VFW Calls Out TIME Columnist
VFW outraged that a TIME magazine columnist has called for the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki
March 15, 2013
WASHINGTON — The
national commander of the nation's largest war veterans organization is
outraged that a TIME magazine columnist has called for the resignation of
Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki.
of the press isn’t a license for Joe Klein to twist reality about someone who
has volunteered virtually his entire life to serve his country,” said John E.
Hamilton, who leads the 2 million-member Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S.
and its Auxiliaries. Klein's column, entitled "Ten Years After: A National
Disgrace,” is posted on the magazine's website and is being published in its
March 25 edition.
Shinseki has one of the toughest jobs in America,” said Hamilton, a combat
wounded Marine Corps rifleman in Vietnam. “It is his responsibility to heal,
help and care for our wounded, ill and injured veterans from all generations.
What he doesn’t need is criticism from those who have little or no
understanding of the real issues or challenges facing his department.”
his column, Klein criticizes Shinseki for being quiet and reserved, as if the
secretary of the nation’s largest integrated healthcare network and second largest
federal department has time for a publicized social life. Klein hides behind a
so-called “legion” of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who say the secretary lacks
the creativity and leadership skills to run the VA, plus sympathizes with their
complaint of not being moved to the front of the line ahead of other — but
older — disabled veterans. Still worse, Klein accuses Shinseki of not
capitalizing on the mass murder allegedly committed by an Army staff sergeant
occurred in Afghanistan was a tragedy, not an opportunity,” said Hamilton. “The
Department of Defense and the VA expend an enormous amount of resources on
programs and outreach to provide mental health counseling to those in need, but
you can’t mandate any program that first requires someone to voluntarily step
forward and ask for help. That same limitation also confronts all of us who are
in this battle to end military and veteran suicides.
regarding the columnist’s personal attack, just because the secretary prefers a
lower profile to someone who might ‘Tweet’ their every movement doesn’t mean he
doesn’t care. It just means he’s too busy doing his job, and that’s to fulfill
our nation’s promise to her veterans.”
years the VFW has testified before Congress about the lack of funding for the
VA’s Veterans Benefits Administration, especially in the areas of automation
and proper staffing. Hamilton said the secretary did the absolute right thing
to grant additional presumptive service connections for Vietnam and first Gulf
War veterans, but he acknowledged that organizations like the VFW and others
who employ service officers to help veterans file their claims knew that the
increased workload would overwhelm the existing system.
to the president and Congress, the VA now has the necessary resources to
automate the claims processing system. This means the VA is moving in the right
direction, said the VFW national commander, but after years of neglect, the fix
will not come overnight.
want the VA to succeed, and that’s why we work closely with Secretary Shinseki
and his staff to help identify and correct problems in a professional manner
from within, not by enlisting the media to sensationalize issues the great
majority of Americans and, quite frankly, many veterans don’t understand,” said
VFW helped to create the VA in 1930. We will not let it fail. We will also
continue to take strong issue with people who blindly criticize the
organization or its secretary, who is a combat wounded veteran who understands
what it means to serve and sacrifice. Secretary Shinseki gets it, and America
should be very appreciative that he volunteered to stay for another tour — the
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