I have had a little experience with Veterans’ Administration hospitals. While I never served, members of my family have. In fact, one of them died in a VA hospital. But I’m willing to bet that I’ve spent more time (admittedly very little) in a VA hospital than a lot of those currently expressing outrage over the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and its conditions.
However, I “know” some people who have spent a great deal of time in such places. And they are people I am willing to trust.
One of them is SMASH, a Lt. Commander in the United States Naval Reserve who, at last count, has been to Kuwait on active duty twice, and is currently on duty in DC. And if he is willing to vouch for “Chuck” as strongly as he does, I’m going to give Chuck’s words a great deal of weight.
The problems at Walter Reed — and, by extension, other military medical facilities — don’t appear to be policy, but systemic of a large bureaucracy, coupled with the “ickiness” element of things most people don’t want to deal with.
Injured soldiers are a fact of life in war. They represent the price of our national decision to wage war, and represent an obligation on all of us. And it is a shameful but true aspect of human nature to want to look away from our obligations, to set aside those we owe a debt to — especially if those people aren’t in any position to press their case.
The conditions at Walter Reed, as represented by the Washington Post, are utterly unacceptable. but I’m not going to to call for heads to roll.
No, I think first we need to fix the problem, then worry about apportioning blame. The heads will still be there after things get mended.
It’s far too easy to see these wounded men and women as a debt we owe them. But from there, it’s just a short step to try to weasel out of that debt. But that is wrong.
They are an opportunity for us. They are a chance to assert that we value their service, their devotion to duty, and their sacrifice, and reassure those currently at risk that they will not be treated so shabbily should they be unfortunate enough to need treatment.
We, as Americans, are tremendously fortunate to have such amazing people as are currently serving in our armed services. Incidents like the condtions at Walter Reed call into question whether or not we are worthy of them.