The glib assurances of politicians, that those who volunteer for service receive the best care possible, ring hollow for too many of the 1.7 million Americans who fought in Iraq or Afghanistan, or both.
That theme ran through an intense, daylong gathering on 17 September 2008 of hundreds of military caregivers, Department of Defense (DOD) and Veterans Affairs (VA) officials, family members, and veterans. The panels, discussions, and networking, sponsored by the U.S. Naval Institute and the Military Officers Association of America, seemed to offer this progress report: Better. Not good enough for wounded troops.
Despite the selfless dedication of caregivers and policymakers, the treatment of wounded veterans tragically reflects neither America's ability nor its heart.
For veterans in need, services often fall short. Maddening red tape frustrates those seeking help, and institutional indifference or hostility baffles their families. For every wounded veteran who receives loving and technically advanced rehabilitation, it seems there is one who, like his veteran father and grandfather before him, fights months just for attention.