A Modest Proposal
Published September 5th, 2011
From the Huffington Post, Ron Glasser discusses alternatives to DVA care for Veterans.
I was drafted into the Army as a military physician in August of 1968 and sent to Camp Zama Japan as a pediatrician to care for the dependents of the Military and Department of Defense personal throughout the Far East. I arrived in Japan six months after the Tet Offensive while our soldiers and marines were still being killed platoon by platoon in the rice paddies of the Mekong Delta and in the elephant grass along the Laotian boarder.
While Zama was the largest general military hospital in the Far East, its main mission was in support of the war, which meant caring for the wounded coming out of Vietnam. Whatever your specialty, the Army expects a doctor to be a doctor and during those years at Zama I saw and cared for the wounded from Nam. That war ended, when Congress deciding after a decade of fighting -- with 58,284 dead and over four hundred thousand wounded -- that the war was no longer worth the effort, the costs, nor the increasing number of dead and wounded, simply voted to withdraw additional funding. Within six months our army began to go home and within a year we were gone.
Unfortunately, Congress also reduced funding for the care of the wounded, leaving a whole generation of Vietnam veterans to flounder in poverty, homelessness, drug abuse and anguish. We had decided both as a nation and as individuals to forget about the war and get on with our own lives.
There is little of that kind of callousness today. We are not ignoring that we have once again sent our soldiers and marines out to the very edge of empires as much as the fact that both collectively and individually we are becoming overwhelmed by what seems to have become a hopeless task along with an increasing number of terrible wounds and shockingly new medical needs.
In Vietnam you were mainly shot and died; in Iraq and Afghanistan you are blown up and live. In Nam, there were 2.4 casualties to every death. In Iraq and Afghanistan the ratio has become an astonishing 16 to one.
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