Provide health care for vets

The military newspaper Army Times, in an angry editorial denouncing planned cuts in imminent danger pay, family separation allowances for active soldiers, and payments to families of soldiers who are killed on active duty, says the cuts “make the Bush administration look mean spirited and hypocritical.”

Veterans are becoming increasingly angry and protesting cuts in healthcare for active soldiers and veterans. “We are going to show them that veterans know how to vote,” says Steven Robinson, executive director of the National Gulf War Research Center.

American Legion National Commander Ronald F. Conley, an Air Force veteran and Pittsburgh pipe fitter, is on a national crusade to restore veterans health care. “We have a veterans health care crisis throughout this country right now,” says Conley. With hundreds of thousands of veterans waiting in line for health care, some for years, he says, “veterans feel betrayed.”

Raymond C. Ogden Jr., a retired Air Force Master Sergeant of Abilene, Texas, says “President Bush pats us on the back and with his speeches and stabs us in the back with his actions.” James Cook, a 24-year Air Force veteran, says “Bush is a liar.”

“Nothing but lip service”, is what the troops are getting from the administration, headlined the Army Times.

Contradictory statements by Donald Rumsfeld and several top generals leave soldiers in a situation where they “can’t believe anything they’re told,” says Charles Sheehan-Miles. Sheehan-Miles is a Gulf War veteran and founder of the National Gulf War Resource Center. He is presently director of the Nuclear Policy Research Center, placing him at the center of research on the harmful health effects of depleted uranium weapons that the U.S. used in both wars against Iraq. “A lot of my friends got sick,” he says.

A new group, Families Speak Out, consisting of families of soldiers in Iraq, are planning a trip to Washington to lobby their legislators to bring the troops home. One member, Susan Schuman, of Shelburne Falls, Mass., calls Iraq “a quagmire” with parallels to Vietnam.

The author, a World War II Air Force veteran, can be reached at pww@pww.org