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This New PBS Doc Offers An Unflinching Look At The Dark History Of The VA
Even in its beginnings, the Department of Veterans Affairs was seeped in wrongdoing. In 1926, just five years after the establishment of the U.S. Veterans Bureau, founding director Col. Charles R. Forbes was convicted of trying to defraud the government. More than 90 years later, the VA remains a government agency wracked in controversy as it tries to balance the treatment of roughly 9 million veterans and stifling government bureaucracy.
The history of the VA and its failures are the focus of VA: The Human Cost of War, a new documentary set to air Nov. 6 on PBS. Directed by Emmy Award-winner Ric Burns, the film delves into the evolving role of the modern VA in its near-century of operations and the services that remain engulfed in systemic dysfunction as the agency struggles to provide much-needed care for millions of veterans across America.
Dr. David Shulkin, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, speaks with a patient at the VA hospital in New York City.Steeplechase Films
“The film illustrates the true cost of war through the enormous sacrifices and subsequent neglect of those who serve in our armed forces,” Lois Pope, executive producer of the documentary, said in a statement. “But as we have far too often seen in recent years, there has been an abundance of negligence when it comes to ensuring their care and well-being. This film is meant to raise awareness and create an open, candid dialogue addressing this situation.”
Featuring a wide ensemble of interviews — current Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. David J. Shulkin and his predecessor Robert A. McDonald, VSO leaders and journalists who work to hold department accountable, and the veterans who rely on the VA’s services — the documentary offers an honest, unflinching critique of the institution. But it also recognizes that not all of the VA’s shortcomings are within its control: As the film points out, long-term, overarching improvements require lawmakers to do more in Congress to equip the VA with the tools it needs to succeed, rather than point fingers when things go wrong.
Most importantly, the film elevates the individual stories and experiences of veterans who signed a contract with the U.S. government to protect our country and came home broken and in need of repair. Many of these veterans indeed received life-saving treatment from the VA, which trains roughly 70% of doctors and nurses in the United States and has spearheaded innovative medical solutions to the injuries coming out of America’s wars. But too many are falling through the cracks — and will continue to do so until some drastic changes are put into effect.
PBS will screen the one-hour documentary Monday at 9 p.m. EST; in the meantime, you can watch a clip below. Tell us in the comments what you think.
Editor's Note: This article by Oriana Pawlyk originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.
NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland -- The U.S. Air Force will call its new trainer the T-7A "Red Hawk."
Acting Air Force Secretary Matt Donovan announced the name of the jet, known previously as the T-X, on Monday, alongside retired Col. Charles McGee, who was a member of the Tuskegee Airmen.
"The name, Red Hawk, honors the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen, and pays homage to their signature red-tailed aircraft from World War II," Donovan said here during the annual Air, Space and Cyber conference.
The Special Forces community is honoring the life of Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy W. Griffin, who was killed in Afghanistan on Monday, whom his commander described as a superlative soldier and beloved teammate.
"He was a warrior - an accomplished, respected and loved Special Forces soldier that will never be forgotten," Col. Owen G. Ray, commander of 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), said in a news release. "We ask that you keep his family and teammates in your thoughts and prayers."
DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran held talks with a delegation from Afghanistan's Taliban, the Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday, a week after peace talks between the United States and the Islamist insurgents collapsed.
Iran said in December it had been meeting with Taliban representatives with the knowledge of the Afghan government, after reports of U.S.-Taliban talks about a ceasefire and a possible withdrawal of foreign troops.
The Marine lieutenant colonel who was removed from command of 1st Reconnaissance Battalion in May is accused of lying to investigators looking into allegations of misconduct, according to a copy of his charge sheet provided to Task & Purpose on Monday.
President Donald Trump just can't stop telling stories about former Defense Secretary James Mattis. This time, the president claims Mattis said U.S. troops were so perilously low on ammunition that it would be better to hold off launching a military operation.
"You know, when I came here, three years ago almost, Gen. Mattis told me, 'Sir, we're very low on ammunition,'" Trump recalled on Monday at the White House. "I said, 'That's a horrible thing to say.' I'm not blaming him. I'm not blaming anybody. But that's what he told me because we were in a position with a certain country, I won't say which one; we may have had conflict. And he said to me: 'Sir, if you could, delay it because we're very low on ammunition.'
"And I said: You know what, general, I never want to hear that again from another general," Trump continued. "No president should ever, ever hear that statement: 'We're low on ammunition.'"