Veterans' Response

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Paul Rieckhoff, founder and executive director of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), presents the IAVA's reform plan in the wake of the VA healthcare scandal and comments on the release of POW Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.


Paul Rieckhoff

Comments [34]

Michael from Manhattan

As far as I understand from the media reports the five traded are Taliban. Don't get me wrong these are bad guys. But, the Taliban did not attack america on 9/11. They refused to give up Osama Bin Ladin who was in Afghanistan after 9/11, so we invaded to get at him. Depending on when they were picked up, they should have been prisoners of war, not terrorists. But without knowing the particulars it is hard to comment. Has the Taliban ever attacked America outside of Afghanistan? Curious to know?

Jun. 05 2014 12:51 PM
emjayay from Brooklyn

Re: the vet who said it takes 7-10 days to get prescriptions. The VA was a pioneer in computerization of medical records. The for-profit prescription part of both private insurers I have used were of course also computerized and also had a 7-10 processing and shipping time. When a prescription is eligible for refill both systems left automated phone reminder phone calls and emails. If the VA does not do this it is missing a simple obvious thing that other systems do.

Or maybe he missed the messages.

With the private systems, you only save money by using their mail order, getting three months for a two month copay. You can also go to the corner drug store, which is also hooked up to their computers, and buy a single prescription for the same copays.

My new computer using primary care doctor uses a computer which is hooked up to databases and knows about drug orders I never mentioned, like an immunization I got at a previous doctor. In a fragmented and uncoordinated way we are nationally moving into an integrated computer health record system as well, but only part way there at best.

Jun. 05 2014 11:56 AM


I have criticized Obama's decision on Bergdahl without reservation and I support a full and complete investigation into the circumstances of Bergdahl's disappearance.

I ask you again: Did you agree with Reagan's decision to trade arms for hostages?

Jun. 05 2014 11:54 AM

Yes, bring them home ... but don't lie or self-aggrandize about it.
And it's not just FOX NEWS or the POST ... see below...

"MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski: Why Would Susan Rice Repeatedly Say Bergdahl Served Honorably?"

"Why would Susan Rice be sent out, Susan Rice, be sent out repeatedly to say he served honorably and really push that as one the fundamental reasons behind this swap?"

Jun. 05 2014 11:51 AM
Anonymous from Upper East Side

Martin Chuzzlewit

Book by Charles Dickens
The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit is a novel by Charles Dickens, considered the last of his picaresque novels. It was originally serialised in 1843 and 1844.


Jun. 05 2014 11:49 AM
emjayay from Brooklyn

Brian equated the VA with "single payer". I assume Brian knows there are many kinds of systems that are single payer. The VA is like UK National Health, or Kaiser Permanente gone national. Canadian or Taiwan or US Medicare represent another kind of single payer. Other single payer systems are like ACA without the profits and with nationally negotiated prices and price controls.

Saying the issue is single payer/VA vs. private systems is ridiculous, irresponsible, and completely inexcusable.

Jun. 05 2014 11:43 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

It's nice to hear from people that have ACTUALLY served. The consensus is clear - you never leave ANYONE behind - you bring them home and then deal with their indiscretions if necessary. That's honor.

It's a shame but not surprising that the peanut gallery at the Post or Fox can't see that.

Jun. 05 2014 11:41 AM
Barb from Manhattan

To the caller who wants (deserves) his day in court: Gitmo is stalled because the GOP insisted that Gitmo terrorists NOT be tried in the U.S. in our judicial system. If not for that, we would have had these people on trial and DONE.

Jun. 05 2014 11:36 AM
Amy from Manhattan

To the caller who said vets need to just keep on top of calling well ahead of time to get their prescriptions renewed, that can be a lot harder to do if you have PTSD or other mental health issues, or actual brain injury.

And having delays in health care/getting discouraged from dealing w/bureaucracies isn't limited to gov't.-provided health care. Private-sector health insurance & medical care can be the same way.

