USA Military Veteran Plight: Macro- and Micro-Level Considerations


Anthony J. Marsella, Ph.D. – TRANSCEND Media Service

“In war, truth is the first casualty.”
— Aeschylus (525BC-456BC)

Nov–Dec 2019

MACRO: Deleterious Consequences of Ironic Veterans’ Celebrations; Military Leader Deceit and Duplicitous War Reports; Cui Bono Wars, Fought Endlessly for Profit and Position; Veterans Affairs Service Failures

MICRO Equation: Critical Variables in Individual Quality Care


The tragic plight of USA military veterans is discussed within the context of four critical and reciprocal MACRO-level determinants: (1) Tragic irony: Praise and gratitude – subsequent abandonment; (2) Military leadership deceit, lies, betrayal; (3) Cui Bono? Special interest wars fought for questionable national security reason, but for financial, economic, and political interests; (4) Failures and errors in provision of legal and promised veteran services amid partisan scandals in VA leadership.

This is followed by a descriptive equation of MICRO-level considerations in military veteran quality care.

Part I:  Macro Level

1. Tragic Irony: Praise and Abandonment

So wrote Aeschylus, ancient Greek play writer and soldier, who defended Athens against the Persians in the Battle of Marathon (490BC), and later in the Battles of Salamis (480BC) and Plataea (479BC). Like so many soldiers, veterans of horrific struggles, Aeschylus subsequently suffered criticism, persecution, betrayal, and abandonment. Does it ever change?

The military veteran’s plight is one of initial celebration and gratitude, too often followed by abandonment, perhaps neither citizens, government leaders, nor military brass want reminders of the tragic pursuit of war and military might, as solutions to national and international conflicts.

“When Johnny comes marching home again, hurrah, hurrah; we’ll give him a hearty welcome then, hurrah, hurrah!” (Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore [1829-1892]).

The tragic irony of veteran celebration and abandonment is manifest in the annual USA Veterans National Holiday Day on November 11, 2019. On this day, in November 11, 1918, at 11:00 AM, government powers of the time proclaimed, Armistice Day, an end to WWI, “The War to End All Wars.” This became the day designated as the current “Veterans Day” holiday in 1954, when President Dwight D. Eisenhower officially changed its name.

Amid the pomp and celebration of today’s Veterans Day Holiday, there are parades, endless speeches by politicians, military brass, local officials, and authentic personal voices of veterans and family members re-telling stories of heroism, horror, and life and death in service to country.

Government offices, banks, and some businesses close in honor of living and dead military veterans on Veterans Day. Few holidays are as just in their noble purpose and deserving of so much more attention than ritualistic speeches and expressions of gratitude; no holiday reveals such basic dishonesty between laudatory speeches and ceremonies, and the harsh realities of the plight of USA military veterans.

John Whitehead (2019), acclaimed author of Battlefield America: The War on the American People, writes:

Americans are fed a steady diet of pro-war propaganda that keeps them content to wave flags with patriotic fervor and less inclined to look too closely at the mounting body counts, the ruined lives, the ravaged countries, the blowback arising from ill-advised targeted-drone killings and bombing campaigns in foreign lands, or the transformation of our own homeland into a warzone.

Nowhere is this double-edged irony more apparent than during military holidays, when we get treated to a generous serving of praise and grandstanding by politicians, corporations and others with similarly self-serving motives eager to go on record as being pro-military (Whitehead, 2019, Casualties of War: Military Veterans Have Become America’s Walking Wounded).

According to editors, there are currently 18.2 million living veterans who served in at least one war as of 2018. Nine percent of the veterans are women, the largest group of seven million veterans served in the Vietnam War. According to Patrick Deleon, former aide to Hawaii Senator, Daniel Inouye, there are a sizable number of veterans in in the United States Congress, and yet service failures continue.

Approximately 21.5 percent of the current Congress have served in the military. This drop in Members with experience in the Armed Forces comes after a major turnover – 100 new Members have joined since the 2018 midterms. Presently there are 95 Veterans, 77 in the House of Representatives and 18 Senators. Of the freshman class, 20 percent are Veterans, with the largest group joining the military prior to 9/11. (DeLeon < December 16, 2019).

In brief, the tragic irony between celebrations of veterans’ sacrifices and the harsh reality of abandonment in care and services is a major contributor to the USA military veteran plight.

