The politicians are exorcised over reports that the Veteran’s Administration is covering up its failure to provide adequate health care to American veterans.
If politicians are serious about putting an end to the disgraceful way in which our veterans are treated, they should stop creating so many of them.
It’s not been many months ago that Senators Enzi and Barrasso joined their GOP colleagues in derailing a $21 billion bill to enhance health care, education and job benefits for veterans. Now they are on a different quest. They joined Representative Lummis in sending a letter to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki. “The reports we have read suggest that your Department has failed to live up to its promised core values of integrity, commitment, advocacy, respect, and excellence.”
The call for Shinseki’s resignation was one of the few bipartisan actions in congress for years. Everyone from the American Legion to the Gun Owners of America joined the choir. But it shouldn’t stop there. Politicians who voted to go to war in Iraq and Afghanistan should follow Shinseki out the door.
This isn’t the first time congress and the administration failed vets. This isn’t the first time veterans have been poorly treated. George Washington said, "The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.”
If so, we wouldn’t have had enough men and women to serve in any war following the one fought for Independence. According to longmarchhome.org, the maltreatment started when the “states failed to pay pensions granted by the Constitutional Congress of 1776.”
Thousands of vets were left homeless and disabled when the Civil War ended. After World War I, Congress voted to give vets of that war a bonus. But they decided it would not be paid for another eight years. By then the depression had gnawed on the ability of the country to keep that promise.
Thousands of veterans came to Washington to protest. President Herbert Hoover turned General Douglas MacArthur and his troops and tanks on them. Instead of their bonus, they got the sharp end of bayonets and tear gas.
Viet Nam vets were treated notoriously bad. The number of homeless Vietnam War veterans exceeds the number who died in combat in Southeast Asia, according the VA’s CHALENG study. Sadly, that record may be exceeded by the treatment of the veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.
According to Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), there are more than 1.7 million veterans who served in either or both of Iraq and Afghanistan. According to costofwar.org, “The war’s violence has rippled through the nation, affecting families and the communities where they live.”
There are more deaths from suicide than from combat. Returning vets suffer from physical and emotional wounds that will affect them and their families for generations. That unnecessary war has created the necessity to provide care for its vets.
We are learning now about the lack of care these wounds are receiving.
But none of this started with Secretary Shinseki and the Obama Administration. Unfortunately it won’t end there either regardless of how many officials resign or get fired.
Politicians who criticize the President and the VA are disingenuous if that’s all they do. Check their voting records. The problem is that members of congress are always able to find money to wage war but much slower to pay for the costs of caring for those who fight those wars.
When the next generation is asked to sacrifice itself to another war, it should heed George Washington’s advice. "The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.”
Someday congress might “throw a war” and find no one will show up to fight it for them.