Thursday, January 27, 2005

I find this outrageous, but I guess it's just the Bush "ownership society" at work:

...The last thing a wounded soldier needs to worry about is where the next meal is coming from. But for hundreds of Walter Reed [Army Medical Center] patients, that's a real concern. Starting this month, the Army has started making some wounded soldiers pay for the food they eat at the hospital.

This doesn't affect inpatients -- just outpatients. Except that it does affect inpatients who are called who outpatients:

... Although Walter Reed did not disclose the exact number of soldiers affected, the policy is most likely to affect at least the estimated 600 soldiers getting long-term outpatient care at the hospital in what the Army calls "medical hold."

Soldiers in medical hold are considered outpatients, but they usually live on hospital grounds -- some are put up in nearby hotels if housing on the grounds is full -- and have little choice but to buy food at the Walter Reed chow hall. Even as outpatients, soldiers in medical hold often have serious injuries. Some have been blown up by roadside bombs or crumpled in Humvee wrecks. They have serious head wounds and amputations. Others are struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder after being flown out of Iraq with shellshock.

The military apparently thinks of this as "double dipping," because the outpatients also receive a meal allowance. But it isn't regarded as "double dipping" for the inpatients who are called inpatients -- their meals are still being paid for.

(It's not as if the families of our soldiers are living high on the hog.)

Oh, and it gets worse:

Some soldiers in medical hold are waiting to get processed out of the Army because their wounds are so serious that they will never return to duty. But processing at Walter Reed can take over a year.... Soldiers in medical hold also complain they are still expected to line up for daily formations and buy new uniforms even as they struggle with debilitating physical and mental trauma from their service in Iraq....

Good grief.

(Article from Salon. Non-subscribers can click through an ad to read it free.)

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