This is how we support our troops?!!

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This is how we support our troops?!!

Postby OperaTenor » Tue Feb 20, 2007 7:11 pm

Thanks again to the policies of the GWB administration, with all of the budget cuts to veterans' benefits.

:rant:

Soldiers Face Neglect, Frustration At Army's Top Medical Facility

The Hotel Aftermath

The Army Times: Wounded and Waiting



Yet when it was time for the Army to take care of him, one of its wounded warriors, Van Antwerp gave up before he even began. Rather than fight for a higher disability rating, he quietly signed for 20 percent — and no medical benefits — saying he knew he couldn’t do better. He inherited his father’s stubbornness, he said, and refused to ask anyone to pull strings based on his dad’s rank. Then his first medical board counselor, the person who would help him make his way through the medical evaluation board system, left. The second, he said, “wasn’t on the ball.”

“The Army is trying to give you the lowest amount of money possible,” he said. “A lot of people are appealing, but I’ll be going to [the Department of Veterans Affairs]. I want to go home.”

Van Antwerp is one of thousands of wounded troops rushed from the war zone for health care and then stranded in administrative limbo. They are at the mercy of a medical evaluation system that’s agonizingly slow, grossly understaffed and saddled with a growing backlog of cases. The wounded soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are stuck in holding companies awaiting hearings and decisions on whether they will continue their military service or be discharged, and if so, at what level of benefits — if any.
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Postby jamiebk » Tue Feb 20, 2007 9:26 pm

OT, I am sure that either Shap and/or Haggis will find some way to pin this on the Demos.

No matter who or what, denying and/or cutting benefits is shameful considering what we are asking of these folks. This is not an effective way to build a volunteer army. (or maybe the politicians don't care and simply want to go back to the draft)
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Postby Shapley » Tue Feb 20, 2007 9:50 pm

No, I think it's appalling. I also think the same article could have been written, and probably was, during the Vietnam War, the Korean War, World War II, World War I, etc.

We've never devoted sufficient resources to the veterans centers during war time, the priority is on fighting the war. The VA expenditures do not rise or, when they do, lag behind the increase in patient flow that the war provides. In peacetime, the VA's job is entirely different than it is in wartime, yet they do both jobs on pretty well the same level of resources. The Army Medical Center sees much the same situation. The staffing and resources are set at a level designed to handle normal (peacetime) patient flow. War increases that flow, but the Congress looks at the increase as a temporary situation, and doesn't want to boost resources for the temporary rise in flow, so they just ask the centers to make do till the war ends.

V/R
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Postby Shapley » Wed Feb 21, 2007 10:03 am

I guess I should point out that Walter Reed was on the chopping block a couple of years ago. I'm researching now to find out why it was saved.

This may offer some insight into why the facility is considered sub-standard. There was little sense in pumping money into a facility the Pentagon wanted to get rid of. I'll be curious to see which politicians worked to keep it open.

V/R
Shapley

From what I can find, the center is scheduled to be closed sometime around 2011. In the meantime, services are gradually being shifted from Walter Reed to other facilities, primarily the Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland. A new facility bearing Walter Reed's name is being built there.

This is not an excuse, but it may well explain, in part, why efforts to improve conditions at the nearly 100-year old facility are perhaps not high on the priority list.
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Postby Shapley » Wed Feb 21, 2007 10:54 am

Quod scripsi, scripsi.
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Postby jamiebk » Wed Feb 21, 2007 11:13 am

Shap, The article on the center for the amputees was of interest. I seem to recall seeing a news show in TV a while back...60 minutes or the like, doing an expose on the military's treatment of amputees. Now, in my mind, these guys deserve and should get every single technological advantage that medical science has to offer. However, the jist of the show was that the military hospitals would only provide "standard" prostheses for lost limbs and not the available state of the art ones that are now available. It went on to say that Veterans would have to buy their own specialized prosthetic devices. These things are expensive sometimes running $25-50,000. I can't locate any articles on this subject. I wondered if you were aware of the story.
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Postby Shapley » Wed Feb 21, 2007 11:47 am

Jamie,

No, I'm not familiar with the episode (I don't watch much TV). I can tell you that the military has a tendency to lag behind 'state of the art' in most areas, including medical matters, preferring to employ 'tried and true' technology rather than risk experimentation.

The reason for this is logical, even if it isn't always viewed as compassionate: the government does not want to make the expenditure on trying new technology when there is a risk of failure. It is the government's place to restore the soldiers to active duty or, when that is not plausible, to make them capable of returning to civilian life. If they can slap a cheap prosthetic leg on them and send them home after a few hours of rehab, then they've completed their requirement. Experimental technologies often require much more expensive and time-consuming fit-up and therapy. If the technology doesn't meet expectations, it may have to be replaced with the cheap prosthetic, which could have been fitted initially saving the government much expense. The general thought is that the military doesn't have the time or resources for that.

