It always enraged me that the Bush Administration so willingly sent our troops off to fight in two wars of choice, but when they returned to the states with injuries or mental problems, they turned their backs on them. President Obama has been fighting for veterans for years and now as president he is helping them even more.
First, let’s take a look at what the last Republican administration did for veterans or rather, did TO veterans. Joan McCarter at Daily Kos gives us this in a post…
As VoteVets uncovered in 2008, the VA of those days deliberately misdiagnosed Veterans to reduce the cost of treatment and disability payments:
On March 20, 2008 a VA hospital’s PTSD program coordinator sent an e-mail to a number of VA employees, including psychologists, social workers, and a psychiatrist stating that due to an increased number of “compensation seeking veterans,” the staff should “refrain from giving a diagnosis of PTSD straight out” and they should “R/O [rule out] PTSD” and consider a diagnosis of “Adjustment Disorder” instead.
How shitty is that to send young men and women into a horrible, frightening, brutal environment and then when these young people suffer mental problems from it, those fuckers just abandoned them. And not just abandon but actually put up roadblocks for them, make them suffer a little more. Not many people know that each year, over 6000 veterans commit suicide. That’s twice the national average. CBS News did some excellent research on this…
Dr. Steve Rathbun is the acting head of the Epidemiology and Biostatistics Department at the University of Georgia. CBS News asked him to run a detailed analysis of the raw numbers that we obtained from state authorities for 2004 and 2005.
It found that veterans were more than twice as likely to commit suicide in 2005 than non-vets. (Veterans committed suicide at the rate of between 18.7 to 20.8 per 100,000, compared to other Americans, who did so at the rate of 8.9 per 100,000.)
One age group stood out. Veterans aged 20 through 24, those who have served during the war on terror. They had the highest suicide rate among all veterans, estimated between two and four times higher than civilians the same age. (The suicide rate for non-veterans is 8.3 per 100,000, while the rate for veterans was found to be between 22.9 and 31.9 per 100,000.)
President Obama has done more for veterans in 18 months than the previous administration did in 8 years. Well, really, the Bush administration made many steps backwards for veterans all the while claiming to be the party that represents the military through it’s propaganda machines like Fox News and the rest of the right wing media which was aided and abetted by the cable news networks. Check this out from VetVoice via Daily Kos…
After already increasing VA funding and signing a bill to insure advanced funding for the Department, President Obama’s Department of Veterans Affairs plans to announce next week that it is removing the speed-bumps that hindered PTSD afflicted Vets from obtaining a disability rating:
The government is making it easier for combat veterans diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder to receive disability benefits.
The Veterans Affairs Department plans to announce Monday it will no longer require veterans to prove what might have triggered their illness. Instead, they would have to show that they served in combat in a job that could have contributed to post-traumatic stress disorder.
The nearly 20 percent of Veterans who return with signs of PTSD will now find it easier to obtain what they earned when they bravely defended their country. Making the process for obtaining benefits as smooth as possible is the least we owe these heroes. This decision to streamline the process for PTSD claims illustrates a commitment to our Veterans from this Administration that was absent for eight years under previous leadership…
…The new PTSD guidelines aren’t just a boon to Iraq and Afghanistan veterans–they apply to all veterans, and there are still many Vietnam vets suffering, who’ve waited decades for this help.
Hooray President Obama, finally someone who actually cares about the people that presidents like to send off to do their dirty work. Now I know a lot of people on the far left think Obama is just as bad as Bush was when it comes to wars and in my opinion, these people are really out of their minds. I completely understand the principled stance that no wars are good, I personally wish we lived in a world where they weren’t necessary. I never think war is a solution to any problem and am against all wars. Having said that, let me remind people that President Obama DID NOT get us into these two wars and in fact Barack Obama was one of the lone people who stood up against the Iraq war when everyone was signing from the same hymnal about WMD’s…remember that shit. Here is a Youtube post that uses people to read his speech in 2002 (before the war) which has apparently been lost…
Here is a transcript of that speech, please go read it, even you trolls who will undoubtedly go berserk over this post. And I challenge all you “Hillary inspired Obama haters” to go find what ole’ Hillary said in 2002 about the Iraq war. I only say that because some of President Obama’s harshest critics are these folks. If you watch that video or read the transcript, you might notice that this young, future president nailed it…absolutely nailed it…in predicting what would happen if we invade Iraq.
Active Duty Troops
So now onto how he cares for active troops. He’s bringing them home where they belong. This is from a blog I just came across called Musings on Iraq…
U.S. forces are scheduled to draw down to 50,000 by September 1, 2010 following President Obama’s withdrawal plan. It’s hardly been noticed, but U.S. troops are almost at that level already.