Jun. 05 2014 11:35 AM
eric from park slope

one small correction: the VA is not a single payer system. it's basically what the right calls "socialized medicine." social security is single payer..

Jun. 05 2014 11:34 AM
Dee from NJ

What has followed the release of Bowe Bergdahl clearly indicates what would have happened had the president gone to congress before his release. Both sides have trotted out their spin doctors and talking heads. What started as a photo op in the Rose Garden, devolved into a story about desertion. Soon the Republicans were trotting out other members of his company to say he was a deserter. And yet we have not heard one word from Bowe Bergdahl. I have heard five stories about what happened to him, he lagged behind, he was kidnapped from a latrine, he ran away but was coming back, he ran away or maybe he was a suicide. I've heard people say he was responsible for other soldiers deaths. Really? They were fighting in a ferocious war.

To see that poor young man, blinking, whether crying or unused to the sun, his expression fearful, wary, twitchy a vague smile and then fear again. I think it is disgraceful that this story has been advanced this far without a word from Bergdahl is really shameful. Those Taliban that were traded will be the most watched terrorists in history. They are old men in terms of fighting and if they return to Afghanistan, they will be picked off by a drone. Thank goodness Bowe is home.

Jun. 05 2014 11:33 AM
Soldier's Father

Caller Jonathan and Mr. Rieckhoff said it better than I did -- bring EVERYONE home.

Jun. 05 2014 11:33 AM

Would this even be a question if it happened under a conservative, war hawk president?

Jun. 05 2014 11:32 AM

Soldier's Father -
No, not a sore spot at all ... and leaving nobody behind is honorable.

But if you actually read my first two posts, you see that they are about the deception and lying by this administration, yet once again, to cover up, concoct an appealing narrative, and prevent the whole truth from getting sunlight ... along with the compliant media that even itself is getting tired of protecting this Monstrous Incompetent in the WH.

Jun. 05 2014 11:32 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Well said Barb. Either these "bad guys" - are terrorists or they are prisoners of war.

If they were terrorists, then why weren't they put on trial? They were in Gitmo for over 10 years.

Jun. 05 2014 11:32 AM
Barb from Manhattan

hilts -- The Bush Administration's use of torture "gave permission" for others to torture American soldiers. How do you feel about that?

Jun. 05 2014 11:32 AM
Tony from UWS


Didn't Bush make huge cuts in vets' benefits? I haven't heard anything during this discussion about how the VA is funded.

Jun. 05 2014 11:31 AM

"A Taliban commander close to the negotiations over the release of U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl told TIME Thursday that the deal made to secure Bergdahl’s release has made it more appealing for fighters to capture American soldiers and other high-value targets."

Jun. 05 2014 11:29 AM

My dad lives in IA and always talks about how wonderful the VA is in Iowa City. He prefers going there to using private practice drs as he gets faster, better and more comprehensive care from the VA. They have helped him when his regular doctors would shrug and say, well, you are just getting older, you'll have to live with these problems.

Jun. 05 2014 11:26 AM
Soldier's Father

@ Martin C.: My point wasn't to embarrass you (though from your overwrought reaction I apparently hit a sore spot). My point is that unless you or a close family member has served (less than 1% of the population at last count), you may not realize that to "Leave No One Behind" is not a cliche to soldiers, but rather a deeply-felt obligation. Doesn't matter what the person has or hasn't done; you go and get your comrade.

Jun. 05 2014 11:25 AM
eliot from Teaneck, NJ

I have private UHC insurance and take lots of meds for kidney transplant, the mail order service has all the short falls of what the caller mentioned, I take 10 meds and the management of them through this service is really a job.
So, not confined to the VA.

Jun. 05 2014 11:24 AM
Barb from Manhattan

John McCain and others are (predictably) complaining that Obama's release of these 5 "detainees" will make our soldiers less safe in the future.

Where were they when America was torturing (water boarding, etc) people, in violation of the Geneva Accord? Now the rest of the world will feel entitled to torture American military personnel.

