The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Matt Howard, Communications Director

Vets Outraged by Political Gamesmanship Over Veterans Healthcare Bill


Yesterday members of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) were disgusted to witness the Republican party engage in acts of cynical political maneuvering. A historic veterans omnibus bill (S.1982) that would have increased the quality of life for millions of veterans instead became a political stunt designed to push through dangerous and diplomatically irresponsible sanctions on Iran. When that stunt didn't work the GOP blocked the passage of a bill that would have opened up 27 new VA health clinics, strengthened one of many health programs like sexual trauma care and gone far in reducing the benefits backlog. These are just a few of the many opportunities to improve the lives of veterans that political gamesmanship squandered.

"Why would Congressional members put Iran sanctions into a bill meant to care for veterans when they created so many of them needlessly? The answer is that in the end members of Congress like Mitch McConnell don't actually care about healing veterans." said Matt Howard, Marine veteran and Communications Director of IVAW.

As an organization that includes many of its members in the 2.5 million veterans that have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, IVAW is acutely aware of the challenges that have beset our generation. We are also familiar with the gap between rhetoric and action in supporting our troops and service members and unfortunately this is yet another example. The costs of our most recent wars have been high on both sides and will continue to be so as veterans come home to grapple with high rates of PTSD, military sexual trauma, and traumatic brain injury. Thanks to the leadership of Senator Bernie Sanders this bill would have gone far in addressing these challenges and, by being fully funded, was fiscally responsible.

The fact that this bill would have paid for itself from funds originally designed to be used in Iraq and Afghanistan is vitally important because taking care of those who fight the nation's wars is part of the wars' total cost. This could have been an opportunity to divert funds from wars of choice and an opportunity to reinvest them in healing, education and reparations for all people impacted by these recent wars.

Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) was founded by Iraq war veterans in July 2004 at the annual convention of Veterans for Peace (VFP) in Boston to give a voice to the large number of active duty service people and veterans who are against this war, but are under various pressures to remain silent. From its inception, IVAW has called for: Immediate withdrawal of all occupying forces in Iraq; Reparations for the human and structural damages Iraq has suffered, and stopping the corporate pillaging of Iraq so that their people can control their own lives and future; and Full benefits, adequate healthcare (including mental health), and other supports for returning servicemen and women. As of 5/2021, the IVAW website is offline.