After members of our armed forces bravely serve their nation, they sometimes come home to find themselves battling another enemy—within their own government. Using decades of case histories, statistics, and firsthand accounts, award-winning Washington journalist Martin Schram exposes a shocking culture of antagonism toward veterans by the very agency—the Department of Veterans Affairs—that was formed to serve them.
Vets Under Siege reveals the shameless lack of care shown to our young servicemen and -women, from recruiters' deceptions and a lack of armor in battle to shoddy, disgusting conditions at Walter Reed and other medical facilities, and looks back to examine the innumerable postwar battles our veterans have had to wage for proper treatment, from World War II to today. Martin Schram's bold bugle call, sounded on behalf of our nation's beleaguered servicemen and -women, lays bare a chilling pattern of institutional negligence, delay, and denial, and points the way forward with definitive solutions to a national disgrace.
Former Washington Post correspondent Schram (Avoiding Armageddon) airs a long list of grievances in this impassioned expos of government callousness toward veterans. While including other issues, this indictment focuses on the Department of Veterans Affairs' slow, disputatious processing of disability claims, which can drag on through years of arbitrary decisions, byzantine appeals and lost paperwork, with claimants sometimes dying before a final ruling. Drawing on eye-glazing excerpts from bureaucratic reports, Schram blames these problems not just on red tape but on an adversarial mindset at the VA, where the operating principle, he says, is safeguard the money and not the vets. Schram unearths some egregious injustices: the VA declined one Iraq veteran's disability benefits because 'hrapnel wounds all over the body not service connected.' But most cases involve disability claims for cancer, diabetes or psychiatric problems, where the VA puts on the vet the burden of proving a link with decades-past exposures to