What time is the barbecue, Vice President Biden?

What time is the barbecue, Vice President Biden?

May 29, 2010

Dear Vice President Biden,

On May 25, 2010, you and your wife held a poolside barbecue to honor and thank wounded warriors and their families.  During the event, you said to these families,“We have one truly sacred obligation: to prepare and equip those in harm’s way and to care for them when they come home.” Now that is a powerful statement, Mr. Vice President, and I completely agree with you.  One truly sacred obligation.”  One (just one) truly (sincere, honest, faithful, loyalsacred (solemnly devoted) obligation (duty, or, the tie that binds us to pay).

Sir, with all due respect, I’m interested to hear how you plan to follow through with your sacred promise to care for our wounded warriors.If providing care for our wounded warriors is the one truly sacred obligation that we Americans have, I suggest we do a bit more than provide a barbecue for a select few.  If a barbecue is the only provision, however, I’d like to know when you are hosting the pig roast for the wounded warriors suffering with the Invisible Wounds of War (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury).  I’ve got a list of Marines who would like to attend, for you see, Sir, they aren’t worthy of photo ops or fancy invitations.  I’m afraid you might not see them as they have fallen into the proverbial cracks in the system.

Mr. Vice President, I am aware that your wife recently visited Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and that she and First Lady Michelle Obama have made military families a focus of their attention.  Putting words into action, the ladies hosted a White House meeting with Navy Admiral Mike Mullen, his wife, Deborah, and Cliff Stanley, Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, to discuss ways to build a lasting national commitment to support and engage military families.

When will the “building plan” for this national commitment be unveiled?   Do you have a scheduled date for the ceremonial ground breaking? Or is it possible that the only action we will ever see is the video footage and photographs of VIP’s attending luncheons?  You may wonder how I could possibly be so cynical, Mr. Biden, so I’ll be transparent and let you know this is personal.  My son is a wounded warrior.  His TBI and PTSD torment him daily.  He’s not needed for a photo op because his wounds did not earn commendations of valor, but rather the stain of stigma, and an evisceration of his pride.

Take yourself back to October 14, 2009, Mr. Vice President.  The Second Lady joined Annette Conway, the Commandant’s wife, and they visited the Marines assigned to Wounded Warrior Battalion East (WWBN-E) aboard Camp Lejeune.  The ladies ate Carolina barbecue with the wounded warriors that day.  Vice President Biden, did your wife know that the Marines present at lunch that day were hand-selected?

Did she know that some Marines, those who exemplify the true failures of the system,  were told to stay away?  The fear of being exposed can be frightening to those responsible for these failures.

How do you think these Marines felt after they were made to go down memory lane with the simulated boot camp experience in the days prior to the ladies’ visit?  It’s the same routine every time a VIP comes to WWBN-E.  Non-commissioned officers become tyrants, demanding patients to get things ship shape!  Stress levels mount and wounded warriors struggling with PTSD are pushed to the limit.

The First Lady has challenged every sector of American society to mobilize and take action to support our military families. Vice President Biden, I am ready for my assignment!   During her speech on May 12, given at the National Military Family Association Summit,  the First Lady stated “The hope is that events like this one build a coalition to make this a reality.”

This statement sounds vague to me, but it does sound familiar.  In fact, it sounds like we are just gearing up for another barbecue, or perhaps we are going to have a golf scramble.  Maybe we will go fishing, canoeing, or run a marathon.  We won’t do it without a few good photographers on hand to catch the celebrities gracing our wounded warriors with their presence.  Has anyone asked these warriors if they like being put out for display?  Has anyone asked the ones with the invisible wounds if they want to crawl out of their warehouses of despair for an autograph and a handshake too?

Mr. Vice President, your wife plans to continue raising awareness about the wonderful men and women in our military.  What issues will she be raising?  Simply the fact that they are wonderful?  We already know that much, Vice President Biden.  When does she plan for the American people to embrace these heroes?  Likely it will only be on Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day, and July 4th, and then America will head back to the shopping mall. So again I ask, for what issues is she raising awareness and how does she plan to accomplish her goals?

The statement was made by your wife, Mr. Vice President, that she wants these men and women to know how much they are appreciated, especially when they are recovering from injuries.  These statements were made in October of 2009.  Now it’s almost June of 2010 and I can’t find any information about the plan for “national commitment” or the “coalition to make it a reality.”  I have found many photos and video clips of your wife briefly visiting troops, making small talk, posing with Marines, and eating barbecue. Is there something else going on behind the scenes that just hasn’t been unveiled yet?  I certainly hope so.  Dropping in for an occasional pig roast, followed by the paparazzi, is not going to equip our wounded warriors with tools needed to allow them to move forward with their lives.  I’m doubtful that these visits assure them that anyone really cares.

Mr. Vice President, your wife stated,  “It was an emotional visit.” I wish she would elaborate.  Did the Marines just break down, over barbecue, and bare their souls?  Or was Dr. Biden just eternally grateful that the wounds of war have not come knocking on her own front door?  Perhaps she was emotionally fulfilled because, as she stated, “A simple ‘thank you’ to a marine or a soldier, or a warm hug to a military mom can mean so much.”

WOW!  If I wasn’t filled with frustration with the broken-down system, I might get a warm fuzzy feeling shaking the hand of a hero or embracing a military mother; but there is a big difference between thanking someone for their service with a hand shake, and talking someone down from the proverbial ledge of suicide.

Pardon me, Mr. Vice President, but your wife has no clue what it is to experience an authentic “emotional” visit to WWBN-E.  There are a few of us parents that literally get sick when we approach the building.  Isn’t it enough that the effects of war on our children have been great?  Must we also subject them to further anguish inflicted by institutional failures?

I, too have visited the Marines at WWBN-E.  I didn’t serve them barbecue, and I didn’t have anyone follow me with a camera.  I simply listened and allowed these weary heroes to see that I have “one truly sacred obligation” to each of them, and it is genuine.  PTSD and TBI are invisible, but your facade of compassion is clear for all to see.

Originally published by the author at fellednot.com


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