Tag Archives: Shinseki

VA Leader Emphasizes He Serves Veterans Needs

One of the ignored issues of the George Bush administration was its failure to respect and honor the needs of those who served. During his initial years in office, Bush did little to enhance the ability of the Veterans Administration to expand counseling services to those who had been in combat. Newly appointed VA Secretary Eric Shinseki who was a former combat soldier and chief of the American armed forces, sent an open letter to all veterans in which he made clear, “the Department of Veterans Affairs has a solemn responsibility to all of you, today and in the future.” He promised to reorganize the department so it could more effectively serve needs of veterans. Joe Davis of the VFW said he was pleased the leader of the VA, “is communicating in simply language that his customers are his No. 1 priority and the reason his department exists.”

Too often the past few years veterans have been ignored even in death when President Bush would not allow pictures of those who died.

Time For A Change At The Veterans Administration

Among the great tragedies that occurred during the Bush administration was ignoring the needs of those who served their country. Initially, even as Bush plunged the nation into war, he cut VA staff and money allocated to a variety of issues such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. There was a nonchalant attitude in the VA regarding emerging issues facing those who were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and ongoing sloppy administrative work toward ensuring veterans were paid. The level of income necessary for services fell to a low amount of yearly income which meant many veterans no longer were eligible for VA services.

Newly appointed Veterans Administration head, former General Eric Shinseki, promised to completely overhaul the entire organization and make it veteran friendly. He told Congress the wait time for disability payment results would be sharply reduced from the current six month delay. It is fortunate the VA now has as its head a man who served the nation rather than a politician who does the bidding of the president.

Attacking Iran– Last Option, Says Armed Forces Head

As rumors continue circulating around Washington D.C. about a secret Dick Cheney plan to attack Iran, Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said U.S. officials should consider the damage that could result from initiating a new war in the Middle East. H also added that military options could not be taken off the table. He specifically noted it was ‘a last option.” Mullen believes the focus now should be on “bringing together the international community that is constructive, not destructive.” he also commented on a lesson he had learned from fighting in Iraq– there is need to have agencies like USAID receive funding that is larger.

The choice of words by Admiral Mullen is instructive. He uses expressions like “last option” and urges “bringing together the international community” in dealing with Iran. Ironically, the Bush administration is following the opposite path of ignoring the international community and considering air strikes as a first option. One can only hypothesize from his words there is not overwhelming support among American military leaders about attacking Iran. They understand such action would place unbearable strains on existing forces and raise renewed demands for a drafty system. Hopefully, unlike in Iraq when Bush and Rumsfeld ignored the advice of General Shinseki who wanted more troops in Iraq, this time Bush will listen carefully to the advice of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.