I already described not only how brief the President’s remarks on national security/foreign policy were on Tuesday night (I counted the word “veteran” twice in the 7,000-word speech, for example), but how his characterization of the military “progress” in Afghanistan was perilously close to being a bald-faced lie.
Now the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) are accusing President Obama of using what little breath he expended on veterans to exaggerate an existing program at the VA:
In a statement from the IAVA, Wednesday:
“Last night, veterans did not hear a concrete plan of action to tackle the most urgent issues facing our community. We heard nothing on veteran unemployment and nothing on the staggering rates of military and veteran suicides.
In addition, the President said, ‘Veterans can now download their electronic medical records with a click of the mouse.’ This is not true. Contrary to the President’s comment, the only thing a veteran can download from the VA’s system are pharmaceutical records and personal health information that he or she has self-entered. This is a critical distinction.
The President’s comments are misleading to service members, veterans and the American public who now think that this system is in place and functional, while it is clearly not. In the last 24 hours, IAVA has heard from hundreds of members who have expressed surprise and outrage that the President could get something so wrong in arguably the most important speech of the year.
The White House has yet to respond to the IAVA on this charge. In the meantime, it is always surprising to me the short shrift that veterans are given in these speeches. But it turns out that Obama is no different than President Bush — he obviously fears that drawing attention to the needs of the veteran somehow reflects badly on his war policy, and as we gather from his very brief display of falsehoods and gratuitous exaggeration on Tuesday, the impulse to manage perception of the war in the face of glaring failure continues to override everything else, especially the truth.