Saturday, November 18, 2017

More on Dogs for Wounded Vets

Currently re reading Bruce Catton's fabulous "Grant Takes Command" and am struck by the organization and attention to detail which were the prime virtues Grant required to be successful.

Most people understand it was his pugnacity and perseverance which set him apart from the unsuccessful generals who preceded him--the timid and the halt--but what made his campaigns successful was a capacity to organize millions of food rations, railroad tracks, locomotives, pontoon boats, soldiers and their commanders, and, of course, horses and mules. 

Without healthy horses and mules you could not pull up heavy artillery pieces, canons and howitzers to win battles and that meant you had to arrange for feed for the horses, care and maintenance of the horses' health.  In fact, horses were so depleted before the crucial Tennessee campaign headed toward Lookout Mountain, the attacks planned had to be halted, because for want of a nail the shoe was lost for want of a shoe the horse was the army depended on animals in the mid nineteen century.

Rick Yount, Sub contractor, making $ from puppies

All this made me return to the kerfuffle surrounding the discontinuation of the Dogs for Wounded Warriors program at Walter Reed and Ft. Belvoir, announced on Veterans Day and attributed to Donald Trump and his heartlessness, President Heel Spurs.

“I’m never going to say we do everything 100 percent, but this is my baby and you’re going to potentially bid it out to some other organization without telling me why.” 
--Rick Yount, CEO Warrior Canine Connection

The actual name of the program is Warrior Canine Connection, which is run as a private company, I gather, which subcontracts with another company called MD Consultants and the WCC apparently had fewer than twenty employees who raised puppies and who helped train them to be "service dogs." Almost nothing about this company has been reported, total number of employees, budget, number of other enterprises, whether or not it is a puppy mill or a big hearted ASPCA type organization. Questions about the health of the dogs had been raised and answered but there has been virtually no reporting on:
1/ How much money was Rick Yount paid to run this program? 
2/ Did the funds come from the VA, the Defense Department, the taxpayers, or the soldiers who got the dogs?
3/ Were there other companies which looked better to the officials who cancelled this contract and decided to "bid it out?" Did other companies offer better service for a better price?
4/ How do you assess the value of such a program, warm and fuzzy as it may be, to the wounded warriors?
5/ What has happened to the dogs and the patients who received these dogs over time?  Have the patients and dogs lived happily ever after or have the dogs been starved or abandoned by their wounded warriors?
The Walter Reed spokeswoman suggested the wound warriors would continue to get their dogs but a new program to supply these dogs would have better metrics and better supervision. In other words, as in any health care intervention, you want to know how successful it is and at what cost and whether or not there might be a better way to render the services.

Of course, the reporting of this discontinuation made it sound like the ultimate in uncaring cruelty on the part of the Army, but that story came from the jilted Rick Yount, mainly. Was the real story simply the Army found a better product at a better price and Yount portrayed this as a heartless act of an uncaring bureaucracy?

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