[Hpn] When the Government Turns Its Back On Our Veterans:

William C. Tinker wtinker@verizon.net
Mon, 03 Dec 2007 00:39:33 -0500


This is a multi-part message in MIME format.

------=_NextPart_000_0084_01C83544.F93A60A0
Content-Type: text/plain;
	charset="iso-8859-1"
Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable

Sunday, December 02, 2007
http://healthybagofpolitics.blogspot.com/2007/12/when-government-turns-it=
s-back-on-our.html

When the Government Turns Its Back On Our Veterans:=20

Mental illness is something that is common, but not talked about. =
Families keep histories of mental illness under wraps as family secrets. =
People who are predisposed towards depression, bi-polar disorder, =
schizophrenia, and the thousands of other illnesses that make up the =
"DSM" are often unaware of it. Many try to be productive citizens; some =
join the military, and some even volunteer for service in Iraq.

These are people that are making a sacrifice for their fellow citizens. =
These are people that, at home, hear the call to serve and answer it. =
They are the people that take their shirt off to form a make-shift =
tourniquet if they're on the scene of an auto accident. These are the =
people that are volunteer firefighters; these are the people that walk =
into buildings to save a stranger's life or pet. These are the people =
that society says are "its heroes." But, after they get back from Iraq =
or Afghanistan, we don't treat them like heroes; instead we treat them =
like criminals.=20

Iraq is a stressful place to be. Being under constant threat of severe =
bodily injury and death is a frightening prospect. Danger is around =
every turn; the mind learns to remember certain haunting images and =
sounds. In combat, this is a survival technique. But when one returns =
home, a drum or a siren can cause a flashback and inhibit a person's =
ability to function.=20

This disorder has a name: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD =
causes people to avoid certain places that remind them of a traumatic =
event. According to the National Institutes of Health, PTSD causes =
people to have increased anxiety levels, irrational outbursts of anger, =
and difficulty concentrating. In short, PTSD is a serious mental illness =
and a common injury sustained in Iraq: 30% of Iraq veterans develop PTSD =
or other mental illnesses within 3 months of their return to the United =
States.

These are people that have sacrificed for this country. These are people =
that have given their minds for this country. And how do we treat these =
people: sadly, like criminals. The military has an institutional phobia =
of mental illness. The military's end-of-tour mental screening systems =
only catch 1/10th of mentally ill veterans. When people lose their =
ability to function, the military-desperate for "boots on the =
ground"-dismisses their complaints as "trying to get out of service," a =
fine bureaucratic term for the word cowardice.=20

Many that are threatened by the military return to Iraq, only to do more =
harm to their minds. The ones that persist are dishonorably discharged =
because of mental illness. They lose access to veterans health =
benefits-the very thing that might be able to bring the noble and =
idealistic person that volunteered for duty back to society's fold. =
People that have sacrificed for their country see their country turn =
their backs on them; those that have sacrificed for their country are =
denied the treatment that they need to get better. Many end up homeless; =
the Veteran's Affairs Department found that there are already 1,500 =
homeless Iraqi veterans; others have estimated that the number of =
homeless Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans could be as high as 10,000.=20

When faced with problems like these, any presidential administration =
should think about President Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln commuted the =
sentences of thousands of deserters and others with mental illnesses. In =
his last major speech before his death he outlined a policy showed =
empathy towards those that carried the scars of battle:

  With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the =
right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the =
work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who =
shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan -- to do =
all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among =
ourselves, and with all nations
If the current President of the United States would only listen to his =
party's greatest leader. If the current President would only show =
empathy towards those that have served. Unfortunately, the Bush =
administration has continued with its irrational bent on items related =
to Veterans' care at home.=20

The Army-which the President has absolute power over as =
commander-in-chief-is embarking on a new, arrogant, short-sided, and =
vicious policy: it's trying to lock up mentally ill soldiers for life. =
Those that have faced danger, or seen the results of it while working in =
medical wards and later develop a mental illness that can prompt a =
suicide attempt, have to worry about being court martialed for their =
suicide attempt (which is a crime, punishable by life in prison, under =
the Uniform Code of Military Justice).=20

This morning, Washington Post ran a feature article on the case of =
Elizabeth Whiteside, a soldier that has a psychotic episode in Iraq. =
Whiteside attempted to kill herself by discharging her weapon into her =
chest while working in the prison that housed Saddam Hussein shortly =
after his death. The Army found that Whiteside had severe mental =
illnesses (depression and personality disorder) that caused her episode. =
After the injury to her lung healed, she was sent to Walter Reed's =
psychiatric unit.=20

