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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 6/3/14

History Shows Consistent Failure Helping Military Vets

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Dennie Williams
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It would seem the perspective on assisting sick and maimed United States war veterans, who risked their lives for their country, has never, throughout history, been center stage.

If it has caught the eyes of the news media, military leadership, politicians, or supposedly responsible government officials, their attention arrived and departed without permanent solutions being reached.

Ongoing in today's news headlines appears the very next round of horrifying veterans' wounds and deaths. They become part of the constant negligence during a historical string of 20 or more wars; or deadly foreign conflicts without war even being declared.

Believe it or not, according to research, this negligence dates back to even the American Revolution. "Scandal, controversy and veterans' care in the United States have gone hand-in-hand for virtually as long as there's been a republic. After the Revolutionary War, for instance, payments promised by Congress to disabled veterans were left up to the states, and only a few thousand of those who served ever received anything," CNN quotes the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as saying.

This means that unless you are the devoted family member or close friend of an ignored and disabled U.S. military veteran you or anyone else will have to struggle for years to get the job done, if actually accomplished, for them or any of the other hundreds or thousands of victims! And no one in this country seems to ever keep track of what happens to the sick, wounded, and maimed innocent foreign-civilian victims.

Scores of U.S. military veterans, suffering arduous mental or physical ailments, have committed suicide rather than wait for the torturous, lengthy process of possibly receiving affordable or supposedly available free health assistance.

The decades commemorated and responsible government agency, the VA, sometimes brags about this country's history in assisting wounded military veterans.

"The United States has the most comprehensive system of assistance for veterans of any nation in the world," says the VA at http://www.va.gov/about_va/vahistory.asp.

"This benefits system traces its roots back to 1636, when the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony were at war with the Pequot Indians. The Pilgrims passed a law which stated that disabled soldiers would be supported by the colony."

But the benefits system mentioned by the VA, which it began controlling in 1930, has mostly failed historically since that very "Pilgrims" law was passed in the 1600s! It and similar good-intentioned laws never truly protected thousands and more during the Civil War, World War I, World War II, The Korean War, the Vietnam War, or the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan.

So here we are today caught in still another of the myriads of disputes, scores of decades old, about this country's or the VA's, or the U.S. Department of Defense's, or the U.S. Congress', or The United States President's inabilities to rescue military veterans.

Here is the newest crisis as reported by CNN: "Eric Shinseki resigned Friday (May 30) as the head of the Department of Veterans Affairs, leaving behind the daunting task of repairing a broken health-care system that has left thousands of veterans at risk as they wait for medical care.

"Shinseki's resignation concluded a firestorm of criticism and growing calls for him to step down following revelations of sometimes deadly delays for veterans waiting for care at VA hospitals, allegations exposed by CNN in a series of exclusive reports."

Shinseki is a former United States Army general who served as the seventh United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Much of the news media, like CNN, as well as the U.S. Inspector General, attacks the VA for a shocking cover-up in failing to bring timely care to sick and wounded US veterans of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. But, why is it possible that their very own news, other news reports, and inspection-general conclusions often take so long to materialize?

Of course, a lot of the news media as well as Congressional representatives aim their attacks at President Barack Obama for negligence in protecting veterans. He is, after all, the commander in chief. But, certainly he hasn't been the only president who can be criticized. The commanders in chief who failed to solve military veterans' health problems go back decades and decades.

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Thomas D. Williams, a freelance writer, worked at The Hartford Courant for almost 40 years before retiring in November 2005 to become an investigative freelancer on Internet news sites. He has written a unique nature book, The Spirits of Birds, (more...)
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