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The Bottom of the Scrap Heap
The last episode that I saw had a legless and armless soldier (apparently at a military medical facility) who has his sister bring him Phenobarbital in a syringe and stabs it into his heart to kill himself.Well of course! What else could one do in such circumstances? After all, as Princeton University professor Uwe Reinhardt said to his son upon learning of his intention to join the Marines, "Do what you must, but be advised that, flourishing rhetoric notwithstanding, this nation will never truly honor your service, and it will condemn you to the bottom of the economic scrap heap should you ever get seriously wounded." He wrote it in the Washington Post, so it must be true.
Yesterday Drudge made an amazing announcement: CNS, an online conservative news site, was going to tell the world that there were anti-war protestors outside Walter Reed Medical Center!!!!
Anti-war protestors besieged wounded and disabled soldiers at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C, a new web report will claim!Later the CNS story appeared!!!!!
CNSNews.com is planning to run an expose on Thursday featuring interviews with both protestors and veterans, as well as shots of protest signs with slogans like ?Maimed for a Lie.?
Yes - those exclamation points I used are sarcasm, because I first read about this story in a milblog nearly two months ago, and even then the demonstrations were nothing new:
Thirteen weeks ago, a group called Code Pink began hosting demonstrations outside of Walter Reed. Code Pink is a radical anti-war organization who oppose military action in both Afghanistan and Iraq. While they claim to host these demonstrations to highlight the transport of wounded warriors in the dark of the night, and claim to fight for VA benefits, their history proves that they are anything but concerned about the plight of our troops.That's from Andi's World - and on that July 4th weekend she went to a counter-protest at Walter Reed (photos included in her post) organized by the folks at Free Republic. Their report is here, also with photos - including this one:
Code Pink protestor, Walter Reed, July 4th weekend
(From Free Republic)
But now back to the present. Here's a quote from the CNS story:
But the anti-war activists were unapologetic when asked whether they considered such signs as "Maimed for Lies" offensive to wounded war veterans and their families.He doesn't care if he offends them! Their wounds offend him more! And we can only wonder how the intrepid Kevin "Columbo" McCarron was able to discover there were wounded veterans being treated at Walter Reed, since they've been kept out of the news.
"I am more offended by the fact that many were maimed for life. I am more offended by the fact that they (wounded veterans) have been kept out of the news," said Kevin McCarron, a member of the anti-war group Veterans for Peace.
Speaking of "left out of the news", here's something else that wasn't - a different way to support the wounded troops:
Sgt. Robbie Doughty motors around his hometown of Paducah, Ky., in his retrofitted pickup with a big to-do list: drop off his 20-month-old son, Derek, at the day care center; open a pizzeria; learn to live with artificial legs.More
USA TODAY first wrote about Doughty in a story in November 2004 about wounded Iraq veterans at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. Even then, he was looking forward to his future, never back to the desert. But he was unsure what lay ahead.
"I'll try to figure out what my new life will be," he said then.
On July 8, Doughty was in the passenger seat of the lead Humvee in a three-vehicle convoy on a mission about 50 miles south of Samarra. A mortar shell exploded just behind his seat. The blast obliterated his legs. Tourniquets applied by medics at the scene saved his life, but he lost his left leg just below the knee, his right just above.
Doughty spent time in military hospitals overseas before he was taken to Walter Reed. He spent four months there learning to walk with prosthetic legs.
It was painstaking rehabilitation. But he said he saw others worse off than him. And more important, he saw amputees from Korea, Vietnam and World War II who had lived good lives despite their disabilities.
For a time, Doughty worked as a substitute teacher and thought about joining the Kentucky State Police. A call from Little Caesar's Pizza changed his mind.
The company read about his service to the country and offered him an opportunity to open his own restaurant. Doughty and a partner hope to open a franchise in Paducah by year's end.
It's not that he hasn't had dark moments. Just not that many.
"I did have a few bouts in the hospital," he says, "usually when I was alone. I'd have difficulty sleeping. I'd stay awake a lot, and a few times felt sorry for myself.
"I saw miracles on a daily basis there," he says. "Just seeing people who wouldn't quit. Just seeing the look on people's faces after they've taken that first step.
Mike Ilitch built his reputation as a feisty businessman with a flair for promotions as owner of Little Caesars pizza and two of Detroit's beloved sports teams."...flourishing rhetoric notwithstanding, this nation will never truly honor your service, and it will condemn you to the bottom of the economic scrap heap should you ever get seriously wounded."
Few would think of Ilitch as an impulsive, heart-on-his-sleeve kind of guy.
Ilitch offered a Little Caesars pizza franchise to Sgt. Robbie Doughty, 30, of Paducah, Ky., after reading a USA Today report about him last fall. Ilitch was moved and wanted to help the war veteran who lost both legs in a roadside bombing in Iraq.
Ilitch said Doughty's sense that his injuries were not the end of the world impressed the founder of one of the nation's largest pizza chains.
