I was trying to write something more about this report I just read, but after these last eight previous years my rage keeps me from thinking straight in trying to add words to the total apathy, arrogance, and incompetence found in this country and it’s elected representatives.
But I want you to meet Melissa Sterry, a Gulf War I National Guard Veteran, from New Haven Connecticut, and read the cuts I placed below also visiting the Hartford Advocate and read the rest, not only about Ms. Sterry but as to the rest of the Veterans of Connecticut, and what the state reps have to say.
Cut and Run
The Rell administration quietly kills a program to track the health of sick war veterans
Melissa Sterry’s job was to clean them and ready them for storage. She’d climb inside the tanks and with a simple dust pan and broom, sweep out the Iraqi sand and the rubbish left behind by the tank operators.
Sterry was sweeping up something else too, something too small to see: dust from depleted uranium, a radioactive substance the military uses to make ammunition armor-piercing and bunker-busting. For months, Sterry cleaned these tanks without protective gear, kicking depleted uranium airborne and into her lungs.
Today, Sterry is a medical train wreck. The 46-year-old Gulf War veteran takes 11 kinds of medication – some daily and others as needed for pain – and suffers from chronic headaches, upper respiratory disease, bronchitis and a host of other ailments.
Like most Gulf War vets, the federal Veterans Administration refuses to test Sterry for exposure to depleted uranium or other chemical toxins she was exposed to in the Middle East.
So Sterry turned to the state government, and in 2005 helped Connecticut become the first state in the nation to craft a law to test returning combat troops for exposure to battlefield health hazards, including depleted uranium.
But the state has turned its back on Sterry and the more than 30,000 Connecticut troops who have deployed to combat zones in the Middle East and the Balkans since 1990. The Advocate has learned that Gov. Jodi Rell, through her budget office, quietly killed funding for the veterans health registry without telling the lawmakers who sponsored the program, nor the veterans whom it would serve.
If the registry isn’t restored, hundreds of Connecticut-based troops could go undiagnosed and uncatalogued. The state has sent 16,000 troops to war since Sept. 11, 2001 and another 75 National Guardsmen and women shipped off to the southwest Asia last week, their second deployment to the war zone.
“People really don’t care about veterans,” Sterry says. “They really don’t give a shit about us. People want to trot out veterans on photo-ops. They want to go put wreaths on gravestones. But real human beings with real life problems? No, we don’t care.”
Who is Gov. Jodi Rell, According to Wikipedia.
Mary Jodi Rell (born June 16, 1946) is a Republican politician who became the 72nd Governor of the U.S. state of Connecticut on July 1, 2004. She had been the Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut until Governor John G. Rowland resigned during a corruption investigation. Rell is Connecticut’s second female Governor, after Ella T. Grasso.
To Sterry, cutting help for vets to balance the books is just plain heartless.
“We understand care and maintenance of our military vehicles, but we don’t understand we need to do the same for our troops,” Sterry says. “Do you want to change the oil in the engine or do you want to replace the engine when it seizes up? These actions are just a reflection of, We’ll just change the engine when it seizes up.”
Rell’s press office was asked to explain why they cut funds for the registry and to respond to reactions like those of Sterry that denying health screening to combat troops is cold-hearted. Despite four calls and one e-mail to the governor’s press shop over three days, we received no response to our questions. The governor’s chief spokesman, Christopher Cooper, referred us the Jeffrey Beckham, undersecretary for legislative affairs at OPM, who responded with this statement:
“That program was new and had not gotten started. The agency required some cooperation from the federal government to get it going and I understand that cooperation was somewhat lacking. Given that we were struggling to protect existing programs, we thought that not going forward with that new program was a reasonable call.”
We asked Beckham in a follow-up e-mail to elaborate about the lack of federal cooperation and respond to the questions unanswered by the governor’s staff, but did not receive a response by press time.
Now I’m assuming, and probably right, about the lack of federal cooperation, that they are talking about the previous administrations control, as the present has been on the job only since January 20th ’09.
Another in an ever growing list of the Incompetence and Corrupt leadership we’ve been a party to for these last eight years in the federal government, including the years of control prior to in the congress, and coming also out of the state governments!
Now a certain political party can’t be blamed for everything concerning Military and Veterans Care, but this political party are the ones Thumbing their Chests as to being True ‘Americans’, More ‘Patriotic’, Stronger on ‘National Defense’, and the only True ‘Supporters of the Troops’ and thus us Veterans, and are the ones who championed the Two Occupations and the creation of huge numbers of enemies towards our country and it’s citizens!!