"Support The Troops!" is our national mantra, but it apparently only applies until they return home. Then, it's more like "ignore the troops" -- particularly those who may need help from the very government they have served. This is a shameful way to treat our men and women in uniform.
Months after the scandal at Walter Reed, several veterans groups have sued the Department of Veterans Affairs, on behalf of hundreds of thousands of returning troops, for denying them disability pay and not giving them the mental health treatment they need. Today on my KMOX show, I spoke with Gordon Erspamer, one of the attorneys who filed the lawsuit.
He explained that, even though federal law mandates at least two years of health care to injured veterans, they are not getting it, especially when it comes to the mental health problems that affect troops who have been exposed to the horrors of this war. Worse, the VA has a backlog of around a half-million disability payments that have not been processed.
This is not a political matter. There's no left or right on this. This is about our government lying to our troops. They were promised they'd be taken care of, but that care is not being provided. The government that sent them to war is ill-prepared to deal with them when they return to the homefront. It is more than negligence, more than arrogance. It is the shame of a nation.
After the interview, I asked my colleague Carol Daniel for her reaction, considering her brother-in-law is fighting in Iraq right now. Carol got so choked up she could hardly express her anger. You may feel the same way.
As Erspamer spoke, I couldn't help but remember Donald Rumsfeld's line, "You go to war with the army you have." But eventually, that army -- the one you didn't provide enough flak jackets for, the one you didn't provide armored vehicles for, the one you didn't have a decent war plan for -- comes home. Some of them may seem intact because they have all their limbs still connected, but the ramifications of what's going on in their heads must be dealt with, and they deserve better.
Read the actual lawsuit claim here.