DC Wants Americans to Worship Servicemen and Veterans but Treats Them Like Trash Itself

Still stalling, hoping Iraq veterans sick from the burn pits die off so it doesn't have to pay for their care

DC propagates the cult of veterans and servicemen to the public to shut down debate on wars, but itself treats them like guinea pigs, then denies them aid for conditions it inflicts on them

Its a headline that should, by all appearances, be considered good news.” But somehow the November 18 declaration, VA announces plans to study military toxic exposures, connections to veteran illnesses,” just comes off as an Onion-esque parody.

Thats because the Veterans Affairs Department has been vowing to study” the effects of the ubiquitous “burn pits” on soldiers for more than a decade—so has the Pentagon. In fact, there have been tons of studies already, big and small, in both the public and private sectors. But like everything in Washington, launching one more study or task force allows the bureaucracy to stall real action—in this case, practical help for thousands of men and women who say theyre suffering from war-related illnesses.

Once upon a time, the lag time between when Vietnam veterans reported getting sick from Agent Orange exposure in the late 1970s to when the government began officially recognizing their illnesses, including cancer (in 1991), was considered the height of institutional inertia and neglect. In fact, many Vietnam veterans who did not fit the original parameters of the 1991 policy that made Agent Orange exposure a service-connected illness, affording them access to VA health care and disability compensation, are still fighting for their due.

But successive wars in the Persian Gulf, Iraq, and Afghanistan have created two new generations of veterans who have been mostly denied VA health care and disability benefits for their toxic exposures overseas. In other words, waiting as long if not longer than their Vietnam counterparts has merely become the new normal.

This includes some 250,000 Persian Gulf veterans, now mostly in their 50s and 60s, who are suffering from a variety of mysterious health conditions many medical experts now believe resulted from their exposure to widely used pesticides, the pyridostigmine bromide pills taken by troops to protect against sarin gas, and actual sarin gas exposure during the 1991 war. Outside studies have been conducted for more than 20 years now, with many finding direct correlation between service and illness. The VA has stepped up in so far as there is a way for these veterans to file service-connected claims, but the way the requirements are set up, it is still very difficult to actually get approved. According to one explosive report, some 80 percent of Gulf veterans’ claims were denied between 2010 and 2015.

Then there are the burn pits. For years after the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq began, the U.S. military dumped all of the trash accumulating on its massive U.S. forward operating bases into unregulated, unfiltered, open air pits. These pits, often the size of football fields or larger, burned everything from broken down vehicles, batteries, styrofoam, medical waste, food, paint cans, tires, you name it. They burned day and night, notable for the smoky haze and big black angry plumes. Tens of thousands of troops and other personnel worked and lived right next to these pits, unprotected, and many complained about coughing up crud,” and getting sick right away when they arrived for the first time on base.

In one case, this author interviewed the wife of a soldier who, while stationed at Camp Taji in Iraq, began to lose all feeling in his feet. By 2009 he was home and confined to a wheelchair at the age of 49. VA doctors were flummoxed by his condition, finally diagnosing him with rheumatoid fibromyalgia. But his own neurologist believed, even at the time, that his condition was the result of nerve damage caused by toxic exposure.

That was 10 years ago. But now we know that there is fine particulate matter like heavy metals in the air around these unfiltered pits, and it was reported to Air Force officials as early as 2006 that it was an environmental health hazard. We know they sat on this information and even to this day will not acknowledge that the toxic air could be responsible for serious neurological and respiratory problems, not to mention cancer, among this cohort of  veterans.

Congress believed it enough to shut down the burn pits in late 2009 after the stories like the one above started flowing from veterans’ blogs and into their offices on Capitol Hill. But despite the order, burn pits are still being used in the war zone today.

The VA was dragged, kicking and screaming, to set up a registry for which veterans could voluntarily register what they believed to be burn pit-connected illnesses. Since 2014, some 187,630 veterans have signed up as of this October. Meanwhile, the media is now rife with stories about young veterans dying of cancer, of wasting away in wheelchairs and with ever-present oxygen masks. A new report shows a spike in cancer rates among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans seeking VA care.

A class action suit by 800 veterans who wanted to hold the private contractor Kellogg, Brown, & Root responsible for the conditions caused by the burn pits went all the way up to the Supreme Court, but the justices wouldnt hear the case.

Sadly, thanks to testing by private medical doctors, we know that the worst of the damage to vets is irreversible and that taking care of those who do not die as a result will cost the government billions over time. And here is the rub: between this generation, and that of the Persian Gulf veterans behind them, the VA is faced with liabilities that will stretch beyond today and decades into the future. There is every incentive to stall.

The American government should not have this luxury. When Washington made the decision to surge hundreds of thousands of troops into Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan and Iraq, it also entered into a covenant of care with those service members. Yes, this covenant has been broken many times before, but there is no reason to normalize the practice.

