A Room with a Viewpoint

“The time has come,” the Walrus said, “To talk of many things: Of shoes—and ships—and sealing wax— Of cabbages—and kings— And why the sea is boiling hot— And whether pigs have wings.” (Lewis Carroll)

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Peggy Noonan says "That's Not Nice"

Friday, March 09, 2007

More on Walter Reed

So someone else noticed that the treatment of outpatient soldiers at Walter Reed is more par for the course than unusual.

Caste Out At Walter Reed

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

What Are You Complaining About Soldier?

It is very difficult for me to listen to the generals falling all over themselves apologizing for the situation injured soldiers have been experiencing as Walter Reed outpatients.
While the official response to soldiers' complaints over a number of years is inexcusable, it is not surprising. It's the way the military operates and the way our country routinely treats veterans.
First the military: from the moment a person enlists, creature comforts are pretty much thrown out the window. Soldiers aren't supposed to be comfortable. They're preparing for war--a distinctly uncomfortable situation. They're supposed to complain (it's part of the culture)--to each other, but not to their superiors. There's a chain of command and it's expected to be followed--a soldier may complain to his (or her) superior, but chances are good it will not move up the chain--and nothing will be done.

Some of this is necessary--discipline is essential to the military's mission.

But it's also a system that has difficulty recognizing true problems. Thus, the complaints of the soldiers and their families were treated the way complaints have always been treated in the military--par for the course, but no action required.
Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post had this to say:
Harvey would have had every right to expect the usual tut-tut from the White House. The commander of Walter Reed, Maj. Gen. George Weightman, had already fallen on his sword. Never mind that Weightman had been in charge only since August, which means he inherited the situation. The post commander was resigning, and that should have been enough. Harvey needed an interim director to run Walter Reed, so he turned to the medical center's former commander, Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley, on whose watch the shabby treatment of outpatient vets became standard practice.

Gates was not amused, and the next day Harvey was out of a job. Kiley was out as well, at least as Walter Reed's chief. It's hard to believe, but the officials who presided over a terrible failure of government are actually being held accountable.
Unlike Robinson, however, I do not blame the Bush White House. I am no fan of President Bush, but this is the way the military (and much of government, actually) has operated for decades.
It seems to me the difference is in having Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense. He comes from a different place, a different culture. He didn't get where he is today by ignoring problems. And he doesn't need this job.
However, I don't expect this to change the culture of the military. It is what it is and much of its success is due to being what it is. It's one of the reasons we have civilian control of the military--to recognize when the military being what it is, isn't good. This hasn't always worked, but at this time, in this instance, it did
Now to the veterans: we're really good at flag waving and parades. We can be very bad at actually honoring veterans' service. Veterans often return home to find they've lost their jobs. Getting military benefits can be really a pain (my son who served in the first Gulf War was taken off active duty just a few days before he would be eligible for full benefits--do I believe this is an accident? Sure, and I believe in the Easter Bunny. ) It took years before the military recognized that Agent Orange was the cause of severe illnesses from returning Viet Nam vets, and the same thing occurred with Gulf War syndrome. Veterans routinely return home and are thrown back into a "normal" life that they have forgotten existed--much less are capable of handling. Homeless, addicted veterans are still on our streets.
So, excuse me, if I don't buy the remorse. I'm thankful that this has come to light; and that something will be done about it (as long as we're still paying attention). But I don't believe for a second that anything has truly changed.
We have always taken our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and veterans for granted. It will ever be so.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


Okay, I lied. I am posting something today.

These are things not worth getting excited about:

1. It snows in Wisconsin in the winter.
2. It gets hot in Wisconsin in the summer.
3. A Cubs fan says: "There's always next year."
4. Non-binding resolutions.
5. The 2008 presidential race (it's way too early, folks).
6. Ted Kennedy says something stupid.
7. Ann Coulter says something outrageous.

Feel free to add suggestions.

I'm Back

...I think, though I'm not posting anything today.

I've changed the name of the blog back to "A Room with a Viewpoint."

Quite a long time ago, a blogger somewhere else in the world asked me to change my name from "A Room with a Viewpoint," because that is the name of her blog. I did so, because I thought that was a reasonable request, since she used the name first.

However, she has never written back to thank me. She never even accessed the blog later to see if it had been done. So it doesn't seem to have mattered much to her.

So, to my two, or so, readers, watch this space for future postings.