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Gibson writes: “Since the Afghanistan war began in 2001, over 2,700 veterans have taken their own lives. Data from the Department of Veterans Affairs showed that in 2010 alone, 22 veterans committed suicide – that’s another wounded warrior gone every 65 minutes. Luckily for Army Reserve veteran Kye Hardy of Ashland, Kentucky, who served for a year in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province, none of the soldiers he fought alongside have taken that drastic step yet.”

 (photo: Jewel Samad/Getty Images)
(photo: Jewel Samad/Getty Images)


Fake Political Outrage Is the Real VA Scandal

By Carl Gibson, Reader Supported News

01 June 14

 

ince the Afghanistan war began in 2001, over 2,700 veterans have taken their own lives. Data from the Department of Veterans Affairs showed that in 2010 alone, 22 veterans committed suicide each day – that’s another wounded warrior gone every 65 minutes. Luckily for Army Reserve veteran Kye Hardy of Ashland, Kentucky, who served for a year in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province, none of the soldiers he fought alongside have taken that drastic step yet.

“I was lucky to join a unit of men who knew how to keep younger veteran soldiers safe even after coming home,” Hardy said. “I don’t go a week without calling or receiving a call from someone I deployed with just to chat for a bit.”

Hardy, an E-4 specialist, is diagnosed with muscle damage and potential spinal damage, and qualifies for VA services. However, the years-long backlog has kept him from applying, as he wants those with more serious injuries to get the treatment they’ve been waiting for rather than adding to the backlog. Hardy doesn’t believe politicians’ outrage over the VA backlog is genuine. Rather than the resignation of top VA officials like the recent exit of General Shinseki and a continued top-down bureaucratic structure, Hardy instead wants to see a more community-based, veteran-led approach to VA services.

“Wounded warriors who are on disability for the remainder of their lives oftentimes have serious trouble readjusting to civilian life,” Hardy said. “[They] seem to improve when they’re communicating with other veterans.”

However, the Republicans feigning the most concern for veterans are the ones most at fault for the crisis in veterans’ health care. Paul Ryan, author of three separate GOP-approved budget plans that severely cut VA services, has made no bones about his plans to privatize Medicare and turn it into a voucher system. He's also called for changes in VA services that would cut off care for 1.3 million vets. Outrage over the VA scandal could also be manipulated by Ryan and his ilk to force a similar privatization over veterans’ health care.

The extreme rightists who control the House of Representatives don’t want to privatize the VA to help veterans – if the Republican majority truly cared about veterans, they wouldn’t have repeatedly voted against bills providing jobs, homes, and health care to veterans and their families. The budget deal that Ryan and Senator Patty Murray approved last year cut veterans’ pensions by $6 billion. The GOP actually wants to see the VA fail to score more political points.

By continuously cutting VA services, the far-right wants to reinforce their anti-government narrative by cementing the idea into people’s heads that government is bloated and inefficient, and that private companies unaccountable to voters should seize control of public assets. This is why GOP leaders in Congress don’t seem to mind that the approval rating of Congress has slipped consistently in the polls – they’re counting on voters to blame the president and his party in the months before the next Congressional elections. They’re also counting on voters to grow increasingly mistrustful of government and public services in general.

When Republicans held the White House between 2000 and 2008, they demanded that everyone stand with the troops that they sent overseas to fight a costly war waged on false premises. As President Bush stated, Americans could either stand with the president and his war or be considered sympathizers with the enemy. But now that troops have left Iraq and are soon to be leaving Afghanistan, veterans coming home with multiple physical and mental health issues have been left by the Republican-led House and a relentlessly-filibustering Senate minority to fend for themselves. It’s similar to the GOP’s belief in fighting for children while they’re still growing fetuses in a womb, but cutting off their Medicaid, WIC, and food stamps once they’re born. They’re pro-war, but anti-vets. They’re pro-life, but anti-children.

The American public must not allow themselves to be fooled by the GOP’s blustering over the VA backlog. It’s certainly a tragedy that 40 vets died while waiting for health care in Phoenix, but instead of blaming overworked and underpaid medical staff and an administration dealing with an uncooperative Congress that’s trying its best to make the government fail the people, voters should blame hypocrites and deficit hawks in Washington who have allowed a longtime crisis to turn into a scandal. When someone runs for office on a platform of cutting government services to pieces, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that government services under their leadership have been cut to pieces.



