Burr: Some veteran groups defend status quo at VA

Posted May 27, 2014

Sen. Richard Burr

— U.S. Sen. Richard Burr fired back Tuesday at veterans groups in the latest salvo in a growing dispute between the politician and groups such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Disabled American Veterans.

Burr last Friday issued an open letter to veterans regarding the ongoing controversy over lengthy waiting times for veterans seeking medical help at Department of Veterans Affairs facilities. He complimented the American Legion for calling for VA Secretary Eric Shinseki's resignation but then criticized other veteran service organizations for not doing likewise.

"I believe the national and local commanders of every VSO have the interests of their members at heart, and take seriously their commitment to their members and their organization," Burr wrote. "Unfortunately, I no longer believe that to be the case within the Washington executive staff of the VSOs that testified (at a Senate hearing). Last week’s hearing made it clear to me that the staff has ignored the constant VA problems expressed by their members and is more interested in their own livelihoods and Washington connections than they are to the needs of their own members."

Incensed VFW leaders responded over the weekend, calling Burr's letter a cheap shot.

"Your allegations are ugly and mean-spirited in every sense of the words and are profoundly wrong, both logically and morally. Quite frankly Senator, you should be ashamed." Commander-in-Chief William Thien and Adjutant General John Hamilton wrote.

Thien and Hamilton said Congress is to blame for any lack of support for veterans.

"What you should know is this: that there is huge, and growing, sentiment within most of the veteran community regarding the inaction of Congress, because they are keenly aware (if the past is any guide) they will enact no budget, no regular appropriations bills nor other key legislation," they wrote.

Disabled American Veterans commander Joseph Johnston was likewise irked by Burr's letter, especially that it came on Memorial Day weekend.

"History clearly shows that unless VA receives sufficient resources to hire enough doctors and nurses, and has enough physical space to treat veterans, waiting list problems will continue," Johnston wrote. "Rather than be distracted by Senator Burr’s hollow insults, we will continue to reach out to thoughtful Republicans and Democrats in the Senate and House, as well as the President and leaders in VA, to join us in taking an honest look at all the facts, discuss with us all possible remedies and reforms and work with us to implement solutions that truly honor the heroism of the men and women we remember this Memorial Day weekend."

On Tuesday, Burr reiterated his stance that the VFW is more interested in maintaining the existing VA structure than seeking changes to improve care for veterans.

"The VSOs' response is a rousing defense of the status quo at VA. It's clear that my open letter to America's veterans has outraged some VSOs more than the scandals at VA," he wrote in an email. "I believe their testimony stands on its own."


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  • Banker63 May 29, 2014

    Don't understand why Burr acts like he cares about the Vets. He voted against funding the VA along with 40 other Republicans and he walked out of meeting the Veteran groups had with Congress. He had to run and hide from the fact that he voted against funding the VA. This means he has direct involvement with the failure to take care of those that sacrificed and served their country, not the President. The GOP wants this country to crumble just because they don't like the President. They are derelict in almost everything they do. I will never trust the GOP again after they shut the government down last year.

  • Pensive01 May 29, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Ok, so you have a load of bull. What does that have to do with the points I was making about Burr? Are you trying to say that hiring more people to treat vets, as well as building more facilities in which vets would receive treatment would not begin to address a number of the problems in the VA medical system? Or is it you are of a like mind with Burr and are more talk than walk, when it comes to the medical needs of our vets?

  • icdmbpppl May 28, 2014

    Obama has handled the VA disaster the same way he handles everything. First, he denies he knows anything about it, then he sends out his troops in the media to obfuscate, and finally he blames some low level bureaucrat for the mess. He did this with the IRS targeting of conservatives, the healthcare rollout disaster, and now the VA. There is no way to defend what has happened to our vets at the hands of VA hospitals, and there is no way to blame any senator for this debacle. Blame the Commander in Chief, and his appointment of an incompetent leader for the VA. General Shinseki should be dismissed, as well as any employee who had a hand in this scam.

  • icdmbpppl May 28, 2014

    "Pure bull dirt, "

    Said the person who presented absolutely no evidence to support his argument. Atheistinafoxhole May 28, 10:34 a.m.

    I can see the handwriting on the wall. Sorry you've been blinded by the brilliance of your dear leader.

  • Atheistinafoxhole May 28, 2014

    The sheer audacity of someone who never put on the uniform or risked his own life, to criticize those who did as well as those who fight for them every day ON MEMORIAL DAY weekend is the height of hypocrisy. His words and votes are clear examples of Burr's perfidy when it comes to military personnel and veterans.

  • Atheistinafoxhole May 28, 2014

    View quoted thread

    "Pure bull dirt, "

    Said the person who presented absolutely no evidence to support his argument.

  • Terry Watts May 28, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Yeah... that "government bureaucracy" would include Burr...

  • icdmbpppl May 28, 2014

    A shortage of funding for VA hospitals isn't what caused these problems. Their funding has tripled in the past 10 years, but the Phoenix VA, for example, chose to spend millions of dollars on office furnishings and new computers. Incompetence reigns in every government bureaucracy, and we're paying their salaries and paying their very generous retirement benefits.

  • icdmbpppl May 28, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Pure bull dirt,

  • Pensive01 May 28, 2014

    View quoted thread

    I would just point out that it was Senator Burr's filibuster and his vote, along with the votes of 40 republican senators, against the recent veterans bill that led to it's demise. A bill I should add that was supported by pretty much every veterans group in the US, including conservative veterans groups. Not saying that it would have been a complete cure-all, but it did have the potential to address many of the current failings in the VA medical system. In short, none of those you are aiming the blame at, had anything to do with the death of that bill. That deed you can lay at the door of Richard Burr and 40 other republicans.