Monday, May 26, 2014

Veteran's Administration Perspective

I'm not going to say that the screw up that is the Veteran's Administration isn't horrible and doesn't need major fixes. I will say it's not new. The VA has been for most of its history failing to serve ex-servicemembers.

World War II
Immediately after World War II, President Harry Truman appointed Gen. Omar Bradley to clean up the VA. Bradley was second only to Dwight Eisenhower in the pantheon of American WWII generals. Bradley, in turn, brought in Eisenhower's theater surgeon, Major General Paul Hawley, who described the VA medical care system as "medieval."

Korean War
Many soldiers suffered frostbite during the bitter winter battles. The VA didn't recognize the long term effects of battle related frostbite until 1997, 45 years after the was ended.

Vietnam War
The generals in this war thought it would be easier to fight if they turned the country into a parking lot so they spread the herbicide all over the place. Symptoms of Agent Orange poisoning followed the veterans home but the Pentagon didn't want to admit they had engaged in chemical warfare in Vietnam. Therefore, the VA spent decades denying help to Vietnam War vets. Again, it wasn't until the Clinton Administration that the VA changed.

In the 1980's a close friend was being treated for cancer at a VA hospital. They were doing a royally shitty job of it and she was dying. Then her husband took her out of the VA system and paid thousand of dollars for private treatment and she went into remission.

I don't know what conclusions we can draw from this. But it is true that Pentagon generals and congressmen prefer spending money on fancy new weapons and rather think that investing in wounded warriors isn't very showy.

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