Here is a statement that is sure to terrify Republicans. On MSNBC today, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) discussed how the nation has a war problem, not a VA problem.
Towards the end of the interview with Andrea Mitchell, Sen. Sanders said, “The bottom line here, I would hope that as a country, is that we fully understand the cost of war. And Andrea let me tell you, I think many people do not. We’re not just talking about the thousands of people who died in Iraq and Afghanistan. We’re talking about 200,000 men and women who came home with PTSD and TBI. We’re talking about people who came home without legs, without arms, without hearing, and without eyesight, and if this country stands for anything, what we have got to say is that we are going to provide adequate funding to make sure that every person who is entitled to those healthcare services gets the best healthcare they can and they get it in a timely manner.”
Senate Republicans blocked a bill that would have built 27 new VA facilities and clinics in February. Sen. Sanders is working with the White House to bring the bill to improve care for our vets back, but Republicans like Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) are already complaining about the $2.1 billion a year cost for ten years. In an exchange with Sen. Rubio on the Senate floor, Sen. Sanders said, “If you think it’s too expensive to take care of our veterans then don’t send them to war.”
Sen. Sanders has been talking about the one thing that Republicans do not want to discuss. Congressional Republicans want to act as if the issues at the VA are completely independent of the two wars that they started in the last decade. Our nation promises our military personnel medical care. Republicans are trying to break that promise by acting like the million plus American troops wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan have nothing to do with the problems at the VA.
There wouldn’t be as much of a backlog if Republicans weren’t so intent on creating more wounded vets.
The long term solution to this problem is an adequately funded VA that handle the influx of patients. The common sense solution suggests that there wouldn’t be a backlog if the VA were adequately staffed and funded. The culture of the VA bureaucracy needs to be reformed, but the system also needs to be funded and expanded in order to keep up with increasing demand.
Republicans don’t want to hear this, but wars create veterans, and veterans need medical care. This is why the VA is symptom of America’s war problem.