Carl Gibson, 27, is co-founder of US Uncut, a nonviolent grassroots movement that mobilized thousands to protest corporate tax dodging and budget cuts in the months leading up to Occupy Wall Street. Carl and other US Uncut activists are featured in the documentary We're Not Broke, which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Carl is also the author of How to Oust a Congressman, an instructional manual on getting rid of corrupt members of Congress and state legislatures based on his experience in the 2012 elections in New Hampshire. He lives in Sacramento, California.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

 

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+54 # Barbara K 2014-06-01 09:17
The Tbagging Rethugs are a complete joke, and not a funny one. They want to cut off benefits to the American people anywhere and everywhere they can. They think we should be able to pay the exhorbitant food and gas and utility prices with no jobs and no income of any kind. Why, I ask? Well, it is obvious, they don't care if we all drop dead in the streets. Why anyone would put these pissants in congress is a complete mystery and must be just because the same people they want to drop dead in the streets are some who put them in power by voting for them. No, this country is not broke, that is just another R lie. They think it is okay to just lie about everything and they do.

VOTE THESE LUNATICS OUT OF OUR GOVERNMENT
BEFORE THERE IS NOTHING LEFT TO SAVE !!

..
 
 
+4 # bigkahuna671 2014-06-02 16:30
Amazing, but that incredibly patriotic and heroic American, John McCain, actually has voted against every pro-veteran and pro-active duty bill presented in Congress. He's the phoniest "hero" ever and has that "I've got mine, so screw the rest of you" attitude. We are so lucky to have slime who vote to send our young people off to stupid wars and then don't vote to take care of them when they return home damaged. I spent 21 months in Vietnam and never got any acclimation time, just wham bam, thank you mam and kicked me out the door. I've nearly given up on our screwed up benefits system but have decided to try once again. God help all the youngsters who are broken by another phony war. I hate that BS "thanks for your service" and the ridiculous ribbons on the backs of cars saying "support our troops." None of these people really support the troops and their platitudes don't help with restoring your sanity or physical well-being.
 
 
+64 # wrknight 2014-06-01 09:26
It is outrageous that Eric Shinseki should have to shoulder the blame for the problems at the V.A. hospitals. The V.A. hospitals have been in shambles since the Vietnam war as Congress has continuously voted to fund more money for weapons and wars with no regard for the consequences of all those wars. The "furor" over the failure to use the electronic waiting lists is nothing but a red herring to distract us from the real
problem that is lack of doctors and insufficient and poorly maintained facilities caused by lack of funding. Neither Gen. Shinseki or anyone else can do much without money and it is Congress' job to appropriate
money for the Veterans Administration. It is not Gen. Shinseki who should resign, but each member of Congress who chose to ignore the
plight of our veterans who should resign.

I sincerely hope that voters will examine how their members of Congress voted on V.A. budget bills and vote accordingly this coming November.

Vote for Veterans! Vote against any politician who voted to cut V.A. benefits.
 
 
+5 # bigkahuna671 2014-06-02 16:34
I strongly agree. Gen. Shinseki is not to blame for this broken system. There are more outstanding VA hospitals then there are messed-up ones, and the messed-up ones didn't get that way overnight. This problem has existed for at least forty years and NO President has had the balls to clean it up. Once you serve, you don't get what you deserve...that' s our government's motto. Wars exist to make money for the military-indust rial complex.
 
 
-22 # rmb99 2014-06-01 09:28
RSN needs an editor.
And Carl Gibson needs to check his facts.
I wanted to refer several of my friends to this article, but I cannot because the facts stated are contradictory.
2,700 suicides since 2001; 8,030 suicides in 2010.
 
 
+28 # ericlipps 2014-06-01 11:41
Quoting rmb99:
RSN needs an editor.
And Carl Gibson needs to check his facts.
I wanted to refer several of my friends to this article, but I cannot because the facts stated are contradictory.
2,700 suicides since 2001; 8,030 suicides in 2010.

Read more carefully. The 2,700 figure clearly refers to veterans of the Afghan war alone. The DVA figure for 2010 clearly refers to total suicides by veterans, regardless of which war they served in.

Mr. Gibson could have worded his piece more carefully, but saying that he needs to "check his facts" goes too far.
 
 
+15 # Activista 2014-06-01 12:12
One can always check numbers using search -
rt.com/usa/us-army-suicide-rate-025/
more active military commit suicide than dies in Afghanistan.
The real tragedy is to get to the numbers one has to read RT.com - NOT USA censored media ...
 
 
+49 # fredboy 2014-06-01 09:40
I'd guess most members of Congress did not serve in the military and could really give a rat's ass about our vets. They just want their votes. So the way they see it, wave the flag, ride in Vet parades, but shovel the money to local pork barrel or to causes pimped by high-paying lobbyists...
 
