Marine Staff Sgt Carmelo Rodriguez, Social Commentary, War On Terror

Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death , Liberty At Present Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be …….So One Guesses Death’ll Have To Do ?

Eight  years  on,  the  War  On  Terror  and we’re   still  seeing  that  things  haven’t   changed  as  to  how  the  US  treats  its   returning  heroes.  And   how  the   one   government  agency   that’s  meant  to  be  there  to  assist  them  treats them.   The 

Veterans’   Administration  (VA) or  VA  as  it’s more commonly  known  has   become   a  cumbersome   bureaucratic   behemoth , whose  gargantuan   size   is  too   good   for  it   to  be   useful.  When  it’s  not   tied   up  in  administrative  paperwork.   Then   its   ineptitude   in   dealing   with  the  men  and   women  of   the  military   can  be   best  described   as   insulting.  


Marine  Staff  Sergeant  Carmelo Rodriguez    .........
Marine Staff Sergeant Carmelo Rodriguez .. Rodriguez died in his amongst his family. picture appears courtesy of Paul Winslow ..........




Recently  the  story  of   Marine  Staff  Sergeant   Carmelo  Rodriguez   became   a  media   story  that   could  not   be  ignored.   Rodriguez  who  has  served   his country   with  honor   and  distinction  in  Iraq   succumbed to    skin cancer (melanoma).    While  the   illness  on  the   face   it   is   very   serious .   In  Rodriguez’s  case   it   was  something  that   could’ve   been  avoided   had   he   been    treated   with   due  diligence  from  the  medical   staff   not   only   in  Iraq .  But  also   here   upon   his   return   stateside  in  New  York  City.  We’ve   all   opined   on  what   we   perceive  to  be   wrong    with   the   healthcare   system    in this  country.  But  nowhere  is  also  more   acute  than within  the  Veterans  Administration.






The   outcry  of   the  situation  at  the  Walter  Reed  Medical   Center  in  Washington  D.C   should’ve    provided us   with   enough  of  an  insight  as  to  underlying  issues   that   this  particular   government   agency  has.    But  surely  the  men  and   women  of  the  military   past  and  present    deserve   a  whole  lot  more  than  they’re   being   provided  with  at  present.   It  seems  that   with  each  Presidential   candidate   all  we   tend   to  hear   are   promises   that   are   made   on  the   campaign   trail.    But   having   ascended  to  the  highest  office   in  the land.   That  promise   suddenly  becomes   something  a    forgotten  memory.   Granted  the   budget   provided  to  the  agency   has   increased   in  small   increments.  But  nowhere  near    the  rate  whereby   it   really   makes   a  dent   in  the well being   for   the   young  men   and  women  and   older   veterans   who’ve   served  the   country   with   distinction.



Family members of Staff Sgt Rodriguez. picture appears courtesy of afp/reuters/ Chris Duncan ............




I’ll  point   out  that  the   case  of   Staff  Sergeant  Rodriguez  though  not  an  usual  one.  It  points   out a  severe  lesson   for  us  all.  As  much  as  we  malign   the   healthcare  industry.  As  a private   concern  it’s   described  ‘as second  to  none   the  best  in the  world’.    However   we’ve  seen the  bureaucracy   there  as   well  as  the  wan toned  waste.   In  the  case  of the  service  men  and   women   it’s  placed  in the  hands  of  the  federal  government.  And  there  it’s  not  as  if  it’s  marginally  better.  One   would  feel that  when  it  comes  to  dealing  with  the  medical   treatment  of   our  service men and  women .  Then  it  ought  to  be  of  the  highest   standards   possible.  The   sacrifices  that  they’ve  made     should   ensure  them  of  that.  It’s   the  least  that  the   country    can   do   to  honor   the  sacrifice  made and  the  bravery.



