PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) -- Congratulations, mainstream America: You're finally angry about dead U.S. servicemen and women.
Of course, it's strictly for political reasons. Isn't it always? Veterans Day celebrations come and go with a whimper but Veterans For Peace and Swift Boat Veterans For Truth get a hero's welcome from party committees.
This Memorial Day we can talk about soldier suicides like that of of 23-year-old Marine Lance Corporal Jeffrey Michael Lucey of Belchertown, Mass., an Iraq veteran who killed himself after struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder as I wrote about five years ago. We can talk about 21-year-old Army Specialist Adam Kuligowski -- who took his rifle into a bathroom stall at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan and shot himself on April 6, 2009 -- and his woeful lack of care and supervision.
We can every talk about how a military suicide rate that long ago exceeded combat deaths is a dire measure that is still underreported.
But nobody actually gives a damn until those facts can harm a politician they hate.
Let's make one thing clear: The lack of oversight at Veterans Affairs hospitals
and the deaths that have occurred as a result should make everyone angry. It's already cost the lives of people who willingly put themselves in harm's way for their country, their families or, at the very least, their fellow soldiers -- this VA bungling
should cost people their jobs as well.
But isn't it just lovely to have the privilege of newfound outrage?
Isn't it just wonderful to believe that this has never happened before and won't continue to happen to active-duty soldiers and veterans under any administration? That the roughly 6,500 former military personnel
who killed themselves last year -- which equates to one suicide every 80 minutes -- was just an aberration under once specific administration? Or that money itself could be an answer?
Those are some privileged viewpoints that do absolutely nothing to help veterans and active-duty military. Within the last decade, the budget for Veterans Affairs has increased from $59.7 billion to more than $125 billion. Last year, VA used $40 million in extra Congressional funding earmarked for military suicide prevention to establish a new crisis line (1-800-273-8255) and Web site that was supposed to give veterans non-phone options including text and online chat to reach out if they're contemplating suicide. President Barack Obama event signed an executive order in August authorizing VA to hire additional staff and double the capacity of the crisis line to increase its accessibility.