Wounded Vets Still Facing Insufficient Care

It’s not enough that our military men and women are in the middle of two wars, one intentionally started under false pretenses and riddled with corruption, waged by the most corrupt, incompetent, never elected presidential administration this country has ever seen — some returning wounded veterans face another battle when returning home. In some cases, such as the one below, the military tries to force them out of the service and doesn’t get them the care and treatment they need. Nothing like being appreciated for a job well done.

An article from The Colorado Confidential reports the treatment of Sgt. Darren Mischke for example: a wounded warrior who served two tours in Iraq who, at the age of 27, suffers from nosebleeds, memory loss, mood swings, dizziness, blurred vision and severe headaches — all symptoms of traumatic brain injury (TBI).

On his first tour of Iraq, Mischke was knocked out in a wreck. On his second tour, he was riding on the turret of a military vehicle that got hit by a mortar.

The trauma from both tours experienced by Mischke was, according to his family, enough to turn him into a pain-riddled head case. An estimated 20 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans return from the war with TBI. A recent report by USA Today estimates that 20,000 returning vets not classified as wounded actually suffer from undiagnosed TBI.

Instead of treating Mischke for his injuries, his wife and father say, the U.S. military has tried to force him out of the service for domestic abuse.

President Bush Vetoed Funding Bill

While touring Denver’s Craig Hospital who leads a national system of hospitals developing innovative ways to treat TBI, Colorado Senator Ken Salazar said that a lot of the injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan are brain-related because of the kinds of weapons used.

Cindy Felix, director of Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems of Care for Craig Hospital said the Bush Administration tried to freeze funding in a way that would have forced two of those programs to close.

Senator Salazar successfully shepherded $900,000 for brain trauma treatment into the Labor-Health and Human Services Appropriations Act that would keep model programs for TBI treatment at 14 hospitals going across the country. President Bush vetoed the bill.

Darren Mischke, stationed at Fort Carson, has been back from Iraq for a year, and according to his family, still hasn’t gotten the treatment he needs.

Army Attempting General Discharge

In March of this year, the situation got worse. When told by his wife to get help, Darren told her he would get in trouble with his unit and that one of his superiors told him he’d make his life a living hell. Shortly thereafter, he turned abusive, then suicidal. His wife called 911 trying to save him.

After being arrested by the El Paso County Sheriff’s Department for domestic violence the District Attorney’s office fast-tracked him to plead guilty. The third-degree assault plea became the basis for an attempt to give Mischke a general discharge by the Army which would have taken away his insurance and his VA coverage.

After working with the advocacy group Veterans for America, Mischke’s wife was able to get the military to send her husband to a medical review board who talked about depression and post traumatic stress, but not brain injury. Eventually a military doctor decided Sgt. Mischke was suffering from post concussive syndrome, but didn’t offer any regimen of treatment. Mischke is worse now than when he came home from Iraq.

Timely Care Needed For Brain Trauma Treatment

Since Mischke isn’t Craig Hospital’s patient, they didn’t address his case specifically, but they did outline several general needs for brain trauma treatment that fits Mischke’s situation.

Timely care is important since rehabilitation from brain injuries works best when it’s started soon after the trauma. Waiting for a bureaucratic system — civilian or military — and limiting care based on costs rather than outcomes causes victims to end up without enough treatment. Tri-Care, the military’s insurance program for instance, won’t pay for cognitive therapy for members of the National Guard returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Communities also need help caring for brain-injured vets trying to re-integrate into society. Telemedicine, where doctors meet patients online or by phone is one option. Other options for long-term care need to be developed and funded. Finding a solution begins with acknowledging the problem.

Almost one year after returning from Iraq, a special scan showed Mischke’s brain trauma, but the military continues discharge procedures.

Instead of treating suffering veterans like criminals, the military should focus on getting them the help they need, and taking better care of them. This country is already in two wars, and Mr. wonderful wants to bomb Iran, which would put us into yet another one. Instead of killing our young men and women so he and his friends can continue to get wealthier, try treating them with the care and respect they deserve. It’s no wonder the military has such a hard time getting new recruits…if you look at the leadership it’s pretty self explanatory.

For military personnel and their families, here are a couple (I’ve got links to online military resources here, where there are several more) organizations that can help: Veterans For America can be found online here or by phone at 1-202-483-9222 and The National Veterans Foundation can be found online here or by phone at 1-888-777-4443.

