Friday, October 14, 2005

Financial Matters

The Washington Post reports today on wounded veterans pursued for debt by the Defense Department. Robert Loria, his hand blown off, body pierced with shrapnel, unable to walk, has been pursued by collection agents and warning letters for debt resulting from his service:

After he left the hospital, his financial trouble started. First, his wages were garnished. "I was missing car payments and phone bill payments and everything else," he said. Then, when he was leaving the military, shortly before Christmas, his debts were laid out: $2,200 in travel related to follow-up hospital treatment, $2,400 for combat-related pay he should not have collected and several hundred dollars more for military gear that went missing after his injury.

Read the story, which is far better than I can summarize, and remember that the Defense Department is a giant machine that marches on and on and on, grinding up men the men and women who serve, consuming vast amounts of fuel, rations and ammunition, accumulating data and reports by the ton. Then read the Government Accountability Office report on Defense Department financial information and realize that anything a government official says about the cost of this war and the rest of the Global War on Terror is likely to be wrong.

The American people in the end don’t know what the war is costing. We may never know. Robert Loria will never forget.