Since 2009 over 60,000 U.S. soldiers have been pulled out of Iraq. In January 2009 when Obama first took office, there were 142,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. After that, several thousand were withdrawn every couple months, going down to 140,000 in February, 137,000 in March, 134,000 in May, 130,000 in June, etc. According to the spokesman for U.S. forces in Iraq, there are currently 77,500 U.S. personnel in Iraq as of July 2010.
U.S. Troop Strength In Iraq 2003-2010
May 2003 150,000 – Invasion force
October 2007 171,000 – Height of Surge
January 2009 142,000 – Beginning Obama administration
February 2010 98,000
President Obama is doing exactly what he said he would do. How many of you have seen stories from the MSM about this? Or on the 24 hour cable news networks? I know that many of these troops are being re-assigned to Afghanistan, where the Obama administration is focusing it’s efforts to weaken Al Qaeda and help get some semblance of a stable government in place. Rachel Maddow was over there last week and did some excellent reporting about what’s going on. Her and Richard Engel are both amazing and paint a much different picture than you will hear out of the right-wing noise machine AND the MSM. Rachel had an exchange with Ann Curry from the Today show where Ann tried her hardest to be a Fox News morning host but Rachel told it like it is, like she usually does. From a Crooks and Liars post about the exchange…
This is the first time I’ve seen a journalist really try to get beyond the basics of the Afghan war and into the details of what our military is actually doing, what they hope to accomplish, and how they’re going about accomplishing it. Rachel Maddow is hardly a hawk, so part of the remarkable quality of her reporting is seeing her come to an understanding that much of what’s being done involves helping people, not killing them.
This clearly doesn’t fit the story they want to tell on The Today Show. Watch the video as Rachel is questioned about the July deadline and the supposed “delayed Kandahar strategy.”
For some reason the video C&L has up there isn’t Rachel on the Today show but here is some of the transcript, once again courtesy of Crooks and Liars…
CURRY: In fact, let’s talk about that. It’s a year from now that the US troops are scheduled to leave. We’re 104 months into this war, Afghanistan is now the longest war in US history. June was the deadliest month in the war with 60 Americans killed, Rachel. And so is this president’s deadline of leaving a year from now, beginning to withdraw a year from now, actually realistic?
Translated: FOX thinks a deadline is foolish. Don’t you think so too, Rachel?
And Rachel’s answer is perfect, because it’s the truth and it makes sense. That July deadline isn’t just there for show:
MADDOW: There have been a lot of critics who have said that that deadline doesn’t make sense in terms of military strategy. But I think that’s only true if you think of war, this kind of war, as if it’s some kind of D-Day every day. It’s really not like that. Counterinsurgency doesn’t look like that. The point of this counterinsurgency strategy is to set up an Afghan government so that Afghanistan is essentially hardened against the Taliban coming back into power and against them link — them — Afghanistan again linking up with these extremist groups. The deadline is not for military strategy in pure military terms. The deadline is so the Afghan government feels like they’ve really got to get their act together and stand up and get it done. I have to tell you that, you know, the counterinsurgency doctrine may not work. It may not work no matter what we do to set up — try to set up Afghan government here. But it definitely won’t work without a deadline, at least in Kandahar, not based on what I’ve seen after this latest embedding.
Rachel Maddow is no hawk, she’s telling the truth about what is going on in Afghanistan – which doesn’t fit in the alternate reality that some on both the left and right seem to be living in. It is creating much cognitive dissonance in their brains…..many I’m sure are just tuning it out or simply denying it. I’m sure my favorite troll will call me and President Obama murderers and all sorts of vile stuff, I really feel sorry for him, not just because his comments always end up in my spam filter but that his brain is actually so clouded that clear thoughts can’t emerge.
I firmly believe that the Obama administration really will have fighting troops out of both Iraq and Afghanistan by the end of his first term. Until then, the haters will surely claim he can’t do it, he’s a warmonger or from the right, he’s soft on terrorism or whatever else Frank Luntz tells them to say. President Obama is proving to be a much better president than I even imagined, he’s able to stay on track and stay focused even with the fickle media (MSNBC and CNN) and the hard right-wing liars (Fox News) and the lame mainstream media (thanks Sarah) trying to trump up stupid ass process stories or the latest poll of 700 people who still have land-line phones. Results really do have a huge effect on the general public, much more effect than the media does. And since the public IS so fickle, with a coordinated advertising campaign for the general election in November, the Democrats simply have to tell the truth about what has ACTUALLY happened over the first two years of Democrats in control and that is much easier when you have the truth on your side.