Neither Doughty nor Ilitch would talk about specifics on the financial arrangements. Little Caesars franchisees usually pay an initial $20,000 fee and an ongoing 6% of gross sales. The company estimates the cost of building a new store is $109,000 to $299,000. It also requires franchisees to have a net worth of $180,000 with a minimum of $60,000 in such liquid assets as cash, the Little Caesars Web site shows.
Privately held Little Caesars has 3,085 locations across the country with $946 million in annual sales, according to Nation's Restaurant News. It is the fourth-largest pizza chain.
Doughty and Allard hope to eventually open several Little Caesars restaurants in the area.
The International Franchise Association has made helping veterans get into franchises one of its top priorities this year, said spokeswoman Amy Bannon.
"The reason, beyond giving something back to the veterans, there also is a practical reason for franchisers to work with veterans," she said. "Veterans tend to be very good franchisees. They usually have a history of being a leader in a system, are more disciplined and more mission-oriented. That is the kind of franchisee you want."
Looks like Ilitch thinks there are better ways to support the troops than marching in front of Walter Reed with a "Wounded for Lies" sign.
Let's return to that discussion of Six Feet Under - perhaps we can take Mr McCarron somewhere he's never been.
The soldier portrayed was exactly how I thought they would be before I had the honor of meeting a group of them. I thought they would be depressed and despondent. I was prepared for that...for anger and regret. The reality was humbling... During the course of the day I couldn't help but ask how (and why) they were all so upbeat and their spirits so strong (the only thing they seemed to bitch about was that fact that their superiors wouldn't let them go back overseas!). A handsome 23 year old, with both legs missing from above his knees and a huge cast from soldier to fingertips on his left arm, said to me "Before you deploy you tell all your friends and family that if this (he points to himself) ever happens to me I will kill myself. You can't imagine ever wanting to live like this. But when this happens and you wake up and you're alive... (He pauses) You just can't imagine how happy you are to be alive. I woke up with my foot lying next to my head, but some of my buddies didn't make it. I'm still here and I have a second chance. It's awesome to be here." Wow. At that point I believe I went and bought another round of beers so they didn't tease me for the tears in my eyes...Enough standing around laughing at the Code Pink folks - let's go somewhere they never will. Ready to venture inside Walter Reed Army Hospital? MilBlogs can take you there too.
Part 5 to follow.
The Code Pink movement is a morally bankrupt set of self loathing America Haters, see my take on my blog.
I couldn't keep watching that show after the sister started her anti-war screed. I was spitting mad after seeing the begining of that episode.
While I do not want to minimize what happens to soldiers who loose a limb (or limbs,) they have every reason to be optimistic, as they are getting the best care in the world. The artificial limbs available today surely make a difference in the quality of life these soldiers have to look forward to. And with at least one such soldier returning to active duty, even the continuation of their military career seems possible, if they desire it.Posted by Keith, Indianapolis at August 26, 2005 05:33 PM
That's a guy.Posted by Nope at August 26, 2005 05:49 PM
Yup.Posted by Greyhawk at August 26, 2005 05:52 PM
The show was not entirely unrealistic. There was a soldier who did kill himself at Walter Reed after he got back. The number of suicides did greatly increase for awhile. But the military brought in more mental health resources and so things have gotten better. There also is some indication that some of the problems of mental instability were caused by the anti-malaria drug given to soldiers.
What I think is more troubling is that a recent study showed (I think it was in marinetimes) that soldiers were actually showing more problems 6 months after they got back than 3 months.
The military is by all accounts providing phenomonal care for returning OIF OEF wounded veterans. And the support systems in place at the hospitials both from the military and from civilian volunteers has been terrific.
But I think where there is a hole is in long-term care and support. And the VA does not have the best reputation for this.
It's after they really get home that they will need care, long-term. That's what needs to be addressed. We need a version of Soldier's Angels, etc. for this.Posted by Patrick (Gryph) at August 26, 2005 05:54 PM
Gryph - you're right about the level of care. At and around Walter Reed it's phenomenal - and if the patient is forgotten a few months later when they really get home the disparity could easily serve to heighten any sense of loss, despair, etc. More on that topic to come.Posted by Greyhawk at August 26, 2005 06:03 PM
Great story regarding Ilitch & Sgt. Doughty, and I am sure as hell going to go out and buy a pizza from Little Caesar's this weekend.Posted by kalthalior at August 26, 2005 07:15 PM
Not surprising that soldiers are showing more mental health problems six months out. That's about the time when PTSD typically sets in, not sooner. I highly recommend this highly effective and inexpensive resource if you know a soldier (or spouse) who is dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress:
From the looks of the Code Pink protestor in the photo, could it be that they are using him as a "weapon" to try to scare away the counter protestors?Posted by Don Miguel at August 28, 2005 03:44 AM
Nice try, lets see the photo in context with the march. for all I know this could be something from one of those drag shows that frat boys and The USO like to throw. Then again you could be right, I mean this is that home of the free and the land of the brave. How dare one of its citizens question the status quo? Ditch the nail polish and take it like a man.