They do, however, have research facilities that experiment with new technologies. It is the private hospitals that usually take that technology and expand it, perfect it, and offer it to the public. This is usually because the expense/patient ratio is too high for the military to fit it into the budget. The military is looking for mass-market technology to employ for saving lives and restoring capability. Except in peacetime, military doctors are not expected to have the opportunity to expend great amounts of time and expense on individual patients.

BTW, it is because of an understanding of how this works that many of us oppose government-run health care. Many people think military care is state-of-the-art, but it really isn't, and was never designed to be. Military medical care is, for the most part, an assembly-line operation.

V/R
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Last edited by Shapley on Wed Feb 21, 2007 12:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby jamiebk » Wed Feb 21, 2007 12:00 pm

Shapley wrote:BTW, it is because of an understanding of how this works that many of us oppose government-run health care.


Yes....and I am one of them!
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Postby Shapley » Wed Feb 21, 2007 12:16 pm

Yes....and I am one of them!


Same here. I believe compassion compells us to provide the poor with basic care. However, if you want a $50,000 prosthetic device, when a $500 device is available, I say you should be able to buy it through private care. If someone else (i.e., the taxpayer) is paying for it, however, you have to settle for $500 device, with all its limitations.

But, that is a topic, or some would say a dead horse, for another thread. :)

V/R
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Postby OperaTenor » Wed Feb 21, 2007 12:33 pm

That's the same kind of thinking that has put our soldiers in Humvees lacking proper armor and helmets lacking proper - yet available - helmet liners(therefore increasing the severity and occurrence of head injuries).

Nope, anyone making that kind of life-altering sacrifice in the service of this country deserves the best we can give them, not the cheapest.

I'm appalled...
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Postby Trumpetmaster » Wed Feb 21, 2007 12:35 pm

This is outrageous....
The government bites the big one on this.....

Send our brave soldiers over to fight, they put their lives on the line....
Some come back who really need cutting edge technology to move on with their lives and this is what they get.......

Something is seriously wrong here and needs to be changed..........
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Postby Shapley » Wed Feb 21, 2007 12:53 pm

Something is seriously wrong here and needs to be changed..........


It is, see the links I've posted. A new amputee center is being built. additional facilities are being built and staff is being added at Bethesda. Walter Reed will be closed, but the services they currently provide will be provided elsewhere. Ground was broken on the amputee center in 2004, but construction was put on hold until the BRAC recommendations were voted on. Construction is now back on track.

Large numbers of politicians tell us regularly in their newsletters and press releases that they visit the returning soldiers at Walter Reed, talk with them, shake their hands, etc. Why is it, then that this problem was overlooked? Most likely the problem is not wide-spread. Lawmakers now claim they are looking into it, so I suppose we'll find out. In the end, however, I think we'll find that the Washington Post has blown it out of proportion.

OT,

Where do you suppose all the funding for this state-of-the-art technology is going to come from? Are you saying we have to delay going to war if we can't go in with the very latest technology? That we have to scrap the billions of dollars worth of materiel on hand and send only the latest and the best?

We don't 'owe' these soldiers anything but our support and our thanks. They deserve the best we can provide, but that isn't always the best that's available. We have limits - logistical and budgetary - to what we can and cannot make available to our troops. You know that. Was all the technology onboard your submarine the very latest and greatest? I can tell you it wasn't on board my ship, and I boarded it fresh from the yards one month after commissioning! Authorization, supply, and emplementation of new technologies take time, resources, and money, not all of which are readily available. We do the best we can with what we have, and we ask our soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen to do the same.

V/R
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Postby Trumpetmaster » Wed Feb 21, 2007 12:58 pm

Shapley,
It's great that they are building it now....
A step in the right direction....

Hopefully these steps are starting points for
a better support structure for our troops.

A man who lived down the block from me was a WWII Vet.
He had a problem with his leg that needed immediate attention.
He told me he went to the VA Hospital and it would be at least
two months before someone could see him.. I never understood this...

Sadly, he passed away (old age) about a year ago... but I will never
forget the fact that he went for help and did not get it.... Actually he did get help... 8 weeks later....

TM
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Postby jamiebk » Wed Feb 21, 2007 1:03 pm

Shapley wrote:
Yes....and I am one of them!


Same here. I believe compassion compells us to provide the poor with basic care. However, if you want a $50,000 prosthetic device, when a $500 device is available, I say you should be able to buy it through private care. If someone else (i.e., the taxpayer) is paying for it, however, you have to settle for $500 device, with all its limitations.

