Citizen Kang #14 Strangers in the Night Congresswoman Kang tries the indirect route to the truth and finds some things are just tough to swallow.
Representative Kang said, “Am I to understand, Ms. Lassiter, that you can’t reassure us the monies Congress specifically allocated for this purpose are being spent in accordance with our wishes?” As she spoke, she tapped her finger on the dais, the sound picked up on her mike.
The Senior Assistant Deputy, Outpatient Rehabilitation, of the Department of Veterans Affairs leaned forward and uttered, “That’s not what I meant, Congresswoman.” She leaned back, a thin sheen of sweat covering her top lip.
Lassiter consulted a file lying next to her on the table, then leaned forward again. “Post the report from Defense’s Mental Health Task Force, my department was, naturally, keen to make sure previous lax attitudes did not prevail regarding returning service personnel.”
Kang wanted to step down there and slap the shit out of this bureaucrat and her practiced bureaucratese. Instead, she said, “I’m aware of that, Ms. Lassiter, and this body recognizes your department’s expressed vigilance on this matter. But I believe my question was clear, as I’d like to make sure your efforts at oversight are matched by, you know, it being done.”
Lassiter blinked slowly and carefully responded. “I would be less than candid if I said there wasn’t still resistance in some quarters as to the legitimacy of PTSD and PTSD-related syndromes. That and the often-cited increasing costs of payout of benefits from the VA for these, ah… maladies.”
Thank you, Paul Wolfowitz and William Kristol, for our ever-deepening mudhole, Kang reflected. “So you’re saying that even now, after reports in the press and hearings here on the Hill, certain military personnel, the brass if you will, are actively discouraging and, in fact, harassing our soldiers, Marines, what have you, diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disability?”
Lassiter affirmed that, and added, “As you may also know, we are seeing more cases of what is called traumatic brain injury, TBI it’s termed.”
“This is typified by such things as temporary memory loss and blackouts, possible tiredness,” Kang announced, having read of this ailment’s increasing due to concussions from explosions experienced by the GIs in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Yes, that is so.””
Kang noted that her time was almost out and asked, “Are there particular bases where this resistance, as you say, has been concentrated, Ms. Lassiter?” Mindful of the exposé NPR did about officers denying stress claims at Ft. Carson.
The Senior Assistant deputy fussed with her papers. “I’m not sure I’ve compiled that, Congresswoman.”
“Surely you have some anecdotal observations.”
“I really wouldn’t want to get into that without corroborating data.”