Obama's promise to veterans

"I'll be a President who ensures that America serves our men and women in uniform as well as they've served us, and that's why I'm proud to have the support of these veterans advising me on the issues facing our troops and veterans," Obama stated. "After seven years of an Administration that has stretched our military to the breaking point, ignored deplorable conditions at some VA hospitals, and neglected the planning and preparation necessary to care for our returning heroes, America's veterans deserve a President who will fight for them not just when it's easy or convenient, but every hour of every day for the next four years." Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), Nov. 12, 2007.

If only President Obama had taken these words seriously and acted on the Office of the Inspector General report detailing problems within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health system that was published just prior to his inauguration in 2009.

But he didn't.

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On this Memorial Day weekend, the president finds himself entrenched in a scandal that he cannot duck by claiming partisanship. A scandal that either will show casual indifference by Obama to the plight of our veterans' health care, or a blatant political cover-up that has burst into the public eye, tragically worsened by the deaths of veterans around the nation.

What we do know is that what Americans hoped was an isolated instance of local VA officials choosing to deny health services to veterans based upon the severity of their illness has metastasized into a 26-facility probe.

The breadth of the VA denial of service practice can only point to a systemic policy throughout the department, a web that reaches at least the cabinet secretary level.

The news and implications of the real, live decentralized death panels at VA facilities across the nation have left the nation stunned. And the implications for the rest of us — as we await the full implementation of Obamacare — are truly frightening.

If you are an 80-year-old senior diagnosed with cancer, the VA has demonstrated the compassion you should expect from the federal government. Expect to be referred to a palliative care/pain management specialist, while waiting in a line that never moves to receive lifesaving oncological treatment.

On this Memorial Day weekend, America rightfully honors those who gave their full measure in defense of our nation. It is to our nation's shame that instead of focusing upon these real heroes, our president is stuck explaining why his administration has allowed those who survived the wars to die without treatment back home.

We have a solemn responsibility to those who served and risked everything for our freedom, and if this president has a shred of decency, he should work closely with Republicans to find real solutions to the VA health system problems and get them implemented before he leaves office in January 2017.

Manning (@rmanning957) is vice president of public policy and communications for Americans for Limited Government. Contact him at rmanning@getliberty.org.