NO BAILOUT FOR WOUNDED VETS

Cowboy hat By Jim Hightower - Thu., 10/9/08
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We've seen what Bush did when Wall Street's finest were revealed to be, in his words, "a house of cards." Next month's Lowdown will talk more about W's trillion-dollar taxpayer gift to Wall Street. But, where was he when America's wounded veterans--including thousands severely wounded in his misguided Iraq war--needed him? Last year he was caught unawares by the scandalous mistreatment vets were getting at the Army's Walter Reed hospital and other VA medical centers.

Bush promised to do something, and in February his army surgeon general told Congress that "we are entirely staffed at the point we need to be," adding with bravado that "a key element of our warrior ethos is that we never leave a soldier behind on the battlefield--or lost in a bureaucracy."

Great line! Mission accomplished!

But why aren't veterans applauding? Because they know it's not true. In June, congressional staffers investigated a wounded-vet center in Texas that was set up for 649 patients but is now jammed with more than 1,300. Another 350 vets are on a waiting list even though many are at high risk of suicide. Instead of being "entirely staffed," the center has only half the number of nurse case-managers it needs.

The Bushites' excuse? Gosh, they simply didn't anticipate so many wounded soldiers coming out of Iraq. Excuse me! The war has been going on for more than five years, and casualties have poured into hospitals since day one.



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