Retired General Wesley Clark was in Iowa Friday urging Congress and the Bush administration to boost funding for mental-health services for soldiers. Clark joined Iowa Congressman Leonard Boswell at a statehouse news conference in Des Moines.
Clark says something’s wrong when the government is giving big tax cuts to wealthy people but cutting back on funding for “men and women who are risking their lives for this country and this flag that we love and cherish.” He called on the administration and Congress to get their priorities right and “start taking care of our troops.”
Clark said he’s seen a lot of people in Washington wearing American-flag pins on their lapels…”but if you want to take credit for the American flag, that’s a flag that belongs to all of us,” he says, and he wants them to take care of the people serving in the military and take care of them when they come home.
Clark said it’s not just soldiers, it’s truck drivers and others on active duty who find themselves getting shot at while they do their jobs. He says post-traumatic stress can affect the rest of their lives. “Most people who have it, they don’t know they have it,” Clark says. When you’re in close combat, he says, it changes you — and what looks from the outside like courage is accompanied inside by a lot of anger and guilt. He says he suffered some of that himself after being shot at in Vietnam, and says people need help to deal with it.
Clark ran for president in 2004 and is eyeing the Democratic nomination again in 2008.