Veteran and television personality Montel Williams has refused to back down over his blistering criticism of the VA, which is under investigation for covering up long wait times that may have led to the deaths of dozens of veterans. But Williams is not just standing in outrage — he has a plan that he believes would clear the entire backlog of veterans waiting to be treated, and would help prevent veterans from facing a similar lack of care in the future.
“We need a Congress and Senate to act and do something called a surge,” Williams said on The Glenn Beck Program Thursday. “Four years ago, we put 33,000 troops on the ground in Afghanistan. In less than 90 days, we spent over $50 billion to send them over to get hurt.”
Williams said President Obama can act without Congress and order each branch of the service that “just allowed corpsmen to go off active duty into the reserve, to bring them back on [temporary active duty.]”
“They could man every VA hospital, and also the hospitals on bases, and … their mission’s going to be: ‘In 90 days, we want to clear the entire backlog.’”
Williams continued, the emotion growing thick in his voice.
“Why do we need to do it with military personnel? Folks, hear me. Please understand – our soldiers are in pain, and right now, you can’t send a person who doesn’t understand how to speak to a soldier,” Williams remarked. “So why don’t we employ the [soldiers] who are out of work right now?”
Williams said the president, as the commander in chief, could make the call “today” to send those on temporary active duty into the VA hospitals.
“Ninety days from now, we will have a backlog cleared up, and we will understand what the baseline is for what we have to now commit to to pay for, to take care of our obligation and our debt to our veterans,” he said. “We have to do this.”
But Williams said America’s responsibility to our veterans doesn’t start or end with President Obama.
“We as citizens have to step up to the plate and understand one thing: it’s not the president, it’s not Congress, it’s not the Senate — it’s we the people who owe this debt. You had a barbecue on Sunday,” William said, pausing as he fought back tears, “you did so on the backs of young men who can’t be treated. How dare you? Pay your debt.”
Beck made it clear to Williams that he would stand “shoulder to shoulder” with him on the issue, and would “back [him] up” in any way he could.
Williams, who doesn’t share many of Beck’s political views and came under intense fire just for agreeing to speak with him, seemed moved by Beck’s commitment.
“Glenn, I will say to you: let’s bury it,” Williams remarked. “Whenever there’s an issue, we want to come together to talk about the issue from the standpoint of the fact that we respect each other’s opinion. And it’s not about a battle; it’s about solutions. I’m ready to stand with you. Anytime we want to talk solutions, I’m there.”
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