Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, has not been happy about VA matters of late. Of the resignation of the VA chief Secretary Shinseki Friday, Sanders said he "is an American hero who courageously served his country in war, rose to be the Army chief of staff and has dedicated his distinguished career to helping his fellow soldiers and veterans. I am sad that he resigned."
Sanders had urged Shinseki not to resign, labeling those going after him as part of an attack on the VA that is driven by the usual right-wing politics Sanders said, "You have folks out there now, the Koch Brothers and others, who want to radically change the nature of society, and either make major cuts in all of these institutions, or maybe do away with them entirely."
On the Thom Hartmann show, Sanders said one of objective of the VA's critics is privatization: "I will oppose any efforts to privatize the VA. That would be a disaster for many, many veterans."
Sanders noted that a Thursday hearing of the veterans committee will consider the Restoring Veterans’ Trust Act of 2014. From the senator's website:
|The measure then could be put on a fast track for consideration by the full Senate. It would give the VA authority to immediately remove senior executives based on poor job performance while preventing wholesale political firings. It would provide veterans who can’t get timely appointments with VA doctors the option of going to community health centers, military hospitals or private doctors. It would authorize VA to lease 27 new health facilities in 18 states. It would authorize emergency funding to hire new doctors, nurses and other providers in order to address system-wide health care provider shortages and to take other steps necessary to ensure timely access to care. To address primary care doctor shortage for the long-term, the bill would authorize the National Health Service Corps to award scholarships to medical school students and to forgive college loans for doctors and nurses who go to work at the VA. […]
Sanders said the need for congressional action was underscored last Wednesday when the VA’s independent Office of Inspector General found that officials had lied about wait times for appointments at the Phoenix VA and other medical facilities. A separate audit delivered to President Barack Obama on Friday disclosed attempts by VA employees at two-thirds of VA hospitals and clinics to cover up delays in providing patient care.
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2003—Failure at Gitmo:
|Placed at the end of an article on Donald Rumsfeld's foreign policy iniatives, this time bomb and it is nothing less, says that our strategy of holding prisoners at Guantanamo has failed miserably. Rumsfeld's plan, which would bre ruled illegal in Australia and Britian to start with, is the clearest sign that our policy is a failure. The vast majority of our Cuban Gulag's prisoners clearly belong held as official POW's and not terrorists or some other ginned up definition.
Therefore, we have violated international law to hold POW's who could have been held in the US, under the eye of the Red Cross. What is even worse is that if they are released to their home countries, there is little chance of a successful prosecution there.
So holding children and legitimate combatants in a gulag under the broiling Cuban sun is not only a policy we can no longer sustain, it is a tremendous waste of time and effort.
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