One can conceive, even fathom something as horrifying as the Veteran’s Association systematically allowing dozens of wounded soldiers to die and then scramble to cover it up, just as easily as one can conceive and even fathom the bizarrely ritualistic lies, deceit and ideological idiocy that put them there in the first place. There is the din of bureaucracy, money, ineptitude, and plain human nature to ignore “problems” of this magnitude when it is so overwhelming it reaches biblical proportions. The question before us is why is it that so many dubiously opaque crises/scandals seem to be pored over with obsessive myopia, but this one, for decades, has been shrugged with a collective shoulder?
Over two administrations now, both Republican and Democrat, there have been revelations of egregious treatment of veterans by our system; the first, the woeful conditions at Walter Reed Army Hospital in 2007 and now these new murderous allegations of the VA Health Care System in Arizona. Never mind the known troubles with such institutions since WWII well into the 1970s, depicted graphically in memoirs by veterans of several wars too numerous to recount here. Yet, despite some oversight and investigations that receives a third if not less of the media coverage and overall slanderous rhetoric of lesser “crimes,” these fail to resonate with the American public, no matter what ideological line one inhabits. And while there is bi-partisan rage and lip-service condemnation from two presidents, this abomination, as damaging to whatever withering tatter of a soul is left of this nation as one can imagine, we see none of the hyperbolic outrage given to the ACA or the IRS scandal or this obsessive nonsense surrounding the Benghazi embassy attack.
Is it because it involves the military and the Pentagon; and these have been arguably the most untouchable monoliths of our bloated and mostly ineffectual federal government? Why is it that it takes about five minutes of knee-jerk debate and a few flimsy pieces of evidence or bent reasoning to stumble headlong into war; flushing billions upon trillions of our money on needless slaughter from the jungles of Viet Nam to the deserts of Afghanistan and Iraq, but when it comes to dealing with its most heinous realities, that our youth has been cut down, mutilated and massacred, we meander along endless lines of time?
This is how big our Military Industrial Complex has become; a gorging monster of bureaucracy that consumes up to 19 percent of our national budget, nearly as much as the much-ballyhooed entitlements, Social Security (24 percent), or the combined spending for Medicare and Medicaid (22 percent). According to a Peter G. Peterson Foundation study published in April of this year, the U.S. defense budget dwarfs those of ballpark economic stalwarts combined; China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, France, UK, Germany, Japan and India respectively at $607 billion to our stupefying $640 billion. And several studies have shown, and much of it pointed out in Congress during last year’s sequester debates, that a healthy dose of it is either outdated or unnecessary.
Yet no one blinks an eye.
Why is this self-contained, hardly ever dissected monstrosity spread around the globe like a bottomless money-pit never put up for discussion by anyone on either side of the political aisle when seriously deciding the fate of the national debt or outlandish deficits or other well-tread political footballs?
How did the denizens of defense, this sub-cultured, fund-gobbling cottage industry, become so untouchable that it barely gets a whisper and people run from it like gun laws?
This VA disaster, a legitimate scandal of epic proportions and a pox on our American ideals, whatever pile of streaming feces that emerges from, should be front and center above all else. What kind of putrid nation that waxes poetic at every nauseating turn about “supporting our troops” and respecting and thanking our fallen for “protecting our freedoms” on the eve of Memorial Day allows this to happen without gutting the whole damn thing piece by piece?
The Military Industrial Complex is too big to fail or god forbid too expansive to even approach with a critical eye; and so the victims of its gorging mass of inhuman machinery get swept under the rug. We should be ashamed that these people, and they are people as they were people when they were so flippantly referred to as “troops” (a more dehumanizing term is hard to find), are even languishing in these half-assed institutions, needing the kind of one-on-one care rarely afforded to them, while waiting for treatment as if someone with a head cold.
Everyone and everything is to blame for this. Forget merely firing directors and tossing more shit on Congress and the president; we the people should look ourselves in the mirror as we continue to go about our business and complain about health care costs and standards of living and taxes and regulations and drugs and civil rights as neighbors and sons and daughters and friends continuously get shipped off to a nihilistic never-land to be carved up in order to keep this monster fat and happy.
After the morally bankrupt nightmare that was Viet Nam and all the pathetic fuck-all that followed, we still find ourselves whistling past a very real and lasting graveyard that has our names on it; our legacy, our sick obsession with war.
This is ours.
We own it.
Do yourself no favors and “like” this idiot at www.facebook.com/jc.author
James Campion is the Managing Editor of The Reality Check News & Information Desk and the author of “Deep Tank Jersey”, “Fear No Art”, “Trailing Jesus” and “Y”.