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FOX NEWS "PULLS THE PLUG" AND LETS WOUNDED WAR VETS "FLATLINE"

Reported by Ellen - July 29, 2007 -

Guest blogged by
BILL CORCORAN

FOX News anchors/hosts Brit Hume, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Neil Cavuto and John Gibson like to show how patriotic they are by wearing those little American flag lapel pins on their suitcoats. It goes without saying, but we will anyway, that a little American flag lapel pin is as close as Hume, O'Reilly, Hannity, Cavuto or Gibson will ever get to serving in the United States military under a REAL American flag. You might even go so far as to say this quintet of FOX News anchors/hosts "cut and ran" when it came their turn to serve in the United States military.

Perhaps it is this collective guilt about their own lack of patriotism---these showy little American flag lapel pins just don't cut it---but FOX News has "pulled the plug" on the atrocious conditions our returning war veterans are facing in their dealings with the Veterans Administration.

FOX News treats any story about the lack of care for wounded Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans by the VA like they were someone with a terminal illness and the decision has been made to let them "flatline."

If the FOX News anchors/hosts were medical doctors, they would take a "Hypocrisy Oath."

In the past few weeks there have been countless stories about the lack of professional health care wounded veterans are receiving, but FOX News has made an editorial decision that only one tiny snippet on Brit Hume's Special Report is all that FOX News viewers need to know about the deplorable care returning veterans are receiving.

This blogger has assembled a number of articles on what has been happening to wounded veterans when they return to the United States. FOX News chose not to report on them, but we will so read on. However, be prepared to be shocked at how the Bush administration and their mouthpiece FOX News have "pulled the plug" on wounded veterans and left them to "flatline."

From Salon.com

52,375 veterans treated or evaluated for PTSD after Iraq or Afghanistan

Newly released reports show that the Department of Veterans Affairs alone is responsible for that many; only 19,000 have received disability benefits.

A presidential panel recommended an overhaul of the healthcare system for U.S. veterans, highlighting treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder as one of the biggest challenges. Today, new evidence shows just how much the problem is growing.

A nonpublic report from the Department of Veterans Affairs sent to the Government Accountability Office says that 52,375 veterans who fought in Iraq or Afghanistan, and are now home, have been treated or evaluated for PTSD by the department.

The military provides some healthcare for wounded soldiers. Once they are out of the military, that job falls to the VA, the agency also responsible for handing out disability payments, if needed. That 52,375 number represents only patients seen by the VA and excludes an unknown number of soldiers diagnosed as having PTSD by the military. It also excludes another unknown number of soldiers who suffer from PTSD but have not yet been diagnosed by the military or the VA.

The document was obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by Veterans for Common Sense. That organization has also obtained a VA document showing that only 19,015 of those 52,375 veterans are receiving disability payments, suggesting a problem getting payments to those who deserve it. Paul Sullivan, executive director of Veterans for Common Sense, says, "This is of great concern to us."


VETERANS SUE U.S. OVER SHAMEFUL CARE

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The many medical claims by veterans of U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has completely overwhelmed the American government, leading to "shameful failures" in treatment, a class-action lawsuit filed on Monday alleged.

"Because of those failures, hundreds of thousands of men and women who have suffered grievous injuries fighting in the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are being abandoned," according to the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for Northern California.

More than 1.5 million U.S. service members have been sent to Iraq or Afghanistan since 2001.

Repeated and extended deployments to war zones have driven a rise in post-traumatic stress among troops. But Pentagon and Veterans Affairs Department lack the resources and staff to help service members, according to recent reports.

The filing by two veterans groups sued various officials in the Department of Veterans Affairs and U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and challenged the constitutionality of a 1988 law establishing various VA practices. The two plaintiff organization represent about 12,000 American veterans.

"Unless systemic and drastic measures are instituted immediately, the costs to these veterans, their families, and our nation will be incalculable, including broken families, a new generation of unemployed and homeless veterans, increases in drug abuse and alcoholism, and crushing burdens on the health care delivery system and other social services in our communities," the suit said.

The suit said the Department of Veterans Affairs faced a backlog of 600,000 claims, with some veterans dying while waiting to settle claims. It also claimed the VA was unable to deal with the growing number of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder cases.

FAMILY OF MARINE SUES VA CHIEF OVER SUICIDE

From the Marine Corps TImes:

The family of an Iraq war veteran filed suit Thursday accusing Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson of negligence in the suicide death of their son.

The lawsuit says VA is to blame for the death of 23-year-old Jeffrey Lucey, a Marine who killed himself in June 2004 after he allegedly was denied mental health care following a tour in Iraq.

Read the complaint

The lawsuit seeking unspecified damages names Nicholson, who is leaving his job, and the U.S. government as defendants.

The action comes just days after the group Veterans for Common Sense sued Nicholson and VA on behalf of injured Iraq war veterans. That lawsuit accuses the agency of unlawfully denying the veterans disability pay and mental health treatment.

Lucey's father, Kevin, says he and his wife hope their lawsuit will force the Bush administration to take swift action to fix VA.

"They've got to look at the entire system of the VA," said Lucey, who spoke from his home in Belchertown, Mass. "We're hoping that it goes to trial and that people can truly see how dysfunctional the system is."


