KABUL, Afghanistan – It’s been a tough summer in Afghanistan: Foreign troops started leaving. The Afghan president’s half brother was assassinated. Suicide bombers keep killing government officials. The Taliban shot down a helicopter, killing 30 Americans. Civilian casualties are up and many Afghans fear their nation will plunge into civil war once the foreign forces go home.
LANDSTUHL, Germany – Volunteer staff from the U.S. military’s Landstuhl Regional Medical center huddle outside the emergency room doors, waiting under heat lamps on a crisp morning for what has become a daily routine in a decade of war – the arrival on a blue bus of the latest casualties from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Jamey Raines tried marijuana once or twice in high school, but he said he had no interest in it after he joined the Army in 2000. He served in heavy combat in Iraq from 2003 to 2004 and rose through the ranks from private to platoon sergeant. Along the way he drank and smoked cigarettes like many infantrymen do, but he said he was “100 percent against” using any drug in any form.
Roughly 89,000 former military personnel that served in Vietnam and have experienced health ailments due to the effects of Agent Orange will receive more than $2.2 billion in retroactive veterans benefits.
Speaking recently at The American Legion’s 93rd National Convention in Minneapolis, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi urged those present thatveterans benefits will be off the table when the federal budget gets cut.
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