Among the legacies of the Bush disaster in Iraq is the fact over 30,000 fighting men an women were wounded in combat and thousands more are leaving the service with a range of disabilities. Isaac Stevens was injured while training at Ft. Benning, Georgia, and as a result became paralyzed. He was discharged, but due to Army bureaucratic paperwork, he will not receive his full disability payment for up to a year after leaving the service. Many discharged with disabilities fame similar waits until the paper work catches up with the disabled person. Stevens was living in a homeless shelter fighting off sexual advances until he was rescued by a serviceman’s organization. “When I got out, I hate to say it, but man, that was it. Everybody just sort of washed their hands of m, and it was just like, OK, you’re on our own.” Nearly 20,000 men and women were discharged over the past two years with disabilities and most are caught up in the bureaucratic maze which deprives them of financial assistance.
According to Operation Homefront, a typical soldier who was making about $3,400 a month will only receive about $770 during the time right after discharge. The military has recently changed its policy and is now allowing those discharged to receive full pay for up to 90 days after leaving the service. Amy Palmer of Operation Homefront who works with the disabled, points out “nobody is assigned to them. You’re on your own once you get out.”
American society still does not grasp the full financial extent of the war in Iraq. Thousands of disabled soldiers will be seeking medical and financial assistance for years to come due to the misadventure in Iraq. The irony of super patriot George Bush, who never failed to emphasize how much he cared for the troops, is how little he has done for them, particularly once they are out of the service.