RE: a story in my local puppy-training aid, the Staten Island Advance, hails Rep. Michael Grimm (R) for his first gosh-honest bill, an amendment to a veteran’s health bill that would provide returning servicemen suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder with companion dogs as a therapeutic aid.
Let’s get this out of the way: our Veterans deserve whatever we can reasonably give them. Dogs doomed to euthanasia in shelters deserve a second chance. My complaint is not with either of those propositions with regards to this bill, rather they are these:
a. When did it become the province of the Federal Government to do something like this?
b. Grimm considers himself a conservative (small ‘c’ intentional), and I fail to see the conservative philosophy in action here. Even the squishy compassionate kind of GWB.
c. In a time of grave economic crisis, crushing federal debt, and high unemployment rates, just what the fuck are Grimm’s priorities?
d. This was Grimm’s very first bill to reach the house floor; one is left to wonder what the hell he’s been doing since 2010. Please, please, please tell me that this particular issue hasn’t occupied all of his time since his election to Congress.
e. The details concerning who pays for this program, how it gets paid for, and how much it’s going to cost are mysteriously absent from the article, which leads one to believe that no one actually knows, or cared enough to at least make an estimate, which is an indication that while Grimm may have been one of those Tea Party Repubs swept into office to change the system, it’s still business as usual on Capitol Hill.
f. You can almost imagine any prominent democrat you care to think of authoring/sponsoring such a bill, and touting it as the best thing since the discovery of fire. This sets up the disturbing thought that even though Grimm has an R next to his name, he’s acting, legislatively, like a D. One could easily imagine some democratic party dipshit like Patty Murray sponsoring such a bill, although in her case, it would probably be free companion dogs for pre-op transsexuals.
g. I rather think it cruel to, in effect, tell someone who has serious problems "get a puppy".
Grimm wasn't sent to Congress to grandstand on fluffy issues and generate good press: he was sent to help find solutions to our national problems.
Now, before I get flamed or shot by those who disagree with my position on this, I want to clear a little something up. I know what it is to suffer from PTSD. I got my dose of PTSD as a result of the September 11 attacks, and trust me I know it is no picnic. I wouldn’t wish it upon my worst enemy. PTSD and the associated disorders that often come with it have stolen a decade of my life.
However, PTSD has another regimen of care that actually works. Talk therapy works extremely well, in most cases, but the best cure of all is simply the passage of time in conjunction with a really good support system. The further into the past the trauma retreats, the easier it becomes to deal with, and with the aid of a really good therapist the time between traumatic event and acquisition of effective coping mechanisms becomes shorter.
I want to take issue with Mr. Grimm on one more point, if I may.
In the article he makes reference to the large proportion of vets who commit suicide as a result of their PTSD. While there’s probably a very large grain of truth in this connection between PTSD and suicide, I would wager the real reasons why so many are taking their own lives has a much more mundane origin.
They’re getting poor care from the Veteran’s Administration. They’re often returning home with their fucking limbs blasted off, or with traumatic brain injuries, and having to basically learn how to live life under completely different and difficult circumstances. They’re returning home to find they can’t get a goddamned job in a devastated economy, and this becomes even more problematic when you’re missing an arm, leg, or an eye, and are burned over 70% of your body. It becomes even more difficult if after the war and your recovery, your resume reads:
Special Skills: M-16 rifle, M-203 grenade launcher, bayonet, certified companion dog trainer and handler.
These are not the skill sets of the 21st Century. Perhaps instead of companion dogs we might find it possible to squash the next Congressional appropriation for the International Turd Museum and Waffle House in East Woody-Buttfuck, Mississippi, and use it instead to teach some of these men and women to be something else. It would really suck if just when economic recovery truly begins (fingers crossed) if the job market were to be immediately flooded with potentially tens of thousands of returning GI’s who are all competing for the relatively few companion dog trainer positions.
According to Center for America.org, there are, right this very minute, some ten million unfilled jobs that require skilled labor. They’re largely unfilled because the general trend in the labor market has been away from traditional industrial jobs and towards more high-tech, or service-oriented skill sets. American business is simply screaming out for skilled machinists, sheet-metal workers, welders, etc. A good many of these jobs are good-paying ones, and a man with a trade is one who never goes hungry, my grandfather used to say (I wish I had listened to him!).
Once a vet has a good job and the ability to feed his family and see to his own medical needs, he can go out and buy or adopt all the Cocker Spaniels S/he wants, without spending a dime of taxpayer money and setting up a new bureaucracy-within-a-bureaucracy, and taking up the time of a Congressman who has, one would assume, bigger fish to fry at the moment.
I’m not saying that all vets are cut out for these jobs, but a large number would be with a little training, and the combination of better, more-effective care, occupational therapy (i.e. work) and a fucking paycheck might do far more for these men and women than a free German Shepherd might.
Perhaps if Mr. Grimm were doing something a little more productive, like ensuring the VA was providing the best quality mental health care available, or trying to figure out how this government misappropriates money so badly and then correcting that shortcoming, or maybe he could jump on board the tax and regulation reform train, he’d be doing much better work for our Vets, and everyone else, and they wouldn’t need companion dogs at an unspecified cost.
Then again, Mr. Grimm did piss off my local Tea Party (a rogues gallery of wannabe miscreants who should be shunned by other Tea Parties) with his endorsement of Mitt Romney, so maybe he’s not a complete doofus after all.
This sort of thing – presenting can’t-lose-from-a-Public-Relations-standpoint-paint-the-opposition-as-anti-Vet-for-voting-against-it-no-details bills – is what Charles Schumer (Dingbat -NY) does so well. And we hate Charles Schumer. It isn’t what Grimm is supposed to be doing and if this is an indication of how he spends his days at taxpayer expense, then maybe we ought to eject him come Election Day, too.