2. Military Leadership Distortion, Deceit, Betrayal

There are growing revelations about deceit and lies among military leaders in portraying war successes (Vietnam, Afghanistan, Syria), even as massive failures are occurring. Of special note is the egregious USA government’s deceit and lies in continuing the “War successes scenario” in Vietnam and the Afghanistan War, and of course, in Iraq and Syria (Craig Whitlock, 2019).

William Hartung, a respected peace activist with scholarly credentials, published a powerful article entitled: The Stubborn Persistence of the Military-Industrial State (Hartung, TMS 15 Dec 2019). Hartung details the economic, political, and moral abuses of the Military-Industrial Complex, citing the trillions of dollars being awarded to USA war profiter corporations (e.g., Lockheed Martin; Northrop Grumman, Boeing, Raytheon, General Dynamics), under the guise of national security.

A tragic cycle has been established in which war-weapon manufacturers provide jobs for retired military officers at high salaries; retired military officers pursue contacts and contracts to encourage governments and military to expand wars, via purchases of arms from corporate profiteers. Congressional members receive campaign financial donations, election benefits, and the possibility of lucrative employment for supporting for military constituencies.

Hartung (2019) cites Gordon Adam’s, The Iron Triangle, which pointed out the evil alliances in the 1990s, including the now infamous, Project for a New American Century (PNAC), led by Richard Cheney and numerous neo-cons (e.g., Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, William Kristol, Robert Kagan, Douglas Feith, Jeb Bush, Elliot Abrams, Eliot Cohen, Frank Gaffney) (See Betty Stockbauer, 2003, “Rebuilding America’s Defenses: A Summary, Blueprint of the PNAC Plan for U.S. Global Hegemony.”

In his volume, The Iron Triangle, Gordon Adam’s condemned the “Congressional-Pentagon-Arms Industries,” (CPAI) which have placed special interests above national interests. Massive amounts of money are used to support arms industries, keeping alive wars in an endless cycle of destruction for soldiers and civilians as the CPAI thrives. This tragic policy has been occurring for decades, and was already present in the Vietnam Debacle.

Memories: Vietnam Debacle (1955? 1964-1975) and Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria … No Apologies

Consider the grievous, tragic, and traumatic fact for soldiers in the Vietnam War. More than 58 million USA troops were killed, as were than 1.3 million Vietnamese citizens. Millions of Vietnamese citizens became local and international refugees. Remaining military mines and Agent Orange herbicide and defoliant, continues to takes lives on all sides.

The actual beginning date of the Vietnam War, called by the Vietnamese, The Resistance War against America,” has been listed as 1955, although many cite the period, 1964-1975 as the major USA period of invasion and departure. Of special note is the egregious USA government’s deceit and lies in continuing the “War,” paralleling the deceit and lies of the current Afghanistan Wars (Craig Whitlock, 2019).

How often we heard the lies: “We are winning?” Who was winning? Why were lies so important, beyond justifying the flawed USA policy of the theoretical “Domino Theory.” Endless war is propagated! Military and government propagate myths contending the USA is bringing democracy, nation-building, national identity, economic growth, and political transparency to each invaded nation. Nothing can be farther from the truth!

Often elected governments are overthrown and replaced with dictators favorable to USA interests, enabling exploitation of natural resources by USA and global corporations. It is about “money,” at the expense of lives. Perhaps nation building should be implemented at home in the USA.

Nations, allied with USA military and defense sources, have accepted the harsh reality of USA military and regime change interventions. NATO is obviously implicated in this betrayal of truth, as their soldiers are placed in international service for nefarious reasons.

Over time, an international collection of veterans evolves (e.g., Australia, Dutch, Italy, Canadian, UK). They have served, suffered, and must reconcile their actions with physical, psychological, and moral injury. What happens as they perceived the selfish sources of wars as exploitation rather than moral cause.

USA citizens have come to recognize the image of the USA is not one they were taught in schools and via media propaganda, but rather an avaricious and rapacious nation driven by corporate profits, financial machination, government betrayal, and a self-serving military protecting its interests under the guise of national security.

In truth, obviously, many USA citizens love their country and are true patriots seeking a restoration of USA Constitutional laws, privileges, and virtues amidst the corruption, deceit, and crime. Citizens remain shocked at the abandonment or denial of assumed Constitutional rights.

