Don’t be fooled by the smiling faces and handshakes, or the innocuous comments made regarding the pace and tenor of the Obama administration blundering and backwards attempts to fix what’s wrong with the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs.
According to recent reports there is “still more work to do” on eliminating delays and mismanagement in the massive but essential veteran care system.
“More work to do?” How?
By appointing Robert “I’m a Special Forces Soldier” McDonald, who is dragging his feet at every turn?
[sharequote align="center"]Once off of active duty our military heroes suffer the indignity of indifference.[/sharequote]
Perhaps the most dangerous recent fact from President Barack Obama is his new “pledge” to “restore trust” in a system that has seen veterans die waiting for an intake appointment. Trust is not a common item one pulls off the shelf when one feels it’s finally necessary to remind people you want to be trustworthy. It is a VALUE not to be taken lightly, and is born of honor and integrity. Trust is established and maintained by doing the right thing the FIRST TIME and EVERY TIME.
If we can’t keep the commitment to people who wrote a blank check for our freedom and liberty then we can’t do ANYTHING. It starts with the commander in chief. If the president of the United States can’t or won’t make an immediate improvement in the VA for the purpose of caring for our heroes, then he is impotent.
The VA has roots that can be traced back to 1636, when the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony were at war with the Pequot Indians. The Pilgrims passed a law that stated that disabled soldiers would be supported by the colony.
The best Obama could come up with at a recent meeting in Arizona with VA executives, representatives of veterans groups and one of his biggest critics, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), was that his administration is “chipping away at problems.” Is this a golf analogy? It certainly isn’t the language of someone who truly cares about the American soldier.
The president’s advisory panel, which includes outside specialists to recommend how the VA can improve care, have experience in customer service, large-scale organizational change, medical care and advocacy for veterans, will do absolutely nothing to improve care for veterans, and will only complicate and confuse the system that has been broken Obama’s entire time in office.
Whereas everything King Midas touched turned to gold, everything King Obama touches turns to . . . .
The recent dog-and-pony show at the Phoenix VA, where veterans have waited months for basic medical care, McCain criticized the president by calling his administration “slow and reluctant to fundamentally reform VA operations.” Now that’s an understatement.
U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks during his visit at Camp Pendleton Marine Corps base with troops and their families to thank them for their service on August 7, 2013 in Camp Pendleton, California.
Credit: Getty Images
Contrast this continued foot dragging by the president with his immediate and unparalleled response to an Ebola epidemic that didn’t even affect Americans until he allowed infected U.S. doctors to return to the U.S. for specialized care. President Obama pledged unbridled support to people who weren’t even citizens of the United States, while at the same time veterans were suffering and dying almost literally at his own doorstep.
Picture the man stepping over the wounded veteran to get to the dying West African. The imagery is chilling. The president’s triage priorities are SNAFU. He has labeled our own veterans as “expectant,” and other non-citizens “urgent.”
The tragic irony is that in order to assist others who are non-citizens, non-veterans, he sent U.S. military personnel, active duty and reservists, to aid non citizens.
Obama’s self-professed hero, President Abraham Lincoln, must not only be turning in his grave, but is probably ready to rise from the dead and slap this president silly.
Our humble leader of perhaps this country’s most tragic period, the American Civil War, concluded in his Second Inaugural Address:
“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”
These were not hollow words. Not long after he spoke powerful changes were being made to care for and heal the wounded warriors of Lincoln’s time.
In May 2013, President Obama unilaterally declared the War on Terror over. If that were true why then did he not turn his attention and sense of urgency to those who bore the battle, and his widow and his orphan? Where was the mobilization of military medical assets for our crises of health care for veterans?
Not long ago Congress passed a $16.3 billion bill that was supposed to overhaul the ailing system and offer veterans who were stuck in line to see VA medics an alternative to be seen by in a civilian medical facility. A recent Veterans of Foreign Wars survey earlier this month found that 80 percent of those who said they should be eligible for the program said they were not afforded the choice to receive care outside of the VA.
Once off of active duty our military heroes suffer the indignity of indifference.
We honor those who never came home not just by our memorials and tributes and caring for their “widows and orphans,” but by caring for those who DID make it home.
Imagine pledging everything you have and hold dear, up to and including YOUR LIFE, in defense of your country and countrymen, only to be forgotten and ignored once you returned from battle or other service. How would that make you feel?
US President Barack Obama shakes hands with Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald (L) after signing the Veterans Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014, during a signing ceremony at Fort Belvoir in Virginia, August 7, 2014. The bill provides the Department of Veterans Affairs the resources to improve access and quality of care for veterans. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB
Enough with the excuses and “chipping away.” Enough with the morally corrupt VA CEO’s and “advisory panels.” DO SOMETHING, Mr. President! Use your PEN and PHONE to ACTIVATE reserve and National Guard medical units to mobilize to our nation’s VA parking lots and armories to triage and then treat those who offered the “last full measure of their devotion” so that they “shall not have” served “in vain.”
Activating U.S. medical reserve and National Guard units is no small endeavor, but if a national emergency were declared it would be swift and effective. Many military medical reservists and National Guardsmen are civilian medical professionals and technicians, and the mobilization would strain civilian medical care, but in triage, those who need it most should receive care first. But we don’t know what we don’t know.
Many veterans waiting for care have unknown ailments. Once the ailments are known the veteran can be referred to VA or civilian medical treatment and follow-up. Not knowing is the problem and the crime. Ignoring our American heroes is an abomination that each one of us needs to bare the shame and indignation for.
These veterans are US, and carry the American blood of our ancestors and are our brothers and sisters at arms. Help preserve our heritage of proud volunteer military service, and proud commitment to those who bore the battle and pain and now need our love and support and CARE.
Contact your Congressional and state legislators TODAY and let them know how you feel about the foot dragging at the VA and White House and restore our pride in caring for those who offered themselves for our liberty and freedom. There should be nothing more important or vital to our future as a nation and leader among nations.
I am the author of "Saving Grace at Guantanamo Bay: A Memoir of a Citizen Warrior," and three times mobilized U.S. Army Reserve Major (Retired). Blog, Twitter ID @mjgranger1, Facebook.
TheBlaze contributor channel supports an open discourse on a range of views. The opinions expressed in this channel are solely those of each individual author.