Friday, December 10, 2004

Giving Till It Doesn’t Hurt-I

You know you’ve got it. Get your ass out of the mall, the Target, or that snarky little boutique head shop long enough to count your blessings, then send some of them where they will really make a difference.

Pt. 1---Support the Warriors, Not the War

(Being the first part of a multi-part gift guide for spreading joy and love.)

My previous post, Facing the Face of War, referenced the report of the recent New England Journal of Medicine, which explored the advances in medical care that have saved the lives of so many more soldier casualties in this war than in wars past, and gave a glimpse into the horrors of their injuries. (This morning NPR ran a piece inspired by the article, examining the problems vets face when they leave behind the quality treatment offered by Walter Reed Hospital and often find the medical care in their hometowns wanting. These were lucky enough to be able to afford additional treatment over and above that provided by the VA. When questioned about the inadequacies of the medical care system, a spokesman for the VA, in finest Rumsfeldian fashion, asserted that though the budget was limited, it was not a problem.)
The inspiration for my previous post, a letter from Douglas O'Heir printed at Altercation, led to another letter on that blog from Mark McKee, which spoke eloquently of the problems faced by vets whose prognoses are not so media-friendly:
”An addition to Douglas O'Heir's wonderful letter yesterday, I'd just like to point out that Walter Reed's major function is PR for all those "inspiring" media stories of courage, so that the likes of Brian Williams can come out an interview these heroes, usually amputees which are better fodder for those "I shall overcome" stories than paras or quads." Then they return a few weeks later to interview a new crop of newly injured who haven't even glimpsed what their lives are really going to be like once the camera lights are shut down. No one ever seems interested in interviewing someone who has been living with that kind of injury for over 7 years because you just don't get those touchy-feely "Jesus will make me walk again" moments of compelling video that drives the ratings and inspires us to, I don't know, get another yellow ribbon. After they leave world class Walter Reed, and enter the real world, the VA system, many, most in fact, will plunge into poverty and homelessness, where they will be magically transformed from heroes to homeless bums who are ruining our downtown revitalization efforts, and the only people fighting for them once the war ends, will be those anti-American, France-loving, tree-hugging commie liberals. A sick irony of our hypocrisy, I mean democracy.”
If you want to know what you can do to help, there are plenty of worthy places to put your money, your mouth, and your energy. The Wounded Warrior Project is a good start. Or the Holiday Support for the Troops page put up by Soldiers for The Truth, which is a veritable laundry list of good causes with links, vetted for effectiveness and even approved by the DoD. (Thanks to Warblogging for the link to SFFT.)

What you do not need to do is spend one more wasted piaster on those ridiculous magnetic yellow ribbons clogging up the check-out aisles in every craft store and truck stop from Tuscan to Tucumcareh. Put on the Ramsey Lewis Trio doing “Snowbound”, get cracking on that keyboard, and find out what you can spend your money on that will really make a difference.

Next: Part 2—Children Matter Even After They’re Born

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