Monday, March 12, 2007

Injured Soldiers, Unfit to Fight, Forced to Go Back to Iraq

Huffington Post
Shelley Lewis
Injured Soldiers, Unfit to Fight, Forced to Go Back to Iraq

Now that some heads have rolled and some hearings have begun in the Walter Reed scandal, you might have thought you'd read the last awful story of shoddy treatment of our injured soldiers. Well, sorry. There's more.

Salon's Mark Benjamin, who has been writing about the shamefully poor treatment of wounded soldiers for more than two years, now has this story, entitled "The Army is Ordering Injured Troops to go to Iraq." It tells of soldiers at Ft.
Benning, Georgia, who had been classified as medically unfit for combat, who now have been reclassified as fit to go back. Some of them have already re-deployed to Iraq. The Army denies the soldiers' accusations, including one that some injured soldiers were re-classified as fit without even having a physical. Read it for yourself and draw your own conclusions.

Now read this story, "Mentally Unfit, Forced to Fight," a heartbreaking report by the Hartford Courant last May about soldiers sent to Iraq, or kept there, despite serious mental health problems, including suicide threats that ultimately were carried out. No doubt there are other stories, too. This is how we support our troops, apparently.

The Courant's story didn't get a lot of attention when it was published, and Mark Benjamin's first reporting on inadequate treatment at Walter Reed also got less notice than it deserved. But now, after the scandal stirred up by the Washington Post stories, maybe the Bush war machine will be forced to react.

What exactly are the Pentagon's policies regarding injured troops returned to battle? What about the new guidelines on soldiers who are deemed to have recovered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

The Walter Reed investigation needs to be expanded, before the Decider's request for more troops and more money is even considered.