 
+33 # reiverpacific 2014-06-01 10:45
"---the far-right wants to reinforce their anti-government narrative by cementing the idea into people’s heads that government is bloated and inefficient, ----" (Quote).
The Current Tea-thug dominated Congress is the living proof of THAT self-affirming theorem.
And those far too many mindless ciphers who tune in to it's very own lie-factory mouthpiece "FIX'ed" News just go along meekly, like ol' Limpball's Dittoheads, nodding away in time to the Reactionary-fan tasy road they are driven along like so many dumb dashboard ornaments, letting the spinmeisters like Hannity and O'Reilly do their thinking for them.
What it comes down is that those who never served -indeed sought multiple deferments from Vietnam and spun lies to get "Shock and awe" going, are most ready and happy to sound the trumpet of nationalism under God and Old Glory, sow the seeds of fear of "the other" as alleged terrorists -the new buzzword post 9-11, recruit the youth on false promises of "duty calls" and college as cannon-fodder, then feigning outrage at their neglect as "Sound and fury signifying nothing".
I suggest that as many of you as possible get involved with your local chapter of "Veterans for Peace", -they are all over the country and growing- most of which welcome support from non-veterans. You'll learn a lot and help those who have survived one of the many global conflicts the US can't seem to resist sticking it's bloody nose in, feel like they belong again.
 
 
+31 # liteguy 2014-06-01 10:47
I am a vet a nd I use the VA system. My VA system is fine and my concern is that the do nothing congress will stick thier nose in it and screw it jp royally. Hey I can't speak for the VA hospitals that have had problems and that should be looked into and corrected.But don't condemn the total sytem for the slect problems...
GOD help us if people like Mike Kelly get involved...
 
 
+19 # walthe310 2014-06-01 11:07
Can't legislate
GOP not able
Won't cooperate
GOP not stable
No empathy
GOP lacks heart
Hypocritical
Republican'ts
 
 
+2 # bingers 2014-06-02 15:44
Quoting walthe310:
Can't legislate
GOP not able
Won't cooperate
GOP not stable
No empathy
GOP lacks heart
Hypocritical
Republican'ts


Smell worse than farts. 8^)
 
 
+19 # dipierro4 2014-06-01 11:27
This is a scandal, but the Administration has maximized the damage.

Almost everyone agrees that 1) The VA provides fine care for those who get access; 2) There are not enough providers and appointment slots available; 3) Employees were under pressure to show that vets were getting timely appointments; and 4) Some employees lied about their lack of ability to accomplish this.

Lying employees need to be disciplined (or prosecuted if they accepted performance bonuses), but the real need is resources. Money. Even a slow thinker can see that firing officials will not cure this.

But the Administration allowed the opposition to frame the debate. Rather than come out swinging with, “Look, we tried to give them the resources”, they joined the braying pack. Now the issue is an albatross around Obama’s neck. What did he expect?

Obama has done this before. I recall in about 2009 after he got some stimulus legislation through Congress, he went on the air one day talking about how his Administration was going to attack our crushing budget deficit. I thought I was dreaming or had walked through Alice’s looking glass. Of course, he has been hammered about the deficit ever since. What did he expect?

Now, the Repubs have scored. They got their bare-bones budget; they put egg on Obama's face; and they may get to privatize the VA in the long run. They totally outmaneuvered this hapless Administration. And Gen. Shinseki, who did much for the vets, is mere collateral damage.
 
 
+17 # Cassandra2012 2014-06-01 12:26
Weren't the 'lying employees' required by their lying bosses/administ rators to 'lie'?
And considering what happens to whistleblowers ...
 
 
+1 # bingers 2014-06-02 15:49
The Obama administration has gotten much more money for the VA. But not nearly enough to fix the GOP caused problem.

Spending bills can only originate from the Republican controlled House which would rather shit and go blind than do anything for the American people with a net worth less than 10 million dollars, and least of all our military men. But military contractors, the very people Eisenhower warned us about, for them, the sky's the limit.
 
 
-47 # duckhead 2014-06-01 11:36
This isn’t a bowling tournament. Whatever the Republicans may do or have done, the Obama administration doesn’t seem to be able to administer much of anything. Healthcare seems to be their worst bete noir. First we had the various inanities associated with the government health care website, and now we have the inefficiency and corruption of the VA. When does the administration take responsibility for its incompetence, and stop whining about the Republicans?
 
 
+26 # Billsy 2014-06-01 12:56
Actually the VA provides excellent service to those within the system, but it's overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of returning vets from Iraq & Afghanistan because it's understaffed and underfunded. (BTW I'm a vet who has received VA health care). You are doing precisely what Republicans of this era always do. Cut funding, block legislation and then blame the executive branch for the fallout. Your statement is a blanket one without base or accuracy.
 
