Scandal Backfires as Veterans Groups Rip Republicans for Politicizing Problems At the VA

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Veterans-salute

Sen. Richard Burr tried to politicize the VA scandal by criticizing the veterans groups for not calling for the resignation of Secretary Shinseki. Veterans groups responded by blistering Burr and Congress for politicizing the scandal.

In a letter to the vets groups, Sen. Burr (R-NC) wrote, “First and foremost, I must recognize and commend the American Legion, National Commander Dan Dellinger, and the American Legion team for taking a principled stand, before the hearing and during it, and calling for leadership change at the VA. It is clear that the Legion has been listening to its membership about the challenges they face in gaining access to care, and has reached the conclusion that “enough is enough” and the status quo is indefensible. The Legion’s membership has much to be proud of with the organization they support.

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Regrettably, the Legion was alone among the VSOs that testified in taking such a stand. It became clear at the hearing that most of the other VSOs attending appear to be more interested in defending the status quo within VA, protecting their relationships within the agency, and securing their access to the Secretary and his inner circle. But to what end? What use is their access to senior VA staff, up to and including the Secretary, if they do not use their unprecedented access to a Cabinet Secretary to secure timely access to care for their membership? What hope is there for change within the VA if those closest to the agency don’t use that proximity for the good of veterans across our country?”

The VFW responded with their own letter that blistered both Burr and those who are looking to politicize the problems at the VA:

This letter is in response to the open letter you made available for distribution late Friday, May, 23, 2014. First and foremost Senator, I will afford you the same amount of respect you demonstrated for the Veterans of Foreign Wars by the monumental cheap-shot and posturing you’ve engaged in by enlisting in an absolutely disgusting ambush style of politics. Without the courtesy or benefit of conversation or dialogue with me or the VFW Adjutant General regarding your disagreement with VFW’s recent testimony to your committee, you chose instead to take the low road and question VFW’s motives and levy a pejorative personal attack on VFW staff. Senator, this is clearly one of the most dishonorable and grossly inappropriate acts that we’ve witnessed in more than forty years of involvement with the veteran community and breaches the standards of the United States Senate. Your allegations are ugly and mean-spirited in every sense of the words and are profoundly wrong, both logically and morally. Quite frankly Senator, you should be ashamed.

Clearly, you were not listening during VFW’s testimony. Nowhere did we suggest that we were interested in protecting anyone. I suggest you read the transcript. We find it especially specious that you seek to point fingers without at least an acknowledgement of some responsibility by Congress in all of this. Your assumption that we do not listen to what our members have to say is insulting. We spend most of the year traveling to and visiting VFW Posts world-wide. We have direct contact and speak at length with our members. We listen. And what you should know is this; that there is huge, and growing sentiment within most of the veteran community regarding the inaction of Congress, because they are keenly aware, (if the past is any guide), they will enact no budget, no regular appropriations bills, nor other key legislation.

If we’ve been remiss in anything Senator, we’ve been remiss in being too polite with Congress. For years, the VFW has come to Congress with hat in hand and for years, we’ve heard the same old story. You can be assured Senator, that you’ve done a superb job in showing us the error in our ways. You can also be assured that in the future, we will spend a substantial percentage of our time seeking to inform our members and our constituents of the repeated failure to act by our elected officials. We will not stand by and let our members be distracted by rhetoric or finger-pointing and we certainly won’t abide our veterans being used as political footballs. And you can be sure that we will let our membership know the low-regard you hold for their organization.

The president of the Paralyzed Veterans of America wrote to Burr, “I write to express our deepest disappointment with the actions that you took leading into the Memorial Day weekend. Your “open” letter to all veterans clearly displays why the vast majority of the American public puts no faith in their elected officials to do what is right for this country. You truly should be ashamed for being so bold as to challenge veterans’ service organizations (VSO) and the veterans who represent our organizations on a weekend when we clearly know more about what the holiday represents than you do. Your attitude and actions reflects great discredit upon the United States Senate and every member of Congress should be embarrassed by your “open” letter. Only a politician would be so bold as to believe he or she knows better what veterans want and need than actual veterans themselves. You clearly represent the worst of politics in this country.”

The Republican attempts to turn the issues at the VA into a partisan scandal have completely backfired.
Republicans have finally done it. Their extreme partisanship has finally managed to turn veterans’ groups against them. The vets’  groups want their legitimate concerns with the VA addressed, and Sen. Burr’s letter was completely out of line. Burr was insulting veterans by demanding that they join the Republican lynch mob, or else.

Republicans have long suffered from the delusion that all vets are Republicans. Sen. Burr’s unwarranted attack on vets groups was rooted in the idea that veterans should automatically support the Republican Party. All vets aren’t Republicans, and it doesn’t matter what their political leanings are.

When a member of our military is in a life and death situation, they don’t see Democrats and Republicans standing beside them in battle. It should be no different when our people come home, and need the medical care that they were promised.

This isn’t a Democratic or Republican scandal. This is an American scandal. If Republicans insist on putting partisan politics ahead of our vets, they shouldn’t be surprised when veterans choose to the same on Election Day this November.

