Service benefits are not entitlements. It’s time to force the VA to change, writes Army vet Chris Miller.
I come from a family of combat vets. We’ve all been fortunate enough to make it home, from WWII, Vietnam, and for me, Iraq. Military service is a family tradition, as is bitching about the VA. Dinner conversations include horror stories about wait times, neglect, and endless red tape. Often lost in the cycle of stories about VA screw-ups and VA reforms (inevitably followed by more stories of VA screw-ups) is the demoralizing affect that the process has on individuals by taking the very values the military teaches—integrity, hard work, accountability—and undermining them by making veterans act like beggars.
The term “red tape” in America actually derives from Civil War veterans’ records being bound together in the stuff. The story of veterans getting stiffed by the government is an American tradition going back at least 150 years. In the present day, while bill payments can be done online and any song ever recorded is instantly accessible, we are still using a paper-based VA system that has the upshot of being noncompatible with the Department of Defense system used for tracking active-duty soldiers.