John Kerry’s Testimony on Inadequate Care For Veterans in 1971 Sounds Like Reports From Today’s Headlines

The Washington Post reports that the problems with health care provided to veterans are not only occurring at Walter Reed. It is also not only Iraq and not only 2007. John Kerry reported the same type of problems in his testimony before the Senate in 1971. Kerry testified to represent the views of veterans who “feel we have been used in the worst fashion by the administration of this country.”

Kerry’s testimony has frequently been distorted by the right wing to give a false impression that he was attacking fellow soldiers when he was really there to speak out for them. In reading this portion of his testimony substitute Iraq for Vietnam and this sounds just like the reports we are hearing today:

Returning veterans are not really wanted

But the problem of veterans goes beyond this personal problem because you think about a poster in this country with a picture of Uncle Sam and the picture says “I want you.” And a young man comes out of high school and says, “That is fine. I am going to serve my country.” And he goes to Vietnam and he shoots and he kills and he does his job or maybe he doesn’t kill, maybe he just goes and he comes back, and when he gets back to this country he finds that he isn’t really wanted, because the largest unemployment figure in the country – it varies depending on who you get it from, the VA Administration 15 percent, various other sources 22 percent. But the largest corps of unemployed in this country are veterans of this war, and of those veterans 33 percent of the unemployed are black. That means 1 out of every 10 of the Nation’s unemployed is a veteran of Vietnam.

The hospitals across the country won’t, or can’t meet their demands. It is not a question of not trying. They don’t have the appropriations. A man recently died after he had a tracheotomy in California, not because of the operation but because there weren’t enough personnel to clean the mucous out of his tube and he suffocated to death.

Another young man just died in a New York VA hospital the other day. A friend of mine was lying in a bed two beds away and tried to help him, but he couldn’t. He rang a bell and there was nobody there to service that man and so he died of convulsions.

I understand 57 percent of all those entering the VA hospitals talk about suicide. Some 27 percent have tried, and they try because they come back to this country and they have to face what they did in Vietnam, and then they come back and find the indifference of a country that doesn’t really care, that doesn’t really care.

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1 Comment

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    Judith Purcell says:

    I am glad this has finally come out from a credible source and that heads are flying over it. I am a conservative and have been aware of the treatment in VA hospitals for some time. But lots of people did not know, so I don’t think it is fair to say they do not care.

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