Links to More Information

Links to the information above as well as snippets from numerous other interesting articles can be found below:

Treatment for Vets’ Brain Injuries Should Be a No-Brainer article from The Colorado Confidential

Traumatic Brain Injury Information Page from The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

20,000 vets’ brain injuries not listed in Pentagon tally article from USA Today

Veterans For America – Addressing the causes, conduct and consequences of war – By Phone: 1-202-483-9222

The National Veterans Foundation – The lifeline for America’s Veterans – By phone: 1-888-777-4443

A post with links to online military resources from Bill’s Blog

‘A Soldier’s Officer’ article from The Washington Post:

“In a nondescript conference room at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, 1st Lt. Elizabeth Whiteside listened last week as an Army prosecutor outlined the criminal case against her in a preliminary hearing. The charges: attempting suicide and endangering the life of another soldier while serving in Iraq.

Her hands trembled as Maj. Stefan Wolfe, the prosecutor, argued that Whiteside, now a psychiatric outpatient at Walter Reed, should be court-martialed. After seven years of exemplary service, the 25-year-old Army reservist faces the possibility of life in prison if she is tried and convicted.

Military psychiatrists at Walter Reed who examined Whiteside after she recovered from her self-inflicted gunshot wound diagnosed her with a severe mental disorder, possibly triggered by the stresses of a war zone. But Whiteside’s superiors considered her mental illness “an excuse” for criminal conduct, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post.”

Huckabee was warned rapist would strike again, mom of murdered girl speaks out on ABC article from America Blog:

“Mike Huckabee is the darling of right wingers in Iowa. But, new reports from the Huffington Post and ABC News should put a serious dent in his momentum. Huckabee’s now got Murray Waas and Brian Ross on the case.

First, at Huffington Post, investigative reporter extraordinaire Murray Waas has new documents that show Huckabee was warned about the dangers of Dumond — from victims of Wayne Dumond. Huckabee’s campaign has been trying desperately to spin its way out of this scandal — but it gets worse every day. Bottom line is that Huckabee is not being honest about his role in the release of Dumond (isn’t there a commandment about not lying?):

“There’s nothing any of us could ever do,” Huckabee said Sunday on CNN when asked to reflect on the horrific outcome caused by the prisoner’s release. “None of us could’ve predicted what [Dumond] could’ve done when he got out.”

But the confidential files obtained by the Huffington Post show that Huckabee was provided letters from several women who had been sexually assaulted by Dumond and who indeed predicted that he would rape again – and perhaps murder – if released.”

Information about the incompetence and waste of the now 5 year old Department of Homeland Security – Homeland Security For Sale report:

“Since its creation five years ago, Americans have been inundated with stories of waste, fraud and abuse at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Mismanagement, grossly excessive spending, criminal conduct and shady no-bid contracts within DHS have become regular features on the evening news and the front page of newspapers.

As a result, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has prepared a report documenting some of the most serious problems facing the country’s newest cabinet-level department.”

The CIA’s Biggest Bloopers – Fact Checker article from The Washington Post

Largest Civil Disobedience Movement in U.S. History Underway article from AfterDowningStreet.org

High Risk of Runway Collision Plagues US article from The Associated Press:

“WASHINGTON (AP) – There is “a high risk of a catastrophic runway collision occurring in the United States” because of faltering federal leadership, malfunctioning technology and overworked air traffic controllers, congressional investigators concluded Wednesday.

The investigators gave the Federal Aviation Administration credit for reducing runway safety incidents from a peak in 2001 but said “FAA’s runway safety efforts subsequently waned” as the number of incidents settled at a lower level.

Then in fiscal 2007, which ended Sept. 30, the incidents spiked to 370, or 6.05 runway incursions per 1 million air traffic control operations, almost returning to 2001’s 407 incursions and 6.1 rate. An incursion is any aircraft, vehicle or person that goes where it shouldn’t be in space reserved for take-off or landing.”

Heard It Through the Grapevine article from OpEdNews:

“Many essays have discussed the U.S. government’s foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks. Indeed, the number of facts pointing towards likely foreknowledge are so numerous that it is easy to get lost in the details.

This essay focuses solely on the proof that American and allied intelligence services actually heard the hijackers discuss and make their plans before 9/11.”

