Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Support the Troops, Installment #125

Turns out that the troops just don't matter all that much.

The Canadian Forces is not tracking how many of its soldiers are suffering from service-related hearing loss and traumatic brain trauma, two of the so-called signature injuries of the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Wait, not tracking the two biggest groups of injuries our soldiers suffer? That can't be... oh.

Forces members are examined for a variety of possible injuries in theatre and when they return from a deployment, but the data in most cases is contained in a paper record that goes into individual files.

But it's not like anyone else bothers to keep these kinds of... oh.

Unlike the British and American militaries, which have better means of tracking conditions affecting their troops, the Canadian Forces has yet to implement computerized programs that can digitally compile information and point to any trends for certain injuries.

Surely the Forces are looking after the troops once they come home, though, right? ...oh.

To test for hearing loss at home, military doctors have to rely on antiquated 1970s-vintage audiometres for which replacement parts are not being made and can produce only a paper document.

But how big a problem is it, really? ...oh.

[T]he numbers of troops indicating mild traumatic brain injuries could range up to 20 per cent, but... most wouldn't likely have long-term problems.

Kind of hard to say that when you don't even have decent records of the incidence of the injuries, isn't it? And that doesn't exactly reflect the latest research on the subject, either.

But the problem isn't even short-term treatment -- it's dealing with a veteran who shows up in 10 years' time, complaining about problems with memory, balance, irritability and concentration. Think the piece of paper in a DND filing cabinet is going to help that person out? Yeah, I've got some doubts myself.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: we haven't even begun to pay for our adventure in Afghanistan -- and pay we will, make no mistake.

The question is whether our country is going to pay up front with the dollars and political will needed to really take care of our military, or whether we're going to let the men and women involved pay with their physical and mental health, their destroyed marriages and families, their substance addictions, and their high suicide rates. 

Red shirts and yellow ribbons aren't going to fucking cut it.


thwap said...

Don't worry, I'm sure the BT's will get right on it.

The Seer said...

When you know somebody is going to file a claim against you, it does not make sense to document that person's injuries for him. Using out-dated equipment to diagnose service-connected injuries saves the taxpayer money. The purpose of in-country medical exams, administered just before the troops rotate back to Canada, is defensive medicine. They give the Government documentation that there was nothing wrong with the trooper when he left Afghanistan, which supports the inference that any problems that arise later are the result of later causes. This is government efficiency in action.

Compensation claims by former soldiers is a far bigger problem than you recognize. One of the stories that has been missed in discussions about Iraq war veterans has been the numbers of claims filed by Vietnam war veterans for diabetes, resulting from exposure to Agent Orange. You couldn't go anywhere in Vietnam without walking through forests and fields treated with Agent Orange. This has resulted in free medical care and disability checks for thousands upon thousands of Vietnam veterans, even though they weren't lifers and just used the Vietnam War as an excuse to get in on the action. (Troops who do their twenty or thirty years get free government health care as part of their retirement package.)

Everyone knows that yellow ribbons and wearing red on Fridays is an expression of support for Canada's New New Government, not for any troops, who, if they are not disabled, will only find something else to complain about. That's the nature of troops.

We do not obsess about professional football players who end up disabled, why should we worry about the troops?

FWIW: Canadians who served in US forces in Vietnam also are entitled to VA checks and medical care for service-connected disabilities. The VA has adopted a presumption that if you served on the ground in Vietnam for more than a month and you later develop diabetes, your condition is service-connected. Do not attempt to file a claim by yourself, the VA will deny it. Contact a US veterans organization, they will file the claim for you. Compensation is pocket change until you get really sick.

Ti-Guy said...

Sure, the Conservatives can throw millions of dollars at sophisticated systems to analyise, slice and dice the electorate into market niches to whom they can (or cannot) retail their brands of politics to, but automating the medical records of our soldiers to better understand and report reality?

That is by design, my friends.

JABbering Stooge said...

Must've gotten the idea from the Bush Misadministration. *rolls eyes*

On another front:

traumatic brain trauma

Paging the Department of Redundancy Department!

I'm sure the late, great George Carlin would have a field day with that one.

M@ said...

Compensation claims by former soldiers is a far bigger problem than you recognize.

I assure you it is not. But it seems we disagree on what the problem is. The USVA's "reassessment" in 2005 of all disability claims for PTSD -- which, surprise surprise, robbed many veterans of their disability assistance -- is the kind of thing I see as the problem. The idea of soldiers serving in Vietnam to "get in on the action" of coverage for their diabetes 40 years later is ludicrous -- especially since many of those soldiers who weren't "lifers" were drafted.

Then again, I'm just enough of a crazy commie to think that universal health care is a good thing, so what do I know.

Everyone knows that yellow ribbons and wearing red on Fridays is an expression of support for Canada's New New Government

No, they don't. And everyone doesn't know that the Canadian government's "support" for the troops is, at the very most, lip service.

mikmik said...

Blogger Ti-Guy said...

Sure, the Conservatives can throw millions of dollars at sophisticated systems to....

Delete FOI (Freedom of information) databases

Run obviously incorrect and debasing ads slandering every politician of other parties, esp. liberals.

Slander the press and exclude them from knowing vitally important information about just WTF the Cons are really up to.

Thus causing the same minority of Canadians to swallow meaningless tripe and elect ex reform and I will say it racist radicals to minority and potentially majority ruling governments.

Yikes, I have to a Martini quickly or I will self combust in impotent rage.

Most importantly, Ti-guy's point about unfathomably, inhumanly, skewed priorities.