Sunday, June 17, 2007

Supporting the Troops
I'll never understand this one thing about the relationship between the military and Washington. I honestly don't understand - and welcome theories.

Washington holds the purse-strings for the federal budget, and if there are two things elected officials in both parties are good at, it's pandering and flag-waving. I would think that every legislative session would become a bidding war over troop-related funding - which party can offer more housing, salary, health care, pension, education...? And it would be the perfect way to criticize other funding plans. You want to pay for public television? Maybe fund art? No way - we want to improve veterans' hospitals. You want to over-pay Halliburton? Cut taxes for billionaire CEO's? Fat chance - our side would prefer proper psychological screening and treatment for troops who have served in combat zones. I mean, talk about folks that do the work that most Americans won't do. If anything, you would think the social services of American troops would be scandalously gold-plated as our politicians fall all over themselves offering support.

But it doesn't work like that. By all accounts, medical care in the field is amazingly good. After that...not so much. We read about Walter Reed earlier this year. And today's Washington Post story is doubly horrifying, at least. And, like I say, mystifying. It doesn't have to be that way, and wouldn't exactly take any political courage to fix it. Just the opposite. So, what's the deal?

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