Had the government cared enough to find out what it was spraying, firing, burning and asking our troops to ingest, instead of treating them like guinea pigs, or worse, disposable, they would not be staring down the barrel of a trillion dollar gun. But here we are. It is up to us as citizens and policy makers to force some action, and say that one more study” just wont cut it.

Source: Responsible Statecraft

  1. Séamus Ó Néill says

    Trouble is that anyone fighting these “wars” is not a patriot. America has never been invaded, these wars are not for the defence of the US, these wars are to thieve and pillage and anyone from America fighting in them is a mercenary, pure and simple. Like any mercenary, you’ve a sell-by date and that’s that !

  2. Mary E says

    There might come a day in the US when good paying jobs will be available to men of military service age so they aren’t forced to join a branch of the military. In the meantime they are forced to join up so they can get benefits and a decent pay. Tragic situation now with the US not caring for its services men and women… or preventing events like this: smoke from burn piles.. how totally archaic, unthinking and dangerous!
    But nobody in the ranking military or government cares. If they did, there wouldn’t be situations like this.

    1. Robert Pop Sanderson says

      I joined voluntarily not considering the danger. I joined because i wanted to be a member of the service, not because of my economic situation. I served 22 years in two services as a infantry man and never regretted it. Loved every minute of it and would do it again. Nobody makes you join today and you would be foolish to do it. Pay sucks and the benefits are better at most reputable companies. Congress screws the veteran every opportunity they get when it come to medical benefits, but we vote these assholes in. So it is what it is.

    2. thomas malthaus says

      Less a government than a criminal syndicate.

  3. JustPassingThrough says

    A relative of mine a ww2 vet with injuries complained bitterly about the VA and its treatment of vets in 1946. It’s just gotten worse.

    But in the perverse logic of an anglo-zion empire letting the vets die is cheaper than paying for their maintenance isn’t it? Basically they are useless to the empire. Think about it.

    1. Margaret Swift says

      yes you are right in what you say. America wants soldiers to fight their wars but it does not want to look after them in after war life illnesses. Bush Jnr. created the law where most service men were dismissed from the army before entering the plane to fly home so when they arrived on American soil once again they were no longer part of the Army so no longer entitled to free medical care. But then again I’ve watched docos by Mike Moore saying the military comb the streets for unemployed to join their army and go fight their wars for them, what do they care about the unemployed

      1. JustPassingThrough says

        i didn’t know that about the village idiot.
        you are right, they are scraping the bottom of the barrel.
        most of the cannon fodder is too fat and too drugged to qualify for anything. so they’ve been changing the rules.

    2. Canosin says

      the price for this useless patriotism is indeed high….. the useful idiots will never learn that they are all abused and lied by their governments

    3. Mary E says

      Truer words never spoken!
      Useless and discarded!
      I knew 3 men who were in the VietNam war who eventually died from cancer caused by agent orange, the defoliant used indiscrimently by the US in that war.
      The government tried to convince them that it wasn’t that, it was fatigue or something else.. eventually private medicine proved it was Agent Orange!

  4. Rowdy-Yates says

    American Veterans are one of the worst treated veterans in the world. I have many friends who are veterans and I often accompany one veteran to the Veteran’s hospital. The way he is treated is so bad that if I didn’t intervene on so many occasions he would be dead by now. From overmedication’s to wrong medication, including recommended surgeries that were not needed.
    During Obama’s time the Veterans administration had a “death list” of Veterans whose treatments were too expensive or the veteran was too old. In such cases the Veterans administration would not cover treatments and simply let the Veteran die.
    This kind of maltreatment is not just the hospital but pervades the society including violence against Veterans to what I would term “legal abuse” where they get a bad ruling in courts. It is as if America has no more use for them.

    1. Mary E says

      Doesn’t it just make you want to shout from the rooftops: JUST DONT GO!!!

      1. Rowdy-Yates says

        Many join the army to get an education, not to fight. One friend managed to avoid Vietnam and spent his years during the war in Germany enjoying Europe. His regret is that he did not stay in Europe, then you have the debt trap. students burdened with college debt and cannot find jobs often join the army to pay that debt off.

  5. thomas malthaus says

    A trillion here (repos, QE), a trillion here (corporate stock and bond buybacks), and a trillion there (propose increasing VA funding or veterans choice outside the system).

    Priorities in budgeting with paper money and what passes for moral imperatives.

    I’m under the impression 9/11 responders are having similar difficulties in obtaining medical aid. Which former US and Israeli officials do you sue for hatching that plan? The Saudi government nor its citizens are responsible. But I’ve digressed.

    Hint: I’ve read where the greatest expense incurred for long-term medical problem is in the last stages where patients essentially request the impossible.

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