Our Opinion: US still failing soldiers hurt in foreign wars
The nation's newest Medal of Honor winner is the latest in a long line of valorous American soldiers who sacrificed for a larger cause. But what a different war he was in.
On August 8, 2012, Army Capt. Florent Groberg, who had just helicoptered into Afghanistan's Kunar Province, noticed a man backpedaling toward members of his team. Fearing the man was a suicide bomber, the captain ran forward and pushed him to the ground just as he detonated the bomb he was wearing. Four soldiers died but many more would have if not for the captain's selfless actions. A former track star, Capt. Groberg has had 33 surgeries to his devastated left leg.
On Thursday, Capt. Groberg will receive the Medal of Honor, the nation's top award for valor in combat, from President Obama. He will be the 13th soldier to receive the award for action in Afghanistan, with three of them having been honored posthumously. Like so many soldiers killed or injured in Iraq and Afghanistan, Capt. Groberg was not injured in a traditional battle. Suicide bombers, hidden explosive devices, and native soldiers trained by Americans have claimed a huge toll in those ugly wars.
Medical advances kept many of them alive, but an independent report prepared in September for the Department of Veterans Affairs revealed that the health care delivery system remains overwhelmed by soldiers needing extensive medical care and/or treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. This is eight years after the horrific conditions at the Walter Reed Medical Center were exposed.
On this Veterans Day, we honor those who fought in our nation's wars, among them two world wars, Korea, Vietnam and our recent conflicts. It should be resolved that the U.S. will never send a Capt. Groberg or any other soldier to a foreign land unless it is 100 percent prepared to provide for their medical and psychological needs should they come home grievously wounded. Anything less is unacceptable.
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