While I’m glad that the inadequacies of the VA system are finally getting some much needed attention, the way some have tried to turn our failure to take care of our vets into a partisan issue is nauseating.
The harsh reality is that Republicans and Democrats alike are both equally guilty of screwing over our veterans. This is a problem that’s sadly been systemic throughout our history.
For Republicans to sit there and act like these new scandals are all President Obama’s fault is truly pathetic. Especially when you consider just a couple of months ago a bill to expand health care and education for veterans was blocked in the Senate by Republicans! Not only was it blocked, but Republicans tried to add some unrelated sanctions on Iran to the bill causing even more partisan gridlock for a bill that should have been passed with unanimous support.
Jon Stewart decided to weigh in on this issue last night, pointing out several instances throughout our history (dating back to the Revolutionary War) where this country has screwed over our veterans.
He started out with a memo Obama received from the Bush administration warning of the difficulty veterans faced in receiving timely access to health care.
This led him to showing Bill O’Reilly’s exchange with Karl Rove where O’Reilly hammered Rove’s hypocrisy trying to defend the issues the VA faced under Bush. Rove essentially tried to pump sunshine on the Bush administration while blaming the entire mess on President Obama. Even when O’Reilly pointed to the memo the Bush administration sent Obama about the issues with the VA scheduling, Rove unsuccessfully tried to talk over the Fox News host, saying that this memo was somehow generated by Democrats to Obama.
Yes, because it makes perfect sense that Democrats sent a memo from the Bush administration about VA scheduling issues.
But Stewart went back even further to 1988 where the VA told researchers to under report hospitals that had an inordinately high mortality rate.
Then he went back to the 60’s when the military used Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, which we now know caused cancer and nervous system damage. Then he mentioned how the Reagan administration denied that this chemical had anything to do with cancer or nervous system damage in our veterans. A fact that would only finally be admitted 20 years after the Reagan had administration denied that there was a link.
But he went back even further to 1932 where 10,000 World War I veterans marched on Washington to get bonuses they had been promised 15 years earlier. These veterans were subsequently met with tear gas and tanks while members of Congress cowardly escaped out back doors.
Though why stop there, right? Stewart then went back to 1783 where a group of Revolutionary War vets took members of Congress hostage over pensions and backpay that they had been promised – actions that led the soldiers to being sentenced to death. Sentences that were later commuted.
Stewart concluded the segment on a serious note saying, “Let’s pretend that this current VA crisis is an anomaly created by one unusually callous and ineffective president, but that would just be pretend. Or, on this Memorial Day Weekend Eve, we can finally admit that America has had, for over 200 years, a great bipartisan tradition of honoring those who have fought for our freedom by f*cking them over once they give their guns back.”
And he’s absolutely right.
The problem with the VA doesn’t start with these horrific revelations that have recently come to light. This country has a long tradition of proudly saying “we support our troops,” but forgetting about them once they take off their uniform.
It’s a tradition that we desperately need to put an end to right now.
Watch the segment below, via The Daily Show: