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Other than Honorable
June 2, 2013 9:26 AM   Subscribe

"A Gazette investigation shows an increasing number of soldiers, including wounded combat veterans, are being kicked out of the service for misconduct, often with no benefits, as the Army downsizes after a decade of war."
"Disposable: Surge in discharges includes wounded soldiers"
"Left Behind: No break for the wounded"
"Locked Away: Army struggles with wounded soldiers"
posted by andoatnp (26 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Some tested positive once for drugs, then were deployed to combat zones because the Army needed the troops, only to be discharged for the drug offense when they returned.
Totally beyond the pale behaviour.
posted by Mitheral at 10:36 AM on June 2, 2013 [11 favorites]


Sounds a lot like the way a corporation treats employees it no longer deems necessary (or affordable) to the mission goals. Run it like a business, indeed.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:39 AM on June 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Totally beyond the pale behaviour.

Unfortunately par for the course for the Army. Same as it ever was since the Spanish-American War at the turn of the last century. I was in the Army in the 70's and 80's and it was no different then.
posted by Podkayne of Pasadena at 11:23 AM on June 2, 2013


Support our troops!
posted by cjorgensen at 11:32 AM on June 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


"One two-tour infantry soldier was targeted for discharge after missing three doctor appointments because he had been admitted to a psychiatric hospital for being suicidal."

Clever use of catch-22.
posted by Free word order! at 11:36 AM on June 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Clever use of catch-22.

Almost literally.
posted by jaduncan at 11:39 AM on June 2, 2013


Perhaps in addition to treating veterans better perhaps we could consider halting their mass production?
posted by srboisvert at 11:59 AM on June 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


The real enemy is the government! Oh... for once I don't need to stop myself from posting this comment so as not to derail the thread. like I usually do.
posted by rebent at 12:36 PM on June 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm confused, I thought we all wanted a smaller US military?
posted by Renoroc at 12:42 PM on June 2, 2013


I'm confused, I thought we all wanted a smaller US military?

The issue is that the soldiers in question are receiving other than honorable discharges, thus losing benefits. In other words, they're getting screwed for their brave and honorable service.
posted by ogooglebar at 12:54 PM on June 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Because I just reflexively think of things in Marxian terms, I'd say I'm for rewarding the living labor of living soldiers and against paying for the dead labor embedded in their fancy machines. The reason I have this irrational prejudice is because I think it is harder to be a soldier than it is to be someone who meaningfully profits from arms manufacture, and I think that the soldiers deserve the money more.

But yes, I am for a smaller military, smaller in terms of soldiers and elaborate expensive weapons systems both. I am also, though, in favor of rewarding and honoring the soldiers we have and the former soldiers we almost ruined as much as humanly possible, and certainly against the vile shit our military is pulling to avoid honoring our soldiers' service, in terms of symbolic honors like medals and plaques and also real honors like fantastic medical care and a reasonable income.

I see nothing resembling a contradiction here.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 1:41 PM on June 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Geneva Conventions were really designed to prevent masses of wounded soldiers -- if you look at them, they ban everything than maims but doesn't kill.

Except technology moves, including medical technology, and we've gotten a lot better at making the things that used to kill, just maim.
posted by effugas at 1:58 PM on June 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


With Alvaro, the Assassins were struggling with a larger problem the military has yet to solve: If a wound is invisible, how can anyone tell it is real?

Oh, I don't know, maybe that time he had a seizure in front of them?
posted by hoyland at 2:02 PM on June 2, 2013


I'm confused, I thought we all wanted a smaller US military?
posted by Renoroc at 3:42 PM on June 2 [+] [!]

The issue is that the soldiers in question are receiving other than honorable discharges, thus losing benefits. In other words, they're getting screwed for their brave and honorable service.
posted by ogooglebar at 3:54 PM on June 2 [1 favorite +] [!]

Quite right, but I think we need to issue Renoroc a dishonorable discharge for using sarcasm with a fellow MeFite.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 3:14 PM on June 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Which brings me to the question - what kind of retirement benefits can I expect when I close my MeFite account? Do I still get those benefits if I'm banned instead?

I think a new FAQ entry is in order.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 3:15 PM on June 2, 2013


Quite right, but I think we need to issue Renoroc a dishonorable discharge for using sarcasm with a fellow MeFite.

What, you want to punish Renoroc just because my sarcasm detector needs recalibration? That's harsh.
posted by ogooglebar at 5:27 PM on June 2, 2013


I think I summed up my feelings about this matter in the thread from last July about the uniform boondoggle:
For the amount of money the United States spends on our military, I expect our forces to take the field with the finest food and equipment and live in the best facilities in the world. No one is really surprised by yet another shameful Pentagon boondoggle, least of all me. However, it makes me very angry indeed when brass hats line the pockets of their profiteer buddies while simultaneously putting the men and women whom we have trusted them to command in mortal peril because, "It was trendy."

It makes me angrier still when they then treat anyone wounded as disposable because, as a retired Marine Corps general and former Obama advisor said, "…when any organization spends so much on its employees it has 'big problems.'"

If we could not afford the entirely foreseeable cost of treating the wounded, even taking care of their every need for the rest of their lives when necessary, perhaps we should not have started two wars. At the very least, perhaps we should not have reduced taxes again after it became clear that our forces would remain under arms overseas for many years to come.

What is an army without soldiers or a navy without sailors? Nothing but empty buildings, unmanned equipment, and rusting hulks. A military is the people who wear the uniform. You'd think a general would know that better than anyone.
In summation, I invite the military and civilian leadership responsible for the shoddy treatment our wounded are receiving to perform an anatomically impossible act upon themselves, consume excrement, and thus expire.
posted by ob1quixote at 7:32 PM on June 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Remember all those dirty hippies who stopped the invasion and occupation of Iraq by pointing out that wars are never "easy" or "cheap" and that in addition to people dying, you'll have boat-loads of vets who will suffer permanent mental health issues just as they did after coming back from Vietnam? And they could end up at best jobless and or homeless and at worst a danger to themselves and others, including their family members and law enforcement types who have to respond to the murder-suicide call?

America, fuck yeah.
posted by bardic at 12:14 AM on June 3, 2013


The honorable thing for our government to do is to give the benefit of the doubt to any servicemember who might possibly be suffering from a TBI or PTSD. If his/her behavior makes continued service impossible, give 'em an honorable discharge and gold-plated physical and mental-health services.
posted by ogooglebar at 12:11 PM on June 3, 2013


Remember all those dirty hippies who stopped the invasion and occupation of Iraq by pointing out that wars are never "easy" or "cheap"

I'm not sure what you're referring to. Nobody stopped the invasion, and the only people who stopped the occupation were the Iraqis themselves refusing to sign a SOFA.

The reason this is such a contentious issue for the Army is the sheer amount of money involved, I think. One soldier with PTSD or TBI can easily cost the Army over a million dollars if they receive the benefits they are entitled to. Soldiers discharged for "misbehavior" get nothing.
posted by corb at 1:36 PM on June 3, 2013


"One soldier with PTSD or TBI can easily cost the Army over a million dollars if they receive the benefits they are entitled to."

Which is to say, we told you so.
posted by bardic at 9:53 PM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Which is to say, we told you so.

Really? Because I was at a lot of Iraq War protests, and while I remember a lot of "No blood for oil" signs, I can't recall a single one saying, "Don't go to war because it will cost too much to rehabilitate the wounded." Maybe it just doesn't fit well on a sign. In the chants of the marching? Nope, not there either.

Which is to say; no you did not. The vast, vast majority of those protesting the war were not doing so because of the economic impact on the American government. Libertarians were, sure, but somehow I doubt those are the people you're talking about.
posted by corb at 5:49 AM on June 4, 2013


"Libertarians were"

Jane Galt certainly wasn't. And while I tend to avoid capital-L Libertarians, I remember most of them telling the dirty hippies to shut up.

And here's a roundtable at Reason Magazine -- many prominent Libertarians were definitely for it, and refused to ever apologize for their support.

Obviously the primary motivation against Iraq was to prevent combat and civilian deaths but sorry Corb, you don't get to speak for me. While Dick Cheney promised us a cake-walk, many adults responded that even in the best case scenario (a war over in a year that magically pays for itself through Iraqi oil revenue) there would be long-term problems with PTSD and horrific injuries.
posted by bardic at 6:01 AM on June 4, 2013


"vast majority of those protesting the war were not doing so because of the economic impact on the American government"

Krugman in (ahem) 2003 -- "The Bush Administration's handling of tax cuts and the Iraq war are part of a pattern of misrepresentation and governing that deserves to be called dishonest. That's the contention of Princeton economics professor and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, who spoke on the UC Berkeley campus on Friday, September 26."
posted by bardic at 6:05 AM on June 4, 2013


Reading that link, it's clear that Krugman doesn't care if the government has less money, unless social welfare programs get cut, in which case he does care. It's hardly the condemnation of the war on purely economic grounds you seem to think it is.

The protests against the Iraq War were largely ineffective. We went to war, we paid the price. If your goal was to stop it, you failed. And part of that was the focus on the harm that it would do to Iraq, rather than on the harm it would do to America. Anti-war protesters back then and even relatively recently had and have no interest in framing the reason to leave on the national interests of America. If they had done so, they might have been able to create a broad-based coalition that could have actually gotten us out of the war, making everyone happy. It would have been a much easier sell to argue that the war was destroying the military structure and ability to prosecute a defensive war, for example. But that wasn't what was done. The protests were on the order of "The war is bad and you should feel bad."
posted by corb at 6:13 AM on June 4, 2013


"it's clear that Krugman doesn't care if the government has less money, unless social welfare programs get cut, in which case he does care"

He cares about money being spent well, not squandered, and I can assure you that as an economist he does care that the US pays its bills, which it has a hard time doing when we cut taxes for the rich and start unwinable wars.

There were plenty of reasons to oppose Iraq. "People getting killed for no good reason" was probably foremost, but "it will bankrupt America for a long time" was also part of the conversation.

"the focus on the harm that it would do to Iraq, rather than on the harm it would do to America"

Actually, in addition to the "people die" and "America goes broke" there were those speaking in geopolitical terms of how "this sets America back globally."

It's no secret that the biggest benefactor of Iraq has been China.

If you want to argue that people should have been louder, I agree. But then again, the "liberal" media was in the bag for the Bush White House.
posted by bardic at 6:24 AM on June 4, 2013


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