General Shinseki’s Resignation Will Solve Nothing
SAINT LOUIS, Mo.– General Eric Shinseki has resigned his position as secretary of the Veterans Administration (VA). Now what? When will we start the real debate the nation must have about turning away from war?
The resignation of Shinseki is not the answer to the challenges facing the VA. Yes the department has serious problems of mismanagement, incompetence, indifference and fraud. All these issues must be fixed immediately. Someone must be held accountable and apparently he is that someone. But we must get to the root of the problem.
Why is the VA overwhelmed by greater numbers of wounded veterans that it can effectively serve? The answer is more than a decade of war. “War is the real culprit in this crisis,” said Michael McPhearson, executive director of Veterans For Peace. “We must stop war mongers and corporate profiteers from controlling our foreign policy.”
“We must stop throwing our children, and the children of the world into the meat grinder of war. Every soldier and every victim of war is someone’s child.”
There is a clear pattern of neglect of veterans and troops by both Democrats and Republicans, who have systematically underfunded healthcare in their war budgets. These same problems plagued the agency long before Shinseki.
We must acknowledge that U.S. service members are facing dire stress as reflected in historically high rates of suicide, sexual assault and rape in the military. Military personnel are exhausted and depleted, with many of them having deployed more than five times, and some as many as ten.
These war policies are killing innocent people who are not a threat and will never be a threat to U.S. security or legitimate interests. For many service members, this is the most debilitating aspect of their sacrifice. Many thousands of our soldiers and veterans are suffering from “moral injury,” produced by the immoral nature of the wars they execute, as exemplified by indiscriminate killing, indefinite detention, targeted assassinations and torture.
Moreover, the Bush and Obama administration’s war policies have failed. Afghanistan is far from secure. Violent deaths are a daily occurrence. Women are severely oppressed by Taliban and U.S.-backed warlords alike. Iraq is in utter turmoil, with sectarian violence killing scores of people on an almost daily basis. As outlined in the State Department’s annual report on global terrorism, a decade of war has failed to end or reduce terrorism. The report, released in April, showed that worldwide terrorism increased by 43 percent in 2013.
“Why does President Obama want to keep 9,800 U.S. troops and untold numbers of contractors in Afghanistan?” asked Gerry Condon, vice president of Veterans For Peace. “Continuing this failed policy is another grave disservice to our soldiers. If we really want to support the troops, we should bring them all home now and give them the care they need and deserve.”
As Vietnam veteran John Kerry said while testifying before Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971, “how do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?”
We keep asking our service members to be the last person to die in Afghanistan. The ones who make it back home are neglected. Bring them home now and take care of them when they get here.
~ This post is from the national office of Veterans for Peace. Click here to learn more about them.