Supporting the Troops on Veterans Day?
Paul Rieckhoff, director of Operation Truth, the nations first and largest organization for Veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, would like Bush to answer a few questions on this Veterans Day:
"Why is there no mandatory baseline funding of the Department of Veterans Affairs? You say you support the Troops, but year after year, the VA is woefully underfunded because funding is at the discretion of Congress and the President. The result has been the agency charged with Veteran care has been continually underfunded by as much as 13-14%, according to the agency's own Undersecretary. The agency does not have enough centers and personnel to properly screen for and treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or provide adequate and timely health care. Some Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans are already homeless. There is no system set up to help them.
Why has no one been fired for underestimating the VA's need by billions? A wave of new Veterans is coming and the VA is not ready. Earlier this year, Secretary Jim Nicholson crawled to Congress with his tail between his legs to admit the agency miscalculated its need by almost $3 billion for the next two years. Who has been held accountable for this foul up? Has the agency kept a closer eye on the developing need to make sure they aren't caught unprepared, as our Troops return from war?
Why did we become Veterans in the first place? On behalf of the Veterans of Iraq, I ask that the question is finally answered: Were we misled into war? We deserve to know.
Does anyone have a real plan for Iraq? Many of us who served in Iraq feel there was never a well thought out plan for after the invasion. We never felt there was a clear mission with attainable goals. We are told by many of our friends still over there that there is still no clear mission. Is there an exit strategy that is responsible and practical? Neither Democrats nor Republicans have offered anything on that front.
We Veterans do appreciate the accolades and honors we will get today from people across America, and we thank you. But what we really want is to be listened to, and get some answers. That is the best way to support the Troops on Veterans Day."