Promises to Keep 

Promises to Keep

An article in the January 31 Newsweek describes the brouhaha over the proposed shuttering of some older VA hospitals around the country, including one near Waco and the President's Crawford estate. This hospital happens to have the only VA post traumatic stress disorder ward in Texas. Though there are other VA hospitals in the state, none are set up to handle the potential 1000 new PTSD cases that Texas alone is likely to see as a result of the Iraq war. Bush's advice to VA director Anthony Principi was to not worry about politics in making his decision, but rather to do what's right.

That sounds like the right answer, but you have to keep in mind the President's perspective. The "politics" he referred to was the hue and cry of veterans' groups and state and National Texas legislators objecting to the closure. "What's right" in Bush's mind would be what would save the most money.

This is an issue that every keyboard-flogging magnetic-yellow-ribbon-on-the-car flag-waving Bush-voting I-support-the-troops-boasting right-wing pundit out there ought to be getting behind, loudly and often. This one is a no-brainer. At any time, but particularly in a time of war, when newly injured soldiers are being minted every day, the lid should come off the VA budget. It doesn't make sense to me that, as it was phrased in the article, the VA budget "has not kept pace with inflation and rising costs." Inflation and rising costs? Those are their worries? What about increased long-term demand for VA services? When the President can send a request for $100 billion to Capitol Hill to finance the Iraq disaster without feeling the least bit remorseful or at least sheepish, there should be no objection from anybody in any branch of government to providing the VA with what it needs to perform its mission.

I have a friend whose son, a Marine Lieutenant, is currently stationed near Mosul. Last year, while still stationed near San Diego, he learned from a friend working in a VA hospital back east that soldiers in her ward were sharing old broken down television sets, or in many cases, just doing without entertainment. He got on line and started finding and buying inexpensive TVs and VCRs and having them shipped to his friend's hospital. His initiative and generosity are admirable, but it seems to me that they should have been unnecessary. We owe nobody a greater debt than those who have shed blood in our name. More people who support our President and his war, both in and out of government, need to learn this lesson.

The hospital in Texas will stay open for now, along with other threatened VA hospitals throughout the country. A $9.6 million study has been commissioned, to be completed next year, to evaluate whether and which hospitals should be closed. The choice shouldn't be based on what the government can afford, however. It should be based on how most effectively and efficiently the various VA hospitals and clinics around the country can serve their patients. When we, and by this I mean the US Government, sends our young men and women overseas to fight, we make a promise to them that we will take care of them, that injuries they suffer will be treated by the finest care available. This is a lesson men like Bush and Cheney need to learn before sending troops into harm's way.

Return to Main Page


Add Comment

On This Site

  • About this site
  • Main Page
  • Most Recent Comments
  • Complete Article List
  • Sponsors

Search This Site

Syndicate this blog site

Powered by BlogEasy

Free Blog Hosting