VA needs a complete transformation

Re: "Shake up Veterans Affairs so America's heroes get benefits," Editorial, May 3

Your editorial concerning the disastrous state of the Veteran Affairs Department is right on the mark. But the department did not get to this failing state of affairs all of a sudden.

It progressed gradually into a dismal operation due to the lack of oversight by Congress and the "care less" attitude of the Washington bureaucrats who pay lip service to "taking care of our heroes."

There is no question the retired general in charge of the VA must go, the sooner the better. It is quite obvious that Gen. Eric Shinseki lacks the management skills and operational experience to manage this organization.

Along with the good general, hundreds of highly paid mangers andrank and fileemployees must also be dismissed at headquarters and in the regional offices in order to change the culture of "we'll take care of it tomorrow." It is outrageous and disgusting that a veteran's widow must wait several months for a burial benefit, or that disabled, needy veterans have to wait a year or more -- or die -- before their claims are processed.

VA hospitals and out-patient clinics are doing a good job, so why can't the rest of the organization improve? The answer is plain and simple: those handling claims and other administrative matters are not equipped to handle the job, and the managers who hired them are complacent and incompetent.

Perhaps the solution would be to farm out most of the administrative work and hire a for-profit company to take over the claims processing. It is time for a drastic change. Our veterans deserve better.

Louis Ginesi Dominguez


Service members also need freedom from religion

Re: "Religious freedom is threatened by a politically correct Pentagon," Editorial, May 2

Although I am an atheist, I was very interested in this editorial about military leaders asking Mikey Weinstein for advice on religious expression. I suspect they are just trying to minimize future lawsuits by his Religious Freedom group.

As an officer in the U.S. Air Force for almost 13 years, I only had one problem with religious oppression -- when I married a young Mormon woman I met in Korea in 1981.

To get permission to marry a foreign citizen, we were both required to get "spiritual counseling" from a U.S. military chaplain. Both of us objected, but my commander refused to waive the requirement, telling me he did not care about my First Amendment rights.

After going up the chain of command, I finally sent a formal complaint to my congressman under Article 131 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, claiming that the commander exceeded his authority, and I had been denied relief through military channels.

My complaint was forwarded to the Pentagon, which updated the regulation to only require that a foreign marriage could not interfere with one's military duties overseas.

I got married in Seoul and my marriage lasted for 22 years. But it is still my feeling that the U.S. military bears watching on the issue of religious oppression. It is only human nature for commanders to force their own religious beliefs on subordinates "for their own good."

Philip Sagstetter


County has been robbed blind by socialists

Rush "El Windbag" Limbaugh is constantly referring to the "low-information voter". The only difference between that and the "low-intelligence voter" is atmosphere and his fear of offending the 90 percent of black Americas who voted for President Obama.

What we have here is a failure to be unambiguous, which according to the Oxford English Dictionary means: "so clear ... that the dullest fellow in the world may not be able to mistake it."

America has been robbed blind by socialists hiding behind Obama. Resources that we should be able to use ourselves will now be shipped out to pay a debt created for just this purpose.

Michael Powers