Tomorrow is Memorial Day, which, to be fair, is one of the most important holidays the United States has as a whole … this is when we as a nation have set aside an entire long weekend to truly appreciate the sacrifices of our soldiers and their loved ones in maintaining the freedoms and standards we of this country enjoy.
By having a cookout … and maybe a parade.
Those lucky, lucky soldiers, to be appreciated so.
Right now, in current military engagements, between March 19, 2003 and May 21, 2009:
- In Iraq 4,299 of our neighbors have died, while 31,285 have been wounded.
- In Afghanistan 682 of our neighbors have died while 2,843 have been wounded.
And we don’t even take care of our wounded 100% … we prioritize not only their injuries and treatments (admittedly a good thing, seeing as a brain injury requires far more aid and attention than a broken leg), but also their out-of-pocket expenses. See here: http://www.va.gov/healtheligibility/Library/pubs/VAIncomeThresholds/VAIncomeThresholds.pdf
Yes, we make some of them pay dearly for their treatment. Doesn’t it then follow that if a wounded soldier does not qualify for full (or even affordable) health coverage, s/he will likely not receive said treatment? Really? Really.
How the hell do we get these kids to sign up? No wonder we bury our heads in the sand and have family bar-b-q’s where we drink too much and fight in the front yard while complaining about hugs from smelly old uncle Walter and kisses from big-bosomed, hairy-moled Auntie Bernice.
Military medically discharged soldiers (this is important, because until recently the various military branches and the VA … where discharged soldiers end up … were using different scoring systems – yes, the military was scoring soldiers as more healthy, or less disabled, than the VA) are eligible for different levels of medical insurance for themselves and their immediate families:
- Those with a less than 10% military disability rating got no insurance
- Those with a 10% - 20% rating got 6 months, sometimes 9, maybe even 12
- Those with a 30%+ (medical retirement) got full coverage for life
So, not only do we treat our medically discharged soldiers poorly (while having our lovely parades) during active wartime we treat them more poorly than we do prisoners (you know, murderers, rapists, embezzlers and the like) by raising the bar on what qualifies as a medical disability. How else can we account for the marked decrease (decrease?!?) in the number and percentage of medical discharges during war? What? Yup … more wounded, less qualifying for disability, more significant brain injuries than in any military previous military action, ever.
But things are beginning to look up at least in the traumatic brain injury (TBI) department. Since March of last year all branches of the military have been actively screening for TBI in wounded soldiers. Turns out brain damage affects around 15% of the wounded.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking that any soldier, regardless of injury, deserves full medical coverage of said injury at least until it is completely healed. And, since part of the whole soldier thing is limited pay (yes, I know housing is cheaper and the PX, too … but these guys are getting shot at and blown up, you tool), they deserve basic medical coverage for their loved ones as well. In fact, the medical coverage for their children should extend until the child is 18 in the event of the soldier’s death or medical discharge.
Is that really too much to ask for?