Veterans Day Is upon Us
    By Kenneth L. (Larry) Stephens
    Veterans Against the
Iraq War

    Thursday 10 November 2005

    Veterans Day is upon us and I must again renew my call to Support Our Troops. While many will say they do, and even more will point proudly to the magnetic sticker on their vehicle, this is not the support our troops truly need.

    Being a Marine and Viet Nam veteran myself, I do not support the policy of going to war based on false and inaccurate statements made by this administration; I do not support sending our brave men and women into battle without the appropriate armor; nor do I support the way this war has been prosecuted. In other words, I do not support the policy of this 21st-century Viet Nam. But having said that, I do support our troops, and as a demonstration of that support, I will speak out and fight vigorously against the abuse of our troops and the failure of honesty in this administration by their deliberately hiding the true human cost of this war.

    As of this writing, there are 2057 brave men and women who have been killed. Unfortunately, this number will change and probably sooner than later. The administration has put forth the number of wounded and wounded returned to duty in 72 hours at 15568+. Notice I did not say injured in battle, injured in accident, nor did I say this included those made physically or mentally ill by this conflict. This number is far higher and is a number the administration does not want the American public to hear.

    However, the administration has not put their fingers in the dike holes, and important information has been coming out over the last 18 months that demonstrates the number of wounded, injured, made ill and suffering from disabilities is well over 100,000. I did not say that, the VA did. In a recent Field Hearing on the transition of reserve and National Guard soldiers from military to civilian life, the VA admitted to 393,000 discharges since the start of the War in Iraq. Of all these discharges, 26%, or 1 in 4, or over 102,000+ have disabilities and are seeking VA health assistance. This is up from 26,000 + as of April 2004.

    The VA is no walk in the park and is not known for efficiency or accuracy. To apply for VA health assistance, the soldier must be discharged, make the application, present medical documentation and if approved by the VA standing criteria, then receive a rating. The opportunity for fraud is low, but the claim can take months to process. Imagine your son or daughter being disabled, being discharged or force-discharged because their disability is such they can no longer serve, then having to wait months for assistance.

    But the VA is changing their criteria. Imagine the VA changing standing criteria and taking a benefit from a WWII, Korea, Viet Nam or Gulf veteran, let alone a vet from Iraq. It is happening now; and unless the American public makes it known that we will not stand for this abuse, then those who do not speak out will be part of the ultimate insult to all Veterans.