Eric Shinseki & Bowe Bergdahl.
Bowe Bergdahl & Eric Shinseki.
Both of them have something in common that has nothing to do with the military and has everything to do with Congress.
When the stories of veterans dying while waiting for care from the VA came out, there was understandable outrage and disgust that something like this would happen to anybody, much less our veterans. It set off a spark that veterans have been yelling and screaming about for decades.
Before Eric Shinseki, before Barack Obama, and before George W. Bush, the problems veterans were having with the VA were still there. They still had to wait a ridiculous amount of time and travel huge distances just to receive medical care. Even now, 2 decades or more later, the problems still persist. The difference now is that those problems have come to light and it's been shown that the VA, at some level, tried to hide the long wait times.
For that, there should be accountability. As the old saying goes, "Heads should roll" over the deaths of these veterans and the pain others have had to endure while waiting. However high the problems go is how high action should be taken.
The Secretary of the VA is the easy one to pick out because he is the face of the organization. Praise and punishment fall on him (or her) hardest and fastest. General Shinseki, in true military fashion, fell on his sword and managed to defuse some of the political uproar about the VA. Whether he knew about it or not, it is right that he resigned. Had he stayed, he would have become a political lightning rod so bright it might have obscured the real problem.
Did the problems reach as high as the secretary? Who knows? Maybe we will in the future, but at this point, we know it was a problem that was at most every clinic around the country. The driver behind it seems to be the bonuses that the upper management at these branches would receive for short wait times. Rather than actually giving our veterans care in a timely manner, they cooked the books and made them wait longer. Those are the heads that should roll next.
Ultimately, we're at the beginning of this VA issue. More will come out over time and more questions will arise from that information. We'll see where it leads, but to jump to conclusions now would be irresponsible and...well...Congressional.
Speaking of Congress, Bowe Bergdahl is a hot issue in the halls of the Legislative branch nowadays.
If you're not familiar with the name and the issue, here's a fast forward version:
Bowe Bergdahl was captured in Afghanistan in 2009 and has been a POW ever since. Recently, the Obama administration traded 5 high-level Taliban leaders for Bergdahl's release. Congressional Republicans, including former POW John McCain, blew a gasket because they hadn't been consulted as the law states and because they claim the price was too high. A welcome home rally has been cancelled in Bowe's hometown in Idaho and there is a backlash against Bergdahl that is getting louder every day.
First, I'm not a lawyer so I'm not going to comment on the legality of what the Obama administration did in this article.
Now that you have the short version, here's the thing: He's still an American!
That means we should have brought him home, regardless of what his actions were that led to his capture. If he did something illegal, it should be dealt with on American soil, not in Afghanistan. If he is indeed a deserter, there should be no mercy for him.
In any case, he is still an American and has the right, and some would say privilege, of having his claims heard by a U.S. court. If nothing illegal took place, he should be allowed to live a quiet life at his home rather than in a POW camp somewhere in Afghanistan. If he did something immoral that ended up costing lives, but did nothing illegal, he will have to live with that for the rest of his life.
I hope he honestly just walked off and wasn't a deserter. I sincerely hope he didn't attempt to join with Taliban forces. In any case, we will also have to wait to hear the end of this story. One thing we can all agree with is that his father's beard has nothing to do with anything in this story.
Eric Shinseki and Bowe Bergdahl are two men in two completely different situations connected by military service and Congressional outrage. It's unfortunate that these events took place. It's equally as unfortunate that all of the hot air coming out of our nation's capital isn't being put to better use.
Our infrastructure is crumbling, our nation's debt is still a problem, college costs continue on their trek toward the moon, the minimum wage continues to dwindle in buying power, and women still earn less than men. Congress just doesn't seem to realize that there are too many issues that need immediate attention to continue bellowing at the top of your lungs to raise money in an election year while another bridge collapses in somebody's district.
After Publication: Associated Press (AP) says Congress was not told of the trade because Taliban threatened to kill Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl.if it leaked