed. You will see the Indian carpets that greet you when you are buzzed in or arrive through the brass elevator. The very private rooms no sharing for the upper curst on this ward. The staff to patient ration is like 5 to one, all that hands on really speeds in their recovery. Alternatively, it could be the private meals prepared. Donations giving by the flag officers that have stayed or congressional personnel should not be used to take care of this ward but to see that better living conditions for the soldiers in a high cost of living area be upgraded. Let the world see the famous ward 72 that both of the General will have full access to even if they are forced to retire.
Posted By Anonymous Mel Lee, Stafford Virginia : 10:46 AM ET
I'd like to make a couple of points: My grandfather spent the last years of his life in the Veterans' Hospital in Marion, Indiana. It was 1962-1964 or thereabouts. I was just a teenager at the time but I could tell the care was substandard due to personnel shortages. My grandmother made a 30+ mile round trip DAILY to make sure he was fed and bathed. He was in a ward of 30-some men (one a Vetran of the Spanish-American War!) with two nurses. There was no one to help the incapacitated to feed themselves, go to the bathroom, etc.

Secondly, my mother worked as office manager of a path-lab at a hospital local to Grissom Air Base in Indiana. I recall that she constantly fought and agrued with the military health-care providers/insurers over payment of medical testing for the airmen and their families. She constantly took on generals--but I don't think she won too often, however.

Third, when the Clinton administration was looking to "reform" health care and there were comments regarding a nationalized health service. I recall the standard come-back against nationalized health care was: "Do the rest of us want care like that provided in Veterans' Hospitals?" That knowledge alone sank the reform ship.

Now given these three rememberances, I have a difficult time believing the disingenuous surprise on the part of the government (i.e. Congress, especially Senator Bayh) and the media over the lack of care current active duty personnel and Veterans. The insincerity is appalling--but not unanticipated.

It has been quite apparent--particularly in the last decade--that U. S. taxpayers are quite willing to sell-out "the least of these" for consideration on their bottom line.

We should all hang our heads in shame.
Posted By Anonymous Deborah, Galveston, Indiana : 11:07 AM ET
These young (and older) soldiers gave willingly to our country's cause, the very least we can do for them is to be sure they are all well cared for and the care should be readily attainable not a maze to go through otherwise...shame on us.....N. Feenan
Posted By Anonymous Nancy Feenan Oakland Park Fl : 11:27 AM ET
I was stationed at Lewis, 1998-2001, when I had my knee scoped at Madigan. I had the best care at Madigan. There are medical facilities in the DoD that provide top-rate service and unfortunately, there are some who are deplorable. The DoD's response? Contract the service out, which may be good, but many contractors "fudge up" services to make more money from the DoD. So, the DoD must come up with a plausible solution to assist active duty and retiree families in getting the best care and most of all, the care must not be contracted out like Halliburton....in which they take, but give nothing in return.
Posted By Anonymous Johnny B, Newport News, VA : 11:44 AM ET
And, "America" wants socialized medicine!!!!
Posted By Anonymous Ken W.,, Burke, VA : 12:06 PM ET
So, where was all the reporting for the last 30 years? The issues of injured soldiers has been around since the Vietnam Vets "broke the story". This is not an Iraq war problem, it is not a Bush problem, it is a systemic problem that relates directly to money. The very system that is treating the soldiers is the system that will determine their disability eligibility. For heaven's sake people, we have Vietnam Vets that are STILL trying to get their disabilities proven so they can have a small monthly pension.

What happens so often is that the soldier will end up signing anything so they can be released and get on with their lives. I know a soldier in FT Drum NY who was on "medical hold" for more than 7 months after returning from Iraq. He finally took the smaller disability because he was tired of fighting and just wanted to go home to see the wife he had left two years ago.

To fix the problem is going to take a complete look at the entire system. Unfortunately, I doubt it will ever happen. Those that are mad, protesting and writing letters to their congressmen will be onto the next big thing to be mad about before long. True change is boring, dirty work and requires an attention span that the general public doens't have. Then, when the next war breaks out and the vets come home to the same conditions they've been facing for years, someone will get mad and write lots of stories and then....on to the next big thing.
Posted By Anonymous C Panioto, Canton, CT : 1:18 PM ET
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• 12/31/2006 - 01/07/2007
• 01/07/2007 - 01/14/2007
• 01/14/2007 - 01/21/2007
• 01/21/2007 - 01/28/2007
• 01/28/2007 - 02/04/2007
• 02/04/2007 - 02/11/2007
• 02/11/2007 - 02/18/2007
• 02/18/2007 - 02/25/2007
• 02/25/2007 - 03/04/2007
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• 03/18/2007 - 03/25/2007
• 03/25/2007 - 04/01/2007
• 04/01/2007 - 04/08/2007
• 04/08/2007 - 04/15/2007
• 04/15/2007 - 04/22/2007
• 04/22/2007 - 04/29/2007
• 04/29/2007 - 05/06/2007
• 05/06/2007 - 05/13/2007
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• 05/20/2007 - 05/27/2007
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• 07/22/2007 - 07/29/2007
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• 08/19/2007 - 08/26/2007
• 08/26/2007 - 09/02/2007
• 09/02/2007 - 09/09/2007
• 09/09/2007 - 09/16/2007
• 09/16/2007 - 09/23/2007
• 09/23/2007 - 09/30/2007
• 09/30/2007 - 10/07/2007
• 10/07/2007 - 10/14/2007
• 10/14/2007 - 10/21/2007
• 10/21/2007 - 10/28/2007
• 10/28/2007 - 11/04/2007
• 11/04/2007 - 11/11/2007
• 11/11/2007 - 11/18/2007
• 11/18/2007 - 11/25/2007
• 11/25/2007 - 12/02/2007
• 12/02/2007 - 12/09/2007
• 12/09/2007 - 12/16/2007
• 12/16/2007 - 12/23/2007
• 12/23/2007 - 12/30/2007
• 12/30/2007 - 01/06/2008

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