(NNPA)—In 2003, we were lied into a war with Iraq. Just about everyone now admits that. At the same time that we were being lied into the war, the then Bush administration was cutting benefits to veterans. This was such an odd set of circumstances. At a point when the U.S. was preparing for war, at a point when one must expect casualties, the Bush administration cut benefits.
The current crisis in the Department of Veterans Affairs, which has been described as a situation of long waits, in some cases allegedly leading to the deaths of patients, cannot be understood in the absence of a discussion of funding cuts, insufficient funding, and retaliation against workers who have identified the depth of the problems at the VA. In fact, it is fair to say that many of the most vocal critics of the VA, on the Republican side of the aisle, were equally unwilling to fund the VA to the extent that it has needed funding. Why?
The VA gets very high marks from veterans for the actual service that it delivers. Their expertise with physical, emotional and psychological wounds and injuries simply cannot be matched in the non-VA health care systems. It is, in effect, one stop shopping. This, however, is an anathema to many conservatives who wish to see all healthcare privatized. It is for that reason that in the midst of the current VA crisis, there are those who are suggesting a voucher-like system for veterans rather than actually fixing the problems. These critics would rather dismantle the VA and hand out vouchers, than repair a system that has worked for thousands of veterans.