These pictures are from the March/April 2007 DAV magazine coverage of the Center for the Intrepid Rehab Facility in San Antonio Texas.
I hold these brave young men and women in nothing but the highest regard, and stand humbled before their sacrifice. But I cannot be happy at the introduction of this facility nor at its necessity, as I was not happy at the inception of these elective hostilities, as I continue to to be outraged at their continuance.
Even Thomas "F.U." Friedman got his hair up--a little (NYT, 3/11/07):
"You’d think that an administration that has been so quick to exploit soldiers as props — whether it was to declare “Mission Accomplished” on an naval vessel or to silence critics by saying their words might endanger soldiers in battle — would have been equally quick to spare no expense in caring for those injured in the fight.
"Mr. Bush summoned the country to D-Day and prepared the Army, the military health system, military industries and the American people for the invasion of Grenada."
But remarkably--or not--Mr. Friedman is not so much outraged, as he is calling on Americans to throw a giant bake sale of sorts for the boys. At the article's conclusion, Friedman includes the names and addresses of four charitable organizations to which good folks can contribute monies. Says he, "We've got to take first-class care of those who've carried the burden of this war."
This is not Bowling for Dollars or a Prayer Dial-a-thon. This is America, not some unincorporated area outside of the train depot. We have a government which levies taxes, declares wars, and disburses funds appropriately. Or at least, should be.
A faithful reader of this blog recently likened VA health care to welfare. Call it what you will, it's a promise. And if the mega wealthy can have their entitlements and "welfare" which allows them to dodge billions of dollars in taxes each year, then so can the lowly soldier gain the finest health care, which is his or her earned right. That is not asking for the Taj Mahal.
Mr. Friedman's approach may garner some support now, but as those men and women age, the patriotic fervor will have died down, and the bake sales will be less. That is why the government must honor the health care promise made to those whose lives are compromised in the service of our country.
The center is aptly named, however, as these brave young warriors will have to be intrepid when dealing with the Department of Veterans Affairs for the rest of their lives.