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VA Issue: America’s Not So Little Secret

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This Veterans Administration flap has really had me in knots over the last several days.  My grandfather was a WWI veteran who saw heavy combat in the trenches of Europe and came home disabled.  Back then, there was no VA, no veteran’s service officers, nothing.   To my knowledge, he collected a whopping $30 month from Uncle Sugar as a result of his service connected disability.  I had two uncles who fought in WWII.  One in the Pacific Theatre, the other in Europe.  Both saw unimaginable carnage in that war.  One came home, went to work and raised a family.  The other gave another three decades of this life to the U.S. Army and Army National Guard.  Their experiences with VA were both good and bad.  But they have yet to see the level of care they were promised.

Anyone who knows me knows how much I detest big government.  Big government only leads to one thing-tyranny.  Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.  Historian Lord Acton shared this observation in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887.  It’s never been more relevant than today.  What we’re seeing unfold with the VA is the culmination of years of abuse of power, neglect of service and a failure of congress and the White House to step up and do their own due diligence.  We have enough bureaucracy at work here, too much in fact.  We don’t need more government, but rather we need the government to take full responsibility for what has been happening.  No passing the buck, Mr. President.  YOU MUST own this problem.

Although VA Secretary Eric Shinseki has fallen on the proverbial sword, this still solves nothing.  Tales of veterans not being able to get treatment, medication issues, mental health issues not being addressed and the list just goes on.  A resignation does not stop the problems or solve the ones that have already happened.  Calls from House Speaker John Boehner for a Justice Department probe are great but it’s all just chin music until we see results.  Congressional approval has never been so low and trust in Boehner and company is paper thin at best even among more moderate Republicans.  These issues have been ongoing and far from secret.  Frankly, for congress to act so shocked is disingenuous, to say the least.

I’ve spoken with a handful of local veterans, one of them being my only living uncle who fought in the Battle of the Bulge during WWII.  They all report ‘fair’ treatment from local VA officials and one of them, a Vietnam vet who only wishes to be identified as Robert, said he had even been apologized to at the Oklahoma City VA office just last week.  “They were late getting me into the doc and they were very apologetic. It’s always been kind of a cold experience before but I see a change already in attitude.”

One thing is for certain, this scandal (nothing phony to see here, Mr. Obama) is one that affects every veteran and their families.  It’s not a Washington problem, it’s an American problem.  We all need to be engaged in the discussion and we must ride herd hard and fast on everyone in congress and the President from now on.  If we become lax on this issue, it will only become worse.  Today, more than ever, you and I have the power to be heard as never before.  You can thank talk radio and the internet for that.

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