The last week has featured a deluge of publicity about the deplorable conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, perhaps the most prestigious military hospitals in the country. It began with an expose in the Washington Post telling the story of returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, shattered in body and mind receiving poor care, in dilapidated rooms, facing mountains of red tape and little support.
Since then there have been TV specials, Senate hearings, and a Newsweek lead story entitled “Failing our Wounded”. The cover showed a 21-year-old Army specialist who was sitting on the stool next to her artificial legs. Marissa Strock at. she was in a Humvee that rolled over an improvised explosive device (IED) the broke her bonds, lacerated her liver and lungs, and resulted in the amputation of both of her legs below the knee. Marissa said she was proud to serve, said “the doctors were fantastic but the hospital just doesn’t have enough people to adequately handle all the wounded troops coming in here everyday.”
Looking at her picture brought tears to my eyes, and it intensified my rage at our government for getting us into this mess with neither exit strategy nor commitment to these maimed young people
Last Sunday’s New York Times (March 4, 2007) told a front page story of an 18-year-old Infantry Private, leaving her small Colorado River home town, for a flight to Fort Hood, Texas. There, Private Kane, US Army, Fourth Infantry Division, will be trained and probably to go to Iraq.
Resha Kane, a 5 ft. tall, honors student at Needles High School, Class of 2006, enlisted in the Army right after her senior prom. She saw the military as a way to further her education when she returned. On her return she plans to go to college with her GI Bill benefits and study biochemistry. Resha was escorted to her flight in a motorized caravan led by a dozen flag-waving motorcyclists. In the photograph that accompanied the article she was looking into her father’s eyes as she said goodbye, and I found myself weeping as I wondered in what condition she might return.
Forty years ago, I confused my feelings about the war in Viet Nam with the returning warriors; I will not make that mistake again. In my morning meditation I pray for Resha Kane every morning; I put out loving energy and see her smiling joyfully on her return. I will be among those who will welcome you home warmly for your warrior courage.