Sent me off to a foreign land
To go and kill the yellow man …
Went down to see the V.A. man
He said ‘Son don’t you understand, now’
Fighting off the Viet Cong
They’re still there, he’s all gone …
Nowhere to run ain’t got nowhere to go
Until all veterans can report back they easily filed a claim, heard back fast, and received some manner of benefits for their service: We as a country are not there and more veterans will conclude they got nowhere to go in our country that has abandoned them.
The $15 billion budget increase last year for the U.S. Dept of Veterans Affairs, the largest hike in 30 years, is heartening.
The absence of DoJ political prosecution of veterans suffering from PTSD in favor of easing the burden of PTSD is encouraging.
That Agent Orange-related and Gulf War illnesses are on the table is a reversal of past betrayals, no matter how many Sen. Webbs crawl out of the woodwork.
One can go on, veteran homelessness, shortened claim applications, job training, veteran education and so on.
But until all veterans can report back they easily filed a claim, heard back fast, and received some manner of benefits for their service: We as a country are not there yet.
Who here does not know a veteran that gets filled with anxiety at the sight of a communication from the VA and the VBA?
But more than fixing the VA internally, more than realizing that national veteran service orgs and local veteran service officers are part of the problem, more than acknowledging the cabal at the VA and VBA working to deny veterans their deserved benefits and needed research, we need a presidential declaration made repeatedly that to wage war is to incur casualties at great costs that must be paid as a country.
Until we create a political culture imbued with this simple truism betraying our veterans will be easy for the neocons and the cowardly that go along.
Those who profit from war are typically allied with those who work to deny veterans the respect and benefits earned.
These chickenhawks—as exemplified by Dr. Sally Satel, the American Enterprise Institute, Renee L. Szybala (former VA director of Compensation and Pension Service)—will be the political equivalent of the Ebola virus when we get there.
Let’s keep fighting them together.