It's hard to find fault with the group's mission statement:
Raising money for combat stress disorders and/or traumatic brain injury is the core mission of the Run to Home Base 9K. ... This program includes four components: confidential clinical care, outreach to veteran's families who are affected by these "signature wounds" of war, innovative research and educational programs for health providers, clergy, social workers and others. ... Our mission is to help these veterans obtain the care they need and deserve.A RAND Corporation study from two years ago -- "Invisible Wounds of War: Psychological and Cognitive Injuries, Their Consequences, and Services to Assist Recovery" -- estimated that 300,000 US troops are suffering from major depression or post traumatic stress from serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, and 320,000 have had possible traumatic brain injuries. Only about half of those men and women have sought treatment.
The Red Sox's involvement in Run To Home Base is a very good thing and will help a lot of people. However, the team often glorifies the military, with fly-overs on Opening Day, singing God Bless America, or having a former soldier throw out the first pitch, after being thanked for "protecting our way of life". For the past week or two, the Red Sox's website has featured an Army recruitment ad ("When Opportunity Calls") with Jon Lester.*
* Expressing support for the military is the default setting for mainstream society, part of our normal discourse. However, speaking out against military activities -- or simply mentioning a few facts -- well, that's injecting politics into the world of sports, and could we please just focus on the game for a few hours, Mr. Bleeding Heart? I cannot begin to tell you how much this pisses me off.
There is also the issue of why any money needs to be raised for these veterans at all. Does the US military not have the cash on hand to properly care for the men and women it sends halfway around the world to do its conquering and killing? Apparently not. From years-long shortages in essential body armour to a lack of drinking water (in the desert!) to non-existent care once they return home -- or actually billing soldiers injured in the line of duty -- it is an incontestable fact that the US's treatment of its soldiers is inhumane and criminal.
And it is a story as old as the country itself. The United States has never given a shit about its veterans. They are like tissues -- use 'em up and throw them away.
NPR reports that tens of thousands of US soldiers who have suffered traumatic brain injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan are receiving little or no treatment. Many of the military's tests miss close to half of all brain injuries. And relevant information is often not put the soldier's permanent medical file -- oops! -- which makes it next to impossible to get any treatment months or years later.
In 2009, retired Army psychiatrist Charles Hoge wrote about the "illusory demands" of traumatic brain injuries in the New England Journal of Medicine and he worried that the military would be hobbled by the price for unnecessary treatment. One VA psychologist ordered her staff to not diagnose anyone with post-traumatic stress disorder so the Army could save some money.
Michelle Dyarman, a former major in the Army reserves, was involved in two roadside bomb attacks and a Humvee accident in Iraq in 2005. Dyarman was the first person in her Pennsylvania family to attend college, but she now struggles to read the newspaper. She often cannot remember the address of the farmhouse where she grew up. Her father reminds her to turn the oven on before cooking. She has been fighting with the Army for five years to first get them to acknowledge her injury and then to get treatment.
I always put the military first, even before my family and friends. ... I served my country. Now what's my country doing for me?In 2008, the US was spending $12 billion every month in Iraq. That amount has apparently dropped to about $7.3 billion per month. (And well over $1 trillion has been "lost".) Think of how much help US veterans could get with even a fraction of those billions -- of course, if the US hadn't decided "Let's take over this part of the world to enrich ourselves!", they wouldn't be injured (or dead).
I've got an idea: Maybe the US could take some of the hundreds of millions of dollars it openly admits it is giving to the Taliban and use that to care for the men and women it sent into war.
Can anyone argue with that? Or am I being too political?