From the Army Times:

KANSAS RULES LIMIT INSURANCE SALES TO TROOPS.

Annuity and life insurance salesmen can't solicit soldiers who are on duty or attending compulsory meetings on their bases, under new state rules.

The rules took effect Thursday, immediately after their approval by a state board that reviews administrative regulations. They supplement federal and state laws designed to prevent salesmen from cheating military personnel, and they also spell out what the state's Insurance Department considers deceptive or unfair practices.

The military already has it own policies, and individuals and companies using questionable sales tactics can be banned from installations nationwide. But if the Insurance Department has its own rules in place, it can suspend or revoke agents' licenses or impose fines against them or their companies.

The new rules also prevent life insurance salesmen from soliciting business on a military post without first getting permission from its commander. Also, companies cannot use military personnel as representatives, regardless of whether they are paid.

John Campbell, the Insurance Department's general counsel, said he hasn't heard of any abuses in Kansas. He said they're most likely to occur at basic training centers, home to mostly young recruits.

Fort Riley has a long-standing policy of requiring companies and their agents to get a permit to solicit business on post. They must provide information about the firm, themselves and their projects, and the post's legal department decides whether they will be permitted to sell, said Dori Farrow, the fort's civilian chief of administration and operations.


Service Civilians and the Wounds of War
Many Fill Vital Roles in Iraq, but Medical Care Can Be Spotty

From The Washington Post:

Service Civilians and the Wounds of War

North of Baghdad, the U.S. military convoy was nearing a base when a roadside bomb ripped into the lead Humvee, leaving its gunner, Mike Helms, bleeding and swaying from a strap in the open back.

Helms, 31, a civilian counterintelligence expert with the Army's 902nd Military Intelligence Group, had been sent to Iraq in 2004 to help fill a critical intelligence gap in the area known as the Sunni Triangle. While in Iraq, he lived with soldiers and ate military rations, took fire from mortar rounds and small arms, and clocked hundreds of miles manning a machine gun on the back of a Humvee.

Nevertheless, his status as an Army civilian would leave him stranded in the aftermath of the June 16, 2004, attack, when the bomb hit his Humvee so hard it blew his M-60 off its turret.

In the months that followed, Helms recalled, he was denied vital care for his wounds -- ranging from shrapnel in his left arm to traumatic brain injury. Forced to rely on federal workers' compensation and turned away from regular care at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and other military hospitals, Helms has faced years of frustration grappling with bureaucracies unprepared to help a government civilian wounded in combat.

"I did not have an 'accident' while working. I was subjected to an offensive attack by an enemy of the U.S. government who attempted to kill me," said Helms, now a counterintelligence agent at the 902nd's Fort Knox, Ky., field office. "Why am I under workers' comp if workers' comp does not recognize a combat injury?"

As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan strain the U.S. military, the Pentagon is sending civilian workers such as Helms into war zones to provide critical support to the troops, raising questions about their status and treatment.


From the Washington Post

OVERHAUL URGED IN CARE FOR SOLDIERS

A presidential commission examining the care given to wounded U.S. service members has recommended "fundamental changes" aimed at simplifying the military's convoluted health-care bureaucracy and overhauling the veterans disability system for the first time in more than half a century.

The commission, led by former senator Robert J. Dole (R-Kan.) and former Health and Human Services secretary Donna E. Shalala, met with President Bush at the White House yesterday morning to brief him on their findings and to press him for quick action. "We left there feeling the ball's in their court now," Dole said.

The panel issued six broad recommendations intended to transform a troubled system for military health care and veterans' assistance that has left some injured soldiers languishing for years and resulted in inequitable and inconsistent disability benefits.

The proposals include creating "recovery coordinators" who would help each seriously injured service member navigate the complexities of care, rehabilitation and disability; giving the Department of Veterans Affairs sole responsibility for determining payments for wounded veterans; and taking aggressive steps to prevent and treat post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.

From the New York Times:

WOUNDS OUTLAST WAR

There is no more urgent task than improving medical care for wounded veterans, whose shameful neglect is yet another failure of the shockingly mismanaged Iraq war. The warriors bear scars from physical and psychological trauma and a chaotic government bureaucracy.

A presidential commission hurriedly created in the wake of scandalous accounts of mistreated and forgotten veterans issued a series of sensible recommendations for repairing the damage, including a major overhaul of the way disability pay is awarded and providing more support for family members who must shoulder the long-term burden of caring for their wounded loved ones.

Making all the required improvements, the commission’s report said, would require “a sense of urgency and strong leadership.†Unfortunately, there is no sign that the White House either grasps the urgency or is prepared to provide that leadership. All the more reason for Congress to force reform on the president.

SUMMARY

FOX News lack of coverage of this sampling of stories about veteran and civilian abuse by the Veterans Administration and the United States government is a clear indication that little American flag lapel pins don't translate into patriotism for Brit Hume, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Neil Cavuto and John Gibson.

FOX News has "pulled the plug" on wounded returning veterans, as well as American civilians working in Iraq, and without so much as checking their pulse let them "flatline." FOX News viewers are fed an endless series of "tabloid news" stories designed to divert the FOX News viewers from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and keep hidden from their audience the fallout from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars that afflicts over 50,000 wounded young Americans.