In April of 2005, Sgt. Joe Baumann and his California National Guard unit were deployed in Bagdad when an incoming AK-47 round ripped apart his abdomen. While ricocheting around, the bullet also ignited tracer rounds that set the then 20 year old on fire. Baumann now “…walks with a cane, suffers from back problems and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder that keeps him from sleeping and holding a job”, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times by Rone Tempest, he also has flashbacks, trouble with concentration and memory retention, and has anger-management problems, according to an article by Erin Allday in SFGate the online version of the San Francisco Chronicle.
There is no surprise around here that he has anger-management issues, anyone would who was transported from civilian life to the streets of Bagdad, two years after victory was declared, so he could be targeted by a sniper and suffer traumatic and debilitating injuries, and then return home and learn that the United States Army wants to kiss him off with a check for a pitiful $8,000.00, or in his words,
The Army acts like they just want you to get out the door as fast as possible at the lowest possible cost without taking into account how you are going to live for the rest of your life. Here’s your $8,000; just go.
An army Physical Evlauation Board rated his disability at only 20% and in their wisdom decided 8 grand would cover his troubles, both up to this point, and for the remainder of his life. If the three officers of this board had ruled his disability at 30% or more, Baumann would be eligible for military retirement pay, family health care and PX and commissary privileges for life. Apparently the army is stretched for money, just as many units were sent in to combat not properly equipped with armor, many of our citizen solders and career military are being shortchanged in terms of medical care and just compensation when they return stateside and try to return to a more or less normal life.
What is wrong with this picture? The answer is simple: an Administration in Washington that does not use common sense or its conscience in making decisions, but which is driven solely by a political agenda, resulting in mismanagement in everything they have undertaken during the past six years. Fat cats in Washington, D.C. drunk on power and responsive only to the big business interests who profit from the war and their domestic and international policies, fat cats who have exercised a pervasive strategy of undermining our rights and freedoms and pissing on the constitution, without putting any of their own skin in the game.
It is time for the Legislative branch of the government to find some backbone and hold the Administration accountable to the American people and take back the consitutionally guaranteed freedoms that have been systematically undermined by “loyalists”. The subpoening of Karl Rove and Harriet Miers in the face of President Bush’s defiance is a start in the right direction, let’s hope that this is just the beginning of better things.