Saturday, February 14, 2009

American Hero

Paul Rieckhoff, for those of you who don't know, served as a 1st Lieutenant in Iraq.  In addition to that service to his country, he's used his degree in Political Science to found the non-profit group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.  Their website is

IAVA just completed a political event they called "Storm the Hill" meeting with lawmakers in D.C., lobbying for a change in the manner that our country funds the Veterans' Administration.  Mr. Rieckhoff, appearing on Rachel Maddow Show last Thursday, explained that simply funding the VA a year in advance, the way our government does with other departments, would allow the VA forward planning in their budget and lessen the amount of rationing of care currently going on.  I hope to post the video when MSNBC uploads it; it's well worth watching.  The IAVA lobbying effort lead broad bipartisan support and I hope a bill passes quickly.

There can be no argument that our country is not doing enough to support its veterans.  A large part of my disgust for the Bush administration is over their incompetence in dealing with the repercussions of their war of choice in Iraq, and the mishandling of Afghanistan.  I seriously, vehemently disagreed with them on the policy issues; but what really raises my bile is the cavalier and careless way they looked after the troops who fought their wars for them.  The VA and the DOD are playing catch-up with the severe cases of PTSD coming back from the front.  

Mr. Rieckhoff also called for the Obama administration to organize a volunteer service effort among our nation's mental health-care professionals to boost the service even a fully-funded VA could provide.  The need is desperate, immediate, and frankly, years late.

When I get depressed about our country, I remember that it produces citizens such as Mr. Rieckhoff, and hope returns.

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