21 Replies to “Scandal Backfires as Veterans Groups Rip Republicans for Politicizing Problems At the VA”

  1. Typical Response from the Republicans fire the staff and ask questions later. Blow the problem into a scandal and have FOX lie to the public that the only solution is Privatizing the VA so corporations can take more money away from our system of supporting our Veterans. WE KNOW: Republicans blocked Veterans Benefits Bill in 2014 – Wouldn’t expand healthcare and education programs for veterans and build 27 new medical facilities that would’ve helped alleviate patient wait times, because they couldn’t tack on an amendment sanctioning Iran. WE KNOW: Republicans cut funding for the Veterans Administration Budget, already a $2 billion funding shortfall. WE KNOW: The answer to the problem is fund the VA. WE KNOW privatizing the VA is not an option as study after study shows that privatizing public services only hurts the people. Study 2006 : VA Hospitals vs. Private Sector Hospitals http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2006/08/va_hospitals_vs.html

  2. Sen Burr is your typical chickenhawk. Voted no to end the deployments in Iraq. Voted NO on VA funding and he never ever served his country. How dare he but like all republicans they are nothing but hypocrites

  3. Our veterans and military has no worse enemy than the republican party who has no loyalty to the nation, no love of country, and no patriotism. I hope veterans work hard this year to defeat their republican enemies, and help get those republican enemies voted out of office in November.

  4. Just how much more does the GOP have to do before ALL recognize that the GOP hates Veterans. Oh yes some will jump to try to say no way but do the research yourself. The GOP has done all in their power to not help Veterans, Why? That one is easy the Veteran is not a Military Industrial Complex Corporation that lines the GOP pockets with $$$. The other reason, the GOP hates anything to do with the GOVERNMENT and all Veterans are classified as Government employees to the GOP. You know Government Issue (GI) despised by the GOP.
    I hope that All Veterans realize that if they vote for any GOP member they are voting for someone that backs policies that try to destroy Veterans.

  5. Naw. The average age is about 58. In other words the rethuglican base. The said nothing when they attack Max Cleland or John Kerry and when the house negro Allen West questioned Tammy Duckworth a double amputee patriotism nothing but crickets. That’s why they don’t get a penny from me

  6. Well said, Ronda! Damn well said! I suspect you are as sick of your intelligence being insulted as I am! Am I right?

  7. Finally, the vets have called the republicans out but it will fall on deaf ears. They pretend that when everyone is preaching to the republicans they really mean democrats like when everyone voting for the president they were really voting for Romney. You remember those rigged voting machine they had in PA didn’t worked and they thought Romney won the election.

  8. Someone should inform senator moron that the Amerikan Legion does not listen to it’s membership, because if it did, it would be demanding a congressional investigation into the state of Israel’s attack on the USS Liberty in 1967 which led to the death of 34 US sailors and the wounding of over a hundred more!

  9. While they were denying funding for the VA, I think they insisted on funding for the tank that the military does not use, want or need and also for planes that are not needed, that would be for the people that pay them like GE’and the military industrial complex who they love more than the veterans.

  10. 1999 In spite of warnings from the VA that their hospitals were in crisis, Republicans who controlled Congress blocked a bill to increase VA health care funding.

    2003 Bush administration budget cuts force 200,000 to wait six months for health care.

    2003 Bush cuts $2 billion in veteran’s health care.

    2003 Bush cut $1½ billion of veteran’s funding.

    2004 Bush cuts another $2 billion.

    2007 Bush vetos HR 1591 that would have increased the VA’s health care spending.

    2010 Republicans filibuster a bill that would have provided benefits for homeless veterans.

    2011 Republicans filibuster jobs bill that would have provided incentives for businesses to hire returning veterans.

    2011 Republican Michelle Bachman proposes cutting $4.5 billion from the VA, including capping health care benefits and cutting disability payments.

    2012 Republicans block a bill that would have helped create jobs for returning Iraq and Afghanistan vets.

    2012 Republicans block a bill that …

  11. How about that? The Fascist GOP bastards are getting their comeuppance from the guys they used as pawns in their Fascist schemes…poetic justice….

  12. During the Cheney/Bush administration I remember seeing a news report where several members of veterans organizations were on the stage with Cheney. The average age of the vets was at least 70 and above.

    You would have thought that these veterans had died and gone to heaven with the way they were swooning over 5 Deferment Dick.

    Could not believe my eyes

  13. Republicans LOVE SOLDIERS… but they HATE VETERANS. soldiers are off doing the bidding of the power structure…once veterans they become part of the 47% of takers…

    vets… stop voting for people who hate the fact that you SURVIVED…

    jesus.

  14. Not to mention, soldiers might not come home and tell the rest of us how poorly they were treated “over there”, and their spouses and families don’t dare complain that the food stamps they need to feed their families don’t go as far as they used to considering their loss of “imminent danger pay”. Now, how’d that happen again?

  15. Is anybody surprised that conservatives are using this scandal to spread their anti-socialism propaganda? That is what conservatives do. When a party is for nothing more then tax cuts for the rich it’s easy for them to sit back and wait for a chance to attack everything they abhor. Conservatives care nothing about the poor veterans who were victimized. They see a golden chance to use this tragedy to turn Americans against universal healthcare. Sadly it might work.

  16. republicans are blaming Obama for the VA mess. Arizona republican Senator John McCain has known about this problem for years and did NOTHING. Why don’t the republicans start by kicking McCain out of the Senate for failing to do his job and protect these vets? At least 40 veterans died under the nose of John McCain and the tea party state of Arizona. How about the San Antonio VA and the tea party members of Texas like Ted Cruz that turned his back on the veterans while they died without treatment? Just look at the list of VA hospitals involved in this cover-up and look at the republican Congressmen that have turned their backs when the vets cried out for help. Let’s fire the republicans for voting last week to deny funds for veterans and the VA!

  17. I know as a veteran that it is extremely frustrating that a singular bill with one agenda veterans administration cannot come up in congress for a vote without some other items being attached. What is the problem. It is congresss….

    This is not just a single party issue this is a problem whomever is in control of the legislature and the senate. We have seen it for years.

    When will Americans decide enough is enough and demand a true bill for veterans be voted on.

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