Washington Post Attacks the Man who Got Iran Right article from The Nation

The letter to the editor that Time doesn’t want its readers to see article from Daily Kos:

“As noted yesterday, Time has built a protective cocoon around Joe Klein, refusing to print anything that might suggest that their Golden Boy Joe Klein is fallible. So they’re stonewalling letters like this one from the CHAIRMEN of the House judiciary and intelligence committees:

To the editors of TIME Magazine

Joe Klein recently criticized the RESTORE Act (“The Tone Deaf Democrats,” Nov. 21, 2007), claiming that it “would require the surveillance of every foreign-terrorist target’s calls to be approved by the FISA court.”  This is incorrect. The RESTORE Act creates “basket” authorizations to allow widespread surveillance of foreign powers (such as Al Qaeda) and their agents…”

Good Morning America learns that Bin Laden is CIA video from YouTube

Very interesting.

Republicans and Democrats have Become Obsolete article from OpEdNews:

“The American political landscape has changed and I believe the change is permanent. The two main political parties should be disbanded, because they are irrelevant. Most Americans that don’t make their living in politics see no great difference between the Democrats and the Republicans. The issues that separate them no longer apply.

The Republican Party that once believed in smaller government and a smaller role in social programs while favoring business and States Rights (A great departure from the party of Abraham Lincoln) now believes in government interference in everything except the corporate bottom line.

The Democrats, once the party of the Middle Class and large scale involvement in social programs while defending the American taxpayer from corporate class-warfare is a thing of the past, both political parties and the people that comprise them can’t be recognizes from each other without a pundit telling us which side they are on.

There are two separate and distinct political views in our nation today. They are not the Republican view or the Democratic ideas of government. The two main schools of political thought in America today are the politicians that support involvement of big money and corporations to lead this nation, and the people that want a return to constitutional law and exclusion of multi-national stateless corporations in running the affairs of this country.”

Long Flip-Flop Lists from 50BushFlipFlops.com – an interesting collection complete with references

Time magazine refused to publish responses to Klein’s false smears article from Salon News:

More bad news for Time Magazine’s reputation as they refuse to come clean and tell the truth:

“The disgraceful behavior of Time Magazine in the Joe Klein scandal has been well-documented. But new facts have emerged that reveal that Time’s behavior was far worse than previously thought.

Let’s just ponder for a second how lowly Time’s behavior here is. It refused the requests of two sitting members of Congress, both of whom are members of the Intelligence Committees and have played a central role in drafting the pending FISA legislation, to correct Klein’s false statements in Time itself. What kind of magazine smears its targets with patently false statements and then blocks them from responding?

Making matters much worse is the fact that, as we now know, Klein’s false statements about the House Democrats’ FISA bill were basically ghost-written by GOP Rep. Pete Hoekstra. Klein never quoted a single Democratic proponent of that bill — not in his original false article, nor his multiple Swampland posts, nor the three separate “corrections” published by Time.

The whole episode was a GOP-fueled smear on Democrats. Yet Time nonetheless refused to allow Congressional Democrats with the greatest knowledge of this matter to bring to the attention of Time’s readers how false Klein’s statements were, and how false the subsequent “corrections” were. To describe Time’s behavior is to illustrate how profoundly unethical it is.”

Despite historical records, Giuliani implies hostages’ release was all due to Reagan article and video from USA Today:

“Tying his position on how to deal with “these Islamic terrorists we’re facing” to the legacy of former president — and Republican icon — Ronald Reagan, GOP presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani implies in a TV ad released today that it took Reagan just “one hour” to win the release of Americans held hostage by Iran for 444 days from 1979-1981.

“The one hour in which they released them was the one hour in which Ronald Reagan was taking the oath of office as president of the United States,” Giuliani says. “The best way you deal with dictators, the best way you deal with tyrants and terrorists, you stand up to them. You don’t back down.”

Cafferty: White House Illegally Deleted Over TEN MILLION e-mails article and video from Crooks and Liars:

“It’s worth noting what a critical time period these missing emails represent. Why it’s from March of 2003 to October 2005. That would include the start of the Iraq War right up through the aftermath of Katrina. As the director of one of these groups put it: It doesn’t get more historically valuable than that. Given the way the White House handled both the war and Katrina, it’s also quite convenient that suddenly this mountain of stuff is missing. By the way it’s against the law that these emails be destroyed or lost. They are supposed to be saved. The Presidential Records Act of 1978 mandates White House communications be preserved. Another law broken — Another example of nobody doing a damn thing about it.

Not to mention (but you know I will) that over 4 years of Rove’s emails were also illegally deleted from when the White House was illegally using RNC email servers to circumvent the Presidential Records Act. Whatever did become of Sen Leahy’s “Those e-mails are there, they just don’t want to produce them. We’ll subpoena them if necessary?” Is Cafferty right? Is there really nobody doing a damn thing about this anymore except for CREW and GWU’s National Security Archive?”