But, that is a topic, or some would say a dead horse, for another thread. :)

V/R
Shapley


That wasn't exactly where I was going with my comment about "yes, and I am one of them". I said this in regard to socialized medicine...something I am against. I do feel though that soldiers need to get the finest of care and resources from their "Employer"...Uncle Sam. we owe these guys the best we have, especially if they have a limb blown off or worse. This is not "government medicine" as I see it. Whether the government provides it for them directly or whether they fund the soldiers medical insurance and let them get private care, I do not care. However, they deserve the best we can give them...not a band-aide and a pat on the back with the blessing of "hey...good luck on the re-hab"..."hope your life is not ruined".."sorry we could only give you a 'hook' instead of a mechanical hand". We OWE these guys a life!
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Postby Shapley » Wed Feb 21, 2007 1:20 pm

Jamie,

Same here, within bounds. I specifically said in my response that I was talking about 'the poor', indicating that I was talking about socialized medicine.

V/R
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Postby OperaTenor » Wed Feb 21, 2007 1:23 pm

Shapley wrote:
Where do you suppose all the funding for this state-of-the-art technology is going to come from? Are you saying we have to delay going to war if we can't go in with the very latest technology? That we have to scrap the billions of dollars worth of materiel on hand and send only the latest and the best?

We don't 'owe' these soldiers anything but our support and our thanks. They deserve the best we can provide, but that isn't always the best that's available. We have limits - logistical and budgetary - to what we can and cannot make available to our troops. You know that. Was all the technology onboard your submarine the very latest and greatest? I can tell you it wasn't on board my ship, and I boarded it fresh from the yards one month after commissioning! Authorization, supply, and emplementation of new technologies take time, resources, and money, not all of which are readily available. We do the best we can with what we have, and we ask our soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen to do the same.

V/R
Shapley


That just about speaks for itself. Unbelievable.

First, this "war" in Iraq was of our own choosing, so if we weren't materially ready, then we should have waited until we were before we went. There was no indication from GWB that we were going with anything less than full preparedness. On an anecdotal note, let's not forget Rummie's stupid response to the soldier's question about scavenging from dumps to try to improve the armor in their vehicles - the material shortfall was news to Rummie..........or he didn't care, which is probably the case.

You need to quantify your definition of "support the troops". FYI, it's a whole lot more than a stupid yellow ribbon magnet.

Absolutely breathtaking...
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Postby Shapley » Wed Feb 21, 2007 1:44 pm

OT,

I'm amazed. We sent the troops to combat with the materiel on hand, the materiel they trained with, the materiel that, prior to the start of the war, the Congress felt was adequate to meet the demands of 'preparedness'. We did not send them to war and tell them to leave the 'good stuff' behind and use junk. There was no active effort on the part of the Pentagon or anyone else to deny them access to the best. They went to war with what was on hand, that's how it's done.

If the Army ordered a thousand humvees in 2004, which didn't have special armour, and then ordered a thousand in 2005, which had special armour, that does not mean that the 2004 models are deficient, it means that they are older but servicable. We're talking about equipment which lacks the 'latest and greatest', not equipment which is defective.

The same goes for the medical services. If the $500 prosthetic device is a known, workable entitly, then we really don't 'owe' them the $50,000 device, just because it is the 'latest and greatest' technology.

V/R
Shapley

V/R
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Postby barfle » Wed Feb 21, 2007 10:20 pm

I'm old enough to remember the last time we had large numbers of combat wounded. We treated our VietNam amputees just as badly. I don't know about WWII or Korea.

Shapley wrote:They went to war with what was on hand, that's how it's done.

OT's point was that WE decided when to go to war, and clearly we did not have enough of the proper materiel to provide our troops with the protection they deserve. I've seen some blogs (that Haggis does not seem to provide links for) that showed troops in hazardous areas in vehicles without armor, even though that armor had been designed and known to work. But it wasn't available to them, through SOP SNAFUs. Somehow, I can't help but believe the situation is permanent, and will be the case the next time we send troops in harm's way.
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Postby Shapley » Wed Feb 21, 2007 11:02 pm

My point is simply that we will never achieve a state of readiness if that is the criteria we use. There will always be improvements available, and not everyone will have the improvements when called to duty. It doesn't matter who initiates the action, those who are called to act are called to do so with the materiel on hand.
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Postby BigJon » Wed Feb 21, 2007 11:54 pm

My friend works in a VA amputee center. He bristles when anyone talks about not giving the patients state of the art prostheses. He says they make state of the art dumb prosthetics. In fact, his lab is leading the industry on some technologies. What they don't provide is smart limbs. And it has to do with the small incremental life value for the large price increase. Smart legs can be five times the price of dumb ones. They'd rather help five people with their budget than one. Hmm, sounds like a severe lack of compassion to me. :roll:
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