Soldiers at Walter Reed Deserve Better

Stop right now. Stop watching Anna Nicole Smith's death; stop watching lawyers yell about nothing. Pay attention, because this next one is important. No more politics, no more hiding behind empty phrases and photo opportunities and nine-second sound bites.

Wounded — and by wounded, I mean missing arms, legs, eyes, heads caved in, all wounds that will be visible for the rest of their lives — soldiers have been left to sleep in rooms with mice and mildew, substandard in every respect, at Walter Reed Medical Center. Just so we are clear — this is happening in Washington D.C., less than ten miles from the White House. This is happening to soldiers who were blown apart in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Politicians and generals of every ilk have been visiting our great soldiers at Walter Reed during this war and making all these grand statements about caring, love, sacrifice and — my favorite — the best medical care money can buy. Well, apparently that pays for rats and lousy treatment.

As bad as these living conditions are, and they are bad, the amount of crap that a wounded soldier and his family have to go through to continue to get the treatment they have earned is staggering.

Soldiers from all our wars have served and been forgotten, and because of the type of men and women they are, they seldom complain; but they damn well should. Have you ever wondered what would happen if more senior officers like generals or (God forbid) politicians or a secretary of defense were forced to spend their days in rooms such as they ones discovered by the press, or treated like second class citizens as so many wounded young men and women are? Well, wonder no more. If that were the case, the problem would have been fixed already.

If we’re going to send soldiers off to fight for us and be blown apart for us, then we owe them the best medical care we can afford for the rest of their lives, period. We’re spending $2 billion a week in Iraq — in Iraq, not at Walter Reed Medical Center — that ought to upset you. The Army just upgraded one of its burn centers in Texas. You know how? With donations from private citizens, that's how. But we’re spending $2 billion in Iraq — are you getting my point here?

I remember not too long ago we impeached a President for lying about SEX. Gee whiz, that was serious! Now we have soldiers with their bodies torn apart, limbs blown off, gallons of blood spilled in the sand, and they wind up in room with mice, rats, and mildew. And, when they leave those hellish accommodations, they enter the ether zone of a military and veterans care system that lets them down every day. That seems to me to be a bit more serious than lying about sex, but that’s just me.

Sure, the rooms will be painted, committees will be formed, speeches will be made, and not a damn thing will change. Soldiers will still have to fight massive bureaucratic battles to get the medical treatment their brave hearts and missing limbs have already paid for.

In this new war, this World War III, this War on Terror, we can no longer sit still and allow this to happen. We have great private citizens spending their money to help soldiers with medical issues that our government is totally responsible for providing, but still is not. So private citizens are not only giving soldiers the gear they need to fight this war — everything from body armor to parts for helicopters — they are now helping mend and care for those same soldiers, because the government cannot or will not. Come on; get angry! Rant and throw things; this really is worth turning away from blondes and lawyers on TV.

On February 21, when asked at a press conference if anyone was being fired for this mess, the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army said, “No.” Well, “no” means that this travesty is guaranteed to happen again and again. We cannot win wars by treating our soldiers like this, and we might deserve to lose if you — yeah, you reading this — do not care enough to do something.

We are a great nation, but we are diminished by this. We are no better than how we treat our nation’s bravest. Right now, we suck!

Col. Hunt Answers Your Military Questions!

1. Do you feel that if President Carter had dealt with Iran over the hostage situation aggressively in 1979, we would not find ourselves in this situation today?

Col. Hunt: Carter failed us in so many ways, but not killing the Ayatolla before he got to Iran, and how miserably he handled the hostage situation, are two great examples. You know, the guy who is now running Iran was deeply involved in the hostage crisis … go figure.

2. Do you feel Gen. Eric Shinseki was right in saying that we need 250,000 troops for the invasion, or at least follow on troops?

Col. Hunt: Of course he was right. We never needed that many to take the place, but to prevent what it turned into, for sure he was right. Rumsfeld, the ass of Secretary of Defense, was totally wrong on this and so much more.

3. Do you feel that we attacked the wrong country? That we should have gone after Iran instead, seeing that Iran seems to be the center of gravity for all this BS.

Col. Hunt: I was wrong about Iraq, they did not have the WMD, we either lied or the Intel was just awful. Iran was always a bigger threat and a harder nut to crack, as we are seeing.

4. Do you feel that the generals in Iraq where cowed by Rumsfeld, after seeing what happened to Gen. Shinseki? That this is the real reason no request for more troops where made?

Col. Hunt: Yes Rumsfeld cowed these guys, but they let him do it. As always, the soldiers paid the price with their lives and limbs.

5. I heard Al Sadr's militia controls the border in Iraq? Is that true and why isn't the border to Iran closed?

Col. Hunt: Part of Sadr's militia is on the border. He has over 20,000 — some say as many as 60,000 -- men. The border to Iran is not closed because the Shia Government in Iraq wants to do business with the Shia Government in Iran.

• Click Here for Col. Hunt's Previous Q&A

Colonel David Hunt has over 29 years of military experience, including extensive operational experience in Special Operations, Counter Terrorism and Intelligence Operations. You can read his complete bio here.