How Impeachment Would Catch Fire article from The Smirking Chimp:

“This business with new NIE report on Iran and the revelation of the further astonishing bad faith by Bush and Cheney on little matters such as, oh, war, raises again the issue of impeachment.

If having lied yet again about such matters doesn’t constitute grounds for impeachment, pray WHAT DOES?

But the Democrats who control this issue in Congress shake their wise heads, Conyers and Pelosi, and say: Sorry, we just don’t have the votes.

Really? Apart from how then will we ever have a chance at an accounting of the radical criminality (no hyperbole) of this Administration, I want to point out this:

Pushing impeachment will not just be a vote count session in Congress. That is a false reductio of the phenomenon. Starting impeachment hearings will launch a social dynamo that will effect the vote count, I can’t see how not. Start some serious impeachment activity and you will have media and newspapers–I’ll bet on the NY Times, whose editorial board seems wised up to what’s happening–calling for impeachment.”

Comcast’s Secret War on File-Sharing article from AlterNet

Military Recruitment Lie: Pentagon’s Education Pitch is a Scam article from AlterNet:

“Join the military and go to college.” That’s what the recruiters say.

But the deal that today’s servicemen and servicewomen get is a far cry from what their fathers and grandfathers got. When President Franklin Roosevelt signed the GI Bill into law in the waning days of World War II, he saw it as part of his New Deal program. The law, officially called the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, promised returning veterans that the government would pay the full cost of tuition and books at any public or private college or job-training program. It also provided unemployment insurance and loans to buy homes and start businesses.

By contrast, the current Montgomery GI Bill, passed in 1984, asks active duty members to accept a pay reduction of $100 per month through twelve months of military service. When they return to school, they receive $1,100 monthly for a maximum of three years of education benefits. It’s an amount that doesn’t come close to covering the cost of a modern college education, but it does help some veterans–if they can get through the red tape.”

The Health Industry’s Secret History of Delaying the Fight Against Cancer article from AlterNet

‘Homeland Insecurity:’ Olbermann probes ‘Grand Old Profiteering’ article and video from The Raw Story:

“So who got the money?” was what Keith Olbermann wanted to know after describing a new report that slams the Department of Homeland Security for its waste, cronyism, and failure to protect the American people.

Olbermann was particularly incensed over the appointment of “party favorites with no relevant experience” to top positions in FEMA, the outsourcing of billions of dollars on security projects that are yet to materialize, and the revolving door policy that goes all the way up to former DHS Secretary Tom Ridge.

Olbermann’s guest, Rachel Maddow of Air America Radio, pointed out that things like port security, border security, and emergency preparedness are not newly invented mandates but have always been “the basic functions of government,” and that they were being carried out more efficiently before DHS was superimposed on the existing agencies.

“The worse off the agency, the easier it is to screw the taxpayer by pulling money out of that agency,” Maddow suggested.”

A Pattern of Deception article from The Washington Post

Evidence Of Innocence Rejected at Guantanamo article from The Washington Post:

“Just months after U.S. Army troops whisked a German man from Pakistan to the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2002, his American captors concluded that he was not a terrorist.

“USA considers Murat Kurnaz’s innocence to be proven,” a German intelligence officer wrote that year in a memo to his colleagues. “He is to be released in approximately six to eight weeks.”

But the 19-year-old student was not freed. Instead, over the next four years, two U.S. military tribunals that were responsible for determining whether Guantanamo Bay detainees were enemy fighters declared him a dangerous al-Qaeda ally who should remain in prison.

The process is “fundamentally corrupted,” said Baher Azmy, a professor at Seton Hall Law School who represents Kurnaz. “All of this just reveals that they had the wrong person and they knew it.”

He added: “His entire file reveals he has no connection with terrorism. None. Confronted with this uncomfortable fact, the military panel makes up evidence” to justify its claim that only real terrorists are incarcerated at Guantanamo Bay.”

The rush to clear police in shootings article from The Chicago Tribune:

“Nearly every shooting in last decade ‘justified’
Investigations ignore witnesses, forensics
Shot-in-back findings raise questions

On a summer night in 2003, two patrol cars pulled over a driver in front of his South Side home for running a stop sign. Thinking police had chased the car earlier that night, four officers drew their guns and ordered the driver out.

The man’s mother screamed from the sidewalk: “He can’t walk! He’s paralyzed! He can’t get out of the car!”

When one officer thought the driver raised a gun, he opened fire, shooting the driver five times before reloading and shooting him once more.

