Saturday, January 31, 2009

Scandals - and they aren't sexy either

Body Armour - again... - and for a certain commentor, this isn't left over from the past Democratic administration - this is the stuff that was ordered by the Bush Administration. Does anyone else find this completely reprehensible? No testing done, except by outside contractors? does the phrase Lowest Bid resonate with anyone? this isn't the shameful ripoffs of KBR in food prep, or the wholesale handouts of cash to local personnel for questionable intelligence - these are the lives of those in country! I am not "maligning" the Army or the military - I am, with many of my "sisters", amazed that this is still going on- that after all the scandals and reports, that contractors are still selling equipment that is not suitable for purpose, that is flawed. Flaws happen in manufacturing all the time, but testing is supposed to catch this equipment before it is circulated out into the population for which it was designed.

The amount of money being spent on these should mean they are fit for purpose - and that purpose is to save lives and protect our men and women in uniform. Tell me, is there an amount of money spent on testing that anyone of you out there is willing to "Save the taxpayer" and weigh that amount against that life, the life of my husband, Tucker's husband, Sissy's husband, Mamaw's son?

There's another topic, and it's so difficult to talk about. Suicides going up. I was reading the paper and listening to the news, and it's shocking enough there. When you do a search online for suicide rates - there are headlines EVERY YEAR that the rates are going up, more than last year, and there is another program, and another study and more brass proclaiming that they see it, understand it, going to fix it, need more psychologists/psychiatrists - etc etc ad nauseum.

Then I talked to a member of the military on my shuttle bus.. and it slammed home. His stepson, after being home for less than 3 months, and a few weeks after his wife and baby left the home because of the depression and fear of physical impact, killed himself. That's horrendous, but what really floored me - his stepdad claimed he received NO counseling, no redeployment assistance - he was scared to say anything because his unit was hard on anyone claiming PTSD, that he was spiraling out of control, and no one saw it. I don't know the full details, and I sure wasn't going to ask a man in mourning... but it's not the first time I've heard that our much vaunted and trumpeted re-deployment "Beyond the Yellow Ribbon" programme isn't being implemented properly, that lip service is paid, that it's another checklist to be ticked off - we saw it after our last deployment.

I know we don't have enough counselors, enough doctors to help, and that's another problem all together. But we can, we MUST, change the thinking of those who say PTSD is just a pile of BS, that these people are malingerers, cowards, whatever epithet they want to use. There are, surely, malingerers trying to get out of duty - but I'd rather let a couple of those slide through, than see another man trying to make sense out of a death like this, another family torn apart by it, another baby girl who will only know her dad from stories and pictures.



pjp said...

Good post

Anonymous said...

I know we've discussed this briefly in our "group," but that armor is the same armor my husband -- also currently in country -- wears every day to keep him safe? Was it one of the 16,000 that's being recalled? I don't know yet. But it scares the shit out of me that I have to WORRY about that type of stuff when I have so many other things to worry about during this deployment. And frankly, it's bullshit.

In terms of the suicide rates, it's really just sad. The Army needs to get over their "tough guy" act JUST a little, and help the people that are helping us. Shit happens. We all get that. Life isn't peachy all the time. But our soldiers, air men, marines, sailors, etc ... they DESERVE to get the help that they need, and should not fear being chastized by their superiors, by their fellow military members, etc. Most of these kids are just that ... kids. With the current wars going on, these KIDS are being plucked straight from boot camp and thrown into combat, without adequetly being prepared for what they will see. I don't know how many new soldiers we got on the last deployment that were straight from bootcamp.

Something needs to be done.

Kanani said...

You are right. We have to change the stigma against mental health issues so that PTSD isn't resigned to the scrap heap.

I can give you some insight into the shortage of psychiatrists and other mental healthcare professionals. It's not just in the military, it's nationwide.

There are areas of the country where you will not find a single psychiatrist, and others where parents will drive to other states to find an adolescent child psychiatrist. This is the result of far fewer of our brightest going into medicine, and of those, few have an interest in the treatment of the mind due to a long-standing discrimination and even denial toward mental illness.

In part, the stigma is due to our "rugged American individualism" that is ingrained in us to think we can handle all our problems ourselves and failure to do so is due to a personal failure.

Sadly, we have groups like celebrity Scientologists who also speak out against psychiatry. Believe me, the John Travoltas and Tom Cruises do nothing for the plight of our soldiers (which is another reason to boycott their movies).

If you're interested, you might consider going over to the NAMI site, to see what you can do to inform others about PTSD, chronic depression and anxiety. They're very real issues, and deserve to be in the broad daylight.

Joe said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
SabrinaT said...

It disgusts me that Bush would stand in the hospital (with tears in his eyes) all the while KNOWING the body armor was not up to par.

As for suicide, I agree we need more counselors BUT with actual educations. None of this degree equivalent garbage that seems to be rampant here overseas...