 
+19 # ReconFire 2014-06-01 12:59
Quoting duckhead:
This isn’t a bowling tournament. Whatever the Republicans may do or have done, the Obama administration doesn’t seem to be able to administer much of anything. Healthcare seems to be their worst bete noir. First we had the various inanities associated with the government health care website, and now we have the inefficiency and corruption of the VA. When does the administration take responsibility for its incompetence, and stop whining about the Republicans?


you're right, this isn't a bowling tournament, it's a B.S. tournament, and you're buddies are winning, so
Probably when republicans take responsibility for underfunding or defunding Govt., then blaming said Govt. for failing.
This also is a continuation of their war on the poor.
 
 
+19 # kalpal 2014-06-01 13:01
As soon as the Republicans loudly proclaim and admit that they will never back up nor stand up for the bottom 90% of Americans and have never been at all concerned about sending American GI's to die just because they insisted on electing an incompetent oaf to be the sock puppet of Dick Cheney.
 
 
+33 # MillValleyMaven 2014-06-01 12:24
Here's a novel idea for reducing the huge numbers of veterans needing care for mental and physical war wounds: don't send them to war.
 
 
+24 # torch and pitchfork 2014-06-01 12:35
I am suspicious that this is really a non issue and an attempt by the Republicans to "privatize" the VA. We all know how successful that privatization of government services is: 5 year contracts with each succeeding bid awarded to the lowest bidder. What you end up with is a few people, "executives", at the top skimming the fat off the contract with the "employees" getting reduced benefits with each new contract. Oh, and by the way, the employees remain the same, it's just the new contractor that changes. What I recommended is that Washington look to the San Francisco Bay Area's VA systems and make that the model for the country. They are staffed by smart dedicated people who respect the veterans and thank them for their service by servicing them. I speak from experience.
 
 
+1 # bigkahuna671 2014-06-02 16:41
I just can't wait to see the new Halliburton-run VA hospitals and help centers....yeah , they'll really take care of the vets, won't they? Now, let's see, how much can we overcharge and how much can we steal and lose? Yeah...Hallibur ton, we just can't wait for you. Yay all you Republifascists , you really care about the troops, don't you?
 
 
+31 # JonK 2014-06-01 12:57
I find particularly hypocritical Senator Mitch McConnell's "outrage" and his digusting lecturing of the administration when it is he who blocked a veterans' benefits bill from even coming up for a vote in February, showing not only his contempt for the veterans, but his usual contempt for democracy. But then Mitch has set a new record for blocking bills and appointments of all types and then blaming on the Black guy. It's his only accomplishment in the past six years.
 
 
+17 # jacksprat 2014-06-01 13:40
It took 8 years for me to get the VA to find my records and authorize medical benefits. Thanks to the 2 State Senators, Boxer and Feinstein. Once in the system I was treated by residences doing their training. They rotated out every 6 months which was okay because all of them had different training as well as treatment plans. However, all of them agreed I had PTSD that was only treated with drugs. Counseling via Skype did not work. Conclusion: They are under staffed, ill equipped for the seriousness of treating PTSD and clinics are missing well trained staff because of budget limits. PS: I got a service dog five years ago and have been fine ever since. Cheap way to handle PTSD.
 
 
+18 # Charles3000 2014-06-01 15:28
The problem is as obvious as the nose on a face; the VA is understaffed and under-budgeted. If anyone is to be let go it is the Congressmen who would not fund the VA.
 
 
+8 # jgorman 2014-06-01 16:43
Sorry folks, I've already used up my outrage a long time ago. The VA has always been understaffed and under-budgeted. The SOB's who find plenty of money to fund wars and procure weapons have always F$@*$! our wounded warriors the second that the photo op was over. The lame street media has aided and abetted those same SOB's and deserve just as much scorn in my book too. Republicans and democrats have failed us and our vets equally over the years and to think otherwise is just pissin' into the wind. Money corrupts politicians, retired military, and government officials absolutely. Always has and always will. Until we separate the two, the system is beyond repair. May God have mercy on their souls for their love of manna at the expense of their suffering brethen.
 
 
+4 # DickC 2014-06-01 23:14
Republicans in congress are hypocrites, they feign 'outrage' over VA problems, but they are the ones who are at the heart of the VA's problems.

Republicans love sending our children to war to die for their corporate masters, but absolutely hate having to deal with the aftermath.

We the people truly need to kick out the unAmericans in congress. But as we all know, Americans keep voting for the SOS.
 
 
+2 # bingers 2014-06-02 15:56
We had the communist witch hunts in the 40s through the 60s. How about a witch hunt against those who have created millions of times more problems for us than the CPUSA ever did. How about making it illegal to be a conservative.

Not serious of course, but if every conservative in the world died today Hell would be running over with evil souls and the world would be Utopia.

I'm so old I actually remember decent conservatives who cared about the country more than they did about the billionaires who bought them lock, stock and barrel.
 

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