Eight hours later, as Cornelius Ware, a 20-year-old paraplegic who drove by pushing the pedals with a wooden cane, lay gravely wounded in the hospital, police supervisors cleared the officer of any wrongdoing.”

Cheney: ‘I’d Have To Go Back And Do A Lot Of Research’ To See If Rove Is Right About War Vote article from Think Progress

Schneier on Security: Data Mining for Terrorists article from Schneier.com:

“In the post 9/11 world, there’s much focus on connecting the dots. Many believe that data mining is the crystal ball that will enable us to uncover future terrorist plots. But even in the most wildly optimistic projections, data mining isn’t tenable for that purpose. We’re not trading privacy for security; we’re giving up privacy and getting no security in return.

Most people first learned about data mining in November 2002, when news broke about a massive government data mining program called Total Information Awareness. The basic idea was as audacious as it was repellent: suck up as much data as possible about everyone, sift through it with massive computers, and investigate patterns that might indicate terrorist plots. Americans across the political spectrum denounced the program, and in September 2003, Congress eliminated its funding and closed its offices.

But TIA didn’t die. According to The National Journal, it just changed its name and moved inside the Defense Department.

This shouldn’t be a surprise. In May 2004, the General Accounting Office published a report that listed 122 different federal government data mining programs that used people’s personal information. This list didn’t include classified programs, like the NSA’s eavesdropping effort, or state-run programs like MATRIX.”

C.I.A. Destroyed Tapes of Interrogations article from The New York Times:

More evidence being purposely destructed by the Bush Administration to cover the trail of corruption:

“WASHINGTON, Dec. 6 – The Central Intelligence Agency in 2005 destroyed at least two videotapes documenting the interrogation of two Al Qaeda operatives in the agency’s custody, a step it took in the midst of Congressional and legal scrutiny about the C.I.A’s secret detention program, according to current and former government officials.

The videotapes showed agency operatives in 2002 subjecting terror suspects – including Abu Zubaydah, the first detainee in C.I.A. custody – to severe interrogation techniques. They were destroyed in part because officers were concerned that tapes documenting controversial interrogation methods could expose agency officials to greater risk of legal jeopardy, several officials said.

The C.I.A. said today that the decision to destroy the tapes had been made “within the C.I.A. itself,” and they were destroyed to protect the safety of undercover officers and because they no longer had intelligence value. The agency was headed at the time by Porter J. Goss. Through a spokeswoman, Mr. Goss declined this afternoon to comment on the destruction of the tapes.”

MSNBC: Why fund abstinence-only programs that don’t work? article from The Raw Story:

“A new study has concluded that abstinence-only education programs do nothing to reduce or delay sexual activity among teenagers, confirming a Congressional report released last spring. Yet these programs are receiving nearly $200 million in federal funding and Congress is prepared to increase this by another $28 million.

MSNBC host Dan Abrams commented on the proposed increase, saying, “It seems to me absurd that Democrats in Congress can’t say ‘We’re going to cut it off.’ Instead they’re using this as bait and constantly saying, ‘Oh, you know, we’ll trade you.'”

Records Say Bush Balked at Order article from The Washington Post:

“National Guard Commander Suspended Him From Flying Papers Show

President Bush failed to carry out a direct order from his superior in the Texas Air National Guard in May 1972 to undertake a medical examination that was necessary for him to remain a qualified pilot, according to documents made public yesterday.

Documents obtained by the CBS News program “60 Minutes” shed new light on one of the most controversial episodes in Bush’s military service, when he abruptly stopped flying and moved from Texas to Alabama to work on a political campaign. The documents include a memo from Bush’s squadron commander, Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian, ordering Bush “to be suspended from flight status for failure to perform” to U.S. Air Force and National Guard standards and failure to take his annual physical “as ordered.”

$1B In Military Equipment Missing In Iraq, Exclusive: Report Shows Vehicles, Machine Guns and More article from CBS News:

How many more billions have to unaccounted for before something is done about this incredible fraud and incompetence that defines this administration? Our tax dollars hard at work. Simply amazing.

“Tractor trailers, tank recovery vehicles, crates of machine guns and rocket propelled grenades are just a sampling of more than $1 billion in unaccounted for military equipment and services provided to the Iraqi security forces, according to a new report issued today by the Pentagon Inspector General and obtained exclusively by the CBS News investigative unit. Auditors for the Inspector General reviewed equipment contracts totaling $643 million but could only find an audit trail for $83 million.”

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