Saturday, February 17, 2007

Wounded Vets Face Neglect At Walter Reed

Behind the door of Army Spec. Jeremy Duncan's room, part of the wall is torn and hangs in the air, weighted down with black mold. When the wounded combat engineer stands in his shower and looks up, he can see the bathtub on the floor above through a rotted hole. The entire building, constructed between the world wars, often smells like greasy carry-out. Signs of neglect are everywhere: mouse droppings, belly-up cockroaches, stained carpets, cheap mattresses.

This is the world of Building 18, not the kind of place where Duncan expected to recover when he was evacuated to Walter Reed Army Medical Center from Iraq last February with a broken neck and a shredded left ear, nearly dead from blood loss. But the old lodge, just outside the gates of the hospital and five miles up the road from the White House, has housed hundreds of maimed soldiers recuperating from injuries suffered in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

More loathesome details of how our combat vets wounded in action are being treated. For not the first time, it's time to state that this is how veterans are "respected" by the yellow ribbon magnet on the SUV crowd. Support the troops by doing whatever lame-brained idea President Bush comes up with is their idea. Funding cuts are ok for the vets, mold covered walls are just swell. But don't you dare criticize George Bush's strategy. That would be dishonoring the troops.

Every lame brained member of congress who voted to continue the surge needs to spend a week in Specialist Duncan's room and answer to their constituents about how they really support the troops.