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Sanders writes: "The cost of war is great, and it is far more than the hundreds of billions of dollars we spend on planes, tanks, missiles and guns."

(photo: US Marines)
(photo: US Marines)

The Cost of War

By Senator Bernie Sanders, The Boston Globe

23 July 14


he cost of war is great, and it is far more than the hundreds of billions of dollars we spend on planes, tanks, missiles and guns.

The cost of war is more than 6,800 service members who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. The cost of war is caring for the spouses and children who have to rebuild their lives after the loss of their loved ones. It’s about hundreds of thousands of men and women coming home from war with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, many of them having difficulty keeping jobs in order to pay their bills. It’s about high divorce rates. It’s about the terrible tragedy of veterans committing suicide.

The cost of war is about supporting family caregivers for disabled veterans. It’s about 2,500 young men and women who would like to start families but are unable to do so because of war wounds.

The bottom line is that if we are going to send people off to battle, we must understand what the war experience means to their lives and do everything we can to make them whole when they return. If we can’t do that, we shouldn’t be sending them into war in the first place. That’s the contract we have with the people who put their lives on the line to defend us.

Sen. John McCain and I recently introduced legislation that addresses some of the significant problems facing the Department of Veterans Affairs. In a rare note of bipartisanship, the Senate passed our bill by a vote of 93-3. It is now in a conference committee with the House.

It is unacceptable that some 57,000 veterans are on lists waiting too long to be scheduled for medical appointments. It is inexcusable that another 64,000 veterans over the last 10 years never received the care they requested after enrolling in the VA health care system. Veterans in the VA health care system must get the quality care they need in a timely manner.

Our legislation provides that veterans around the country on long VA waiting lists will be able to get the care they need outside the VA. That means access to private doctors, community health centers, and at Department of Defense and Indian Health Service facilities. At the same time, VA’s ability to provide timely care both now and in the future must be strengthened by building capacity within the system. This is done by ensuring VA has all the necessary resources, including enough doctors, nurses and other health care providers.

The Sanders-McCain bill also addresses the crisis in accountability and transparency at the VA. It is inexcusable that some employees have lied and manipulated data. The culture of the VA must change and these issues have to be dealt with immediately. The secretary must have more authority to fire or discipline high-level managers who have violated the trust that was placed in them. Our bill would do that.

Further, our legislation would provide that those veterans who live more than 40 miles from a VA facility would also have the option of getting care outside the VA. This means that some veterans who today must travel hundreds of miles for care will be able to see a doctor closer to their homes.

The VA operates the largest integrated health care system in the nation, treating nearly 6.5 million patients each year. According to veterans with whom I have spoken, veteran service organizations that represent millions of veterans, and independent studies, the quality of care provided by VA, once veterans are in the system, is good. The crisis that we currently are facing is one of access, getting veterans into the system in a reasonable period of time.

Some of my colleagues are concerned that the proposal Sen. McCain and I developed, and a similar proposal passed in the House, will cost significant sums of money. They are right. The sad truth, however, is that war is an extremely expensive proposition – in terms of human life, human suffering and financial cost. Taking care of veterans is a cost of war. It’s that simple.

Congress has been discussing the serious problems in the VA for months. Strong legislation taking care of our veterans must be passed now. It’s time for action. your social media marketing partner


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+23 # Johnny 2014-07-23 22:17
I feel so disappointed that Bernie is too cowardly to oppose continuing war, and even voted in favor of continuing the Holocaust in Gaza.
+3 # ritawalpoleague 2014-07-24 04:18
Quoting Johnny:
I feel so disappointed that Bernie is too cowardly to oppose continuing war, and even voted in favor of continuing the Holocaust in Gaza.

Sorry, Johnny. Logic 101: Assume nothing, use critical thinking/thorou gh investigative method of operating (m.o.).

Wearing both old journalist and legal hats, I have for some time been trying to answer the pleas for help that have come my way, both from desperate vets and good, ethical VA docs, nurse practitioner, dentist, pharmacists. I'll never forget the calls that came to me from the aforementioned: "Help, please help, Rita. This isn't practicing medicine." And then came "I know what he needs (referring to a fully disabled vet), but my hands are tied."

Sen. Bernie Sanders was and is the answer, to this egregious denial (after all the conning of persons into enlisting, with promises that 'You will be cared for.") Bernie, on the right committee in the U.S. Senate, needed to bring mass change into being, and has recently seen to it that info. re. massive failure of the VA's ability to quickly acknowledge vets' disabilities, and then treat/medicate and perform surgeries when needed, etc. has gone out nationally and been covered by the press (no easy task, with today's bought off and controlled in what they can cover 'mess' vs. mass media).

