The Shame of the Republican Party

No American can forget the sight of President Bush dressed in military gear standing on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier and declaring, “Mission Accomplished.” No American can forget continual comments by President Bush concerning Democrats who want to “cut and run” rather than support our fighting men and women. The Republican mantra is that their party stands up for those fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Unfortunately, the record speaks otherwise.

I realize few Republicans will accept what is written in this story as the truth, but everything stated in the following paragraphs can be verified. This material is taken from publications such as the Army Times and the Navy Times and the Marine Corps Times, publications that hardly fall into the category of being “liberal” scandal sheets that glory in putting down the military. The history of the Republican Party during the past four years is a continual debasement of servicemen and women. A party which is proud to receive hundreds of millions of dollars from wealthy donors has shamefully neglected the interests of those who risk their lives in the service of this nation.

Returning servicemen are encountering difficulties in securing mental health assistance even though statistically, one out of three seeks such help within the first year back from Iraq and Afghanistan. Tricare, which pays for such treatment, is cutting back on what will be paid therapists. For example, Tricare only pays 66% of a therapist’s fee which reduces the number who will participate in mental health programs for veterans. But, that is only one part of this scandal. Patients must wait months to see a military physician and additional months to obtain appointments with mental health specialists. Barbara Romberg, a therapist, finally threw up her hands at red tape delays is now offering an hour a week of free mental health assistance as well as asking other therapists to donate time.

I daily examine the casualty list which provides the name and home town of servicemen who died. It is clear from this data source that a high percent of those killed and wounded come from small towns in America, many of which lack adequate mental health facilities. In Montana, some families have to travel two hours to see a physician, provided they can find one who accepts low pay for doing his or her work.

The problem of mental health treatment gets even worse when National Guard and Reservists are added to the mix. These individuals have been dragged away from jobs and family to serve their country because our president decided there were WMD which had to be destroyed. Upon returning home after doing their duty, these individuals pay an annual deductible plus 20% of the cost to Tricare of providing mental health treatment!! How can America tolerate such incredible insensitive treatment of those who were forced to fight in an insane war over nothing? How can we require them to pay for what was done to their minds and souls by an incompetent leader?

Justice and fair play require that anyone who served in the madness of Iraq or Afghanistan is entitled to free mental health treatment for the rest of their lives. The cost can easily be met by having a 1% tax on the wealthy of this nation who have economically benefited from the Bush presidency. If George Bush would do one thing to really aid our servicemen and women, he can proudly stand wherever he wishes and shout, “Mission Accomplished.”

Let me be blunt — the Republican Party stands condemned for failing to support our fighting men and women. The Republican Party has cut back on assistance to veterans while cutting taxes on their wealthy donors. The Republican Party record for those who have fought or are fighting is one of neglect and cheapness. America should be thankful Democrats are in power and already are taking steps to stand up for those in combat while Republicans cut and run when it comes time to allocating resources to those who have served.