Hey kids, the GOP suddenly cares about vets!

Fresh from its new-found concern for American diplomats — you’ll recall that up until September 11, 2012, Republicans hated the State Department and regularly accused American diplomats of all being communists — the Republican party has now discovered Veterans!

(One pines for the day that the GOP also discovers women, gays, blacks, Latinos, and immigrants. But I digress.)

In light of the recent news that Veterans Administration hospitals are still having serious problems — we first reported on the problems at the VA back in the Bush days, when Republicans cared a lot less about the issue — the GOP is launching a new Web site to ask Americans to share their VA horror stories. (It’s as of yet unclear what the Republicans plan to do with the stories dated pre-2009.)

A wonderful story about some runners spontaneously thanking a 95 y.o. WWII vet.

A wonderful story about some runners spontaneously thanking a 95 y.o. WWII vet.

Unlike the GOP leadership in Washington, some of us were concerned about Vets before it was cool. We, for examle, wrote about the Pulitzer-prize winning Washington Post series about the horrendous conditions at Walter Reed back in 2007. They’re horrific stories.  And clearly, by the news reports, problems at the VA continue. And they must be addressed.

But man it’s tiring hearing all the outrage from people who seem far more interested in scoring political points than actually fixing problems. Otherwise they’d have cared about veterans, the deficit, and diplomats when their guy was president. And they didn’t. Not nearly as much as they do now.

And it’s not just vets. We Democrats tend to care about our troops even before they’re retired, in the same way we already cared about US diplomats back when they were still alive. We worry about silly things like funding diplomatic security, or getting our troops the body armor they need — at AMERICAblog, we actually raised over $5,000 to make sure some US troops in Iraq had the body armor they needed. A blog shouldn’t have had to have a virtual bake sale to equip our troops.

And let’s not forget the way the GOP viscerally loathed NYC until September 11, 2001, when suddenly, after 3,000 Americans were dead, the Republican party’s vocal disdain for New York went down the memory hole.

Of course, there are more ways than body armor to care about the troops.  You can show you care by not sending them into a war based on a lie, for example.

You can show them that you respect their sacrifice, and that you will honor the extraordinary commitment they’ve shown to their country, by ensuring that if you send them to war, it won’t be for made-up reasons.

And then, once we’re at war, you won’t let political-ADD distract shift your gaze to yet another war while our men and women are still counting on you for the war they’re already (and still) fighting.

There are lots of important and necessary ways to show the troops we care. And if the Veterans Administration is still doing a bad job, heads should roll.  But making the troops political pawns when it’s convenient, and ignoring them every time your party takes over the White House, isn’t one of them.


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Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • bpollen

    The best way to deal with our men and women in uniform is to not put them in harms way without a DAMN good reason, and then do your very best to take care of them properly when they come home. That these chicken-hawk armchair-quarterback motherFUCKERS use them as pawns to further their political ambitions and increase profits for their owners infuriates me so much that I could just spit! Honorless is about the nicest thing that could be said about them. I wouldn’t piss on Richard Burr if he was on fire.

  • Indigo

    Yes, of course. That’s the only sensible approach. “Problemsolvedmoveon”? Not happening in this system, there is no moving on.

  • Indigo

    Amazing, isn’t it? Maybe it’s something in the water . . . ?

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    And how sad that forgetfulness can be counted upon with near 100% reliability.

  • 4th Turning

    8 yrs. ago, an eternity these days.

    Well, I know about a health care system that has been highly successful in containing costs, yet provides excellent care. And the story of this system’s success provides a helpful corrective to anti-government ideology. For the government doesn’t just pay the bills in this system — it runs the hospitals and clinics.

    No, I’m not talking about some faraway country. The system in question is our very own Veterans Health Administration, whose success story is one of the best-kept secrets in the American policy debate.

    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=F20717FC3A5B0C748EDDA80894DE404482

    The glee Republicans are experiencing these days over the scandal in the Veterans Administration medical system is palpable, not just because it gives them another excuse to criticize President Obama, but because it’s a big opportunity for their favorite project: Privatization. Sen. John McCain writes in the Wall Street Journal, “Continuing to require that [veterans] rely on a system riddled with dysfunction, while waiting for broader reform, is patently unacceptable.”

