Support the Troops!

How does the Bush Administration support the troops? Well, according to The Charleston Gazette, it's by billing a GI for the damage to the body armor that failed to protect him.

The last time 1st Lt. William "Eddie" Rebrook IV saw his body armor, he was lying on a stretcher in Iraq, his arm shattered and covered in blood.

A field medic tied a tourniquet around Rebrook's right arm to stanch the bleeding from shrapnel wounds. Soldiers yanked off his blood-soaked body armor. He never saw it again.

But last week, Rebrook was forced to pay $700 for that body armor, blown up by a roadside bomb more than a year ago.

He was told to pay nearly $700 or face not being discharged for weeks, perhaps months.

Rebrook, 25, scrounged up the cash from his Army buddies and returned home to Charleston last Friday.

"I last saw the [body armor] when it was pulled off my bleeding body while I was being evacuated in a helicopter," Rebrook said. "They took it off me and burned it."

Because it was soaked in 1st Lt. Rebrook's blood, the army medics burned the armor to prevent biohazard problems. Because no one wrote this down, the West Virginia resident's discharge from the army left him with a $700 bill.
"They said that I owed them $700," Rebrook said. "It was like 'thank you for your service, now here's the bill for $700.' I had to pay for it if I wanted to get on with my life."

In the past, the Army allowed to soldiers to write memos, explaining the loss and destruction of gear, Rebrook said.

But a new policy required a '“report of survey'” from the field that documented the loss.

Rebrook said he knows other soldiers who also have been forced to pay for equipment destroyed in battle.

Contemptible. But is that the only way that Republicans screw the people they pretend to support? Turns out the answer is a resounding 'No.'

Senators Christopher Dodd (D-CT) and Jack Reed (D-RI) proposed S.AMDT.2735, cosponsored by eight other Democrats including John Kerry (D-MA) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA). The bill would, "support the health needs of our veterans and military personnel and reduce the deficit by making tax rates fairer for all Americans." Essentially, the bill sought to more adequately fund the Veteran's Hospitals around the country.
";We know last year that over 100,000 Iraqi veterans returned home. Yet the administration's fiscal year 2006 budget for the VA was only prepared to handle 23,000 veterans," said Dodd. "There are shortfalls in every state across the country. There are shortfalls in private facilities as well as public ones. This amendment is for us finally to say let's do something for these people."

The American Legion wrote a letter of official support of the bill.

So why wasn't this bill hurried through as 'Must Pass' legislation to a chorus of "we must support the troops?" It seems Dodd had the audacity to ask for a minor rollback in the capital gains tax cuts the Bush administration has given to the richest one-fifth of one percent of Americans; those who, in 2007 and 2008, will receive yet further capital gains and dividends tax reductions.

In a party-line 53-44 vote, the bill was defeated. With the Iraq War currently ringing up a price tag in the $230 billion to $300 billion range, depending on whose numbers you go with, how much do you think Dodd's bill was asking for over five years? A little under $7 billion to help care for the Veterans that will result from what may ultimately be a $500 billion war.

Republicans also rejected S.AMDT.2737. Sponsored by Senator Reed, the amendment also sought a rollback in capital gains tax cuts -- but this time to purchase much-needed equipment for troops serving in the Middle East.

But remember! The Repubs have a yellow ribbon sticker on thier SUVs...

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