Some  of  the  stories  that’ve   come   out   of   this   agency   have  been  horrifying  to  say  the  least.   Not  least  of  which   has  been  the  one   emanating   from  a   veterans’  hospital  facility  in  Miami.   There  the   staff  it’s  alleged   were   reusing   instruments  that’d  been   repeatedly used  for   colonoscopies .  They  weren’t  being   thrown  away  much  less   sterilized   but   repeatedly   used   on  patient  after  patient.   Now  one   could  feel   slightly  aghast   at  these  allegations.  But it is   indeed   true  and   the  fact  that these   patients   were   being   exposed    to  such   things  as  HIV,  hepatitis  B or  hepatitis  C.    Well  that  leads  me to  believe that  either   we’re  not  as  compassionate  about   these    servicemen and  merely   only  pay  them  lip  service  as  and  when  we  please.   Or   if  anything   the   administration  is   greatly   understaffed   and   not  well   equipped  enough  to   deal  with  all  of  the  inherent  problems.     I’d   like  to   think  that   it’s  indeed  the  latter  ,  rather  than  the former   at  this   juncture.




For   Carmelo   Rodriguez   the  luxury  that  should’ve  been  afforded  in  terms   of   proper   health  care   were  shortcomings.  And   filled  with  misdiagnosis  and   plain   incompetency  at  varying  levels  within   the  administration  and  medical  staff  alike.   But  then  it’d   remiss  to  cast  the  dye   on  all  of  the health  care   professionals   involved  in   trying  to  assist this   soldier.  As   there   were   times  when  is  his   best  interests  were   at  the   heart   and  soul  of   trying  to  make   his   situation  better.   Some  tried  in  vain  to  assist  as  best they   could.   However  for  every  step  taken   forward    there  were  two   taken  back .    And  it   is  those  inconsistencies   that   were   few and   far  between  that   made   his  plight   in  the  end   so  unbearable. 




When  first   diagnosed   some   ten  years  ago  by  an  army   doctor. It  was  noted  that  his   skin  was  somewhat  abnormal  in   color.  The  doctor  noted  what he   thought to be   melanoma   on  Rodriguez’s right   buttock.    He  was   treated  as  prescribed  for  what  was  then   felt   was  just a  mild   form  of  melanoma. .  And   it  was  felt   with   proper   medication   the  ailment  could  be  treated  satisfactorily  without   any  major  reoccurrence  of  the  malady.  Eight   years  on   and   the  now  platoon  leader  is   serving   in   Iraq   and  his   very  health  is   now at  risk.    Somehow  having  informed  the   medical  staff   there  in  the  field .   They    state  to   Rodriguez  that   his   ailment  is   nothing   more  than  a  sever  rash   brought   on   by  the  conditions   in the  field.   The  heat   and   humidity   are  given   as   the  main   cause   for  this.    Rodriguez   explains to  them   that   this  can’t  be  as  he’d  been  diagnosed   before   with  having  a  mild   form  of melanoma. He’s  treated  in  the  field   and   told   basically   that  if  there’s  a  reoccurrence  then  they’ll   do  a  biopsy  to   further   see  what   the  problem  may  well  be.    



Semper-Fi ........Duty ,honor and country these are proud values to live by ............




On  leave   to  be  with  his   family  in  the  latter   part of   2007  to be  with  his   family   in  New York .  Rodriguez   is  taken  gravely  ill  and  his health  has  worsened.  The  rash  as   described   by  medical  personnel  is  now  full-blown   melanoma    that  has begun  to  spread  throughout  his  body   affecting  his   renal  system.  The   cancer   has   affected  this   5’11”  190lb  individual  that  within  a  matter  of  months   his   weight   has  dropped   to  unimaginable   proportions  given  his   size. One  might  suggest   that  this   coming  over  such  a  short   period  of  time   isn’t   possible.  But   given the  fact  that   Rodriguez   continued  with  the  prescribed  medication  given  to   him  in the  field.  Who   really knows  the   ravages  that  his  body  had  been   going   through  at the  time.    Misdiagnosis   notwithstanding   and   the   very   fact that  his   records  were   somehow   either  mislaid   or    just   held  up  within  an  archaic  recording    system.   It   only  adds  to   ire   of  what’s   now   coming   out   concerning  this   situation.   







