Well, I guess it’s official now. VA auditors have “officially” determined that our nation’s military veterans are waiting too long for appointments at VA hospitals. Money well spent, I’m sure. Of course, it’s old news to those of us who have served and are trying to get in the VA system.
My father served in the Navy during the Korean War and was injured. Like many vets, he was discharged and never took advantage of his benefits until the pain set in years later, and the medical bills started to mount. His journey in the VA system during the ’70’s and early ’80’s was painfully slow, taking nearly five years to obtain a disability rating as a result of his injuries.
He died in 1985 while I was serving in the Navy. I swore then that I would never enter a VA hospital again.
Fast forward 28 years. I’m fortunate that I have a good-paying job and good medical insurance, but after racking up nearly $5,000 in co-payments for treatment of injuries received in the Navy, I decided to enter the VA system on May 15, 2013. My first visit with a doctor was scheduled for April 23, — 11 months after I filed four claims. Thank God I didn’t have a life-threatening condition. I will say the doctors I met with were very professional, so I do not pin any of the blame on them.
Every president and every congressman since President Nixon has been aware of the problem, and they all just turn a blind eye. Shame on them all. We should clean house at the VA and start over again, starting at the very top with President Obama himself. But based on my observations over the past 40 years, nothing will change.
The primary elections on June 10 should be a wake-up call for Republicans who cater only to the country club set. In Virginia, House Majority leader Eric Cantor was defeated by tea party-backed David Brat. This, in spite of the fact that Cantor far outspent his opponent and received substantial support from business interests.
This election is fair warning to Republicans such as Cantor. When you ignore or pay lip service to issues such as illegal immigration, gun rights, the ballooning national debt and the shrinking middle class, you will lose the working- and middle-class taxpayers. These are people who are keenly aware that the Democrats often see them as nothing more than an ATM for their social experiments, welfare giveaways and a ballooning federal bureaucracy. So they are looking for real conservatives who share their concern for the direction this country is headed. They will happily support and vote for someone like this.
But if you are a Republican candidate who can’t remember the people who aren’t on welfare but pay for it, if you have forgotten the cops, firefighters, mechanics, plumbers, nurses, insurance salesmen, bank tellers and our troops, and if you don’t care about issues such as gun rights, federal spending or border security, you might be in trouble come primary time.
Regarding the June 10 editorial (“Not your parents’ marijuana,” Our Views), the National Institute on Drug Abuse is not a credible authority on marijuana. Director Nora Volkow would have us believe that stronger marijuana is reason to continue criminalizing citizens who prefer marijuana to martinis.
Assuming our federal government is genuinely concerned about the health of those citizens they want arrested, they should know that health-conscious marijuana consumers deliberately seek out the strongest strains of marijuana available. Potent pot means less smoke inhalation. One or two small puffs will yield the desired result.
Federal bureaucrats no doubt fail to appreciate the inconsistencies in their anti-marijuana propaganda.
Part of the problem lies in hiring criteria. Ignorance is a prerequisite for employment. The emphasis on “drug-free” backgrounds for drug warriors ensures that those least knowledgeable about the effects and use of illegal drugs are charged with enforcing laws against them. This is no accident.
Anyone who has smoked pot knows that marijuana is not nearly as dangerous (or exciting) as government propaganda suggests.
The writer is a policy analyst for Common Sense for Drug Policy (www.csdp.org).
Evaluating going to war
Decisions on whether to fight a given war need to be made with great attention to the national interest and national defense. A severe threat to our country needs to be readily seen, not just a hope of changing the direction of another country and winning the hearts and minds of that country’s people toward us and democracy.
Although we are a great nation, we do not have the political answer for everyone. Nowhere is it written that the USA is the world’s policeman.
Conversely, the Founding Fathers’ intent seemed to be to mind our own business. The first established foreign policy of the U.S. was neutrality, under President George Washington.
It seems we learned nothing from watching the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu (1954), where their best troops were ejected from Indochina (later Vietnam).
Nor did we learn anything after the Soviet Union lost vast amounts of troops and war machinery in Afghanistan, were defeated and forced to pull out. How many more times will we want to send our brave troops to wars that do not need to be fought and cannot be won?
Gen. Douglas MacArthur was right in saying, “In war, there is no substitute for victory.”
If we cannot clearly show that these are true enemies of the USA and a full threat to our nation, then we need to stay home. Support the troops; bring them home.
We have plenty to do right here — rebuilding our infrastructure and providing jobs.