December 23, 2003 | Misleader.org
Late last week President Bush visited combat veterans at Walter Reed Medical Center. During his visit, he said “We have made a commitment to the troops, and we have made a commitment to their loved ones, and that commitment is that we will provide excellent health care – excellent care – to anybody who is injured on the battlefield.”1
His comments stand in stark contrast to the policies he has pushed – and the record he has amassed – as President. Just this year alone, the President “announced his formal opposition to a proposal to give National Guard and Reserve members access to the Pentagon's health-insurance system”- a slap in the face to thousands of troops, especially considering “a recent General Accounting Office report estimated that one of every five Guard members has no health insurance.”2 The President also this year proposed to cut $1.5 billion (14%) out of funding for military family housing/medical facilities. This followed his 2002 budget which, according to major veterans groups, “fell $1.5 billion short” of adequately funding veterans care.3
This is not the first time the President has staged a photo-op to thank veterans at Walter Reed and then proposed policies that hurt veterans. A little less than a year ago, the President visited the medical hospital4, and then on the same day announced his proposal to cut off 164,000 veterans from the VA's prescription drug discount program.5
The result of the President's harsh treatment of veterans is that “more than 235,000 veterans are currently waiting 6 months or more for initial medical appointments” with “many veterans waiting 2 years just to be seen by a doctor.”6 At Ft. Stewart, Georgia, UPI reported “hundreds of sick and wounded U.S. soldiers including many who served in the Iraq war are languishing in hot cement barracks here while they wait – sometimes for months – to see doctors.”7 And CBS News reports that the administration appears, in some cases, to be denying benefits to soldiers wounded in Iraq. Specifically, many soldiers say they are seeing their pay and health benefits severely reduced after they are badly wounded.8
- President Bush Meets with Wounded Soldiers at Walter Reed, 12/18/2003.
- Gannett News Service, 10/23/2003.
- Independent Budget, 01/07/2002.
- President Bush Meets with Wounded Soldiers at Medical Center, 12/17/2003.
- “VA Cuts Some Veterans' Access to Health Care“, Washington Post, 01/17/2003.
- Independent Budget, Paralyzed Veterans of America.
- “Sick, wounded U.S. troops held in squalor“, UPI, 10/17/2003.
- “Wounded Troops Denied Benefits?“, CBS News, 12/18/2003.