In truth, many USA military members are proud of their military service, and trust the Veterans Administration for assistance and help, even as deaths, injuries, and enduring scars remain. Their courage and sacrifice  cannot be denied, even as they are, too often, abandoned.

In truth, there are corporations and corporate leaders who recognize their moral responsibilities to society and nation. The challenges, however, are many and onerous. War remains war, with its many costs and consequences for victors and losers. “Does anyone win in war?” Or perhaps the better question is, “Who wins in war?”

Know this: There are situations when “war” may be an essential and necessary response, even as some pacifists assert “non-killing” must be pursued (e.g., Glenn Paige (2002) Nonkilling Political Science. Center for Global Nonkilling, Honolulu, Hawaii).

For all its seemingly just USA participation because WWII remains an exemplar in which “villains” and “dangers” were perhaps more apparent, there are questions of “secret” concerns regarding agendas of luring nations into war for strategic reasons.

USA government and military decision makers lies about pursuing war for USA security interests were followed by the Bush’s and Obama debacles in Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Afghanistan. Chart 1 displays the consequences and costs of war.

Decades later, tens of trillion’s dollars have been expended, trillions unaccounted for by government. Even Donald Rumsfeld, former Secretary of Defense raised questions, on September 10, 2001 about several trillion unaccounted for dollars (Terrence Leveck, February 16, 2018, “America’s Missing Money,” City-Journal.Org).

The next day, in an amazing coincidence, the infamous and increasingly controversial 9/11 attacks occurred; one attack destroyed the West Facade of the Pentagon, a section alleged to be investigating financial issues; 125 military and civilian personnel were killed. Within a brief period of time, Iraq was invaded, the “War on Terror” was declared, Afghanistan was invaded, and an endless-war mentality evolved. The “War of Terrorism” continues today in its implications for veterans and citizens; thousands critical of USA policies and actions are labeled risks to national security. Silence dissent!

Chart 1


6 Jun 2016

What more can be said of war
That has not already been said,
That has not already been written,
That has not already been sung in song,
Recited in verse, shared in epic tales?

What more can be said of war
That has not already been committed to screen,
In iconic movies with legendary actors
Fighting and dying with glory amidst waving flags;
Or in heralded documentaries carefully
Edited with photos, letters, and poignant
Words of lament, spoken amid haunting tunes?

What more can be said of war
That has not already been in sculpted in marble,
Painted on canvases,
Photographed in black and white,
And vivid color,
Revealing: blood is red, bone is white,
Death is endless.

What more can be said of war
That has not already been inscribed in minds and bodies
Of soldiers who survived,
Civilians who endured,
Prisoners captive to trauma,
Scars visible and invisible?

What more can be said of war
That has not already been carved
On ordered granite gravestones
In national cemeteries, honoring sacrifice,
Death veiled in shade and sunlight?

What more can be said of war
That has not already been said

About heroes and villains,
Soldiers and generals,
Warriors and misfits,
Freedom fighters and terrorists,
Victims and collateral damage,
Apologies and reparations?

What more can be said of war
That has not already been said about
Glorious and evil causes,
Lusts for power and control,
Access to wealth and resources,
Messianic responsibilities, moral duties,
Domination . . . ascendancy . . . revenge?

What more can be said of war
That has not already been eulogized
On fields of battle,
Where lives were lost, minds seared,
Historians’ crafts polished
With the biased narratives of victors:
Waterloo, Hue, Fallujah?
There is no winner in war!

And why, if so much has been
Spoken, written, and engraved,
Why do the lessons of war,
Continue to be ignored, denied, distorted?
And now . . .  Syria?

Today, more than 900 USA military bases exist across the world, many posing threats of invasion to China, Russia, and Iran (See Watson Institute, Brown University). There is a mindless quest for a unipolar empire in a multipolar global world. What madness?

What is needed is a deep awareness of the consequences of decisions to enter war. What is needed is diplomatic cooperation, collaboration, teamwork. What exists are military solutions to complex global challenges, many fashioned and perpetuated by the USA. What is needed is conscience and consciousness.

A franks appraisal is the USA knows little about nation building, even as it asserts this is a motive for war; indeed, the reality is the USA faces a nation- building challenge at home, as serious domestic problems confront the USA regarding government, social structure and formation, poverty, and violence.

