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The Walking Wounded

body_of_war_

       On this day when we are to remember all who have fought and died in the wars that the United States has participated in, let’s also remember the walking wounded, those who are still among us but are now just shadows of what they once were, vital, young men and women who now suffer in ways that we cannot imagine and yet receive little to no support from our government.

       When the war in Iraq first began, I started to hear stories about the families left behind who had to go to food banks to receive enough to eat while the soldier was putting their life on the line for a cause that they felt was just, protecting the American people.

       These were soldiers who were called into duty as members of the National Guard. They did not receive the same benefits as those who were in the Army, Marine Corps or Navy. There are no subsidies for these families and yet Bush was calling them up one by one and they served. The irony of course is that during the Vietnam War, one way to get out of actually fighting was to join the National Guard. The National Guard was not called upon to fight overseas, simply to protect and assist in the United States. Bush joined the National Guard. Bush is the epitome of a “chicken hawk”.

       The phrase “Support our Troops” rings hollow in my ear when I hear it come from the mouths of those who truly do not care what happens to those who have fought their wars and are left with nothing.

       On this Memorial Day, let’s also recognize those among us who are here and yet have become invisible to us and who the government has actively chosen to ignore. Those in wheel chairs, those who are homeless, men and women who are emotionally wounded, those who have been raped and those who would rather die than continue to live.

       These are our children, the young men and women who came back broken and need our support to heal.

       There are walking wounded on both sides of each war. There are children, men and women who suffer daily from loss, wounds, emotional and physical, a demolished home or neighborhood and living in the chaos of war and its aftermath.

       Today I’ll start with Thomas Young.

From Chris Hedges:

One of First Iraq Veterans to Publicly Oppose War Will Die for Our Sins

Thomas Young viewing Ground Zero.

Thomas Young viewing Ground Zero.

I flew to Kansas City last week to see Tomas Young. Young was paralyzed in Iraq in 2004. He is now receiving hospice care at his home. I knew him by reputation and the movie documentary “Body of War.” He was one of the first veterans to publicly oppose the war in Iraq. He fought as long and as hard as he could against the war that crippled him, until his physical deterioration caught up with him.

“I had been toying with the idea of suicide for a long time because I had become helpless,” he told me in his small house on the Kansas City outskirts where he intends to die. “I couldn’t dress myself. People have to help me with the most rudimentary of things. I decided I did not want to go through life like that anymore. The pain, the frustration. …”

To read this article in full, go to truthout.

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Bill Moyers discussion with Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro on the documentary “Body of War”.

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Thomas Young now.

Thomas Young now.

       On Democracy Now, an interview with Thomas Young:

Dying Iraq War Veteran Tomas Young Explains Decision to End His Life.

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       A friend of mine has a brother who suffered emotional and physical wounds from the Iraq war. My friend spent most of her free time dealing with the VA to get support for treatment of her brother’s wounds. It was frustrating and demoralizing for both of them and yet he was lucky, he had an advocate. Many don’t.

From Amy Goodman who continually brings attention to the plight of our soldiers:

Army Strips Benefits of Wounded Veterans by Kicking Them Out for Misconduct

A new investigation by the Colorado Springs Gazette says the U.S. Army is downsizing from a decade of war by increasingly kicking out soldiers, including wounded combat veterans. Despite serving multiple tours of duty, the wounded soldiers lose their medical care and other benefits for life.

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Veterans Administration Battles Backlog of Claims for Wounded Soldiers

On Veterans Day, we look at a major new investigation by journalist Aaron Glantz that questions the government’s commitment to soldiers struggling to re-enter civilian life. Called “Accuracy isn’t priority as VA battles disability claims backlog,” the report reveals how thousands of veterans have been denied disability benefits as a result of errors by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Glantz tells the story of Navy veteran Hosea Roundtree, whose claim for disability compensation was denied by the VA despite Roundtree suffering flashbacks of a shelling he witnessed in Beirut while aboard a U.S. Navy ship in 1983. The VA has a duty to assist veterans in developing their facts and evidence to support their claims, but the department reprimanded one of its own employees for attempting to do just that for Roundtree. Jamie Fox lost her job in 2008 after she wrote a memo to her boss arguing that Roundtree’s disability benefits were being denied wrongfully.

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You can watch the video:

Mother of Iraq Veteran Who Committed Suicide: “Honor the Dead, Heal the Wounded, Stop the Wars”

On a makeshift stage outside the NATO summit in Chicago, antiwar veterans fold an American flag that flew over NATO operations from Bosnia to Libya and which represents the flag that is “draped over the coffins of thousands of Americans killed in combat and thousands more who have committed suicide after they returned from service.” They present the flag to Mary Kirkland, mother of Derrick Kirkland, who joined the military in 2007 and committed suicide in March 2010 after his second tour of duty in Iraq. “I am not ashamed that I have to tell people that my son committed suicide. I am ashamed of the military for failing to give him proper mental health treatment,” Kirkland says. The military originally reported that her son was killed in action.

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Iraqi Civilians Join U.S. Veterans in New Effort to Recover from War’s Devastation

On the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, we look at how U.S. military veterans and Iraqi civilians have come together to launch the “Right to Heal” campaign for those who continue to struggle with the war’s aftermath. We’re joined by U.S. Army Sergeant Maggie Martin, who was part of the invading force in March 2003 and is now director of organizing for Iraq Veterans Against the War. We are also joined by Yanar Mohammed, president of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, who describes how the condition of women has deteriorated in Iraq, with many young women and orphans pushed into sex trafficking. Mohammed’s organization has also documented the toxic legacy of the U.S. military’s munitions in Iraq by interviewing Iraqi mothers who face an epidemic of birth defects.

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I’ll end this with a song by Rise Against.

-Dora Taylor

2 comments on “The Walking Wounded

  1. ralphiesmom
    May 27, 2013

    Stunning report. Thank you. I’ve posted a link on my blog, SIRATYST.

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This entry was posted on May 27, 2013 by in Commentary and tagged , , , .
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