I just finished watching Bob Woodruff’s magnificent report on soldiers returning from Iraq. Woodruff’s report was, obviously, informed by his remarkable recovery. With the foundation of his experience — being a reporter who actually spent time at Walter Reed after a devastating brain injury– Woodruff performed a valiant piece of advocacy journalism.
Here’s what struck me. Woodruff grilled Jim Nicholson, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, on the more than 200,000 soldiers who have been treated at the VA. Nicholson’s answer was that many had been in “for dental care”.
As I former press secretary, I can tell you that’s the wrong answer. You have to fix the underlying problem. Minimizing the problem in such as laughable way, as Nicholson did on ABC, only backfires. The denial called to mind the executive branch’s refusal to acknowledge the problem at the Convention Center in New Orleans in 2005 even as the t.v. networks all had footage of it.
I’ve stated something over and over again. And I’ll say it one more time. We send men and women to war. We’ve got to stand by them when they come home.
That doesn’t just mean this year or next year. It means, in many cases, for the rest of their lives. That’s a patriotic duty for all of us.