We hold these truths

Published 11:01 am Wednesday, July 4, 2007

By Staff
As we celebrate the birth of this nation, we’re mindful of the men and women who have fought to preserve our freedom and guard the freedoms of those around the globe.
Without thought of self, these brave men and women risk life and limb in the most noble of endeavors, knowing that they may not come home. And some of them don’t. The reality of war is that some of our own, like Lance Cpl. Johnathan Kirk, a Marine, and Army Cpl. Kevin Jones, make the ultimate sacrifice. We salute them and their families.
There are other military veterans who do come home, but are broken in one fashion or another because of the ravages of war. A roadside bomb left Washington resident and Army Spec. Jeremy Goodman with little movement from the waist down. This time last year, Goodman, now 25, was celebrating being able to put on his shoes and socks.
Like Kirk and Goodman, countless men and women from the Pamlico area have worn military uniforms to uphold the words in the Declaration of Independence that we celebrate today: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
When those troops come home needing medical attention, they ought to be able to get the help they need without jumping through unnecessary hoops that may delay their treatment. The Dignified Treatment for Wounded Warriors Act, recently introduced in the U.S. Senate, is designed to fix some of the problems that injured veterans must face.
The bill would establish a board to consider, and in some cases correct mistakes about, military personnel’s medical retirement eligibility. The board would look at cases that have occurred since 2001. It would increase pay to wounded veterans once they leave the service, help address their housing needs and fund more research on the injuries most often seen in wartime. The legislation, if passed, would also provide up to three years of medical help to veterans’ spouses.
In the wake of the scandal surrounding the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, legislation like this is necessary to restore the nation’s commitment to those who serve it. Just like the people for whom they fight, veterans, too, have certain unalienable rights that must not be denied them. They deserve swift passage of the Dignified Treatment Act, a rightfully made promise to those who have given so much.