A friend sent me this link. I read it four hours ago and I was seriously pissed off.
I re-read it two hours ago and started reading it more closely – and putting it into context with my 25+ years of history working with the Military, either as a Navy Combat Medic, a Civilian employee of the DOD Medical Dept, and a former 18 year spouse of a now retired Army LT Colonel Operating Room Nurse. Oh – and my best friends are a retired Captain (26 years) Physician Assistant and his wife – a retired Army Medic.
I know a little bit about what I am talking about.
And I’m still pissed, because as a country we’ve never done a very good job of taking care of our war wounded.
But I’m also looking at this story in a much different light. First, there can’t be a conspiracy here – too many medical people would be involved – from the Medics treating these wounded in the clinics to the battalion PA’s, doctors, nurses, etc. No to mention the entire non-medical chain of command. Squad leaders, platoon SGTs, Platoons CDRs, etc, etc. There is no way this could be a complete whitewashing of patient profiles. It just wouldn’t happen without Salon, or someone getting complaints DIRECTLY from the lower levels of the chain of command, and especially from the Medical Personnel themselves.
I’m not suggesting that these people aren’t/weren’t injured and that they are being re-deployed. I’m just suggesting that there is a lot more to this story than Salon has dug up – for instance, those who had corrective surgery over a year ago could certainly be deployable now (whether they are happy about that or not). That’s what corrective surgery does. It fixes things. Sometimes almost as good as new. So just because a year ago they were recommended for reduced duty or non-deployment means nothing if they have had corrective surgery, physical therapy – whatever.
And I am sure there are at least a few whiner’s who just “don’t want to go back”. I don’t blame them. But it’s their job, they swore an oath, and we pay our military in peacetime as well as during wartime. It’s wartime now, and I know the pay is less attractive than when the most you were expected to give for your country was a permanent address. The stakes are higher. Some people cower (yes, I used that word) in high stakes games. Life and Death Games. Again, I can’t blame them.
I am sure there will be a complete and full investigation of this – it’s just too big, affects too many people, both the injured being redeployed AND those responsible for their welfare. If there is something bad happening, it will not stay hidden.
Having spent as much time as I have with both enlisted and commissioned members of every branch or our Armed Forces I know there are far more principled people in the Military than un principled ones. In fact, I will argue that some of the most principled people I have ever met wore, or still wear our Nation’s Uniforms.
I can’t imagine a Platoon Commander, Brigade Commander, whatever, that would place the welfare of his/her troops at risk by bringing someone that is unfit for duty into a combat zone.
SO basically I am suggesting that we don’t know near enough here to make an informed decision. Salon certainly didn’t provide us with any evidence that wrongdoing occurred whatsoever.
In fact, I find it a pretty explosive article considering the almost complete lack of any evidence of wrongdoing. So a few soldiers anonymously bitched about being redeployed. They made accusations. There is ZERO evidence right now that these allegations are either true, or untrue.
So my advice right now is to keep an eye on this story and see if it gets any real traction. If it does, Salon has at least raised the interest of someone in Congress. If it doesn’t Salon should explain why their story fell apart. Or perhaps they should have presented more fact than opinion in the first place.
Jenkins and other soldiers claim that the division and brigade surgeons summarily downgraded soldiers’ profiles, without even a medical exam, in order to deploy them to Iraq. It is a claim division officials deny.