Far be it from me to turn my back on beefcake, especially beefcake in uniform, but in what is surely one of the most bizarre and unnerving twists in this relentless Iraq debacle, a group of Marines and ex-Marines who fought in Iraq--including two wounded there--are peddling their flesh in a calendar to help veterans of Mission Accomplished who appear to be the victims of a Bush "cut and run" policy.
The fund-raising calendar is "...a stopgap effort to help people where government programs leave off," said Rudy Reyes, who served two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan and is on the calendar's cover. "This is a way for citizens to help citizens."
According to the Associated Press, the calender's sponsor is financing travel expenses for families, special beds for burn victims and mortgage and utility bills. It has even fronted cash to pay for funerals of servicemen and women flown back from Iraq. The military later reimburses the costs but is apparently incapable of helping veterans and their families at the time when help is needed. Think bureaucracy, think Katrina. As always our government seems to forget that when people are in trouble and suffering they measure their lives in hours and days not in bureaucratic years and months of paperwork.
Reyes and the other men who appear in the glossy 2007 lineup served in Iraq as members of the elite Marine Reconnaissance units. Sgt. James Wright, 31, lost his hands and part of his leg; he's shown on the back cover, fully in uniform, saluting with what's left of his right arm, which he still uses as a martial arts instructor.
Cpl. Bradley Smith suffered an injury that's now invisible — a broken wrist.
"It took a year and half to get through the government bureaucracy before I got the surgery I needed," the 21-year-old Marine told The Associated Press.
Many of the young Iraq veterans in the calendar have medical conditions for which some are still trying to get government benefits, ranging from combat stress-related symptoms to injuries to their feet, knees, hips and backs from carrying combat loads of more than 200 pounds.
You can read more details here.
These marines remain loyal to their government despite the fact that their government, our government has cut and run. This calendar is the strangest and latest reminder of just how indifferent Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld are to human suffering and basic human rights. If they treat Marines who were wounded in Iraq with such indifference why on earth would we think they would care for the lives of any one else. There is an axis of evil and it is based in the White House.