War is not a unidimensional experience for the soldier or society. Beyond the immediate combat horrors of war are a score of moral, economic, political, and medical short-term and long-term consequences impacting individual soldiers, families, and the fabric of society.

Hatred simmers in individuals and nations; win or lose. Even as forgiveness is advocated; hatred may endure for a century or more, and harsh stereotypes used in propaganda continue across time. There is no winner in war.

I would ask all who choose to enter war, to study Chart 1. The hopeful WWI phrase: “The War to End all Wars,” was soon dashed by continuing conflicts and hatreds, and consequences of the Versailles Treaty rooted in revenge and punishment.

No phrase proved farther from the truth! WWII followed WWI within decades, with even more devastating destruction. Citizen minds in Germany, Italy, and other nations, hungry for certainty, blindly followed mindless leaders and ideologies.

As in WWI, the end to WWII brought no escape from wars as hundreds of hot and cold wars followed across the world. Too often, corporations, national governments, and militaries across the world benefitted. Among the greatest losers, are global populations, military veterans, USA citizens.

This paper opened with an epigram, attributed to Aeschylus (525 BC-456BC): “In war, truth is the first casualty.” In the hands and minds of government, military, and corporate leaders consumed with wealth, power, and position, “truth” would reveal their villainous ways and betrayals.

3. Who Benefits (Cui Bono)?

Endless war is the norm today, as efforts to resolve domestic and international problems continue to rely on military solutions, with citizen and military victims. Cui Bono (Who benefits) is a controversial phrase suggesting “The more someone benefits from something, the more likely they may be the cause.”

Behind many tragedies of our times are the special interests of worldwide individuals, nations, corporations, and militaries. There are numerous names: Secret state, shadow state, military state.  Some speak of a Transnational Elite (TNE), a Brobdingnagian group of military-industrial-government individuals and organizations who make money, establish power, and obtain positions to serve their interests. The TNE deserves our attention because of its concentration of wealth, power, and position.

USA President Eisenhower warned of as the Military-Industrial Complex (MIC). Today, however, this Complex has become more powerful and ensconced than President Eisenhower imagined. It is a “Military-Corporate-Financial-Congressional-Media-Educational Complex!”

The tentacles of the MIC extend into many areas. Senator Daniel Inouye proposed a Triple-Helix organization consisting of three sectors: Government, University, Corporations. Tragically this compromises purposes across all sides as values, ethics, and methods are sacrificed

Philip Giraldi, a former counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer of the United States Central Intelligence Agency, and a columnist and television commentator who is the Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, concludes Congress, the CIA, FBI, and many of the 17 National Security Administration intelligence agencies, are part of the tragic betrayal of USA government laws and privileges. He states:

More recently there have been Guantanamo, torture in black site prisons, renditions of terror suspects to be tortured elsewhere, killing of US citizens by drone, turning Libya into a failed state and terrorist haven, arming militants in Syria, and, of course, the Iraqi alleged WMDs, the biggest foreign policy disaster in American history. And the bad stuff happened in bipartisan fashion, under Democrats and Republicans, with both neocons and liberal interventionists all playing leading roles.

The only one punished for the war crimes was former CIA officer and whistleblower John Kiriakou, who exposed some of what was going on (Giraldi, November 22/23, 2019, “Information Clearing House, CIA and FBI Are Corrupt, but What About Congress?).

Within the USA, and internationally, the TNE Complex operates and functions to the benefit of their special interests, oblivious to national laws and responsibilities.

As noted previously, recent front-page article posted by the Washington Post and New York Times, authored by Craig Whitlock, At War with the Truth, revealed the endless lies of government and military leaders regarding alleged “progress” in the now 18 year-old Afghanistan War, in which more than 2400 USA soldiers were killed, trillion dollars expended, and millions of Afghani citizens were killed or forced into refugee status in nearby nations.

Craig Whitlock’s investigative revelation reveals widespread and habitual lies, deceit, and misrepresentation by those in power and influence.

The “Transnational Elite” (TNE) constitute a collective “Secret State,” relentlessly pursuing wealth, power, and position, typically with powerful and corrupt governments and militaries serving as protectors and enforcers. Do not scoff! Global debt is now estimated to be $255 trillion dollars, and the creators and holder of the debt are the Transnational Elite (TNE). The source and core of their destructive effort is: “Accumulation of capital, “paper money” of no real worth.”

