Monday, September 20, 2004

Theory vs. Practice 

Bush at a Victory 2004 rally, 9/16/04: "And I want to thank the military families who are here. (Applause.) We appreciate your service and your sacrifice. The federal government owes your loved ones all the support necessary to complete their missions."

Pentagon to wounded Guardsmen: Sure, you broken-down gimps can catch a bus back home, if you don't mind going home penniless:
National Guard Sgt. Rick Harvey, who injured his spine in Iraq, has doctor's appointments twice a week, but otherwise has nothing to do while he recovers at a military base some 300 miles away from his family in Oregon.

"I just want to go home. I want to be demobilized," Harvey, 46, of Milton-Freewater, Ore. He has been living in the barracks at the base for the past nine months.

Harvey is one of nearly 5,000 sick or wounded National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers around the country receiving medical care at Army bases far from their homes and families.

Regular Army soldiers usually recuperate at their home bases, with their families living on base or nearby. But as the Army prepared for war - plans in which Reserve and Guard troops figured prominently - it never worked up a policy to allow the part-time soldiers to convalesce near their homes . . . .

Guard and Reserve soldiers on medical hold can choose to resign active duty status to return home while recovering, but they lose their military pay if they do. Leaving base also can delay their consideration for permanent disability status.

Sgt. Garth Leighton of Bend, Ore., is recovering at Fort Lewis from a broken back. In a recent meeting with his commanding general, Leighton complained that he cannot return home because his family relies on his military pay.

"I want out of here, I can hardly stand it," he said. "When I did this thing, I put myself at risk. I accepted the potential for death. I did not sign up to put my family at risk" . . . .

"They gear and train to go to war, but they don't have any clue what will happen when we come back," [Harvey] said.

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