As we begin 2003, talk of war in Iraq continues. We have been there before. Yes, our war was at a
different time and in a different place, but war is war. Most of
us who have experienced war first hand are more cautious than many
who want to leap into war thinking it will fix all of our
Another real concern is that we cannot take care
of those who served in past wars, and now we are facing the very
real possibility that a new generation of veterans suffering the
ravages of war will need the benefits and services of the VA.
Since there are not enough qualified medical personnel to provide
quality care in a timely manner today, how will the VA meet the
challenge of the future?
The failures of the VA system are no secret, and
we continue to press the current administration - as we have with
all administrations since 1978 - to fund the VA adequately. The VA
mandate, "To Care for Him [and Her] Who Have Borne the Battle, and
his [her] Widow [Widower] and Orphan," is not being met, and it
cannot be accomplished without the necessary funding.
It is easy to lay blame on VA Secretary Principi,
Congress, and OMB, but there is one person who makes the final
decision on who gets what: the President. We need appropriate
funding immediately. The Congress has consistently demonstrated
that it will give the President any amount of money he asks for in
regard to veterans health care...and more. But, he has to ask. The time to ask is now. We must be prepared for
the next generation of men and women who come home and need
medical care. The VA is where future veterans will go for that
care. Who will care for them, and who will care for those of us in
waiting lines now?
This year marks the 25th anniversary of Vietnam
Veterans of America, and who would have thought we would still be
fighting the same battles for those who served? Will it ever end?
If veterans service organizations did not
actively look out for their members and veterans, where do you
think we would be? Would there even be a VA healthcare system
For years, we have been educating our
representatives in Congress, department secretaries,
administrators, OMB, and presidents about our veterans and their
service and the need to care for the men and women who have borne
the battle. Now, as we move into our 25th year In Service To
America, it appears our battle has only just begun.
I urge those of you who can to join with us as
we celebrate our 25th anniversary during our 11th National
Convention, July 30-August 2, in St. Louis. Be there with us as we
renew our Founding Principle, "Never Again Will One Generation of
Veterans Abandon Another." We will continue to provide you with
updated information on events.
Our prayers are with our servicemembers and
their families. We pray for peace and the safe return of those
serving our country. We will continue to support our nation's sons
and daughters serving today. May God Bless them and their families
and keep them safe.