The USA Federal Reserve keeps printing money, and the money is used not for investment in needed national structural problems, but re-invested in corporate accounts, and then used to enhance salaries of greedy executives. This one percent, 1%, give or take a small percentage, enriches a few, depriving the masses. A cynical conclusion for the USA is: “We have the best country money can buy.” There is a growing consciousness we must get corporate money out of government, especially via Citizens United.

The configuration of sources influencing and controlling struggles, conflicts, wars, and genocides is complex, interactive, and resistant to immediate change and solution.

Left behind in the secret byzantine corridors of the mega-wealthy with excessive power and position (i.e., TNE), are soldiers, sailors, airmen, who fight wars, suffer tragic consequences of trauma, permanent injury, death, and rely on an organization, the USA Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

The VA, justly conceived to assist veterans for their sacrifices, is now a major source of veteran burdens and trauma associated with VA governmental bureaucracy, politization, and endless problematic failures in services, and scandal. Designed to help veterans by providing medical, disability, family, financial, and educational services, interactions by many veterans with the VA is now proving to be yet another battle. Critics among veterans and officials note delivery of Veteran Administration services is becoming intolerable.

To add further insult to injury for Veterans, is the fact, according to the Wall Street Journal, “. . . veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, are tracked as potential terrorists.” This is not recent! It was done in the Vietnam War, and across other wars.

Consider the meaning and implication of labeling veterans as dangerous; if veterans are considered dangers, terrorists, and risks, condemned by the very country they served, does this not result in problematic identities for veterans, government, and USA citizens. We celebrate veterans, hiding and denying the tragic situation. The Wall Street Journal published a revealing article.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) program tracks military veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and characterizes them as extremists and potential domestic terrorist threats because they may be “disgruntled, disillusioned or suffering from the psychological effects of war.” (Wall Street Journal, November 16, 2019).

A Department of Home Security (DHS) report on Right-Wing and Left-Wing extremism broadly defines “extremists as individuals, military veterans and groups” that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or reject government authority entirely.” These tactics bode ill for anyone seen as opposing the government.

“The government even has a name for its war on America’s veterans: “Operation Vigilant Eagle!” In other words, amid a milieu of widespread “government distrust of veterans and citizens,” and “citizen distrust of government and military, everyone and everything becomes suspect, and the essential fabric of societal trust collapses. Cui Bono?

When veterans return home from active duty in distant lands, having witnessed and participated in the consequences of war, they are vulnerable to numerous psychological conflicts, medical problems, marital and familial, and moral struggles. More than 20 veterans commit suicide, thousands are homeless, many suffer PTSD, anger and rage, unemployment, poor medical care, torturous bureaucracy as needs are pursued amid a system too often indifferent.

War, of course is the source and an ultimate cause of veteran plight. In the pursuit of wars, too often for spurious interests not of nations but of individuals, organizations (e.g., military weapons manufacturers), demented dictators and power-hungry leaders seeking a place in history, and wealth from exploitation of minerals and elements (e.g., Oil, Lithium) and substances (e.g., opium).

Consider, for a moment, the USA invasion of Afghanistan, the world’s primary source of opium. The production of opium today is greater than in the past because of criminal and terrorist controls, and national corruption.

John Whitehead, an eminent scholar, patriotic social commentator, and founder and president of the Rutherford Institute in Virginia, published one of the most scathing critiques of war consequences for veterans (John W. Whitehead, Opinion-Casualties of War: Military Veterans Have Become America’s Walking Wounded, November 14, 2019 “Information Clearing House”). Amid scores of facts and quotes, what emerges is tragic plight for veterans. Whitehead writes:

“Feeding this perception of veterans as ticking time bombs in need of intervention, the Justice Department launched a pilot program in 2012 aimed at training SWAT teams to deal with confrontations involving highly trained and often heavily armed combat veterans.

Chris Hedges, a brave critic of USA policies, who writes of the horrors of war based on active war-correspondent experiences, is cited by Whitehead:

War also entertains us with its carnage, its killing fields, its thrills and chills and bloodied battles set to music and memorialized in books, on television, in video games, and in superhero films and blockbuster Hollywood movies financed in part by the military.

