In an enlightening article on the current lack of leadership in DC and the killing fields of Afghanistan, Leslie H. Gelb reports on the opening of a new medical facility in Bethesda, Maryland (near DC) to treat active-duty soldiers and veterans suffering from brain injuries and psychological disorders. Unfortunately, this article is not about the brave men and women and their families who were on hand for the innauguration of this long overdue facility, but about those who chose not to attend. I quote at length from Mr. Gelb’s eye-opening article published in the Daily Beast:
“It was inauguration day for the nation’s most modern facility for the treatment of active-duty soldiers and veterans suffering from brain injuries and psychological disorders—5,000 of them with families on hand. At the podium in Bethesda, Maryland, stood Arnold Fisher, the chief fundraiser for this precious center that may need to care for hundreds of thousands of victims, searching in vain for one White House official, one Cabinet officer, one member of the Joint Chiefs, one senator. He found none. And he asked again and again, ‘Where are they?’
“‘You are injured,’ Fisher said. ‘We are all here. Where are they?’
“Where were they? President Obama was in meetings and having a hamburger lunch with Russian President Medvedev. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was also at these meetings, though not at the hamburger shop in Virginia. Michelle Obama, who has made caring for military families one of her top priorities, couldn’t make it; she was said to have given her final “no” at the last minute. She was accompanying Mrs. Medvedev on a visit to the Duke Ellington School for the Arts in D.C., where they watched a dance performance. Vice President Joe Biden also met with Russians and with Israelis. Defense Secretary Robert Gates sent his deputy William Lynn III. All four Joint Chiefs sent their deputies. General Eric Shinseki, secretary of Veterans Affairs, couldn’t make it. Not one among the legions of pro- and antiwar hooting senators could find the time. Only two members of the House of Representatives found their way to the ceremony.”
Indeed, “Where are they?” Where are the leaders with the conviction, integrity and proper sense of values that would not take the time to reach-out and honor those who have given so much for our country? Our leaders and media assail the Chairman of BP when he refers to the “little people” of Louisiana, but what message does it send to our troops and their families when a hamburger photo-op with Russian President Medvedev is more important to our Commander in Chief than attending the innauguration to salute our heroes. In fact, both Russia and the US have spilled blood in Afghanistan and it might have served a useful purpose if both Presidents had attended to reflect on the consequences of sending young men and women to war.
It would appear that these brave heroes are treated as little more than disposable assets to further foreign or military policy goals that few can articulate and even fewer understand. Surely, our troops deserve better. Let’s give our troops the leadership they deserve or, perhaps, those desk-bound military and civilian “leaders” should just pull a Clark Gable and tell grieving mothers: “Frankly ma’am, I don’t give a damn!”