An   ailing  and  impoverished   Carmelo  Rodriguez  faces  an  untimely   death ............   picture  appears  courtesy afp/reuters/  Rober  Trumann........
An ailing and impoverished Carmelo Rodriguez faces an untimely death. picture appears courtesy of afp/reuters/ Charles Trumann ................




His  recent   death   and   after   months  of   painstaking   care    by  his   family   hasn’t  lessened  the  pain  and   suffering  that   was  endured.   At  the  time  of   his   death    this   soldier  weighed   less   than  75 lbs.  That’s  the  weight   we’re   usually   accustomed  to  seeing  with  a   young   child aged   eight   and  above.  Somehow  there’s   no   justification  for  this   but   it   ought  to   be  a  lesson   where   something   can  learned   from  all  of this.    The  family   rightfully   feeling  aggrieved   feel  that   the  military  was   negligent   in  the   treatment   of   Rodriguez.    Not  so  much   from  the  original   diagnosis   but what  has    taken  place   afterwards.   It is   felt  that  they    could’ve   done   far   more  to  avoid   this  all  than   has  been  done  altogether.   





The   family  has   no   recourse   as   members  of  the  active  military   cannot  sue  the  military   for   malpractice or  injuries   suffered.  Even  if it is  proven  whereby   they   the  military  have  proven  to  have   acted   improperly.   This   right  is   afforded  to  all  branches  of the  military  by  the  Feres Doctrine.    A  law , which  came  into  being   in  1950.  It may  well  seem  somewhat   unfair  but  the   reason   behind   this  is  to  instill  a  sense  of  discipline  within  its   ranks  and   ward  off  frivolous   suits   by   members  of   the  military   and  their   family.   The   action  while   on  appearance   noble   is  filled   with   deficiencies.    And  it  is  this  , which  the  family   of   Carmelo   Rodriguez   feels  aggrieved  by  that  they’re   now   trying  to  pursue whatever  steps  can be  taken   to  have  this  law in  part   rescinded.    A  lawsuit    may  well  be  pending   but   one   doesn’t  hold   out  much   hope  that  there’ll  be   much  of   a  response within  the  Federal  Court  system.    


Representative  Maurice  Hinchey  (D-NY )  seen here  adressing  a  number  of  his constituents.  Hinchey   will  be   pushing  for   legislation  to be  enacted  in  order  to  have   part  of  the   Feres Doctrine (1950)  rescinded.  In  order  for   Rodriguez's  family  to be  allowed  to   pursue a wrongful  death  suit  against the    Dept  of Defense.    picture  appears  courtesy  of  ap/photo/  Michael  Sutcliffe  .................
Congressman Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) seen here addressing a number of his constituents. Hinchey will be seeking to enact legislation in order to rescind in part the Feres Doctrine(1950). This would allow the family of Carmelo Rodriguez in their pursuance of a wrongful death suit against the Defense Department. picture appears courtesy of afp/reuters/ Thomas Sutcliffe ................




They  have  also   brought  their    fight  to   the  House   of  Congress  where  they’ve   received   some   pointed   support   from  a  number  of  legislators.  But   there’s  also  been  a  great   deal  of   criticism  of  them  as  well  in  taking  this  action.  I’d  like  to  think  however  that   these  members   who  may   well  be  indifferent  to  the   loss and  the  plight   that   this  family  has   suffered   are   able  to  understand  why  they’re   taking  this  course  of  action.  One   vocal   supporter  that   the   family   does  appear  to  have  in  their   corner   is   Rep.  Maurice  Hinchey  (D-NY)  who  has   addressed  House  Senate   Sub Committee  on  Defense   concerning  this  very  matter is   trying  to  gain  support   for  a  bill  to  be   introduced  that’d   repeal  in  part   some  areas  of   the   Feres  Doctrine.   Whether  or   not  he   can   find   support  in   both   chambers   of   Congress  is  a  matter  of   debate  at present.   It  may  well  be   looked  upon   favorably   in  some  part.  But  in   reality   this   battle    may    prove  to  be   harder  to   win  than  first  thought. 