SANDERS PANDERS NOT, TO THE 1% (and is not a war supporter)

comment cont. below
+13 # RevOleson 2014-07-24 08:06
Unfortunately, people don't get it! The American Empires keeps expanding..350 bases in over 100 countries. The is issue is not war or peace or veterans' healthcare. This issue is the Empire which will fall as all empires do; one hopes in our lifetime.
+11 # Doubter 2014-07-24 14:14
Of course Mr. Sanders stance regarding American suffering is commendable, but even that pales in comparison to the total death, destruction and suffering caused by this government's coddling of the the pro-war imperial interests.
+3 # ritawalpoleague 2014-07-24 09:59

Sen. Bernie S. is not a warhawk. Period. But, in one of the worst jobs imaginable today (true people servers, like Sanders, angst constantly in this so broken U.S. Congress) Sanders has smart and justice and peace progressives praising him, in spite of his sometimes having to vote for bills with some things in them he does not support.

Far too frequently, members of Congress are forced to vote for bills they do not favor, due to attachments to said bills that they do support and believe are essential in meeting our needs, having been manipulated into and onto bills they do not favor.

My point: Sen. Bernie Sanders is absolutely not a warhawk, and deserves our respect and great thanks for his constant putting of people's interests first and foremost, and recently taking a major step in outing how slaughtering, disabling, and totally contemptible our endless warmode is, with profits going endlessly into pockets of the MITC (military, industrial, terrorism complex) warmongers, and, not surprising, also into the pockets of the 'fossil foolers', the 1%ers these endless wars are actually for.

What and who am I for?


2. Restoration of rights and Rule of Law (so battered by both 'W' and Oh Bomb Ah, with the signing of the 2012 NDAA)

3. Quashing of evil, villainaire takeover and environmental ruination.
+6 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2014-07-24 12:39
Why does Bernie support funding for the F-35? Because the air base in his state, Vermont, will get them @ Arlington Field.
0 # Thomas0008 2014-07-24 16:56
bernie is a war hawk. He voted to attack gaza with the other 99 criminals.
+5 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2014-07-24 09:38
Hello Bernie.He supports the F-35, a plane that doesn't fly.
+1 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2014-07-26 09:22
Bernie understands politics. "Politics is a game or science of perception." That is, "think about what I say, not about what I do."
+55 # dyannne 2014-07-23 22:34
"War is a racket," as General Smedley Butler said. The few profit. The many pay. And pay and pay and pay. Will the many ever wake up and just say hell no, we won't go?
+57 # MillValleyMaven 2014-07-23 22:34
"...we shouldn’t be sending them into war in the first place."
That says it all.
+66 # wantrealdemocracy 2014-07-23 23:22
We should stop saying they are defending us. This nation in not in danger of anyone attacking us, we are the agressor. We need to take care of things here at home and leave other nations to do the same. We need to have a strong coast guard---and that is it. Why should we have the biggest and baddest militrary force on earth? What is that about?
0 # Joe Bob 2014-08-02 11:28
Testosterone !!!
+29 # alanhaber 2014-07-24 00:26
Sanders vote to support Israel attack on Gaza, and Warren's both show how barren we are of the eldership and leadership needed for peace making. Disappointed. Its not enough to say "pay the price".
+37 # grandma lynn 2014-07-24 01:52
We seem to have an entrenched, old Roman habit of glorifying soldiers, military, war. I lately found this Thomas Mann quote about war:

"War is only a cowardly escape from the problems of peace."

We dress up soldiers in special, distinguishing clothing. What do we do to identify peace-makers? Are they our other non-war participants? Farmers? Teachers? Medical people? Journalists? Small business people delivering us goods and services?
0 # Joe Bob 2014-08-02 11:30
Don't get on Sanders or Warren, get on the hawks like McCain, Graham, Sessions etc.
+21 # Rockster 2014-07-24 02:17
This goes back ( King David was a murderer and warlord ) . Part of this is nothing more complex than an attempt of men to justify our worst , base instinct and to minimize female qualities of love, nurture and Life. Now it seems that the war maintaining business is also supported by the just pure money making lust. Bloodlust and money lust mixed with glory and phony male role teaching. No wonder we have to grow up as men and as a world.
+1 # Doubter 2014-07-24 14:00
Don't forget the lust for power; after all, 'these people' ALREADY control most of the money supply.
+30 # USAFsarge 2014-07-24 03:44
Dennis Kucinich (sp?) and Ron Paul spoke out eloquently against these wars that actually do harm to America, by causing innocent people to hate us all the more.

The best way to keep the war and human costs to a minimum is to avoid going to war where it's none of our business to intervene in a nation's affairs.

When a president orders troops and Air Force planes to fight a war, without getting a declaration of war from congress, that should be more than enough to impeach and convict that president.

James Madison was insistent on having the people declare war through their representatives . He knew all to well that kings could send soldiers into another country on a whim.