There, she received care. There, she watched as many of her comrades =
were abruptly discharged from the service and not given the benefits =
they deserved. The Army labeled Whiteside's illness as an "excuse," and =
gave her a choice of a court martial on attempted suicide charges that =
could lead to life in prison, or a discharge that would deny her the =
treatment that she desperately needs. If this was the Army giving a =
soldier that lost both legs in battle the choice between a free life =
without the prosthetics that they need to function and a life in prison, =
there would be a very well justified outrage in the country. But, =
because mental illnesses are the "unseen" illnesses, nothing is said =
about this.=20

The blame for these actions lies squarely with the White House. The =
President could stop such reckless action by firing the Generals that =
labeled Whiteside's mental illness "an excuse." The President has the =
absolute authority to pardon mentally ill soldiers, like Elizabeth =
Whiteside. And the President also has the authority to issue a military =
order that would ban the prosecution of veterans that are or have =
received treatment at the psychiatric unit of Walter Reed Medical =
Center.=20

It should be noted that the President himself also bears the ultimate =
responsibility for the current morass of Veterans' care. By promoting =
irresponsible tax cuts in a time of war, the President has created a =
fiscal crisis. Agencies like the Army look for ways to keep costs =
down-and denying benefits to those that have served provides significant =
long-term savings to the Department of Defense and the Department of =
Veterans' Affairs. To those that drive big SUVs and make three hundred =
thousand dollars a year, I have a question: would you be willing to pay =
$2,800 a year more in taxes to ensure that people like Elizabeth =
Whiteside get the treatment they need to make life with their =
battle-provoked mental illnesses bearable? If the answer is no, then I =
have a simple statement for you: "Supporting the Troops," means more =
than a yellow ribbon on the back of your Escalade.
------=_NextPart_000_0084_01C83544.F93A60A0
Content-Type: text/html;
	charset="iso-8859-1"
Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable

<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN">
<HTML><HEAD>
<META http-equiv=3DContent-Type content=3D"text/html; =
charset=3Diso-8859-1">
<META content=3D"MSHTML 6.00.2900.3199" name=3DGENERATOR>
<STYLE></STYLE>
</HEAD>
<BODY bgColor=3D#ffffff>
<DIV>
<H2 class=3Ddate-header>Sunday, December 02, 2007</H2>
<DIV class=3Ddate-header><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2><A=20
href=3D"http://healthybagofpolitics.blogspot.com/2007/12/when-government-=
turns-its-back-on-our.html">http://healthybagofpolitics.blogspot.com/2007=
/12/when-government-turns-its-back-on-our.html</A></FONT></DIV>
<DIV class=3Ddate-header>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV class=3D"post hentry"><A name=3D8122295736315692369></A>
<H3 class=3D"post-title entry-title"><A=20
href=3D"http://healthybagofpolitics.blogspot.com/2007/12/when-government-=
turns-its-back-on-our.html">When=20
the Government Turns Its Back On Our Veterans:</A> </H3>
<DIV class=3Dpost-header-line-1></DIV>
<DIV class=3D"post-body entry-content">
<P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal>Mental illness is something that is common, but not =
talked=20
about. Families keep histories of mental illness under wraps as family =
secrets.=20
People who are predisposed towards depression, bi-polar disorder, =
schizophrenia,=20
and the thousands of other illnesses that make up the =93DSM=94 are =
often unaware of=20
it. Many try to be productive citizens; some join the military, and some =
even=20
volunteer for service in <?XML:NAMESPACE PREFIX =3D ST1 /><ST1:PLACE=20
st=3D"on"><ST1:COUNTRY-REGION =
st=3D"on">Iraq</ST1:COUNTRY-REGION></ST1:PLACE>.</P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal>These are people that are making a sacrifice for =
their fellow=20
citizens. These are people that, at home, hear the call to serve and =
answer it.=20
They are the people that take their shirt off to form a make-shift =
tourniquet if=20
they=92re on the scene of an auto accident. These are the people that =
are=20
volunteer firefighters; these are the people that walk into buildings to =
save a=20
stranger=92s life or pet. These are the people that society says are =
=93its heroes.=94=20
But, after they get back from <ST1:COUNTRY-REGION=20
st=3D"on">Iraq</ST1:COUNTRY-REGION> or <ST1:PLACE =
st=3D"on"><ST1:COUNTRY-REGION=20
st=3D"on">Afghanistan</ST1:COUNTRY-REGION></ST1:PLACE>, we don=92t treat =
them like=20
heroes; instead we treat them like criminals. </P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><ST1:COUNTRY-REGION st=3D"on"><ST1:PLACE=20
st=3D"on">Iraq</ST1:PLACE></ST1:COUNTRY-REGION> is a stressful place to =
be. Being=20
under constant threat of severe bodily injury and death is a frightening =

