Forget the poll-tested pablum he offered up Wednesday, let’s listen instead to what candidate Obama had to say to veterans back in 2008.
At the same time, we must never forget that honoring this service and upholding these ideals requires more than saluting our veterans as they march by on Veterans Day or Memorial Day. It requires marching with them for the care and benefits they have earned It requires standing shoulder-to-shoulder with our veterans and their families after the guns fall silent and the cameras are turned off. At a time when we’re facing the largest homecoming since the Second World War, the true test of our patriotism is whether we will serve our returning heroes as well as they’ve served us.
We know that over the last eight years, we’ve already fallen short of meeting this test. We all learned about the deplorable conditions that were discovered at places like Fort Bragg and Walter Reed. We’ve all walked by a veteran whose home is now a cardboard box on a street corner in the richest nation on Earth. We’ve all heard about what it’s like to navigate the broken bureaucracy of the VA – the impossibly long lines, or the repeated calls for help that get you nothing more than an answering machine. Just a few weeks ago, an 89-year-old World War II veteran from South Carolina told his family, “No matter what I apply for at the VA, they turn me down.” The next day, he walked outside of an Outpatient Clinic in Greenville and took his own life.
How can we let this happen? How is that acceptable in the United States of America? The answer is, it’s not. It’s an outrage. And it’s a betrayal – a betrayal – of the ideals that we ask our troops to risk their lives for.
Six years later, who is it, we ask, who has betrayed the vets? He wasn’t done piling on the bullshit:
That’s why I’ve pledged to build a 21st century VA as President. It means no more red tape – it’s time to give every service-member electronic copies of medical and service records upon discharge. It means no more shortfalls – we’ll fully fund VA health care, and add more Vet Centers, particularly in rural areas. It means no more delays – we’ll pass on-time budgets. It means no more means-testing – it’s time to allow every veteran into the VA system. And it means we’ll have a simple principle for veterans sleeping on our streets: zero tolerance. As President, I’ll build on the work I started in the Senate and expand housing vouchers, and launch a new supportive services housing program to prevent at-risk veterans and their families from sliding into homelessness.
How’s that all working out, champ? A clip of that speech can be found here.