But, oh yeah, it was a GOP administration that engaged in torture, so it was OK with McCain and his cronies. They define HYPOCRISY.

Jun. 05 2014 11:23 AM

My dad goes to the VA in NC, and he loves it. The VA has problems, but someone should mention that these problems are quite rare.

Jun. 05 2014 11:23 AM

How much is the stellar reputation of the VA for delivering healthcare a product of phony statistics, corrupt reports and feckless media coverage. How (has it been / will it be any different) for OBAMACARE?

You are on notice and it still doesn't matter.

Jun. 05 2014 11:21 AM
khadija Boyd from Brooklyn

I have no idea about problems at the VA save for the deluge of negativity. Both my father-in-law (90, WWII Vet, South Pacific), and my cousin-in-law (Vet, Nam, Air Force, 65) have received the utmost, immediate attention and treatment from VA. But then again, they reside in WashDC/MD/VA area. Perhaps problems lie in that quite a few Vets are far flung across our Nation. Should that be the case, indeed, we must focus on access.
kindest regards. k

Jun. 05 2014 11:21 AM
Barb from Manhattan

How much of the fault lies with Congress, for failing to provide funds so the VA could hire more doctors?

Jun. 05 2014 11:16 AM

Obama was wrong to trade 5 savage mad dog killers for 1 US soldier of very dubious character.

Reagan was equally wrong to trade arms for hostages when he was President.

How many conservatives who are critical of Obama's decision now were critical of Reagan's decision?


Was Reagan wrong when he traded arms for hostages?

Jun. 05 2014 11:14 AM

"yes, Obama is gutting the military ... but have you served yourself, sir?"
"yes, obama is shrinking the navy and slashing carrier wings while lying about a pivot to Asia, but have you served yourself, sir?"
"yes, none of our allies trust us anymore, but have you served yourself, sir?"
"yes, obama has announced that he will now negotiate with Hamas, but have you served yourself, sir"

LOL, no I didn't.

Jun. 05 2014 11:11 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Haha, Soldier - nice one. I think you got your typical neo-con answer to that question.

Jun. 05 2014 11:03 AM
Soldier's Father

@ Martin C.: So the answer is no?

Jun. 05 2014 10:44 AM

"@ Martin C.: Have you ever served?"

LOL, nice try ... I see it used at HuffPo all the time when unpleasant topics arise. What service does Barry have ... even in a full time job?

I'll tell you my history when Obama releases all of his academic records, scores and legal writings.... if he has any.

Jun. 05 2014 10:42 AM
Soldier's Father

@ Martin C.: Have you ever served?

Jun. 05 2014 10:16 AM

Outraged by Bergdahl case, fellow soldiers break secrecy pledge to tell story – Byron York

“One of the most striking elements of the Bowe Bergdahl affair is word that top Army officers were so anxious to keep the matter a secret that they directed Bergdahl's fellow soldiers to sign a pledge of silence about his 2009 decision to walk away from duty in Afghanistan. "Many of Bergdahl's fellow troops…signed nondisclosure agreements agreeing to never share any information about Bergdahl's disappearance and the efforts to recapture him," wrote CNN's Jake Tapper, who first reported the agreements last Sunday.”

Jun. 05 2014 07:45 AM

“The Story You Haven't Yet Heard About Bowe Bergdahl's Desertion”

“In addition to Andrews, Casillas, Fairbairn and Martinek, PFC Morriss Walker and Staff Sergeants Clayton Bowen, Kurt Curtiss and Michael Murphrey died as a result of Bergdahl's abandonment.
That's EIGHT dead American soldiers (not six, as the rest of the media have reported) betrayed by selfish Bergdahl and reckless President Obama.
The Bowe Bergdahl mess isn't just a story about one deserter, but two. There's the muddle-headed lowlife who left his post and brothers behind. And there's the corrupt commander in chief ...”

Michelle Malkin – NEW YORK POST - June 4, 2014

Jun. 05 2014 06:30 AM

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