prospect. Danger is around every turn; the mind learns to remember =
certain=20
haunting images and sounds. In combat, this is a survival technique. But =
when=20
one returns home, a drum or a siren can cause a flashback and inhibit a =
person=92s=20
ability to function. </P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal>This disorder has a name: Post-Traumatic Stress =
Disorder=20
(PTSD). PTSD causes people to avoid certain places that remind them of a =

traumatic event. <A=20
href=3D"http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000925.htm"><FONT=
=20
color=3D#bb3300>According to the National Institutes of Health, PTSD =
causes people=20
to have increased anxiety levels, irrational outbursts of anger, and =
difficulty=20
concentrating</FONT></A>. In short, PTSD is a serious mental illness and =
a=20
common injury sustained in <ST1:COUNTRY-REGION=20
st=3D"on">Iraq</ST1:COUNTRY-REGION>: <A=20
href=3D"http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8743574/"><FONT color=3D#bb3300>30% =
of=20
<ST1:COUNTRY-REGION st=3D"on">Iraq</ST1:COUNTRY-REGION> veterans develop =
PTSD or=20
other mental illnesses within 3 months of their return to the <ST1:PLACE =

st=3D"on"><ST1:COUNTRY-REGION st=3D"on">United=20
States</ST1:COUNTRY-REGION></ST1:PLACE></FONT></A>.</P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal>These are people that have sacrificed for this =
country. These=20
are people that have given their minds for this country. And how do we =
treat=20
these people: sadly, like criminals. The military has an institutional =
phobia of=20
mental illness. The military's e<A=20
href=3D"http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?db=3Dpubmed&amp;uid=3D15=
229303&amp;cmd=3Dshowdetailview&amp;indexed=3Dgoogle"><FONT=20
color=3D#bb3300>nd-of-tour mental screening systems only catch =
1/10<SUP>th</SUP>=20
of mentally ill veterans</FONT></A>. When people lose their ability to =
function,=20
the military=97desperate for =93boots on the ground=94=97dismisses their =
complaints as=20
=93trying to get out of service,=94 a fine bureaucratic term for the =
word cowardice.=20
</P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal>Many that are threatened by the military return to=20
<ST1:COUNTRY-REGION st=3D"on"><ST1:PLACE=20
st=3D"on">Iraq</ST1:PLACE></ST1:COUNTRY-REGION>, only to do more harm to =
their=20
minds. <A=20
href=3D"http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=3D16330374">=
<FONT=20
color=3D#bb3300>The ones that persist are dishonorably discharged =
because of=20
mental illness</FONT></A>. They lose access to veterans health =
benefits=97the very=20
thing that might be able to bring the noble and idealistic person that=20
volunteered for duty back to society=92s fold. People that have =
sacrificed for=20
their country see their country turn their backs on them; those that =
have=20
sacrificed for their country are denied the treatment that they need to =
get=20
better. Many end up homeless; <A=20
href=3D"http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5iYnszzVzBGsnZ2wksP-S2d6ocwwwD8=
SP8O1O0"><FONT=20
color=3D#bb3300>the Veteran=92s Affairs Department found that there are =
already=20
1,500 homeless Iraqi veterans</FONT></A>; others have estimated that<A=20
href=3D"http://www.lahomelessblog.org/2007/07/are-we-seeing-more-iraq-war=
-veterans.html"><FONT=20
color=3D#bb3300> the number of homeless Iraq and Afghanistan =
Veterans<SPAN>=20
</SPAN>could be as high as 10,000</FONT></A>. </P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal>When faced with problems like these, any =
presidential=20
administration should think about President Abraham Lincoln. <ST1:CITY=20
st=3D"on"><ST1:PLACE st=3D"on">Lincoln</ST1:PLACE></ST1:CITY> commuted =
the sentences=20
of thousands of deserters and others with mental illnesses. In his last =
major=20
speech before his death he outlined a policy showed empathy towards =
those that=20
carried the scars of battle:</P>
<BLOCKQUOTE>With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness =
in=20
  the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to =
finish the=20
  work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who =
shall have=20
  borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan -- to do all which =
may=20
  achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and =
with all=20
  nations</BLOCKQUOTE>
<P class=3DMsoNormal>If the current President of the <ST1:PLACE=20
