Screwing the Troops: What Else is New?

Remember, we are not talking welfare queens or entitlement  parasites. These are guys badly hurt in Washington’s wars, brains scrambled by  IEDs, legs still somewhere in Afghanistan.

There is a question that has haunted me for some years now. How can these guys (who very much deserve it if anybody ever did) find justice without victimizing (extorting) innocent people–people that had nothing to do with Washington’s wars?

Should society just say, “screw ’em” because they got what they deserved because they signed up for it. Or, should society recognize they were as much victims of the propaganda machine as anybody ever has been and take care of them?

I know what the libertarian answer is: No one has any sort of “right” to NOT starve. To claim such a right would require a claim on someone else’s life which no human has any sort of “right” to.

But to me personally, it is the classic ethical dilemma. I also have a VA disability claim that has been in the mill for over a year now. I fully intend to take all I can get from the bastards for ruining my life by destroying my health. My dilemma arises because I know that somebody will have to be robbed. — jtl, 419

by Fred Reed via Fred on Everything

For a  country always at war, the United States is remarkably not interested in taking  care of soldiers it has broken in its wars. Having bankrupted the country,  Washington sinks every available penny into the two purposes of the military:  funneling money into the arms industry, and fueling imperial ambitions, in  large part of pasty fern-bar Napoleons at National Review and Commentary. The  Veterans Administration is way back in the chow line. It doesn’t work very well.  As best I can tell, nobody cares.

What do I mean,  it doesn’t work? Consider a vet blinded or nearly so in some war or other. To  use a computer, which has come to be necessary life, he needs screen-reader  software, such as JAWS. It costs roughly a thousand dollars retail. For a  blinded vet, most likely of slight education and no resources beyond his VA  compensation, this is a lot of money.

The software  could be provided quickly and easily, as follows: The vet fills out an  application online, perhaps prints it, signs it, and scans it to the VA. An  employee of the VA receives it and keys the veteran’s social-security number  into his computer. In two seconds the vet’s records come up. Yep, blind. The VA  emails him a URL and download key, by arrangement previously made with the  manufacturer of the software. The vet downloads it. End of story. Elapsed time:  an hour, plus download.

What really  happens? To begin with, the VA is so disorganized, its web sites so badly  designed, its technology so primitive, its staffing so inadequate, its unending  forms so incomprehensible, that few vets can navigate the system. I can’t. The  kid from Tennessee, with a room-temperature IQ and what passes now for a  high-school education, doesn’t have a chance. He will simply be ignored. I know  this from personal experience. I have sent letter after letter to the  educational-benefits office in Buffalo, and nothing comes back. This is common.

So much for  supporting our boys in uniform. They are broken goods. What the hell. We can  recruit new ones.

The delay  and endless often senseless paperwork involved in getting anything is so great  that it is easier for disabled vets just to do without or pay for it themselves  one way or another. Remember, we are not talking welfare queens or entitlement  parasites. These are guys badly hurt in Washington’s wars, brains scrambled by  IEDs, legs still somewhere in Afghanistan. The vet’s only  hope is to have smart, tenacious representation, preferably by a lawyer. Few have  this. What it comes to is that, in practice, the benefits that are supposed to  exist do not. This saves a lot of money. It doesn’t help the vet.

I did have (very)  good representation in a matter involving the VA. A career in journalism gives  you contacts that men from small towns in the heartlands don’t have. My rep and  I requested my VA records. Easy, right? They pop up on the computer? No. They  exist only on paper. Scanning the records of veterans of Viet Nam, who are  aging and need care, would cost money. Washington has much more interest in  making new cripples in remote countries than in caring for the  cripples it has already made. My country, ‘tis  of thee….

The VA said consecutively  that my records were in Pittsburg, then Austin, then St. Louis, and then, God  knows why, in Portland, Oregon. It took a year to get them, despite threats of  litigation.

Utter  confusion reigned. Over and over they sent us forms to fill out that we had  already filled out, sent letters to the wrong address. This is what most face  without help. The barrier is almost insurmountable, and saves the government a  lot of money.

I live in  Mexico, as do a lot of vets, a fair few of them disabled. (The VA seems not to  understand that a world exists beyond America’s borders. Nowhere on the VA’s  web site could I find answers to questions that expat vets need answered.) If a  vet here makes a claim because his condition has worsened, he goes through the  VA office in Houston. On average, it takes Houston 377 days just to get to him. Not to solve the problem, just  for him to bubble to the top of the pile. Being technologically at the  grass-hut level, the VA doesn’t know about email, and so sends and demands paper  letters. These may or may not arrive in foreign lands. The VA insists on the  vet’s filling out a form he didn’t receive and didn’t know was sent, so the  whole convoluted process stops.

Try dealing  with this if, as is the case with an acquaintance of mine, you are so riddled  with shrapnel, because something big came through the bottom of your  helicopter, that you are in constant pain—forty years later. You have to take  so much pain medication just to get through the day that you can’t under  bureaucratic letters. The consequence is….

