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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Consequences and Casualties of War

Consequences and Casualties of War
Image © Austin Cline
Original Poster: National Archives
Click for full-sized Image

The scars of war are ugly, but perhaps not as ugly as the treatment that is sometimes endured by those bearing the scars — and I'm not talking about the events in which those scars were acquired, either. As if it weren't bad enough that young men and women are having their bodies (and brains) severely damaged in an unnecessary war launched on the basis of lies and misinformation, some of those returning are facing serious abuse and mistreatment by their communities and even the government.

It's supposed to be the liberals, remember, who are somehow guilty of "not supporting the troops," but with support like what we are currently seeing, perhaps the troops could do with a bit less of it? Recent stories from both Britain and America reveal the extent to which people can hold in contempt the lives being shattered on pointless battlefields.

In Surrey, injured veterans were trying to use a public pool for rehabilitation therapy, but were treated with verbal abuse by other swimmers. One woman complained that they didn't "deserve" to be there because they hadn't paid; others complained to management that the limbless veterans were scaring the children. Sounds like some people are too uncomfortable being faced with the unambiguous damage caused by their government's war-mongering. I hope some children were scared — scared of what the government can do to them if they don't take greater care in whom they vote for.

Here in America, a number of people who had to be discharged from the military due to extreme wounds suffered in battle were told that they had to pay back at least part of their signing bonuses. If you remember, the military's desperation for warm bodies has forced it to offer cash bonuses to people with needed skills who are willing to risk life and limbs for George Bush's war. Once they give up limbs and good health, though, the government suddenly wants its money back and argues that since they didn't stay for their full commitment, they don't "deserve" full payment. Fortunately, that decision has been rescinded and the military is saying that it was all a big mistake, but would that have happened had the media not jumped all over it?

The American situation is simply another chapter in a long, sordid tale of government disrespect for the lives, health, and needs of people serving in the military — and not just in the current conflict. Nearly a quarter of all the homeless are veterans, even though veterans make up less than a tenth of the total population. When it comes to the current conflict, people were sent into war being told that they'd be welcomed and honored as liberators; today they are being treated as a despised occupation force by significant numbers of people.

Because those responsible for planning and executing the conflict were so incompetent, those expected to actually fight were provided with too little body armor and vehicles without adequate protection. Many of those wounded, all too often as a consequence of all the foregoing errors, came home to inadequate and bureaucratically crippled health care at what are supposed to be among the best institutions available.

What else is in store for the people sent off to fight in unnecessary wars? You know that we haven't heard the last and that however outrageous the latest incidents are, it's always possible for those in charge to come up with something even more outrageous and immoral to do. There are no depths to which they won't sink and it's only a matter of time before they try something new — or until the people decide they've finally had enough and get rid of them.

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