“We support our troops!” Supporters of the possible war against Iraq, and of Resident Bush, criticize the rest of us as being against the troops. But slogans aren’t the real tests, actions are.

The Bush administration and the Veteran’s Administration (VA), in a budget-cutting move, is suspending medical coverage for over 160,000 veterans. They claim they are suspending enrollment for “higher-income” vets who seek coverage for “routine care and treatment for non-military-related ailments such as heart disease.”

VA Secretary Anthony Pincipi said, “People might say, ‘Mr. Secretary, what kind of message does this send to people who we may deploy to the Persian Gulf?’ I think it sends a positive message that the VA is there for those who are disabled in uniform. The VA is there for men and women who come back and within the first two years need VA health care.”

In other words, get sick quick!

This is even more distressing, since the VA has a long history of denying that some health problems that vets suffer are related to their military service.

Remember Gulf War Syndrome? Agent Orange? How many years did it take before military doctors admitted that vets were suffering the effects of exposure to chemicals during their military service? Oh, they still dispute it?

So, if you get sent to the “Persian Gulf” for some undeclared war, you better get sick quick, and make sure you only get sick from some disease that is on the VA’s approved list, preferably some obvious disability such as losing an arm or a leg.

Otherwise, you may find that the support Bush is offering to our troops is temporary, conditional, and lasts only as long as they are following his orders, whether those orders are constitutional or not, whether they make any sense or not.

Real support keeps our troops out of unnecessary danger. Real support adequately funds medical and other benefits for veterans. Real support demands proof of a real threat. Real supporters have learned the lesson that our government can’t be trusted to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

Support our troops. Keep them out of an unnecessary war. Demand that Bush provide proof before he can demand that our troops risk their lives. Demand that the constitution prevail – only Congress has the authority to declare war. Demand that the United Nations inspectors be supported so that they can do their job.

And while we’re at it, demand that Bush provide a complete report of all U.S. weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, “decommissioned” nuclear warheads, nuclear waste sites, all U.S. military programs which exposed U. S. troops to harmful chemicals or radiation, all violations of international law, and he better not make even the slightest mistake.

Marc Brodine is the Washington state chair of the Communist Party and can be reached at marcbrodine@attbi.com

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