THE DISCARDED ARMY: The Nader Report on Vietnam Veterans and the Veterans Administration by Paul; Jim Henry & Ray Bonner Starr

THE DISCARDED ARMY: The Nader Report on Vietnam Veterans and the Veterans Administration

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The other day the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Edward Rust, defended Ralph Nader and his raiders. Rather than being an ""enemy"" of American business, Nader is ""committed to making the system work."" Rust went on to say that Nader ""may be a bit shrill at times, but I think he has to be that way to outshout his enemies."" Good point. Let's hope that those in responsibility who read this latest Nader-sponsored investigation -- a typically well documented albeit angry and, yes, sometimes shrill indictment of the Veterans Administration for its insouciance toward Vietnam vets -- will take it in the spirit offered, not as an attempt to wreck the VA system but to improve it. Starr and his colleagues look at the returning soldier (no hero, he's often jobless and on dope -- it was an unpopular war), examine the woeful condition of the VA hospital program (""haphazardly"" planned, chronically understaffed, etc.), and zero in on the incredibly ineffective drug treatment effort (late, reluctant, bungled, hidebound). Following the usual Nader report format, the authors offer a number of recommendations for reform (not only for medical but also educational and job-retraining programs administered by the VA), including the enactment of a comprehensive national health insurance program which would include the VA (""If left out, it will only become more of a backwater than it is now"") and establishment of aggressive and progressive drug rehabilitation programs. The VA requires more than bandaids and a dab of mercurochrome to remedy what's wrong if we accept this diagnosis -- and we do. After all, Nader and his corps of young social surgeons are about the only people making house calls these days.

Pub Date: Nov. 16th, 1973
Publisher: Charterhouse--dist. by McKay