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War of words escalating between VA, senator

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A war of words is escalating between US veterans organizations and a ranking member of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs.

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.)’s Friday “open letter to America’s Veterans” blamed several veterans service groups for not caring about former servicemen and servicewomen, the Huffington Post reported.

As calls increase for Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign, Burr also wrote that the veterans service groups are insufficiently critical of Shinseki.

He accused the groups (with the exception of the American Legion) of being more invested in maintaining access to the secretary than with fixing a troubled healthcare system.

“Last week, the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs heard from Secretary Shinseki, representatives of some of the Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs), and others,” he wrote.

But “regrettably,” he continued, “the Legion was alone among the VSOs that testified in taking such a stand. It became clear at the hearing that most of the other VSOs attending appear to be more interested in defending the status quo within VA, protecting their relationships within the agency, and securing their access to the Secretary and his inner circle.”

Burr’s letter was a reaction to the recent reports concerning revelations and allegations of long wait times, bureaucratic malfeasance and insufficient care at the VA.

VSO leaders were very annoyed by Burr’s letter and responded to his comments in their own letter.

Veterans of Foreign Wars responded to Burr by calling his letter a “monumental cheap-shot” and labeling it “one of the most dishonorable and grossly inappropriate acts that we’ve witnessed in more than forty years of involvement with the veteran community.”

The group added that Burr’s conduct and allegations were “ugly and mean-spirited in every sense of the words and profoundly wrong, both logically and morally,” in addition to breaching “the standards of the United States Senate.”

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