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The Deplorable Treatment of Wounded Troops

Fred Reed

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For a country always at war, the United States is remarkably not interested in taking care of soldiers it has broken in its wars. Having bankrupted the country, Washington sinks every available penny into the two purposes of the military: funneling money into the arms industry, and fueling imperial ambitions, in large part of pasty fern-bar Napoleons at National Review and Commentary. The Veterans Administration is way back in the chow line. It doesn’t work very well. As best I can tell, nobody cares.

What do I mean, it doesn’t work? Consider a vet blinded or nearly so in some war or other. To use a computer, which has come to be necessary life, he needs screen-reader software, such as JAWS. It costs roughly a thousand dollars retail. For a blinded vet, most likely of slight education and no resources beyond his VA compensation, this is a lot of money.

The software could be provided quickly and easily, as follows: The vet fills out an application online, perhaps prints it, signs it, and scans it to the VA. An employee of the VA receives it and keys the veteran’s social-security number into his computer. In two seconds the vet’s records come up. Yep, blind. The VA emails him a URL and download key, by arrangement previously made with the manufacturer of the software. The vet downloads it. End of story. Elapsed time: an hour, plus download.

What really happens? To begin with, the VA is so disorganized, its web sites so badly designed, its technology so primitive, its staffing so inadequate, its unending forms so incomprehensible, that few vets can navigate the system. I can’t. The kid from Tennessee, with a room-temperature IQ and what passes now for a high-school education, doesn’t have a chance. He will simply be ignored. I know this from personal experience. I have sent letter after letter to the educational-benefits office in Buffalo, and nothing comes back. This is common.

So much for supporting our boys in uniform. They are broken goods. What the hell. We can recruit new ones.

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