Monday, March 5, 2007

Who Knew What and When?

I've been wondering for several days how the veterans' treatment story went unreported for so long. Or if it did. I understand that Salon magazine had a piece two years ago but it apparently sank like a stone. I wonder why.

And this is not to take anything away from the two Washington Post reporters who so set off this latest scandal with their fine reporting on Building 18 (Geez, that sounds like something from an Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn story). Or the excellent followup by the Military Times people.

But given the ability for people to get information out--blogs, magazines, TV, newspapers, etc.--how is it that almost no one seems to have reported on this? Did no relative call the local press to complain? Or did no one choose to write or broadcast it? Steve Robinson (no relation) has been all over TV the last few days, very articulately laying out veterans' issues. I doubt he was silent before last week.

The latest reports, about problems at the VA hospital in the Bronx, reminds me of Ron Kovic, as played by Tom Cruise, in "Born on the Fourth of July." The treatment then was horrific but somehow ascribed to the anti-military attitudes of the Vietnam era. What explains what has happened now when support for the troops is high? Did everyone close their eyes? Were people intimidated into believing that criticism of the hospital system was criticism of the troops?

Have we all stopped original reporting until someone brings information to us and then, like some accursed imitation of the accursed Hardball, we only report the back-and-forth dispute, the politics, not the issue itself?

Disclaimer: A nephew is about to wrap up Army Black Hawk helicopter training; who knows what the future brings for him.

But this is much, much bigger than one person, one newspaper. Where was our coverage?

1 comment:

The Ridger, FCD said...

Didn't you notice? All of the patients were enlisted. Enlisted service-members are used to be treated like crap and having officers tell them to shut up if they complain, and no one in the military likes you if you go to the press. And military doctors are no different - when I was in the army you were practically accused of malingering if you went on sick call and you were enlisted. I had one - count him, one - doctor who actually treated me like a sick person the ten years I was in. I'm not at all surprised that no servicemen went to the press.

I am surprised to hear that, supposedly, some congresscritters were informed. My guess is that they went to Walter Reed and got the dog and pony show and left, all happy. And they probably heard all about how tight things were, what with Walter Reed scheduled for closing, too.

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