Monday, March 05, 2007

Blame for the mess at Walter Reed? Lay it directly at the door of the Privatizer In Chief, who doesn’t seem to care how much shattered vets suffer.

The scandal of outpatient “care” at Walter Reed Army Hospital (and perhaps at others, yet to be discovered) is a national disgrace directly created by George W. Bush’s drive to privatize virtually anything the government does.

Sure, President Bush talks a good game about “supporting the troops” when it comes to putting them in harm’s way and getting them killed and maimed. But when it comes to actually supporting those who survived – minus one or both legs, minus one or both arms, minus their eyesight or hearing, minus their sanity or full mental functioning – forget it.

There ought to be a lot more play given to a story in the Army Times that begins with the revelation that the Army for some reason initially refused to allow Major General George W. Weightman to testify before a legislative committee looking into the appalling mess at Walter Reed.


The Army Times story went on to reveal that the downward slide began after “Walter Reed… awarded a five-year, $120-million contract to IAP Worldwide Services, which is run by Al Neffgen, a former senior Halliburton official.” Essentially, it was a contract to take outpatient care out of the hands of the military and put it in the hands of businessmen friends of the Bush Administration.

Once again the White House got its priorities twisted. In the insanely doctrinaire rush to privatize every government function it can think of, George Bush & Company handed over management of this facility to a company where the first priority was to make a buck.

Right. Make a buck. Off the backs of our wounded soldiers whom the President tells us we’re not supporting if we urge him to end the war that got them maimed in the first place.

According to the Army Times, another discovery is that “more than 300 federal employees providing facilities management services at Walter Reed had drooped to fewer than 60 by Feb. 3, 2007, the day before IAP took over facilities management. IAP replaced the remaining 60 employees with only 50 private workers.”


You’d think that if George Bush really wants to support the troops, he might make it easy for destitute and near-destitute families of wounded soldiers and marines to quickly get their benefits. Fat chance!

Actually, “the Army fights them on benefits. As one soldier, who was ripped apart by an IED that ruptured his spleen, ripped out his colon, broke his leg and tore ligaments from his knee put it: ‘The Army is trying to give you the lowest amount of money possible.’”


Moreover, George Bush knew of the atrocious conditions well before the scandal in the press – and chose to do nothing.

You can see “What me worry?” George’s press secretary Tony Snow admit the truth . Just go here:

So what are we to make of Defense Secretary Gates’ statement, ““I am concerned that some do not properly understand the need to communicate to the wounded and their families that we have no higher priority than their care and that addressing their concerns about the quality of their outpatient experience is critically important. Our wounded soldiers and their families have sacrificed much and they deserve the best we can offer."

Take it for what it is – sheer coverup hypocrisy – the very same hypocrisy that gets people who want to stop the war accused of “not supporting the troops.” The best support we can give them is to bring them home safely, now.

As for those pious statements of concern from the Bush Administration, which would rather screw up veteran care by privatizing it than actually give our shattered veterans any reasonable amount of care and assistance, the bitter truth is reflected in a song parody dating from about 1959. Here's what the Bush administration is really doing. Sing it to the tune of “When Johnny Comes Marching Home.”

When Johnny comes hobbling home again
Hurrah, Hurrah!
When Johnny comes hobbling home again
Hurrah, Hurrah!
Stumbling and tripping on his wooden leg
Give him a cup and let him beg
And we’ll all wave a big flag
When Johnny comes hobbling home.

1 comment:

Joe Noory said...

I've renovated 3 buildings and designed one new building at WRAMC (Walter Reed.)

Virtually all the privatization and outsourcing occured under Clinton's military budget cuts. It was where they were looking for that peace dividend.