Internet Radio Program "Veterans Issues Now" Speaks with Presidential Candidate Mike Gravel
by Johnny Waltz, Staff Writer
Senator Mike Gravel (D-AK) was a guest on the internet radio program, “Veteran’s Issues Now.” which is hosted by Johnny Waltz and Russell Terry on Wednesdays at 1000 PM EST. Senator Gravel is a 2008 presidential candidate who recently joined the race but is no stranger to DC. To give a little background on him he served the Senate from 1969 to 1981. After the Vietnam War ended, he called for the end of the draft, which ended up being successful.
For those that have heard the Senator speak they should quickly find out he gets to the point and is passionate about the issues. In asking what his motivations for running for president, it was strongly apparent that he is a strong proponent of small government.
Senator Gravel believes that in order to see any change in the government we have to empower the people to make laws on a federal level since that is where the power is. He continues by saying that if half of the people in the United States can make laws on a state and local level then why not on a federal level.
His feelings are that there are only two venues of change and that is the Congress and the American people. At this point, the Senator points out saying. “Congress will never empower the people, which is the nature of the problem.”
One burning topic is the war so we asked him what his views were. Initially when the global war on terrorism started he would have not done anything different but we got distracted by what he called a “fraudulent kick of invading Iraq” thus creating thousands of Bin Ladens worldwide.
It is obvious much like most other Democrats right now he does not agree with the Iraq war and is irritated at how it was handled. “When I become president I am going to take some stars” and said he would like to find the generals who sent troops into harms way with out the proper humvees and armor. This goes all the way from the president down to the colonels.
“If you are going to go to war you go to win, we are not playing tiddly winks. If you are going to send people harms way you use all the force you got.” It drives him crazy that we have the largest military spending in the world and strongest military yet we did not have the proper body armor or equipment to fight the war. When our troops come home hurt both mentally and/or physically they have to face a broken Veteran Affairs system that is riddled with beauracracy and red tape.
As a veteran himself who served from 1951 to 1954 in the U.S. Army and uses the VA medical system he knows all too well of the shortfalls. Many would believe that if you served your country you should at least be given a fair shake after. Senator Gravel highlights this by saying, “If you have served you have paid an extra level of taxes or responsibility with your body and your blood and you should be entitled to have yourself taken care of by the government for the rest of your life.”
Senator Gravel pointed out the need for great veteran advocacy due to the treatment veterans receive. As a Senator, he is treated very well but a regular Joe vet would not always be guaranteed that level of care. He calls for more veteran advocates for people that cannot advocate for themselves.
Recently there was an announcement that senior VA officials were going to receive bonuses up to $33,000. We asked Senator Gravel about this and he stated there should be no bonuses for the VA and that “they are rewarding the bureaucracy so the bureaucracy is making the decision to reward the bureaucracy.”
There is no doubt that there is a major problem within the VA and that there needs to be answers not just complaints. Senator Gravel has a good grip of what is going on with our veterans and the failing system that is leaving them with poor care and leaving them broke due to the claim process. There will be many that will argue his views of the war but it can be said that he speaks for himself and not the party much like other politicians.
Listen to Entire Mike Gravel Interview on Veterans Issues Now
About the Author: Johnny Waltz is the Chief Communications Director for Iraq War Veterans. He is a staff writer for VeteransToday.com