feature, august 9, 2007
Shattered man: Cloy Richards was done a wrong by the Marines. His condition is a medical one and needs to be corrected. If he had been medically retired instead of discharged, he wouldn't have lost out on a host of benefits and future income potential. I have been dealing with Veterans Affairs for fourteen years and was medically retired from the Air Force in 1993; Richards should have been rated as "individually unemployable" by the VA and paid at the 100 percent level, or about $2,400 per month.
On a side note, the St. Louis VA Regional Office has a history of cheating veterans out of what they are due. I am one of those vets and I'm currently fighting with them over my benefits. Also, Congress is still refusing to pay disabled retirees their retirement. We lose one dollar for every dollar we receive from the VA.
I'm including the following Web sites so those who need help can get it: The Veteran's Benefits Network (http://p203.ezboard.com/ bvetbenefits) and the PEB Forum (www. pebforum.com), which is for those who are currently on active duty and are facing medical discharge, or those, like Cloy, who are injured and should have received a medical retirement instead of a regular discharge.
Brian Lind, St. Louis
Shattered story: While our troops continue to die in Iraq, Ms. Richards is complaining that Cloy isn't getting proper medical treatment, and that he had to do two stints in Iraq and almost a third. Poor, poor you. As a friend of many enlisted Marines and Army men, I can't sit back and not say anything. I wish Cloy would take some responsibility for himself instead of allowing his mommy to trek from one city to the other to comfort him. Give me a break. He is the one who refused to realize he had a medical condition and seek help for it. He is the one who abused alcohol and drugs to cope with his ordeals. He is also the one, along with his mother, who signed his life to the Marines for four years when he was just seventeen. How do you think a seventeen-year-old is going to react to limbless children and dying soldiers?
Mr. Richards, you made a choice. My friends have been deployed twice, even three times, to Iraq. They come home quiet, withdrawn and not willing to talk about their experiences. But the difference between Mr. Richards and them is that they have stability to come home to. Ms. Richards bounced from state to state and is currently without a job or health insurance. How is Cloy supposed to be "stable" after being in Iraq and then coming back to chaos in his own household? They also understood that, by signing their enlistment papers, they committed to the military fully and couldn't get out of their orders, even when the military promised things that never happened.
Thankfully, Cloy finally realized he needed treatment and sought it out. VA hospitals are slow and their care is average at best, but they are still there. Sitting idly by and not fixing a problem or creating a bigger one by disobeying Marine discipline is not the way to cope. I would have agreed with Ms. Richards' activism efforts had she not been so focused on how the military and government wronged just her and her son. I am glad that she has decided to stay in Washington D.C. to continue to fight for the troops to return home because she finally decided to think about others rather than herself and her son for once. She still has Cloy; other parents just have memories.
Jessica Blank, St. Louis
cafe, august 9, 2007
Toast of the town: Bravo, Ian! Ian Froeb is the best restaurant critic at the RFT that I can recall. For years in the late 90s, when I was a cook and chef, I couldnt stomach the reviews because they read more like prose. The critics would write to impress only themselves with their sophisticated use of vocabulary which left less-intelligent readers scrambling for their dictionaries. I enjoy reading Ians reviews even when I dont necessarily agree.
Bill Burge, Florissant