An unnamed active-duty Marine was humiliated at Sky Harbor recently, according to Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-California). A victim of an IED, this Marine had lost both legs. TSA personnel appeared nothing less than a bunch of uncaring, if not sadistic, Keystone Cops, mis-directing the Marine and making him go through procedures that are not protocol.
How do I know this? I am an amputee, and I have researched these procedures — at least as best as can be done given the hush-hush, super-secret, “Oooh, we can’t tell you what we’re going to do or what we’re supposed to do” TSA blather. It’s written as clear as day on the TSA website that prosthetics are not required to be removed. Nevertheless, as thousands of people can attest, it happens all the time, just as it happened here:
“A TSA office asked the Marine to stand and walk to an alternate area, despite the fact that he physically could not stand or walk on his own. With numerous TSA officers sitting and unwilling to assist, an officer then made him remove his legs, then put them back on, only to advance to a secondary screening location where he was asked again to stand, with extraordinary difficulty, while his wheelchair was examined for explosives,” Mr. Hunter said.
I would dearly love for people to think long and hard on this issue, because it has serious implications. We all know that the risk of a terrorist attack on an airplane is infinitesimally small. This is not opinion; it’s fact. I think it can be safely stated, however, that the risk of driving a wounded warrior over the edge is quite a bit more likely.
Many wounded veterans are sound one day, not-so-sound the next. These men and women have a huge amount of adjustment to accommodate, encompassing their self-view, learning new ways to do things they’ve been doing since they were toddlers, and wondering how their newfound cyborg status will affect their relationships, lives, and career prospects.
They have seen and been in situations so horrific that I can’t even imagine. And then they come home. We as a nation should embrace these young men and women. We should show them that they are still respected, valued, and as included as they would have been had they not been wounded. The U.S., in other words, should feel safe to them.
Mistreatment at the hands of the TSA is an egregious assault on these people. I’m not alone in this assessment: read the comments at the article. The veterans commenting know something about war.
What I know about war was through observing my father, a veteran officer of WWII who served in the Pacific. He wouldn’t talk about his experiences until he was dying; it was too traumatic. He buried the horror deep inside. It cost him a lot: it cost him his marriage, and he was on the brink of career and alcoholic ruin until he managed not to fall into the abyss.
But one of the things he didn’t have to worry about was that from the outside he appeared to be a big, strapping, handsome, brilliant man with “Dr.” in front of his name. I can only imagine what would have happened if he’d had the extra burden of a constant physical reminder of his experiences to haunt him. And if he’d been as badly treated as this veteran and countless others have been.
We as a nation have to really consider what we’re doing. We are heaping hurt on a subset of the population that numbers in the millions. Who knows what the consequences will be? I would submit that if you want to worry, worry more about what we are doing than what any terrorist organization is doing.
(Photo: DVIDSHUB/Flickr Creative Commons)