MOLOGNE HOUSE AT WALTER REED: A 'MOTEL 6' ON THE HIGHWAY TO HELL
by G. Duff
Two years ago, Henry Sullivan of our Vets counseling group visited Walter Reed and Mologne House. He had worked there prior to going to Vietnam as a Combat Medic and wanted to see how the guys were doing.
The group had decided to move the focus to newer vets as our Vietnam Veteran friends were moving successfully thru "the system," those who were still around.
Two years later and the war is still going and Henry and more like him have more to do working with the endless stream of wounded coming home from our now "endless war."
My friend Henry is a combination "stand up comic" and highly qualified medic. He retired from the VA a few years ago with disabilities from his service in Vietnam. Henry also has a DSC and Silver Star from working on medivac helicopeters. Working with disabled vets is his only job now.
Walter Reed is a combination "medical resort" for big shots and civil war era "left over" with worn out facilities and excellent but equally "worn out" staff. Two years ago, what was a temporary "glitch" in care and processing has now proven to be an institutionalized nightmare…
Overcrowded hospitals are a part of every war. We were prepared to understand that. The part that didn't make sense was Mologne House.
Most Army hospitals have facilities for families to visit, adjacent to their treatment facilities. These are excellent places, hotels really, and can be a positive experience for our returnees. When these hotels aren't filled with wounded or families, retirees use them while traveling for a modest fee.
MUCH MORE IS GOING ON HERE THAN A FEW HOURS INVESTIGATION OR CELEBRITY VISIT WILL EVER SHOW. LIVING IN "COLD STORAGE" UNDER MILITARY DISCIPLINE AND CONTROL, INCLUDING SOME OF OUR MOST SERIOUSLY WOUNDED, CAN COMBINE TREATMENT WITH MISTREATMENT AND COMPOUND SUFFERING.
How does a great facilitiy built to do so much good become something very different? Do we spell it…. B-U-R-E-A-U-C-R-A-C-Y….
Mologne House is the best of a group of facilities in and around the Walter Reed complex that "warehouses" wounded soldiers who are receiving treatment, being "processed" or simply are "lost in the system". Where you used to see Pentagon brass, you now see young soldiers bounding up and down the halls on aluminum prosthetics or with burns, head injuries or anything flying metal or flame can destroy on a human body. Also filling the hallways are family members, some visiting, some living there, some even paid by the Army as caregivers to supplement nursing staff.
This is only one of such facilities. There is another at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas and there are more. The price of war is very clear when you come here. Though these facilities are a huge improvement over the abuse and filth Vietnam Veterans were subjected to and the numbers treated small in comparison, the sacrifice is no less and the suffering the same or greater.
This part we know already. Politicians, musicians and movie stars visit for "photo ops" and Americans who care keep packages of needed items, from clothing to cd's, heading in.
However, much of the stupidity and laziness from earlier times has survived also. While the American public, the VA and the Bush Administration sit on their hands waiting for "studies" and "panels", we still ignore the cost and aftermath of our failed policies and miserly budgets and their impact on our military effectiveness.
BUDGETS ARE MISERLY, NOT WHEN IT COMES TO BILLIONS STOLEN/LOST OR MISSING FOR "REBUILDING" PROJECTS OR CONSTRUCTING "PALACES" FOR OUR AIR FORCE, BUT MISERLY WHEN IT COMES TO DECENT HELMETS, EFFECTIVE BODY ARMOR AND VEHICLES BUILT TO PROTECT TROOPS FROM "IED'S".
YEARS AFTER "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED" WE HAVE OUR BIGGEST YEAR OF DEAD AND WOUNDED, 2007, AND STILL HAVE A PRESIDENT WHO VETOS VETERANS FUNDING BILLS AND WHOSE "DOLE COMMISSION" OPENLY BETRAYED DESERT STORM AND VIETNAM VETERANS.
Mologne House is a classic example of our "caring too late" with "too little". Meant to be a hotel, this facility now stores soldiers and sometimes family members for months and even years while plans for better or more capable facilities remain unfunded and "un-asked for" by the military and the VA under this administration.
Patients here, though most are severely disabled, languish under military control and military discipline. While under "intimidation" and "regimentation," they have to plan their futures and BEGIN THE POTENTIALLY DECADES LONG FIGHT TO GET PROPER DISABILITY COMPENSATION BASED ONLY ON REPORTS FROM GOVERNMENT DOCTORS WHO TEND TO LOOK FOR "NON SERVICE CONNECTED CAUSES" FOR EVERY INJURY, BE IT TRAUMATIC AMPUTATION OR PTSD.
WOUNDED WARRIORS RETURN FROM THE FIGHT TO FACE ANOTHER ENEMY, NOT A "BENIGN BUREAUCRACY" BUT A DISIBILITY RATING SYSTEM RUN BY THE "OLD BOY NETWORK" THAT THINKS LEGLESS VETS BELONG ON A CORNER WITH A TIN CUP.