st=3D"on"><ST1:COUNTRY-REGION st=3D"on">United=20
States</ST1:COUNTRY-REGION></ST1:PLACE> would only listen to his =
party=92s=20
greatest leader. If the current President would only show empathy =
towards those=20
that have served. Unfortunately, the Bush administration has continued =
with its=20
irrational bent on items related to Veterans=92 care at home. </P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal>The Army=97which the President has absolute power =
over as=20
commander-in-chief=97is embarking on a new, arrogant, short-sided, and =
vicious=20
policy: it=92s trying to lock up mentally ill soldiers for life. Those =
that have=20
faced danger, or seen the results of it while working in medical wards =
and later=20
develop a mental illness that can prompt a suicide attempt, have to =
worry about=20
being court martialed for their suicide attempt (which is a crime, =
punishable by=20
life in prison, under the Uniform Code of Military Justice). </P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal><A=20
href=3D"http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/01/A=
R2007120101782.html?hpid=3Dtopnews&amp;sub=3DAR&amp;sid=3DST2007120101816=
"><FONT=20
color=3D#bb3300>This morning, Washington Post ran a feature article on =
the case of=20
<SPAN></SPAN>Elizabeth Whiteside, a soldier that has a psychotic episode =
in=20
<ST1:COUNTRY-REGION st=3D"on"><ST1:PLACE=20
st=3D"on">Iraq</ST1:PLACE></ST1:COUNTRY-REGION></FONT></A>. Whiteside =
attempted to=20
kill herself by discharging her weapon into her chest while working in =
the=20
prison that housed Saddam Hussein shortly after his death. The Army =
found that=20
Whiteside had severe mental illnesses (depression and personality =
disorder) that=20
caused her episode. After the injury to her lung healed, she was sent to =
Walter=20
Reed=92s psychiatric unit. </P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal>There, she received care. There, she watched as =
many of her=20
comrades were abruptly discharged from the service and not given the =
benefits=20
they deserved. The Army labeled Whiteside=92s illness as an =
=93excuse,=94 and gave her=20
a choice of a court martial on attempted suicide charges that could lead =
to life=20
in prison, or a discharge that would deny her the treatment that she =
desperately=20
needs. If this was the Army giving a soldier that lost both legs in =
battle the=20
choice between a free life without the prosthetics that they need to =
function=20
and a life in prison, there would be a very well justified outrage in =
the=20
country. But, because mental illnesses are the =93unseen=94 illnesses, =
nothing is=20
said about this. <SPAN></SPAN><SPAN></SPAN><SPAN></SPAN></P>
<P class=3DMsoNormal>The blame for these actions lies squarely with the =
White=20
House. The President could stop such reckless action by firing the =
Generals that=20
labeled Whiteside=92s mental illness =93an excuse.=94 The President has =
the absolute=20
authority to pardon mentally ill soldiers, like Elizabeth Whiteside. And =
the=20
President also has the authority to issue a military order that would =
ban the=20
<SPAN></SPAN>prosecution of veterans that are or have received treatment =
at the=20
psychiatric unit of <ST1:PLACE st=3D"on"><ST1:PLACENAME=20
st=3D"on">Walter</ST1:PLACENAME> <ST1:PLACENAME =
st=3D"on">Reed</ST1:PLACENAME>=20
<ST1:PLACENAME st=3D"on">Medical</ST1:PLACENAME> <ST1:PLACETYPE=20
st=3D"on">Center</ST1:PLACETYPE></ST1:PLACE>. <SPAN></SPAN></P>It should =
be noted=20
that the President himself also bears the ultimate responsibility for =
the=20
current morass of Veterans=92 care. By promoting irresponsible tax cuts =
in a time=20
of war, the President has created a fiscal crisis. Agencies like the =
Army look=20
for ways to keep costs down=97and denying benefits to those that have =
served=20
provides significant long-term savings to the Department of Defense and =
the=20
Department of Veterans=92 Affairs. To those that drive big SUVs and make =
three=20
hundred thousand dollars a year, I have a question: would you be willing =
to pay=20
$2,800 a year more in taxes to ensure that people like Elizabeth =
Whiteside get=20
the treatment they need to make life with their battle-provoked mental =
illnesses=20
bearable? If the answer is no, then I have a simple statement for you:=20
=93Supporting the Troops,=94 means more than a yellow ribbon on the back =
of your=20
Escalade.</DIV></DIV></DIV></BODY></HTML>

------=_NextPart_000_0084_01C83544.F93A60A0--