“For years, the V.F.W. has come to Congress with hat in hand, and for years we’ve heard the same old story,” the heads of the veterans group wrote to Mr. Burr. “You can be assured, Senator, that you’ve done a superb job in showing us the error in our ways. You can also be assured that in the future, we will spend a substantial percentage of our time seeking to inform our members and our constituents of the repeated failure to act by our elected officials.”It got harsher from there. According to the president and executive director of the Paralyzed Veterans of America, Burr "clearly represent[s] the worst of politics in this country." According to the commander in chief and adjutant general of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, "this is clearly one of the most dishonorable and grossly inappropriate acts that we’ve witnessed in more than forty years of involvement with the veteran community and breaches the standards of the United States Senate." And so on.
To that sentiment, the national president and the executive director of the Paralyzed Veterans of America added, “Perhaps you should have shared with all veterans in your ‘open’ letter that you cared so much about their health care that you were not actually present during the testimony that the V.S.O. representatives provided, and you did not ask a single question.” V.S.O. stands for veterans service organizations.
Remember, the howling Republican outrage over problems at the V.A. is coming just months after they filibustered better health care for veterans. That bill "would have bolstered health and dental care, authorized 27 new clinics and medical facilities, added to veterans education programs, and dealt with veterans who suffered sexual trauma while in the military." Republicans, as is their habit, are looking to privatize veterans' care, as if your friendly local primary care doctor is an expert at handling traumatic brain injury and PTSD. Republicans contend that the V.A. has plenty of money and is just being inefficient with it—apparently they don't get that it's not easy to scale up by the hundreds of thousands of patients a year still being introduced into the V.A. system by George W. Bush's wars.
In any case, while Burr is still all bravado, claiming that the response to his letter shows not that he represents the worst of politics in this country but that he "hit a nerve," presumably his fellow Republicans will at least pause before lecturing veterans groups on how to respond to veterans' issues.