It’s interesting to watch the Bush Administration spastic reaction to problems it created, and the newest one is proving especially vexing as it involves their last remaining sacred cow: the military. More specifically, the soldier.
The medical treatment of returning soldiers has recently become a political football, but it goes back years. The Army Times cites the Government Accountability Office that
In 2001, 10 percent of soldiers going through the medical retirement process received permanent disability benefits. In 2005, with two wars raging, that percentage dropped to 3 percent, according to the Government Accountability Office. Reservists dropped from 16 percent to 5 percent.
You read that right – a mere 3% of soldiers forced to retire due to medical necessity, mostly through wounds received in combat, were given permanent disability benefits. In addition, I think that we can be well assured that the benefits handed out have been chiselled down as low as possible before being yanked from Uncle Sam’s hand. The case of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center is just the most recently revealed abuse of those that serve at the behest of the Commander in Chief, going back many years, abuse that will not end at the gates of that now-famous hospital.
The Walter Reed case is a nearly classic example of how this Administration reacts to problems which are the inevitable outcome of its own actions – ask for the heads of other people. If there is a phrase that sums up the Bush/Cheney presidency it will have to be culpable deniability. In this case, the combined effects of fighting two wars on a shoestring budget and the privatization of services at the hospital, which began in 2000, can only result in one thing – firing/retiring the managers below the level of real decision-making.
I mean, after all.
I will leave you with one final quote from the Army Times:
According to multiple sources, the decision to privatize support services at Walter Reed led to a precipitous drop in support personnel at Walter Reed.”
The committee’s letter also noted that Walter Reed awarded a five-year, $120 million contract to IAP Worldwide Services, which is run by Al Neffgen, a former senior Halliburton official.
You knew those bastards had to be involved, didn’t you?