Madison also stated that we lose our freedoms when we engage in wars. Look at Bush's Patriot Act, and Obama's NDAA. They both attack our freedoms and the US Consitution.
+12 # economagic 2014-07-24 07:10
The bipartisan repeal of that clause in Article I, Section 8, by tacit agreement between Congress and the President, beginning in 1950, has been repeatedly endorsed by federal courts, most recently in Doe v. Bush (2003). John Bonifaz, the lead attorney representing the plaintiffs in that case, which included some members of Congress, some U.S. soldiers and their parents, and others, wrote a book in 2004 detailing the corrupt history of this silent but momentous step toward the "imperial presidency," or as we used to call it, "dictatorship."
0 # Joe Bob 2014-08-02 11:40
One doesn't get impeached for starting BS wars, one gets impeached because the other party has an agenda/ax to grind and they want to appeal to the phony morals of whipped up conservatives. Religious tools, all. Clinton didn't do anything any other republican hasn't done or wanted to do. Obama, My God, he's effen black and we don't let the help run the country.
Out with politicians all and let's start over.
+17 # Carol R 2014-07-24 05:35
When are humans going to mature enough to realize that killing, and more killing, is not the answer. How much money is being made by creating more intense killing machines? How much damage to life and property is enough?

When will this destructive money be used instead to help people? Health care, hospitals, schools, roads, jobs and pure drinking water would mean people are doing more than barely surviving.

Our world can be better but only if humans move in a different direction. Only mankind spends so much energy, creativity and money on discovering ways to kill its own species.

End the continuing destruction and stop the killing.
+17 # Interested Observer 2014-07-24 06:33
About the same time that humans also realize that birthing and more birthing is not the answer.
+10 # Johnny 2014-07-24 09:31
The problem is that for the one percent "killing and more killing" IS the answer. To the one percent, the purpose of human society is the enrichment of the oligarchy and perpetuation of its hegemony. Only fools like you and me think it should be for providing "health care, hospitals, schools, roads, jobs and pure drinking water."
+21 # Carol R 2014-07-24 05:52
Where are the statistics and photos of innocent people suffering? If American Veterans are having problems getting medical care, how much worse is it for people we have bombed in underdeveloped countries to get help. For them, medical care is nonexistent. Where is our collective compassion for other humans?

The destruction of livelihoods and killing of innocent people is certainly not going to win friends around the world. We are now the aggressive country and big money is being made by corporations who want wars to continue.
+16 # cwbystache 2014-07-24 05:57
I don't see the "problems" on the southern Border being much scrutinized under the light of the Border Patrol--"the nation's largest police force"--being a major absorber of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. I listened in disgust to the coverage early this morning on NPR of the abuse of children by agents if not the Agency itself. Is this a coincidence:

In a meeting with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano last year, The American Legion's national commander at the time, David K. Rehbein, was assured that the hiring of military veterans was among her agency's top priorities. "We anticipate many openings for border patrol agents," she said. "Young veterans would be perfect for that job."
--"U.S. Border Patrol recruiting Iraq, Afghanistan veterans"

What a great laboratory the Fertile Crescent was for these guys to hone their methods and harden their attitudes towards the Other and the Great Unwashed.
+11 # cwbystache 2014-07-24 06:07
just found this:

Veterans comprise 28.8 percent of border patrol and are highly recruited, having shown themselves to be effective in these positions. Greatly increasing the number of border patrol agents, and the hiring of veterans, would allow the United States to have highly trained security at the borders without violating the Posse Comitatus Act.
--"Hire Veterans to Secure U.S. Border"
(in Yahoo's forum of "big ideas" that will cure the ills of the United States.)
+20 # Peace Anonymous 2014-07-24 07:22
I believe that if more Americans understood US foreign policy we would all discover exactly why America has an $800 billion defense budget. War is created to maintain that budget while, at the same time, American corporations gain control of natural resources, drugs, and other valuable commodities throughout primarily the 3rd world. In Iraq companies like Halliburton filled one pocket with American tax dollars and now fill the other with Iraqi oil profits.
Incidentally Halliburton's International Head Office is in the Cayman Islands so you also know exactly how much they are putting back.
If Americans knew the whole truth you'd soon shut off CNN and FOX - its nothing more than reality TV ad propaganda.
+14 # fredboy 2014-07-24 07:37
Not to mention the cost of your F-35.
Imagine how many vets we could help with the money being wasted on that project?
+1 # Thomas0008 2014-07-24 17:04
sanders and warren support the terrorist leaders of Israel. PERIOD! They are war criminals who say all the right things to play to peoples emotions and fears, just like the liar obama. WAKE THE HELL UP FOLKS, WE DO NOT NEED MORE LYING WAR CRIMINALS IN ANY OFFICE OF OUR GOVERNMENT...
+1 # geohorse 2014-07-26 07:00
Anyone who supports Israel is either a war monger or at the mercy of the lobby and campaign money that comes with it. I don't think these same people are a whole lot more critical of China in it trashing of the Tibetan people/culture/ resources due to fear of getting on the wrong side of power. Until someone can come along and take this behavior on, and not get assassinated by bullets,plane crashes, press, politics, etc. they it will rule us whether we like it or not.
0 # Hey There 2014-07-31 23:42

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