FLOTUS 'Joins Forces' with Dead Veterans
In the midst of the Veteran’s Administration scandal, has America forgotten that the U.S. military has a very special advocate who has worked tirelessly to help military families? And what a bang up job that woman has done.
For years now, our very own First Lady has appeared on shows like Oprah and Nightline and broadcast her undying dedication to getting military families the multifaceted support they need – none of which she’s done, but that’s beside the point. One would think that after all the effort she’s invested, at some point the FLOTUS would have caught wind that military veterans were languishing for months on waiting lists at VA hospitals without proper care.
But she didn’t.
In 2011 Mrs. Obama and Dr. Jill Biden launched Joining Forces, which the first lady’s White House web page described as:
A nationwide initiative that mobilizes all sectors of society to give our service members and their families the opportunities and support they have earned, and to raise awareness of military families' unique needs as pertains to employment, education and wellness.
That same year, a humble FLOTUS told Oprah Winfrey that she is moved by military families’ “willingness to sacrifice without complaint.”
Clearly, the qualities Shelley admired hadn’t inspired her quite enough to find out what those who served this nation REALLY need, because with a minimum of effort Mrs. Obama would have uncovered the injustices being inflicted upon brave veterans by the Veterans Administration.
What better venues than the talk show circuit for the commander-in-chief’s wife to share the plight of gravely ill ex-military waiting months for the VA to provide healthcare? Instead, clueless Michelle told Oprah that it’s hard to get the message of the military out because “they never ask for help.”
With all due respect, what in God’s name does Michelle Obama think the family of veteran Thomas Breen was doing while trying for months to get an appointment with a VA primary care doctor?
While the first lady was hosting military families at Easter egg rolls and Christmas parties, the Breen family were begging the VA for help, which didn’t arrive until one week after the Navy veteran had succumbed to Stage 4 bladder cancer.
One can’t help but wonder what it was exactly that the FLOTUS and the good Doctor (of education) Biden have been mobilizing for the last three years. Which unique need was the duo addressing while 40 or more military veterans wasted away on a VA waiting list?
Just prior to the November election in 2012, in an effort to distract everyone from her husband’s poor debate performance, Mrs. Obama shared her passion for America’s military families with Cynthia McFadden of Nightline.
The FLOTUS told McFadden, “We have to rally around for these families. We have to be that safety net for them because they're leaving to serve us. They're fighting for the rights and freedoms of all of us.”
Meanwhile, according to Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), at the time Michelle was granting pre-election ‘I love the military’ interviews, Government Accountability Office reports dating back to 2000 had already highlighted VA treatment delays.
If Michelle were really looking for an issue to address, maybe instead of monitoring school cafeterias, veterans’ treatment delays would have been a better place to start.
Nevertheless, Michelle told McFadden, “I think that there is just something special about people who serve… when you meet these people and you hear their stories, you just want to...make it right.”
Yet, neither Mrs. Obama nor her husband made it right. While Michelle was busy crowing about her allegiance to military families, a Phoenix VA hospital was hiding secret waiting lists with the names of dozens of veterans who needlessly died waiting for care.
While Michelle Obama was “Joining Forces” and giving television interviews, according to Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT), similar scandals where soldiers died as a result of rationing, cooked books, and inadequate care have surfaced in at least 10 states thus far.
In fairness to FLOTUS though, in her Nightline interview she did bring up healthcare. Michelle told Cynthia that she and Dr. Biden were “...looking at the overall health needs of military families. Because …most people think that military families get all their health services through the VA.”
What’s disgraceful is that despite her supposed efforts, there’s still a formidable body count made up of those soldiers whose health Michelle could have been looking out for.
Furthermore, if Mrs., Obama were “looking at the overall health needs of military families,” why did she not know there were veterans under the VA’s care in dire need of medical services they weren’t receiving?
Maybe it’s because the VA website says that “The good news is that Veterans enrolled in VA health care programs have health coverage that meets the new health care law’s standard.” The VA’s tie to the ACA certainly explains why Michelle would ignore the fact that the “integrated healthcare system” wasn’t expand[ing] access to coverage, control[ing] health care costs and improv[ing] health care quality and care coordination.”
Recently, as part of the Philanthropy — Joining Forces Impact Pledge, Michelle announced a $102 million program for veterans and military communities called the Veterans Philanthropy Exchange. In a statement that, quite frankly, rings hollow, Michelle Obama exhorted Americans by saying:
We cannot allow ourselves to forget [the military’s] service to their country. We have to get moving right now. We have to show that their country is here for them not just while they’re in uniform but for the long haul.
Did the FLOTUS say “long haul?” Thanks to the VA, Thomas Breen and 39 other forgotten veterans – and probably many more – will have no “long haul.”
Michelle Obama has talked about helping military veterans, but much like her husband's promises, it's all just talk; everything stays the same or gets worse. The first lady’s efforts and expressed sentiment regarding those in uniform past and present are, at best, calculating and disingenuous, and other than phony patriotism and shameless self-promotion have accomplished nothing.
Jeannie hosts a blog at www.jeannie-ology.com