Monday, April 28, 2008

Soldiers return to live in an appalling barracks at Fort Bragg

It seems year after year after year we keep hearing these kinds of stories about how our government treats our soldiers.

We've seen the extremes of fiscal conservatism applied to the military, at least to the men and women on the ground by this administration. We've seen how they tried to cut combat pay not long after the war began in Iraq. We've seen cuts in veterans services. We've seen how soldiers were forced to buy their own body armor while hundreds of billions were wasted on fat defense contracts buying more sophisticated long-range bombers and other equipment that is of little use in the kind of guerilla war we are now fighting. We've seen how little our soldiers are actually paid, and yet forced to stay in by 'stop-loss' programs. We've seen how much effort has gone into making it difficult for soldiers who have become disabled in Iraq and Afghanistan to apply for and get disability payments. We've seen the deplorable conditions that existed at Walter Reed Army hospital.

And through it all, the phrase 'support the troops' has been bandied about by this administration as a buzzword for 'support the President's foreign policy,' while the above situations make it clear that they have no concept for what 'support the troops' actually means.

So I'm almost not surprised at the video that's surfaced on U-tube, shot by the father of a soldier from the 82nd Airborne unit of the barracks the unit was housed in at Fort Bragg.

According to the local paper

RALEIGH --A video shot by the father of an 82nd Airborne Division soldier that shows poor conditions such as mold in a barracks at Fort Bragg near Fayetteville has gotten attention from a U.S. senator and high-ranking Army officials.

Ed Frawley, a dog breeder from Menomonie, Wis., posted the narrated video on last week after traveling to North Carolina to welcome his son, Sgt. Jeff Frawley, home from a 15-month tour in Afghanistan.

The video shows peeling paint, mold, a bathroom drain plugged with what appears to be sewage and a broken room door lock, conditions that Frawley described as disgusting and embarrassing.

"The instant you walk through the front door, you know you are in a building that should be condemned," he said.

The army's excuse is that the unit returned three weeks ahead of schedule. What kind of excuse is that? That's an excuse for not doing anything about the mold or about the feces that appears to be backing up into the shower stall? What exactly was the maintenance crew doing that was more important than making sure our own troops had better conditions to return to than what you'd find in a Baghdad slum?

What's more, is this is five years into the Iraq war (and six and a half into the Afghan war.) You'd think by now the army could have figured out that these kinds of things happening are not good for our troops and taken steps to stop them from happening.

It's too bad that the American soldier doesn't have any lobbyists on Capitol Hill or at the White House, like all those fat defense contractors that get most of what's in the military budget.

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