"To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan."
WASHINGTON -- The Department of Veterans Affairs claims this is its "mission." The slogan -- extracted from the last paragraph of Abraham Lincoln's second inaugural address -- is inscribed proudly on metal plaques at the entrance of the VA's headquarters in Washington. The Obama administration made a mockery of this pledge by proposing to charge veterans' private insurance companies for treatment of service-connected injuries, wounds or sickness. Had the White House not rescinded this immoral and unethical proposal, the VA could have been sued for false advertising.
The "O-Team" claimed that charging veterans' private insurers for service-connected medical care would have "saved" $540 million. How they concocted this number is anyone's guess, but the affront offers a window into the kind of "thinking" going on in this administration.
It also started a wildfire among America's vets. Some described the proposal as part of "a conspiracy against our military." Veterans blogs cited administration deliberations on allowing U.S. military personnel to be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court, talk of allowing practicing homosexuals into the armed forces, and deep cuts in defense spending in the midst of a war as part of a pattern of anti-military bias.
Whether it is malevolence, ideology or incompetence that is driving these strategies, none of this helps recruiting or retaining the brightest and best-educated, -trained, -led and -equipped military force the world ever has seen. Had this ploy worked, the new recruiting pitch to some bright young person about to graduate from high school would have to include this warning: If you are wounded in the service to your country, we're going to make you pay for any medical care you receive after we get you off the battlefield.
On the same day that this "private payer for war wounds" travesty was being discussed at the White House, we also learned that $6.4 million of taxpayer money was given to an AIG executive as a "retention bonus." Apparently, the O-Team's half-baked idea for a military "retention bonus" was to have those wounded in war find private insurers to cover the costs of their service-connected medical care.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.