Vets Outraged by Political Gamesmanship Over Veterans Healthcare Bill
Yesterday members of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) were disgusted to witness the Republican party engage in acts of cynical political maneuvering. A historic veterans omnibus bill (S.1982) that would have increased the quality of life for millions of veterans instead became a political stunt designed to push through dangerous and diplomatically irresponsible sanctions on Iran. When that stunt didn’t work the GOP blocked the passage of a bill that would have opened up 27 new VA health clinics, strengthened one of many health programs like sexual trauma care and gone far in reducing the benefits backlog. These are just a few of the many opportunities to improve the lives of veterans that political gamesmanship squandered.
“Why would Congressional members put Iran sanctions into a bill meant to care for so many veterans? The answer is that in the end members of Congress like Mitch McConnell don’t actually care about healing veterans.” said Matt Howard, Marine veteran and Communications Director of IVAW.
Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) and Civilian Soldier Alliance are launching a social media campaign to shift the dialogue around this upcoming Veteran's day, Monday, November 11th this year from one that implicitly supports war by avoiding any conversations of its costs towards a frank conversation on how U.S. militarism tears at the fabric that bonds our communities and has real impacts on peoples lives. As we step into 10 years as an organization next year these conversations become increasingly important for us.
We are joining with Iraqi human rights groups and our allies to hold the U.S. government accountable for the lasting effects of war and to demand the right to heal. Check out the Right to Heal Initiative website at http://righttoheal.org and sign the petition to demand a hearing.
Three days ago I saw the aftermath of explosives that tore through a crowd of unsuspecting bystanders, shrapnel leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. I read how children lost their lives, others lost limbs and a nation looked on in horror. On Monday, this same scene played out over and over again. All of them separate bombings, all on the same day and all in the same country. Iraq is this country, where over 25 blasts rocked major metropolitan areas, many of them car bombs, that resulted in more than 61 deaths and over 274 injured. No doubt the enormity of the loss of life and carnage is hard to imagine but if you had watched the news or read American newspapers you could be forgiven for not knowing it happened at all.
Monday was also significant for another bombing, one that most of us heard about. The kind of terror inflicted at the Boston Marathon just a handful of days ago will not readily leave my mind. The images, testimonies and the moments of bravery demonstrated by people like Carlos Arredondo will continue to haunt me. Unfortunately, the destruction in Boston is all too familiar for those of us that have experienced the unending senseless violence in Iraq. Both for the Iraqi civilians that live in a country that has witnessed more than a decade of war and for US veterans that have returned home to a country that has seemed oblivious to its existence.