191. Real Changes Ahead for Veterans Affairs?

General Shinseki (Source AP)

General Shinseki (Source AP)

President Obama became the 44th President of the United States this past week. He certainly faces many challenges as he embarks on the Presidency. Throughout President Obama’s campaign there was a theme of change that surrounded his visions of the government he would lead. The time for putting these changes into place has arrived.

Like many Americans, I didn’t have a chance to witness the inauguration in real time. Later when I did listen to our 44th President’s address to the nation the following part of this speech immediately caught my attention:

What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

After reading these words I paused to consider “a new age of responsibility” as relates to our homeless veterans . 25% of our nations’ homeless are veterans. These same homeless Americans have at one time in their lives gladly seized the duty of serving our county and shown the true character of patriotism. Many of these same veterans are now living in poverty and homeless throughout America. Those who have already given their best to our country have found that our country has forgotten our responsibility to them.

Lost in all the hubbub of Tuesday’s inauguration of President Obama was the confirmation of retired Army Gen. Eric Shinseki to head the Department of Veterans Affairs. This is one of the first changes in store for The Veterans Administration and hopefully it will mark the beginning of a new era in the way our country serves all our veterans. The VA certainly is in need of much needed changes in the way it serves all veterans of our country, especially in the lack of adequate services it provides for our homeless veterans. To have a government organization whose sole purpose is to serve the needs of our veterans yet to have so many of our homeless veterans without a place to call home speaks volumes about the character the VA during recent years.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has been scandalized by reports of substandard medical care at Walter Reed Hospital and insensitive care of mentally disturbed veterans during the Bush administration. Obama’s choice of Shinseki to run the government’s second-largest bureaucracy, behind the Pentagon, shows the new administration’s determination to correct the problems rather than conceal them.(Source)

I truly hope that all citizens of the US take to heart the following words by our President and consider how we all must reaffirm our spirits of care and compassion to  homeless veterans (and all  homeless citizens) of our country.  It is through much needed changes in the area of veterans affairs that we can show how important it is to accept responsibility for all veterans and  move in the direction of  much needed change.

The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.


6 Responses to “191. Real Changes Ahead for Veterans Affairs?”

  1. January 25, 2009 at 7:19 pm

    Hopefully, General Shinseki will take to heart the words of President Obama, when he spoke on the Presidential campaign trail and said:

    “Keeping faith with those who serve must always be a core American value and a cornerstone of American patriotism. Because America’s commitment to its servicemen and women begins at enlistment, and it must never end.”

    • January 25, 2009 at 11:05 pm

      Now that the time for change has arrived I hope that all those who have taken the oath to serve this country stand by their campaign promises.
      General Shinseki has much change to oversee. In these changes there can be great pride in knowing that the VA has returned to it’s core mission of a commitment to the welfare of our veterans.

  2. February 5, 2009 at 6:35 pm

    I really want you to be right. Gen Shinseki has always struck me as an honorable man.

  3. 4 August
    February 9, 2009 at 9:04 am

    What happened to Obama’s “Zero Tolerance” for homeless veterans? More Religious Faith based nonsense, jammed packed warehousing, forced 12-step insanity, dead-end jobs “training” sorting clothes at goodwill.

  4. 5 John Sterling
    March 9, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    Please forgive my ignorance, I believe that I should address this to August. I am not from the computer generation so I do not know the in and outs of this medium. Well, anyway if you do not like “forced 12-step insanity” do something about it. AA and all of the 12-step programs have been ruled to be a religion as a matter of law. See Kerr v. Farrey from the Seventh Circuit, Warner v. Orange County Second Circuit, Griffin v. Coughlin New York Court of Appeals and there are others. I would suggest that you contact one of the following organizations Freedom From Religion Fondation, ACLU or American United for Seperation of Church and State. All of these people have web sites and they might be willing to litigate on your behalf. Article 1 Section 8 of the US Constitution gives congress the power to tax and spend, however, congress cannot use the money to establish a religion. The First Amendment is very clear on this, “Congress shall make no law…” The one notable exception to taxpayer suits is Flast v. Cohen so you do not even have to be a veteran to sue the VA for using “forced 12-step insanity” any taxpayer will do. If you want to make things better for veterans don’t get mad get organized and get a lawyer. The VA only can only break the law as long as you and I let them. Frankly, I think we veterans deserve better then the 12-steps the sucess rate of this cult is about 5%. Please, contact me if you would like more information on how to take back what the Bonus Army won for us and the poeple in Washington took away. Good luck. John Sterling

  5. 6 Connie Dupont
    March 18, 2009 at 7:19 pm

    I’m sorry but you saying that line “the VA can only break the law only as long as you and I let them”…the VA has been breaking laws for as long as they have been around….new laws Bush had laid down was making movement easier for vets not to having war crimes commited on them by letting them press charges on these criminals. If it’s harder to even get treatment, how does that make it easier? This Bites! Last week I was run off the VA base for no reason at all and I’ve seen it done to other Vets too. Now when I go, I take a witness with me and make them stay with me at all times. If they can’t…I leave or cancel the appointment.

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