President Barack Obama's Tuesday evening speech announcing the end of major combat operations in Iraq generated heat on both sides of the aisle, with Republicans complaining he did not give George W. Bush enough credit and Democrats complaining, "This is what you chose to talk about with the economy and our seats in the shitter?!"
But an advocate in Garden Grove zeroed in on an almost throw-away part of the address.
"Whether you left the service in 2009 or 1949, we will fulfill our responsibility to deliver the benefits and care that you earned," Obama said of the military. "That's why I've pledged to build nothing less than a 21st-century VA [Veterans Administration]."
Jim Davis of Garden Grove-based Veterans-For-Change noticed Obama's words followed those recently by Eric Shinseki, the retired four-star general who is the president's Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
"We are going to break the back of this backlog this year," Shinseki says in an article here about of the problems veterans face proving they need the health and other benefits they are entitled to. ". . . Once the paperwork is intact, VA reps then will work with the veteran to put together the best and strongest argument to win the case. This is VA going to bat with itself..."
Perhaps the VA must enter, as Davis put it "a paper work and computer generated war to battle with itself," but he likened the vets he knows with hamsters or guinea pigs "spinning along a cage--getting nowhere in a hurry!"
America's former fighters need dental care for themselves and dependents. They need access to medical testing and pharmacology. They need a "full-scale . . . investigation of all VA medical facilities," according to Davis.
"Veterans-For-Change expects members of Congress to uphold the promises of decades to care for those who fought to defend our country, and to practice what was established by the Continental Congress in 1776--'the United States has the most comprehensive system of assistance for veterans for any nation in the world.' Now, in the 21st century, it is time to draft, sign, and present legislation to correct wrongs from centuries ago. It is time to practice what was created and promised to motivate, service and care for our veterans."
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Davis said his organization "has been crying out to all 535 members of Congress now for four years as of April 2010," and members and their families "are tired of campaign promises and yellow ribbons." He invited would-be supporters to email him:
"We need politicians on Capitol Hill," Davis said, "to take immediate action to truly support all veterans."
Unfortunately, it may be more likely that Republicans get Democrat attaboys for Bush before that ever happens.