To the editor:
There was what I believe is a disturbing story in the news (last) week about former President George W. Bush and his lovely wife, Laura. It seems that President Bush and the former first lady are busy now “… after vacating the Oval Office … ‘replenish[ing] the ol’ coffers.’ He [Bush] said he could make ‘ridiculous’ money on the lecture circuit.”
Making that lecture circuit cash has turned from “ridiculous” for the Bushes to despicable. The former president and first lady have collected a lot of that ridiculous money: $100,000 for President Bush to speak, $20,000 for a private jet, and $50,000 for Mrs. Bush to accept an award, (totaling) $170,000 in all from the Texas-based “Helping a Hero” charity that provides specially adapted homes for veterans who lost limbs and suffered other severe injuries in “the war on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Some veterans, me included, think the Bushes have slapped the face of those severely wounded veterans.
Commander In Chief Bush sent these veterans to the war zones where they were maimed while doing their duty. For him and his wife to personally profit from their terrible situations is beyond ridiculous and is despicable in my view.
The Bushes’ “ridiculous” money, extracted from disabled veterans in Texas, is simply a symptom of the sad and shabby way America treats its veterans. The fault for this derelict treatment is fully the responsibility of the elected officials in Washington who do nothing or too little to provide care for those of us who answered the call, especially the unfortunate veterans whose bodies and minds are severely broken, scarred and damaged from their wartime experiences.
On Jan. 26, “Charity Watch” reported that there are 40,000 nonprofits and 400,000 “service organizations” in the veteran business. Why? Where is the Veterans Administration and why are private entities fulfilling the obligation this nation has to its veterans? There’s always plenty of money to fill the ranks, equip the force, train and arm the war-fighter and logistically overwhelm enemies on the battlefield. Where is that kind of effort from the people – our elected officials and their bureaucracies, like the VA — when the warriors leave the battlefield and return home?
There’s plenty of money operating non-profits with $170,000 guest-speaker and celebrity costs. Something is not right.
I don’t in any way mean to malign the people and organizations that are doing the VA’s job. Thank God for them and more power to them. It’s become, however, a very big business, with hundreds of thousands of dollars going to celebrity speech-givers, pitchmen and the former first family, who are indeed replenishing their ol’ coffers off the broken backs of severely disabled veterans.
You have to go back to former President Harry Truman who rejected the prospect of ridiculous money and income after vacating the White House. “I have a very strong feeling about any man, who has the honor of being an occupant of the White House in the greatest job in the history of the world, who would exploit that situation in any way, shape or form,” he once wrote. So far, it looks like President and Mrs. Bush are the only former occupants of the White House who are cashing in on the casualties of war. I wonder what they’d charge to deliver a rousing patriotic eulogy for one of the 5,000-plus KIAs from the war on terror that President Bush initiated when he sent these warriors to the battle …