I have been an avid supporter of Barack Obama even before he declared his candidacy on that cold February morning in 2007, a day of hope and expectation. Now it is another cold day in America, when our hope has turned to dust. ("At least for now, Obama stands by VA Secretary Eric Shinseki," May 21)
What a bitter irony that President Obama has worked so hard to provide healthcare for millions of previously uninsured Americans and yet has left our veterans to flounder in a ruinous system.
The president must act now by executive order to provide immediate medical care in the private sector for those veterans who are still awaiting services. They must not be put on hold any longer while investigations and reforms take place.
This is sad for all Americans and a tragedy for our veterans. The president must act for immediate medical care for all veterans now — a proud way to celebrate Memorial Day.
The to-do about the Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals and calls for Secretary Erik K. Shinseki's ouster reminded me of Theodore Roosevelt's "Citizenship in a Republic" speech, in which he said:
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena."
One must visit the Westwood VA hospital and experience the crowding that resembles a New York subway station at rush hour.
Shinseki, the man in the arena, is not the problem. The problem lies with the never-take-responsibility big-mouths in Congress who know only how to criticize, not to provide the necessary resources to do the job properly.
Karl F. Schmid
The VA must change its entire culture. There is so much negative energy that some veterans prefer to be homeless or ill rather than access services.
Walking into a VA hospital is worse than going to the post office and the DMV. At least with the latter two, by the end of the business day you will get service.
Having had recent experience with both the Phoenix and Westwood VA hospitals, I found the people professional and considerate. However, it helps to go early and often, and use polite, persistent persuasion.
The VA is like the DMV: There are many overworked staff members who lack interpersonal skills. You cannot go there with an attitude, but you have to be politely insistent.
This Memorial Day, remembering that there are 22 veteran suicides each day, the public needs to examine its conscience and priorities. Do we really need the huge military/industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned us about? If so, be prepared to pay the price.
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