OUR SOLDIERS, MANY WITH HORRIFIC WOUNDS, HAVE TO FIGHT THEIR WAY THRU A "FIXED" SYSTEM WHILE ANSWERING TO "PLATOON SERGEANTS" AND HAVING CID DRUG DOGS RUNNING UP AND DOWN THE HALLS.
ONE AMPUTEE, SGT. DAVID THOMAS OF TENNESSEE, WAS KEPT AWAY FROM AN AWARD CEREMONY BECAUSE "PRESIDENT BUSH" MIGHT HAVE BEEN "INCONVENIENCED" BY HIS LACK OF PROPER UNIFORM ATTIRE. HIS UNIFORMS HAD BUT CUT OFF HIM WHEN THEY REMOVED HIS LEG. THEY WERE NEVER REPLACED. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/nation/walter-reed/?hpid=rightpromo1)
PTSD VETS ARE REGULARLY DISCHARGED WITH NO DISABILITY FINDINGS. IT SEEMS THAT EVERY SOLDIER COMES INTO THE MILITARY WITH 'PRE-EXISTING' CONDITIONS FROM "BI-POLAR DISORDER" TO "CHRONIC DEPRESSION." KEEPING PSYCHIATRIC STAFF IGNORANT ABOUT CURRENT METHODS OF DIAGNOSING PTSD HAS PUSHED THOUSANDS OF "PHONY DIAGNOSES" THAT MISS PTSD SYMPTOMS.
MILITARY PSYCHOLOGISTS MAY ACTUALLY BE TRAINED TO MISUNDERSTAND THE NATURE OF PTSD AND ITS TREATMENT AS A "MANAGEMENT DRIVEN" COST SAVING MEASURE. EVERY MIS-DIGNOSIS KEEPS PTSD VETS FROM UNDERSTANDING THEIR PROBLEMS, RECEIVING PROPER TREATMENT AND BEING ADEQUATELY COMPENSATED FOR THEIR DISABILITIES.
THIS IS DONE WITH "NO QUESTIONS ASKED"AND NO "ACCOUNTABILITY." MILITARY AND VA POLICIES ARE SET IN AN ATMOSPHERE OF SECRECY THAT NO CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEE HAS EVER BEEN ABLE TO PENETRATE.
THOUGH MILLIONS OR PERHAPS BILLIONS OF DOLLARS ARE SAVED, ACCORDING TO BUSH, BETTER APPLIED TO TAX BREAKS FOR BIG INVESTORS, WOUNDED SOLDIERS CONTINUE TO BE SHORT CHANGED IN THE HOPE THEY WILL DIE, TOO OFTEN AT THEIR OWN HANDS, WHILE AWAITING TREATMENT AND COMPENSATION PROCESSING.
TENS OF THOUSANDS OF VIETNAM VETERANS ARE STILL STRUGGLING THRU TREATMENT AND CLAIM PROBLEMS, SOME THAT HAVE GONE ON FOR 40 YEARS. THE MILITARY PROCESSING SYSTEM, EVEN IF REPLACED BY THE VA SYSTEM, WILL ONLY REPLACE ONE CORRUPT SYSTEM WITH A HORRIBLY DYSFUNCTIONAL ONE.
NOBODY IS APPROACHING THE REAL PROBLEMS NOR IS ANY GROUP, REPUBLICAN, DEMOCRAT OR VETERANS ORGANIZATION, SPEAKING HONESTLY ABOUT WHAT OUR WOUNDED FACE AND WHAT IS NEEDED TO HELP THEM AND THEIR FAMILIES HAVE THE CHANCE AT THE LIFE WE OWE THEM!
For every parade, every "celeb" visit, we have a dozen, or a hundred newly discharged wounded, disabled and damaged who leave the military and enter a world of "downsizing", "hundred dollar oil" and lowered expectations. The path the Bush Administration has planned for them is a life of poverty, dispair and even homlessness for thousands. This is not conjecture. Thousands of recently discharged veterans, many needing treatment and deserving disability compensation are among our homeless now and the numbers are growing daily.
Solutions are necessary. The "BULL" has to stop. The "BUCK" has to stop somewhere, even if it means putting new life and a new conscience into the "empty hat" in the oval office.
Doctors need to be properly trained to recognize PTSD. Existing family problems, learning disabilities or adjustment issues, prior to military service MUST NO LONGER BE USED AS AN EXCUSE TO DENY COMBAT VETERANS, ESPECIALLY WOUNDED COMBAT VETERANS COMPENSATION WHEN THEY SUFFER FROM POST TRAUMATIC STRESS.
THIS HAS BEEN THE "ROUTINE", MANY DOCTORS HAVE PARTICIPATED AND IT MUST STOP. MISDIAGNOSING PTSD IS MALPRACTICE AND MILITARY DOCTORS MUST BE ANSWERABLE FOR THEIR OWN MISCONDUCT.
PROGRAMS 'TALKED ABOUT' INVOLVING DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT FOR PTSD MUST, NOT ONLY BE IMPLEMENTED, BUT TRACKED AND OVERSEEN BY 'INDEPENDENT' ADVOCATE GROUPS THAT ARE ANSWERABLE TO CONGRESS AND THE PEOPLE AND NOT THE BUREAUCRACY THAT HAS CAUSED THE PROBLEMS IN THE FIRST PLACE, AND NOT ENTIRELY BY "ACCIDENT."
ALONG WITH THE SUGGESTED MOVES TO PUT A WIDER NUMBER OF DISABLED VETERANS FAMILIES ON TRICARE/CHAMPVA THAN BEFORE, "REAL TIME" OVERSITE OF THE SHORT AND LONG TERM IMPACT COMBAT DISABILITIES HAVE ON OUR SOLDIERS MUST BE STARTED. OUR "FIXES" MUST BE MADE MORE FLEXIBLE SO WE CAN RESPOND TO REAL PROBLEMS, NOT JUST THE ONES BOB DOLE WAS LOOKING FOR.
WE MUST ALSO FACE THE FACT THAT OUR MILITARY IS TOO SMALL. WE CAN'T KEEP SENDING TROOPS BACK TO A WARZONE YEAR AFTER YEAR, ESPECIALLY RESERVE AND NATIONAL GUARD TROOPS .
AMERICA WAS NEVER MEANT TO HAVE A LARGE PROFESSIONAL ARMY THAT LIVED AS A SEPARATE CLASS FROM THE PEOPLE IT DEFENDED. THE FOUNDING FATHERS WOULD HAVE NEVER IMAGINED THAT WE WOULD BE IN CONTINUAL WARS WHILE TRYING TO FORCE OUR WAY OF LIFE ON OTHERS. WE HAVE BECOME A NATION OF "MISSIONARIES" WHO HAVE TRADED THEIR BIBLES FOR CLUSTER BOMBS.
WE HAVE TO FACE UP TO OUR RESPONSIBILITY IN THE REAL WORLD, NOT OUR IMAGINED "WORLD RULERSHIP" THAT REQUIRES US TO CORRECT EVERY WRONG AND SPREAD DEMOCRACY TO COUNTRIES THAT WE KNOW WILL VOTE IT AWAY IF ALLOWED AN "HONEST ELECTION".
I NEVER THOUGH I WOULD LIVE LONG ENOUGH FOR PEOPLE TO SPEAK LONGINGLY ABOUT THE "CLARITY OF VIETNAM, OUR LAST 'CLEAN' WAR". WE ARE ALMOST THERE.
IT'S TIME WE STOPPED GOING TO THE TAXPAYER TO FOOT THE BILL FOR THE CORPORATE RAPE OF AMERICA AND THE WORLD. DEFENSE CONTRACTORS AND OIL COMPANIES HAVE MADE ENDLESS BILLIONS ON IRAQI/KUWAITI OIL, "NO BID" CONTRACTS AND OUR FAT PENTAGON BUDGET, FAT WITH "BLOAT" BUT THIN ON BASIC NEEDS FOR OUR TROOPS AT WAR.
LET THEM , THE "CORPORATIONS" THAT LOBBY FOR THIS AND EVERY WAR, GIVE DISABLED VETERANS THE "FREE GAS FOR LIFE" THEY HAVE EARNED. MAKE THESE CORPORATIONS THAT LIVE ON PENTAGON/ADMINISTRATION CORRUPTION PAY A TAX FOR EVERY VETERAN THEY DON'T HIRE, NOT BECOME MORE POWERFUL ON OUR MORAL FAILURES.
WHEN WAR BECOMES LESS PROFITABLE, IT WILL BECOME HARDER TO FIND. http://www.lewrockwell.com/shaffer/shaffer42.html
IF WE CHOSE TO LET THIS ADMINSTRATION AND THE NEXT PLAY THE GAME THAT HAS GONE ON FOR MOST OF OUR LIFETIME, 20 YEARS FROM NOW WE WILL READ A STUDY THAT REPORTS THAT OUR VETERANS WERE:
1. SENT TO THE WRONG WAR WITH THE WRONG LEADERSHIP AND BAD EQUIPMENT
2. WERE MISTREATED AND MISDIAGNOSED WHEN THEY GOT HOME
3. VETERANS AND THEIR FAMILIES SUFFERED FROM POVERTY AND HOMELESSNESS DUE TO "LACK OF PLANNING"
4. ADEQUATE FOLLOW-UP TREATMENT WAS NEVER ARRANGED FOR
5. CLAIMS PROCESSING WAS HANDLED NEGLIGENTLY AND UNFAIRLY AND VETERANS OFTEN SPENT DECADES IN THE "HOPELESS" VA APPEALS PROCESS
6. A COMMISSION TO BEGIN STUDYING THE PROBLEM SHOULD BE APPOINTED
WELCOME TO DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN