Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Remember the Bonus Army

This week marks the 76th anniversary of the Bonus Army. This was a group of World War I veterans who marched on Washington, DC, for benefits. They had been promised benefits, but did not receive them. President Herbert Hoover, the spiritual godfather of the current president, called out active duty soldiers to smash the veterans' tent city.

So, the poor treatment veterans of the Afghan and Iraq wars have received is nothing new. It has continued into VA denying the effects of Agent Orange following the Viet Nam conflict, to so-called Gulf War Syndrome*, to recent stop-loss measures.

Brother Dave, a veteran of Viet Nam and current veteran's advocate, recommends we read Vets Under Siege: How America Deceives and Dishonors Those Who Fight Our Battles by Martin Schram to commemorate the anniversary of the Bonus Army. Click for a full review of the book.

*Calling something a "syndrome" suggests the symptoms are psychological. In fact, the dominant story concerning Gulf War Syndrome is that there is no known physical cause. As the review notes, Mr. Schram's book makes a good case that the "syndrome" is linked to exposure to chemical warfare agents at various sites in Iraq in the early 1990s.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The general consensus outside the VA and Dept. of defense is that Gulf War Syndrome is really several illnesses, some arising from exposure to chemical agents "blown" in place by US forces as they advanced through Iraq, exposure to the toxic fumes of oil field fires throughout Kuwait and exposure to the toxic aftermath of the use of tons of Depleted Uranium munitions.

Brother Dave