The Wall Street Journal kindly published our brief response challenging his editorial:
The VA, in any response to Mr. Principi's article, must realize that many of the Agent Orange-related illnesses strike in a veteran's later years. In the case of highly aggressive prostate cancer, for instance, the rate among older veterans exposed to Agent Orange is double that for other men and clearly related to their earlier military exposures.To emphasize his point about the supposed injustice of lines of deserving combat veterans having to wait behind undeserving and uncaring old guys who don't notice the suffering behind them, a cartoon was provided (below)
Although a veteran himself, Principi suggests that not a single man ahead of this veteran on crutches would fail to move aside. Principi seems not to realize that today's combat veterans are offered a virtually seamless integration from DoD care to the tender mercies of the VA. Principi seems not to realize that everybody in the line cares deeply about everyone else...and especially that last guy.
In other words, former Secretary Principi's op-ed attacks a problem which doesn't exist. The real problem, is delaying care for too many veterans not brought into VA channels via Dod. These "older" veterans face years of delay in normal processing of disability claims. Given the VA's determination to deny, deny, deny, these veterans then face three to five years of waiting for action by the Board of Veterans Affairs...and even more if the claim is simply routed back to the regional board for reconsideration rather than a decision being made by the BVA.
Why the Secretary's article, then? Simple...he encourages VA to save money by denying veterans' claims, by delaying veterans' claims, by denying veterans' benefits earned through honorable service.
Benefits promised by a grateful nation to those who have borne the burden. Though a dedicated public servant, Anthony Principi is simply wrong-headed and a slave to VA's anti-veteran policies!