The Ignored Story of Our Wounded Soldiers

Most media sources focus on reports of soldiers who died and usually have a thrown in line about those who are “wounded.” The Army Times recently investigated treatment of wounded soldiers. For example, Pvt. Robert Van Antwerp, age 20, was wounded in a blast that ruptured his spleen, ripped out his colon, and fractured his skull when a suicide bombers blew up his vehicle leaving his two buddies dead. According to the Army Times, “Van Antwerp is one of thousands of wounded soldiers rushed from the war zone for health care and then stranded in an administrative limbo. They are at the mercy of a medical evaluation system that’s agonizing slow, grossly understaffed and saddled with a growing backlog of cases.” In 2001, about 10% of soldiers going through the medical retirement process received permanent disability benefits. In 2005, with two wars raging, that percentage has dropped to 3% according to the Government Accountability office. Figures for Reservists dropped from 16% to 5%.

Since the Bush Folly of War in Iraq, the normal wait of 120 days to complete paper work and evaluation at Walter Reed Hospital has grown to 270 days. For example, Pfc. Martin Jackson tripped and twisted his leg while running from a mortar round in Iraq, it was later discovered he had twisted his spine. He has been at Walter Reed for two years, his wife has filed for divorce and the Army is only willing to award him a 20% disability, and, even worse, no free medical treatment for war injuries and no insurance for his family.

Last Christmas, six soldiers at Walter Reed Hospital spent their time picking up trash, mopping floors and emptying garbage. Spc. Rubin Vilalpando tested positive for marijuana as did the other five. He lost his holiday leave and was reduced in rank, which means he will receive a lower disability payment rate if he is ever awarded disability. His cousin, Marcos Omar Nalasco, was electrocuted in a faulty shower in Baghdad. Vilalpando says he is depressed. “I am tired. I’m angry. I want to go home.”

Funny, but I never hear a word about our wounded soldiers from the conservative media or its loudmouth windbags declaiming about unpatriotic Democrats who want to end war and killing.