‘Hypocrisy can afford to be magnificent in its promises, for never intending to go beyond promise, it costs nothing.’ ~~Edmund Burke
On Monday, Vice President Dick Cheney delivered the keynote address at the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) National Convention in Reno, Nevada. Expectably, Mr. Cheney–who is not a veteran, as he ‘had other priorities in the 60’s than military service’–was on message, offering the usual boilerplate jingoism that veterans groups and service personnel have heard from him time and time again. Interestingly, though, peppered amid the political chaff were occasional kernels of wheat, including the following remarks:
By respecting and caring for our veterans, we show our values as a nation. More than that, we honor solemn commitments that have been made to those who wore the uniform. A veteran who deals with the federal government should be treated as one who has paid into the system the hard way — and should never be made to feel that someone is doing him or her a favor. [full text]
I could not agree with Mr. Cheney more in this regard. But his words ring decidedly hollow, given recent news about severe cutbacks to essential programs such as the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, as reported earlier this month in USA Today:
Congress appears ready to slash funding for the research and treatment of brain injuries caused by bomb blasts, an injury that military scientists describe as a signature wound of the Iraq war.
House and Senate versions of the 2007 Defense appropriation bill contain $7 million for the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center–half of what the center received last fiscal year.
Proponents of increased funding say they are shocked to see cuts in the treatment of bomb blast injuries in the midst of a war.
‘I find it basically unpardonable that Congress is not going to provide funds to take care of our soldiers and sailors who put their lives on the line for their country’, says Martin Foil, a member of the center’s board of directors. ‘It blows my imagination.’ [full text]
Mr. Foil is not alone in his dismay and outrage. In a subsequent op-ed piece, the conservative Washington Times termed the decision ‘brain-dead appropriations.’ And Jim Mueller, commander-in-chief of the VFW, responded by lambasting lawmakers for being so ‘out of touch with war’:
‘It is absolutely inexcusable that lawmakers would slash funding during a time of war for a research center that is earning its keep by addressing the exact types of injuries our troops are suffering,’ exclaimed Mueller, who will introduce a resolution at the upcoming 107th VFW National Convention to urge the government to increase its services to veterans with traumatic brain injuries.
‘More than 12,000 servicemen and women have been exposed to horrendous explosions in Iraq and Afghanistan that have caused more than half of our casualties. Better tactics, body armor and battlefield medicine are saving more lives, but there’s no safety net that’s practical or employable that can prevent fragile human bodies from suffering traumatic and oftentimes lifelong injuries,’ he said….
‘For our nation’s lawmakers to deny advance research that our military has earned with their blood, and for those same lawmakers to espouse patriotism and ‘Support the Troops’ rhetoric from the podium this election year, is shameful, hypocritical, and ignorant’, he said. ‘This research center is an investment in the future potential of traumatically disabled soldiers. It is not an expense.’ [full text]
Is this how you ‘honor solemn commitments…to those who wore the uniform,’ Mr. Cheney? For shame!