After listening to President Obama's remarks to the press following his speech this date, I heard nothing from the press except the usual knee-jerk rush to judgment, but no one offered any background on the story.
Although General Shinseki's military service was mentioned, little was said about his abrupt removal as the Army Chief of Staff and retirement in disgrace when he stated to Congress that conducting a war in Iraq would require many hundreds of thousands of troops. This was many times greater than the estimate of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and
President Bush, who eventually obtained Congress' approval for proceeding to war, despite inadequate planning. This led to over a decade of war which produced grievous losses of blood and treasure. The war vastly increased our Veterans Administration's backlog of claims.
President Obama, recognizing retired General Shinseki's management success in the Army and the business world, appointed him to head the Veterans Administration. Shinseki soon realized that the antiquated claims system must be computerized and a new system is up and running and great strides are being made in processing the backlog of claims. But this has increased the demand on services to all veterans including older World War II and Korea and Vietnam veterans with chronic needs.
Recently expanded benefits to cover mental illness and injuries caused by exposure to agent orange add another layer of complexity. Of course, members of the press are too young to know these facts but that does not excuse them from their failure to dig to understand causation. It is normal for persons to first search out who is to blame before they seek to discover what happened and why, but there are some unheard minds which understand why. Persons who dig can easily find the facts on the internet. Congress can find that the major reason for the VA's current problems is their approval to go to war without good World War II-style comprehensive planning.
My reaction and the reaction of many military minds was that we were not prepared to go to war. Secretary Rumsfeld stupidly stated, "You go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want." A trained military professional would never have this thought. The only time you go to war unprepared is when you are surprised by your enemy and you have no other choice. Let's give Shinsecki encouragement to continue solving this overwhelming crisis created decades ago by Congress grossly underestimating the casualties of war.
David R Correll,