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June 3, 2014

RONN MOTT: The Stench of the VA

The Veterans Administration medical service has been an ill-run situation for American veterans for years. It goes back to Richard Nixon’s inability to get anything done, to John Kennedy permitting the use of Agent Orange to get rid of the foliage in Vietnam. All these many years later, we still have men whose health was destroyed, in part, by our using Agent Orange in the Vietnam War. None of this excuses President Obama. He should not only be angry, he should be down-right damn mad. Some men may have died and others have been so ill-treated, their health is truly in jeopardy.

Falsifying appointment data so it would appear that everyone is being treated equally is criminal. To top it all off, some of the people responsible for this idea of bad medicine have been paid bonuses for their “good works.”

The root of all evil is the love of money, and the lack of money has been doing the health services of the Veterans Administration so much harm it may be beyond repair.

In America, professionals are bid for like champion steers at a county fair. The best and the brightest get the best jobs with the most money. I don’t think, in spite of all of the scandal, the Veterans Administration can say they have had the best and the brightest. 

For many veterans, it was their only hope of getting decent medical treatment. For others, it was what they could afford. And for the Congress of the United States, both Republican- and Democratic-controlled Houses of Representatives, their tightwad attitudes toward the men and women who served our country have been overwhelming. 

We have been in political “catfights” over the wars we have fought since we ended World War II in 1945. We have filled the air with multimillion dollar aircraft, the largest and best-equipped, and the world’s best Navy — which has been very, very expensive. We have never failed to equip our young soldiers with the best.

Herein lies the big, big rub. Those men who have served so well, and in so many places, have just sort-of been thrown onto the trash heap because their wars are over. We praise them from the pulpit, we honor them from the floor of Congress, and even our baseball teams during Memorial Day wore some sort of camouflage to honor servicemen and women. That’s nice, but our forgotten sick, hurt and traumatized veterans have been damnably ill-treated.

If we cannot afford to look after those who honorably served this country, then for God’s sake, quit fighting the wars that put all of these men in these terrible situations where they require serious medical care.

Simply put, our VA hospitals need more money. They need better doctors. They need supervisors who have brains and who will make sure all are treated well. So, Mr. President, get angry. These men, and now our women, who have served our country faithfully, deserve exemplary health care situations. They also deserve to be treated with respect.

Ronn Mott, a longtime radio personality in Terre Haute, writes commentaries for the Tribune-Star. His pieces are published online Tuesday and Thursday on Tribstar.com, and in the print and online editions on Saturday.

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