From the Yakima [WA] Herald-Republic:
It's rapidly becoming a national disgrace.
Our men and women in uniform are ordered into harm's way in far-flung places like Iraq and Afghanistan. Then they're tossed aside to battle with a hidebound bureaucracy when they return home in need of what should be the best medical care on earth.
Well, no more.
We've published one horror story too many about shabby treatment of our returning veterans since this war with no end in sight began more than four years ago. From rat-infested quarters at Walter Reed Hospital in the nation's capital to an overwhelmed military medical care system elsewhere, our veterans are being shortchanged by a systemic failure. They deserve the best care this nation can provide and for as long as it is needed.
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Last week, this newspaper carried a story on the appearance before a congressional committee by Denise Mettie of Selah. She told a story of incredible insensitivity on the part of Army officials in dealing with her wounded son, Spc. Evan Mettie of Selah. She said the Army knew her son had post-traumatic stress disorder after his first tour of duty in Iraq but did nothing to treat it because if he was medicated, the Army wouldn't have been able to redeploy him.
As it turned out, when Evan Mettie returned for his second tour of duty, the 23-year-old 2002 Selah High School graduate suffered serious head wounds during a New Year's Day 2006 suicide car-bombing in Baji, Iraq. Subsequently, Denise Mettie said she signed away her son's health-care options without realizing it, agreeing to a medical retirement for her son. She told committee members that it was unfair for the Army to begin the retirement process just 17 days after Evan's injury -- especially since retirement limits health-care options.
We find it incredible the Army would so quickly push "retirement" for someone suffering severe brain injuries. It might be expedient, but it's certainly not in the interests of proper care. And sure enough, there have since been complications with his condition.
We totally agree with U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, who told Mettie that "our country owes you and your son an apology. Your son fought a war for our country. You shouldn't have had to fight every day to get him the care he deserves."
For the incessant talk of 'support the troops' that we've heard over and over and over again all of these years, you'd think that editorial boards and senators would have only the most glowly things to report on how our troops are faring after they return from the battlefield. Yet, here we are.
- U.S. News & World Report: More Evidence That Military Downgrading Disability Ratings
- Lead Ft. Lewis Army Lawyer: Military Stacks Deck Against PTSD, TBI-injured Troops
- When Time Isn't on Your Side: The Veterans' Medical Disability Claim System Backlog
- Fewer Vets Granted Permanent Disability Today Than in 2001, Based on Percentages
- 86,000+ OEF/OIF Vets Granted Disability; 30,000 Claims Pending
- Local Angle on National Story: Veterans Claim Processing Nightmare
- House Bill Introduced to Allow Vets Legal Rep for VA Claims
- House Reps, Dems Push Bush Admin to Increase VA Staffing
- Veteran Filing a PTSD Claim? Here's Help...
- Civil War-era Legal Pay Limit for Vet Claim Help May Be Lifted