VA help


Failings shouldn't derail needed aid for veterans.

Failings shouldn't derail needed aid for veterans.

Revelations of a horrific situation at a Veterans Affairs hospital in Arizona brought more attention to a system desperately in need of change.

Treatment delays and preventable deaths revealed inexcusable practices, and raised the question of how widespread such VA failings may be.

While intense scrutiny and a revamp of VA operations clearly is in order, the problem also put a spotlight on insufficient support from the nation's capital. Even with recent wars putting more of a strain on VA facilities and care-givers, conservative Republicans in Congress have rejected ways to help veterans in need.

Specifically, the U.S. Senate recently blocked a bill that would have added new clinics to help ease the VA overload.

The $21 billion plan included medical, education and job-training benefits — a necessary investment at a time veterans' needs are escalating due to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Opponents, however, said the bill failed to address reform to the VA system.

That issue does indeed demand attention. And, no one wants to expand broken programs, so Congress must determine what is working in the VA health-care system.

But that's still no reason to block assistance veterans and their families need today.

Credit U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas for supporting the measure, one of only two Republican senators to do so.

Unfortunately, Republican Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas — a military veteran — voted against the plan.

It was more evidence of Roberts' disappointing interest in cozying up to a GOP Tea Party faction opposed to most any spending. The radical-right lawmakers would rather toy with funding support for veterans than make a strong commitment to those who went to war on their behalf.

Politics should never get in the way of help for our troops, especially with a growing number of veterans dealing with emotional and physical wounds suffered at war.

Programs to help veterans require more support, not the same or less.

By helping our vets in need, we also pay tribute to the many U.S. military men and women lost at war or in service elsewhere — something we all should reflect on this Memorial Day.

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