Monday, June 18, 2007

America's Commitment to Honor

Army Spec. Jeans Cruz helped capture Saddam Hussein. When he came home to the Bronx, important people called him a war hero and promised to help him start a new life. The mayor of New York, officials of his parents’ home town in Puerto Rico, the borough president and other local dignitaries honored him with plaques and silk parade sashes. They handed him their business cards and urged him to phone.

But a “black shadow” had followed Cruz home from Iraq, he confided to an Army counselor. He was hounded by recurring images of how war really was for him: not the triumphant scene of Hussein in handcuffs, but visions of dead Iraqi children.

In public, the former Army scout stood tall for the cameras and marched in the parades. In private, he slashed his forearms to provoke the pain and adrenaline of combat. He heard voices and smelled stale blood. Soon the offers of help evaporated and he found himself estranged and alone, struggling with financial collapse and a darkening depression.

At a low point, he went to the local Department of Veterans Affairs medical center for help. One VA psychologist diagnosed Cruz with post-traumatic stress disorder. His condition was labeled “severe and chronic.” In a letter supporting his request for PTSD-related disability pay, the psychologist wrote that Cruz was “in need of major help” and that he had provided “more than enough evidence” to back up his PTSD claim. His combat experiences, the letter said, “have been well documented.”

None of that seemed to matter when his case reached VA disability evaluators. They turned him down flat, ruling that he deserved no compensation because his psychological problems existed before he joined the Army. They also said that Cruz had not proved he was ever in combat. “The available evidence is insufficient to confirm that you actually engaged in combat,” his rejection letter stated.

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2 comments:

  1. This is just disgusting! Can someone tell me when things will start to make sense in this country again?

    this isn't the first time i've heard stories about how horrible the VA is towards Vets.

    There's the obvious first one, but we also have a friend in New York who's had to go to Walter Reed at least 10 times in the last year.

    All I can say is i hope someone finds that flush handle soon!

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  2. "Can someone tell me when things will start to make sense in this country again?"

    Sadly.. Never.. The big business machine is far too entrenched in our government for us to correct course at this point.

    Nothing short of a coup and complete restructuring is going to fix this fucking broken ship.

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