Those of us who live a civilian life can never fully appreciate the degree of sacrifice borne by those who wear the uniform, especially those who serve in dangerous theaters. We certainly can never fully relate to those families whose loved ones have given the ultimate sacrifice for this great nation.
But as we remember those fallen heroes this Memorial Day, we must commit to doing everything in our power to advocate for policies that ensure that fewer people make that ultimate sacrifice. We must also commit to alleviating the dysfunction that awaits those veterans who suffer injuries and sickness as a result of their service.
Obviously, there is no magic policy to ensuring that casualties are kept to a minimum in the heat of battle. But both sides of the political divide need to join in the following commitment. We may disagree on foreign policy, but we should never send our troops into a war setting without a clearly defined objective and overwhelming force – with the first priority always focused on protecting the lives of our soldiers.
Our pattern of sending the troops into a meat-grinder with no objective and egregious rules of engagement is unacceptable. If our mission is just and the cause prudent, we should not worry about collateral damage and gratuitously risk the lives of our soldiers in order to prevent that damage. If, on the other hand, we are so concerned about killing civilians in a war theater, then we shouldn’t go to war. We should internalize the motto of George Patton: “The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other guy die for his.”
Equally as important as minimizing casualties is the need to ensure that our veterans our taken care of after serving in dangerous corners of the world. It’s easy to blame the VA healthcare scandal on the incompetence and malfeasance of this administration. However, the problems within the VA go far beyond a couple of bad apples within the bureaucracy. They are endemic of any government-run healthcare system.
Instead of trying to tweak a failed system, we need to look at opening up the VA system to competition from the private sector. The federal government must definitely take care of our veterans, but locking them into a government-run bureaucracy is not doing them any favors. The VA is a superlative example of the failures of government-run healthcare, and our wounded warriors deserve better.
We need a system that fully pays for disabled veterans to purchase private health insurance and other healthcare services while subsidizing other veterans in varying degrees based on time and scope of service. Liberal demagogues taint a voucher system as throwing veterans out in the cold, but it is actually their failed policies that are underserving them. Besides, why should our veterans be confined to a limited array of healthcare providers and have to drive hours to a VA facility when they need care? We would always have military hospitals for those who are severely wounded in action or have sustained wounds unique to a war theater, but the general population of veterans would be better served in a private healthcare system.
We are supporting candidates who have moved beyond the platitudes and are willing to boldly advocate private reforms for the VA. Two candidates in particular, Col. Rob Maness and Dr. Bob Johnson, have served in the military with distinction and are willing to speak the truth about the failed VA system. You can read more about Maness’s run for Senate in Louisiana here and Dr. Johnson’s run for Congress in GA-1 here.
Such a small percentage of American citizens have volunteered to serve in the military, particularly on dangerous missions. The least we can do is ensure that they do not become victims of politically correct warfare or government-run healthcare.
Cross-posted from the Madison Project