    So here’s their chance, they think. They can call for veterans to receive care in private facilities, which the government would pay for. Eventually, as more and more patients go elsewhere, the existing hospitals and clinics could get less and less funding and eventually go away. And just like seniors hate the idea of privatizing Social Security and Medicare, veterans don’t want it.

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/05/28/1302684/-Republican-answer-to-VA-scandal-completely-predictable-nbsp-Privatize#

  • nicho

    Institute single-payer, universal heath care. Problem solved. Move on.

  • pappyvet

    For the repubes , the Vets are nothing to care about. They use the vets for votes just like they use the religious right.

  • Indigo

    It’s touching how the Republican Party regulars trust the forgetfulness of the American public.

  • BillFromDover

    How sad is it that the VA (perhaps) wouldn’t have been so grossly overloaded in the first place fighting a war, where the troops were broken, based on manufactured (not faulty) intelligence?

    How many times has the VA come before congress warning about the ever-increasing wait times for veterans health care due to the laws of supply and demand: too many needing help vs too few resources ( both doctors and facilities) and pleading for an increase in their budget to handle this travesty only to be handed a few crumbs and told to go back and do their fuckin’ jobs and quit whining?

    And why is anyone, all of a sudden surprised to find out about vets dying for lack of any access to the overloaded system as we’ve known about this problem for decades?

    And how does congress respond? Instead of appropriating anything close to the funds necessary to alleviate this debacle, they pass a law mandating that the VA give access to a primary care doctor within two weeks of the request from a vet.

    Assuming the average wait time was already about a year and a half, how in fucking hell does congress expect this to be accomplished?

    Now just for shits and grins, throw into the mix that finally… finally someone has ruled that possibly… just possibly that Agent Orange could have maybe… just maybe, caused some health problems in Vietnam vets, so now these faux conservative heroes can also have access to the VA system. Can anybody see what could lead to longer wait times in an already laughably system where the ratio of the needed help to the help givers is already freakishly skewed?

    Not to single out conservatives in this mess, but who is the party of God, apple pie and supporting these fine, fine Americans on their way to fabricated wars, but are so loath to offer them anything when they return missing pieces-parts. Is it not like discarding a broken toy and replacing it with another?

    And all the congresspeople calling for Shinseki’s head before even a preliminary investigation is completed, I offer you this:

    Not only are you industrial-strength hypocrites, but you are also the most disgusting, contemptible, reprehensible body in the history of forever for covering your own asses while attempting to deflect blame on others for a problem that you created.

    And now you are screaming at decibels not heard since the eruption of Mount Vesuvius to jail those responsible for this… take a look in a fucking mirror!

  • emjayay

    How conveeeeeenient.

  • Elijah Shalis

    It is a major problem and Congress does not want to fund the VA adequately or do proper over sight.

  • bkmn

    The usual GOP answer to everything is to privatize it, in this case the VA.

    The left needs to stop the right from getting away with pushing the idea that privatizing will cost less. It won’t because it will be privatized, which also means for PROFIT. The US government, and in this case the VA operates on very thin budgets that put most hospitals to shame.

    The only way the costs can be cut is by cutting services, which is not appropriate treatment for people that risked their life in service to this country.

    The VA has issues but I would hope that Shinseki stays in office. The vets groups want him there.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    As recently as February, Senate Republicans blocked a VA and veterans benefits bill.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/veterans-benefits-bill-blocked-in-senate/

    Reasons? They demanded to attach Iran sanctions to it, objected to its funding sources (even though it was paid for), and claimed the bill tried to do too much.

    The bill would have expanded benefits and services to veterans, including increasing eligibility for Department of Veterans Affairs health care, opening new facilities, restoring full cost-of-living increases to military retiree pensions, expanding education programs and even offering reproductive treatment and adoption assistance for severely wounded veterans, among other things.

    But Republicans were concerned about how the bill was paid for: a large chunk of the its funding came from the $1 trillion in federal funds that the government is authorized to spend over the next 10 years to fight terrorism. Sanders argued that it’s fair to use war funds to pay for people who are hurt in those wars; Republicans say there aren’t real savings achieved by the bill because that funding wouldn’t have been spent as America’s commitments abroad wind down in the coming years.

    The hypocrisy, it burns.

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