Wednesday, December 24, 2003
BUSH PAYS LIPSERVICE TO VETS, THEN SLASHES THEIR HEALTH CARE
Late last week President Bush visited combat veterans at Walter Reed Medical
Center. During his visit, he said "We have made a commitment to the troops,
and we have made a commitment to their loved ones, and that commitment is
that we will provide excellent health care - excellent care - to anybody who
is injured on the battlefield."
His comments stand in stark contrast to the policies he has pushed - and the
record he has amassed - as President. Just this year alone, the President
"announced his formal opposition to a proposal to give National Guard and
Reserve members access to the Pentagon's health-insurance system"- a slap in
the face to thousands of troops, especially considering "a recent General
Accounting Office report estimated that one of every five Guard members has
no health insurance". The President also this year proposed to cut $1.5
billion (14%) out of funding for military family housing/medical facilities.
This followed his 2002 budget which, according to major veterans groups,
"fell $1.5 billion short" of adequately funding veterans care.
This is not the first time the President has staged a photo-op to thank
veterans at Walter Reed and then proposed policies that hurt veterans. A
little less than a year ago, the President visited the medical hospital ,
and then on the same day announced his proposal to cut off 164,000 veterans
from the VA's prescription drug discount program.
The result of the President's harsh treatment of veterans is that "more than
235,000 veterans are currently waiting 6 months or more for initial medical
appointments" with "many veterans waiting 2 years just to be seen by a
doctor." At Ft. Stewart, Georgia, UPI reported "hundreds of sick and
wounded U.S. soldiers including many who served in the Iraq war are
languishing in hot cement barracks here while they wait - sometimes for
months - to see doctors." And CBS News reports that the administration
appears, in some cases, to be denying benefits to soldiers wounded in Iraq.
Specifically, many soldiers say they are seeing their pay and health
benefits severely reduced after they are badly wounded.