Dear Senators Murray, Cantwell and Representative Baird:
Long ago and far away, as a young Navy officer aboard a destroyer operating off the coast of Asia, I sent letters to my two Washington senators: Warren Magnuson and Henry Jackson. Those men were, and remain, two of my political heroes.
That was long before the days of e-mails. My letters to Sens. Magnuson and Jackson went through the Fleet Post Office system, across the Pacific, and North American continent, to Washington, D.C. In less than a month, I received a reply from each senator.
On March 6 of this year, I sent the following email, concerning veteran's affairs, to each of you. Eight months later, this vet is still waiting for a reply. Not one of you thus far has had the courtesy to answer my letter:
This letter concerns the recent disclosures about conditions at Walter Reed Army Hospital. It's a letter that I'd like to address to all U.S. Senators and Representatives.
However, the three of you are my personal Congressional representatives, so I'll limit my questions and comments to you.
Senator Murray, in your current website posting, you say, "The Bush Administration has known for years of problems at Walter Reed hospital and other medical centers. It is appalling that it takes news coverage of moldy rooms and bureaucratic nightmares for the President to review the shameful treatment of our injured troops."
Senator Murray, I wholeheartedly agree with your statement.
However, I think it's equally appalling that it takes such news coverage to make the three of you, my personal Congressional representatives, aware of that shameful treatment.
I would like to ask each of you this question: When was the last time that you, acting alone as an individual citizen, without benefit of advance notice to the hospital by your staff, and without attempting to make the event a "photo opportunity", visited any of our VA hospitals and outpatient facilities, including Walter Reed, Bethesda, or any of those located here in Washington state, or any other state?
Again, please bear in mind, this letter may feel personal to you, and it is, but my questions apply to every Senator and Representative, regardless of party. Right now, we're seeing the all too typical political posturing on this matter, on both sides of the aisle. I find this disgusting. Where were all of you?
With 100 Senators, why hasn't someone, or some group of you, long ago, formed a non-partisan plan to insure that at least two of you pay a weekly, unannounced, visit to D.C. area VA hospitals, and their nearby support facilities? Each of you would have the "duty" about once each year. Is that too much to ask of all of you?
The same question applies to members of the House. With 435 of you, one of your members could visit the hospitals on a daily basis, which would require each of you to assume the "duty" about once a year.
And what about unannounced visits by Senators and Representatives to VA hospitals and facilities in their home states?
And not just in wartime. Our active duty military personnel and our veterans deserve the best of treatment all of the time. You all pay lip service to that idea. How many of you actually do anything to insure the concept approaches reality?
Angry? Appalled? You bet I am! At all of you - every one of you in Congress, Republicans, Democrats, Independents, alike. It appears you all were asleep at the wheel. And so was I. If we were all doing our jobs as citizens, another taxpayer waste of money "investigation" by Congress would be unnecessary. More importantly, our men and women in the military, and our veterans, would be receiving the care they deserve. And, yes, I am a Vet.