Soldiers, Doctors and Bloated Criminals

Our leaders somehow just found $700 billion for the Pentagon to keep it running for just one more year. In comparison, the worst case scenario for the health reform price tag with a public option is $100 billion for one year. Often news outlets say that health care reform will cost $1 trillion, but what they don’t say is that it is spread out over 10 years. For the Pentagon and intelligence agencies, we spend over $1 trillion each year. If we look at the Wall Street bailout, the cost so far, including loans, is more than $3 trillion. So really, health care reform is just a very small drop in the bucket. And supporters even propose to pay for health care reform by raising taxes slightly on the wealthiest people in the country, so that it won’t cost us anything extra in budget deficits.

Still, I cannot understand how our leaders are so eager to give away our tax dollars to a perpetual war machine, and to corporate criminals who were likely very well aware of their nefarious actions upon our economy even as they committed them. Poorer people are having their property taken away by the very banks who caused the economic crisis, while those same banks continue getting more money and benefits from taxpayers. And yet so many of our leaders continue to claim we do not have enough money to care for our own people who cannot afford medical care. The insurance companies might lose profits. And if they do, our leaders fear that campaign contributions from the lucrative health insurance lobbies might take a significant hit. Right now corporate health concerns have six hired lobbyists for each and every member of congress and are spending well over a million dollars per day trying to control any health care reform that might happen.

Over the last few days I have had the fortune of reconnecting with an old friend who happened to spend years serving in our country’s military, including the Gulf War. The effects upon him from his service are apparent, physically, emotionally and mentally. Thankfully, he was both smart enough and humble enough to recognize that he needed help dealing with his situation, and has got some. But tragically, all at his own expense.

You see, our defense and intelligence agencies, despite their monstrous budgets, won’t pay for any of his medical treatment, neither physical nor psychological. And since we provide no health care for our own citizens, he has paid for his own recovery as best he can out of his own pocket. This has not been easy since some of the physical ailments suffered afterward left him hospitalized multiple times, and once with brain surgery for an infection that was somehow related to his lungs. He suffers from several chronic symptoms and has lost an inordinate amount of body mass. To top it all off, he also developed diabetes, requiring regular insulin injections, even though his family members have no history of diabetes. Interestingly, the Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration only recently acknowledged that the onset of diabetes was directly correlated to Vietnam Veteran’s exposure to chemicals, after more than 30 years of keeping people hoping for some type of financial assistance. Many of the symptoms exhibited by Gulf War veterans can be explained by similar autoimmune problems resulting from chemical exposure, including heavy pesticide use, forced inoculations for anthrax with vaccines unapproved by the FDA, experimental pills for biological weapons effect mitigation, and even such things as 300 tons of depleted uranium being dispersed in the skies. Yet these veterans are forced to claw their way through a dizzying maze of paperwork and departments to even prove they were deployed soldiers, let alone made ill during their service, in order to have any hope of medical assistance, and even then their efforts are often thwarted by one bureaucratic dead end after another. And it certainly doesn’t help matters when the DoD loses all records related to inoculations, both for the soldiers and for any scientists who may wish to study the causes of Gulf War Syndrome. No causes have yet been determined, yet the suffering of these soldiers is very real.

It angers me that we are a country who can treat its own people so callously, sending them off to war to risk their lives under the guise of an honorable patriotism that cares for its people, and then shrinks from its own responsibility to those people after they are spent. It angers me that we cannot even care for our own people’s basic medical needs. Because if we did care, at least these veterans would not need to try begging money to find treatment from the hands of those who sent them to die in the name of honor. Honor that is apparently nothing more than marketing tactics to the armed forces. It is clear: any claim to honor rests solely within the soldier alone. To our armed forces agencies, any notion of honor is meaningless. As meaningless as honor is to a medical insurance company, or any person who would deny anyone, soldier or not, the care of a physician in their illness or suffering.

I started writing this piece as a cost comparison to help us realizes the priorities our leaders have when allocating our public money. Their words are duplicitous, and any claims toward acting in our best interest are outrageous. Yes, that is a gross generalization. However, the voices of the very few leaders who genuinely do place our best interests first are drown out or marginalized into ineffectual whispers by the large money interests.

This friend I mentioned has, though he will not admit it, become demoralized trying for so many years to get the help he deserves, in futility, even as he continues to suffer with his afflictions. I am going to do all that I can to help him. Right now, he is grateful to me, but also laughing at me, saying he approached it with similar zeal until the bureaucratic behemoth finally beat him down. I expect all of you to help. Public money is our money, not just big company’s money. And we need to be there, for each other.

And for you conservatives who feel you know what honor is, look at yourselves. You cannot say it is honorable and necessary sending someone to die, yet dishonorable or unnecessary to help save someone’s life. To believe that is the mindset of a sociopath.