The hell  with it. The following is a letter to me from an attorney who represents vets  pro bono before the VA:

“Fred: Of  course, your suggestion (about screen-reading software) makes perfect sense and  that’s why it will never happen. Secretary Shinseki means well and has done  what he can to improve the claims backlog, but no one ever expected that the  wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would lead to the number of service-connected  injuries that currently exist. One of the biggest problems is orthopedic  injuries caused by the 100-pound-plus combat loads these kids have to carry. I  currently have four claims for Iraq and Afghanistan kids for shoulder, hip and  knee injuries, usually caused when they fall going up or down hilly terrain  with these loads. Then there are the injuries caused by IEDs. The truth is that  the President has given more money to the VA in five years than Bush did in  eight, but it’s not enough, thanks to Republicans in the House. The new budget  proposes a 4% increase to $63 billion, but it does not include enough money to  hire thousands of new people to work on claims. Most of the increase is to hire  more medical staff, particularly mental health providers. It does no good to  offer mental-health services when the vets who are suffering can’t get their  claims done in less than a year. It is forcing many to live on the streets,  sleep in their cars or they end up in shelters. We see this right here, in  Central Oregon.”

It makes me  feel so patriotic I could choke.

About Land & Livestock Interntional, Inc.

Land and Livestock International, Inc. is a leading agribusiness management firm providing a complete line of services to the range livestock industry. We believe that private property is the foundation of America. Private property and free markets go hand in hand—without property there is no freedom. We also believe that free markets, not government intervention, hold the key to natural resource conservation and environmental preservation. No government bureaucrat can (or will) understand and treat the land with as much respect as its owner. The bureaucrat simply does not have the same motives as does the owner of a capital interest in the property. Our specialty is the working livestock ranch simply because there are so many very good reasons for owning such a property. We provide educational, management and consulting services with a focus on ecologically and financially sustainable land management that will enhance natural processes (water and mineral cycles, energy flow and community dynamics) while enhancing profits and steadily building wealth.
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7 Responses to Screwing the Troops: What Else is New?

  1. Brian Patrick Corcoran says:

    Jim,       About your moral dilemma, I think the whole system is about to collapse anyway and the sooner the better.  So I would guiltlessly load as much demand upon it as possible in order to hasten its demise.  That would be the moral thing to do.                                                         Brian in Chile



    • <td style="text-align: left; background-repeat: no-repeat;" align="left"; height="31" colspan="1" background="cid:top@19820b006501df4fa6a025b177f7a449"Yep, I’ve been taking that approach for some time now. At least it is a way to rationalize my inconsistency. But, as Ludwig von Mises, Adam Smith and a host of others have pointed out, humans act and generally they act in what they believe to be their own best interest and, in the long run, that turns out to be in the best interest of society as a whole. In this case, that would be liberty sooner and the sooner the better, as you say. I do hope that is the case and thanks for the encouragement.  Dr. Jimmy T. LaBaume, President & CEO Land & Livestock International, Inc.904 West Avenue HAlpine, Texas 79830Skype: 432-897-2332  Cell: 432-294-0891 


  2. phynedyning says:

    Count me in with Brian. And his is exactly the same counsel I would give a ‘welfare queen’.

    Nobody is born a welfare queen or a disabled vet. The state creates both groups. The state tells the welfare recipient, “It’s okay. We’ll take care of you. You deserve help because (fill in the entitlement reason). It tells the vet, “In case you become mentally or physically damaged, we will take care of you, you deserve it.”

    The state creates welfare queens, in part, to gain support (votes) for the political caste. (Poverty is typically a result of state policies and not sloth.) The state creates the military (and logically, disabled vets) to expand empire and to feed a war-based economy (despite the obvious fact that wars only destroy wealth). Then it pits each group against the other as ‘undeserving’, while it publicly characterizes both as ‘our most deserving of citizens’. (How bloody sick is that?)

    So, my friend…be a little tick and suck, suck, suck. The impoverished are also state-created victims so they should suck too. The harder everyone sucks, the sooner the state and its self-created mess will collapse.

    (I’m re-blogging Fred’s piece and your comments, Jim. Only an ethical person worries about ‘the third man not seen’. Gee, that fits libertarians. Funny how that works.)


  3. I am ashamed of the VA ‘system’, which is irretrievably broken and should be put down like a sick dog. My local VA facility (yes guys, I’m the vet) is the NW Texas VA and it has been one of the top 25 WORST hospitals in the country for many years now.
    And I understand why but, until I get to know everyone better, I’d best keep that comment to myself.
    I am so ashamed of the way the ‘old guys’ are getting treated. I see all the little old men standing around the lobbies looking very hopeless and it just makes me want to cry. I’ve just stopped going because going there is just as bad as going to get a tooth puled, it IS REALLY THAT BAD.
    And the government wants to take over ALL HEALTHCARE???


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