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Administration can't hide from VA scandal

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Washington - As a Vietnam veteran and an American, Veterans Affairs Sec. Eric Shinseki offering a retiring VA official as a scapegoat sacrifice for the deaths of veterans assigned to fake waiting lists won't cut it.

Speaking as a combat veteran, having a guy that was about to retire anyway resign a few weeks early is worse than doing nothing at all. It's disingenuous at best and deeply insulting to many veterans.

Only an aggressive investigation that culminates in the firing and criminal prosecution of all suspects involved will do.

I consider myself fortunate to be alive and well - that's my war story. Having said that, I've seen my brothers fall and read their names from the wall.

Vietnam veterans were shunned, disrespected and spit at, literally and figuratively - at home. I was finally over that - then the VA scandal broke.

It will suffice to say learning about the deaths of at least 40 veterans due to secret VA hospital lists that gave the appearance these vets were being cared for when they were not - brought back some dark memories.

Each time I hear about another helicopter crash or a U.S. Humvee blown apart by an IED, I expect at the very least, these heroes who gave so much will receive the best of care in VA hospitals. God knows we owe them that, even if there are some among us too callous to see it.

As the administration put out a Friday press release announcing Dr. Robert Petzel's resignation, which probably entitles him to all benefits and retirement pay, it hearkened back to the administration’s early efforts to guarantee battlefield terrorists and combatants the same rights as American citizens in a New York City civilian courtroom.

Now, according to news reports, VA social worker Germaine Clarno, the VA whistleblower, claims hospital administrators in Phoenix not only used fraudulent waiting lists, but approved bonuses for the people involved. Adding insult to injury, we learn the problem is widespread.

This situation reminds me of the crap Vietnam veterans were subjected to after answering the call of duty during the Lyndon Baines Johnson administration.

Johnson - who raised U.S. troop levels to nearly 500,000 in a useless war that resulted in the deaths of 58,000-plus U.S. soldiers and countless physical and mental casualties - refused to run for re-election. He cut and ran - left Pres. Richard Nixon to clean it up.

Nevertheless, what hurts veterans most isn’t necessarily reports that fake waiting lists were used in hospitals across the country.What cuts to the bone is reading fluff pieces in the New York Times and other news outlets about the Pentagon approving the transfer of convicted traitor Bradley Manning to a civilian hospital to receive “gender treatment” while these veterans were dying.

Perhaps Americans who have never been affiliated with military service to country look at things differently, but I don't think so. Whatever the case, I doubt families of hospitalized veterans believe Manning - who was convicted of sending classified documents to WikiLeaks - should receive priority over their loved ones so he can get hormone therapy.

As a Vietnam veteran, it is disgusting and deeply hurtful to know Manning - who re-named himself “Chelsea” - was approved for “sex change” treatments while honorable veterans died waiting for critical medical care.

I’m only one veteran, but I suspect there are many of us who feel that allowing some empty suit to retire won't quell the collective outrage this time.

If we expect young Americans to answer the call to arms in the future, the people responsible for this hideous injustice need to be held accountable, politics notwithstanding.

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