The   death  of  a  soldier  be  it  on  the  field   of  battle  or  elsewhere  is  never   a  good  thing.  But  one   would  like    to  now  think  that   this   soldier’s   death  was   also   not  in   vain.  If   it can   avoid a   repeat  of   another  instance   such  as  this  .  Then   surely  some   good   can  come   out  of it  ?   This  bill  does   need  to  be   looked  at   but  at   the   same  time   so   do    the   actions   and  lack   of   action   within   an   agency   that’s   in   need  of   dire    attention. Leadership   and   above  all   real   funding  is  needed  whereby  they   can    get    adequate   treatment   for    the   military  and   boost   morale   amongst   the  staff.   This   war  isn’t    just   being   fought   on  the  fields  of   Iraq  and  Afghanistan.  It’s  also  being  fought  within  the   facilities   of  the  Veterans  Administration   in  trying  to   give   back  these   men  and   women   some   semblance  of  a  normal  life   after   the   trauma   of   being   at  war   on  the    battlefield.    Surely  this  above   all   else   has   to   count   for  something  at   the  end   of  the  day  ?


10 thoughts on “Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death , Liberty At Present Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be …….So One Guesses Death’ll Have To Do ?

  1. The federal government from the 1960’s began treating war veterans like crap. I know many ex soldiers who served The USA wil honor have had to fight for their rights. This is sad. I don’t politicans. They are the ones who caused this problem. My best friend is a Vietnam Vet who told he would never serve this country again.

      1. JW

        The issue of the vets in this country has become a political hot potato and in particular their mistreatment at various VA facilities around the country .

        The vast majority of the politicians in both the Congress and Senate are merely paying lip service rather than actually doing anything to aid the military veterans’ benefit and them getting what they rightfully deserve .

        tophatal …….

  2. Bobbygee

    I served in the British Royal Marines (8 1/2 years service) . I was in Ireland during the troubles there (early eighties ) and came under sniper fire and roadside bomb attacks . Then also served as part of a UN peacekeeping force in Eritrea on the Horn Of Africa.

    Luckily I served but there as well as in Ireland I lost several comrades. In many respects that may well been the best thing that could’ve happened. Cause I shudder to think how they’d have been treated upon their return home with their wounds or psychiatric problems.

    However , having seen first hand and worked with a number of vets that’ve returned home here to the US. I never thought I’d live to see the day where this so called greatest country in the planet treats its military vets with so much disdain !

    tophatal ……..

  3. I don’t trust politicans. We have a history of treating our war vets like crap. This is sad but true. The politicans are the ones who caused the problems. I feel sad. This man gave his blood to defend this country and what does he get in return, crap. Now a dem rep like Hinchey has the gaul to stand up and defend this man. It is clowns like Hinchey who wanted us to lose the war. My heart goes out the vet but Hinchey has the balls to stand and defend this man. No way Jose. He caused this problem.

    1. Bobby Gee

      Politicians were put on the face of the earth to f_ck it up further than it already has been ! They in essence are self serving and couldn’t give a sh_t about anyone but themselves . They pay issues such as this nothing but lip service and that’s it !

      tophatal ……………

  4. Until the majority people of this country realize that they have the power to establish a society based on common sense and compassion, it will be the brainwashed lunatics on the fringes that will control the debate. It is time for the majority to rise up and take this country forward, for our vets and for our children.
    Peace my brother.

    1. aero

      That’s all well and true but look at the idiots now seated within both federal legislative chambers , their continued demeanor and behavior ? Never mind the idiocy of the present administration led by Obama and the wasted opportunities to take this country forward now has all become about partisanship rather than the two sides working together . And this country is meant to be the guiding moral beacon for the world to follow ? Are you kiddin’ me ? . This country has gone so far off the god damn reservation that the things that it’s meant to embody is no longer there for all to see .

      tophatal ……..

    2. aero

      The lunatic fringe from both sides of the political aisle have now been given the pulpit of the House and Senate to preach their diatribe from as well so what real hope is there for the common man in general ?

      tophatal ………

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