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Salt on our soldiers' wounds

March 06, 2007

Re "Failings at Walter Reed claim Army secretary," March 3

What can anyone really say to a wounded soldier when he or she returns to the United States for medical treatment? "Thank you for honoring your commitment to freedom and preserving our national liberties. Now, check yourself into the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and let a grateful country honor your service by providing you with the best care we have to offer."

What a national disgrace that the good intentions of our citizens cannot be fulfilled because of the Bush administration's callous and insensitive attitude toward our wounded heroes.

JOE MARTINEZ

El Segundo

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During the initial phase of the Vietnam War, I worked for my congressman in the west end of San Bernardino County. I got calls from soldiers' parents complaining about such mundane problems as shoes not fitting their sons well. It's hard to believe that no one had heard of the plight of their wounded sons and daughters until a reporter revealed the terrible conditions in the Washington Post.

Along with the so-called investigations by Congress, parents, friends and acquaintances should be surveyed regarding the possibility that they had called on some officials in government to alert them of the sad situation at Walter Reed. As of now, I suspect the crocodile tears coming from Washington are just that, an attempt to play the innocent while a few goats are being hung out to dry.

ALBERT G. SILVERTON

Upland

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Perhaps it is time for Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to screen Oliver Stone's 1989 film, "Born on the Fourth of July." It shows in wretched detail the condition of military hospitals and what injured Vietnam War veterans had to endure. Here we are, years later, forcing our gallant veterans to suffer the same conditions. Shame on the military and every politician who knew and did nothing.

PHYLLIS P. LILLY

Ridgecrest, Calif.

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We go to war with whatever medical facilities we have. Does that sound familiar? Walter Reed hospital needs to do better than that for our wounded servicemen.

SANDY FRIEDFELD

Rancho Palos Verdes

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We have many Vietnam War veterans on the streets of San Pedro. For many, it has been a brutal, downhill slide into oblivion, homelessness and zero medical care. I worked in the Long Beach veterans hospital during the Vietnam War. Nothing has changed. Our injured troops are still being treated with no respect or medical care.

It is important that we not make the same mistakes we did in the 1960s: poor utilization of our troops (long tours of duty, leading to fatigue) and the injured in body, mind and spirit receiving substandard or no medical care.

Apparently, we as a society have not learned from history, and we are now failing our troops again. It is criminal to treat our troops so badly once again.

CRAIG PHILLIPS

San Pedro

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If the money spent on yellow ribbon "Support Our Troops" stickers was instead donated to Walter Reed, maybe our troops would get a little bit of support. Or would the funds simply be handed over to yet another corrupt no-bid contractor?

TONY STANTON

Moorpark

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