Thursday, April 01, 2010

No way to determine the cost of veterans care

The Department of Veterans Affairs has no way of determining long-range health care costs for the veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a federal study on the wars' impact released Wednesday shows.
Conducted by the federal Institute of Medicine, the study says costs for the nearly 2 million veterans of the two wars will expand over the next 30 years before tapering off.

The above is from Gregg Zoroya's "VA uncertain of long-range health costs" (USA Today) and Elaine's off on Thursdays (she does her vets group Thursday nights and doesn't blog as a result) so let me note what she would, blood doesn't wash off your hands. You whore it once, you're a whore., you have blood on your hands and it will never, ever wash away. In 2004, you decided to whore it for Bully Boy Bush and attack John Kerry for rightly noting the huge costs the wars would have and how Bush wasn't in any way shape or form budgeting properly at the VA. There is no comeback from that kind of whoring. If you had any guts, if you had any integrity, you'd issue an apology and close shop. Shame on you and shame on anyone who pretends as though you're an honest broker. (And there are no excuses for it. As Elaine's repeatedly pointed out, it was obvious to anyone working with veterans that Kerry's remarks were correct. FactCheck refused to do a fact check. They have no excuse, only shame.)

On veterans health, HealthDay News reports:

The U.S. departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs urgently need to conduct research on how to help veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and their families readjust to post-deployment life and cope with mental health problems, as well as improve the management of traumatic brain injury (TBI), according to Returning Home from Iraq and Afghanistan, a preliminary assessment of veterans' needs by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.
George W. Rutherford, M.D., of the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues on the Committee on the Initial Assessment of Readjustment Needs of Military Personnel, Veterans, and Their Families, based their findings on a review of the literature on returning veterans, media reports, and testimony at town hall meetings. A second report will incorporate comprehensive findings from ongoing studies.

Julie Sullivan (Oregonian) looks at the impacts on Oregon service members, "Nearly 51 percent of the returning soldiers told commanders they have no job waiting. More than 170 have no permanent address. And, an exhaustive new national report finds that the most challenging transition for their families will come after they arrive."

March 13th, Pfc Erin McLyman was killed while serving in Iraq when her base was attacked with mortar fire. Scott Fontaine (News Tribune) reports that the 26-year-old's memorial service was yesterday and Fontaine quotes Spc Ryan Monohan stating, "It was unexplainable about how she could become an instant friend to all she met. [. . .] She was downright the most amazing woman I have ever met in my life."

In Detroit, Christina Hall (Detroit Free Press) reports, six-year-old Tyler Hartman (turns seven Sunday) got a surprise in the classroom when his mother Spec Lori Hartman arrived at his school. Hartman is home on a three-week pass. While at Fort Hood, a soldier has been court-martialed. Harper Scott Clark (Temple Daily Telegraph) reports that Iraq War veteran Eric Jasinski has been found guilty of desertion and sentenced to "at least 27 days in the Bell County jail" after he refused to deploy to Iraq at the end of 2007. Jasinski suffers from PTSD from his 2006 tour of Iraq and was seeking treatment at the time he refused to deploy.

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And we'll close with Simon Basketter's "Our government lied about torture in Iraq" (Great Britain's Socialist Worker):

The media has largely ignored evidence of British military torture used in Iraq, despite 47 claims of abuse against the government going before the courts.

Documents produced at the inquiry into the killing of Baha Mousa, an Iraqi hotel worker beaten to dealth while held by British troops in 2003, shows it was sanctioned.

Evidence presented there reveals prisoners were kept hooded for long periods in intense heat and deprived of sleep by intelligence officers.

The intelligence unit -- the Joint Forward Interrogation Team (JFIT) -- used “coercive techniques” and was not answerable to military commanders in Iraq.

The inquiry reveals the reality of the occupation -- prisoners were scalded with boiling water, urinated on, kicked, punched, hooded, sleep deprived and made to stand in stress positions.

These types of interrogation techniques were banned by the government in 1972 after a scandal over the use of torture in Northern Ireland. The army has consistently claimed that prisoner abuse was down to “rogue soldiers”.

In his statement Colonel Christopher Vernon said he raised concerns after seeing 30-40 prisoners in a kneeling position with sacks over their heads.

He said those in charge told him they were from the Defence and Intelligence Security Centre in Bedfordshire -- the British Army’s intelligence HQ.

He was told “they were an independent unit” reporting directly to London, and that hooding was “accepted practice” and would continue.

Vernon was asked if there was “some sort of feeling generally in the army that the intelligence people were slightly on their own and running their own show.”

He replied, “I think you could say that.”

In another statement an army legal adviser in Iraq revealed that a senior military intelligence officer told him, “there was a legitimate reason for it [torture], they had always done it and they would like to continue to do it.


“My recollection is that he said that they -- those at JFIT -- had been trained to hood.”

In an email disclosed by the inquiry Major Gavin Davies, a member of the army’s legal team, wrote in March 2003, “I have just spoken to S002 [code for an army intelligence officer in Iraq] about the subject of placing in hoods in the British facility.”

He says he was told hooding would only be used until “high value” prisoners can be interviewed, and that the length of hooding can last from an hour to 24 hours.

The only other restriction “is that they may not sleep”.

The military denies that it trained soldiers to use hoods.

But an email from a military legal officer at the Permanent Joint Headquarters in Northwood, says, “I have heard that Chicksands have denied teaching hooding and suggested that there may be confusion in the minds of those who have completed the conduct after capture course.

“I find this implausible. The people I have spoken to are not stupid. It seems to me more likely that hooding is taught but for actions immediately on capture or for prisoner handling.”

Documents emerging from the Baha Mousa inquiry are the first to prove what was obvious -- the British carried out torture in Iraq, not as rogue units but as policy.

The following should be read alongside this article:
» Prisoner deaths at the hands of British troops in Iraq

© Socialist Worker (unless otherwise stated). You may republish if you include an active link to the original.

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thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends