“When we send our young men and women into harm’s way, we have a solemn obligation not to fudge the numbers or shade the truth about why they are going …, to care for their families while they’re gone, to tend to the soldiers upon their return and to never, ever go to war without enough troops to win the war, secure the peace and earn the respect of the world.”
That line still reflects Obama’s general approach to foreign policy and military conflicts. The two phrases that haven’t exactly aged well, based on the crises he’s dealing with now: “tend to the soldiers upon their return” and “secure the peace.”
Obama talked about the care for the soldiers after mentioning a conversation with a Marine named Seamus, who was about to deploy to Iraq. “I asked myself: Are we serving Seamus as well as he’s serving us?” Obama said. The Marine, Seamus Ahern, later went to work for Obama in his Senate office in Illinois — and is now the director for wounded warrior policy at the Navy.
But what’s happening to the soldiers these days upon their return? You might ask the Veterans Administration about that. Obama set in motion a change of leadership there, but the culture that led the agency to cover up delays in medical care — and punish any whistleblowers who dared to bring them up — is deeply rooted and could take years to change.
Just last week, a modest bill to help veterans get some outside care, and give the VA some basic authority to fire people, nearly fell apart because one committee chairman called a meeting without asking the other chairman first.