Americans are fed a steady diet of pro-war propaganda that keeps them content to wave flags with patriotic fervor and less inclined to look too closely at the mounting body counts, the ruined lives, the ravaged countries, the blowback arising from ill-advised targeted-drone killings and bombing campaigns in foreign lands, or the transformation of our own homeland into a warzone.

Nowhere is this double-edged irony more apparent than during military holidays, when we get treated to a generous serving of praise and grandstanding by politicians, corporations and others with similarly self-serving motives eager to go on record as being pro-military (Hedges, “. . . war is poison, August 8, 2016.”).

Yes, that is the tragic irony; the transparent evil, the grievous sin of our nation and its leaders, who revel in praise of veterans even as they plan the new horrors of war. Afghanistan, Vietnam, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and a score of regime changes in South American and Africa, each of the latter requiring USA troop presence to assure devious and immoral plans will not be stifled.

4. Veterans Health Administration Purposes and Scandal

The task of the VA is noble and warranted. No one can deny veterans deserve the best medical and person services given their sacrifices. These services include: Family member services, burials and memorials, career and employment, housing, pensions, life insurance, education and training, records, health care, and disability care and rehabilitation. For some veterans. The VA functions according to its stated purposes, and there are no complaints.

For other veterans, the VA has become a nightmare of persecution and frustration.

Note the daily suicide of 20 plus veterans, the homelessness, the service-connected medical problems, the struggle for disability compensation.

In a thorough interview study and analysis of the military veteran experience, entitled: Military Culture and Post-Military Transitioning Among Veterans: A Qualitative Analysis, published by McCormick, W., Currier, J. Issak, S, Sims, B., Slagel, B., Carroll, T., Hamner, K., and & Albright, D. (Journal of Veteran Studies (2019, Vol 4, #2, pp 287-297).”

This study of 44 veterans explores: (1) descriptions of military culture and values (e.g., patriotism, camaraderie, discipline); (2) conflict with values during military service (e.g., betrayed by politicians and/or bureaucracy, internal conflict of killing); (3) cultural changes post-military service (e.g., continuity of military culture, disparate from civilian culture, interpersonal difficulties); and (4) communication with non-military connected persons (e.g., I do not talk about military experiences, I only talk with other veterans).

The study offers a rich description of the context of military life, its rewards and its trials and trauma. Of special importance in the study is Veteran experiences with the VA. Veteran experiences with the VA have proven to frustrating. Each day seems to reveal stories of punishing veteran experiences as they seek promised (legal) care and services. Chart 2 displays USA Military Veteran Plight as a function of facing many challenges after their return from war and oversea deployment. The range of of challenges is overwhelming. Something must be done to resolve the care and services.  However, scandal continues to trouble the VA.

Chart 2: USA Military Veteran Challenges

In 2014, a massive tragic scandal occurred resulting in VA Secretary General Shinseki resigning.  VA hospitals were found delaying needed care, avoiding scheduling, and punishing veterans with bureaucratic burdens.

General Shinseki said he could not explain the lack of integrity among some leaders in veterans’ healthcare facilities: “That breach of integrity is irresponsible, it is indefensible, and unacceptable to me.” He resigned.

U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller, a Republican from Chumuckla, Florida, chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, writing in TIME Magazine, in 2014, notes scandals have continued to characterize the VA Health Services. He is bewildered why nothing is done to change the situation.

As the reports make painfully obvious, the environment in today’s Veterans Health Administration is one in which some VA health officials are so driven in their quest for performance bonuses, promotions and power that they are willing to lie, cheat and put the health of the veterans they were hired to serve at risk. These are not people who deserve a second chance. They deserve a swift exit from federal employment, and possibly an entrance to federal prison. Any VA a administrator who ordered subordinates to purposely manipulate appointment data should be fired immediately.

Affairs regarding disciplinary actions in response to these deaths and more than a dozen other recent preventable fatalities at a host of VA medical facilities around the country, there is no indication that any VA executives have been fired. Instead, department officials have pointed to non-disciplinary actions, such as employee transfers, resignations and retirements, or bureaucratic slaps on the wrist, such as temporary written warnings, in order to create the appearance of accountability.

Tragically, the abuses and offenses from the 2014 scandal have continued unabated. In a December 19, 2019 article published in USA Today, reporter Donovan Slack, summarizing a VA Inspector General’s audit, writes “Veteran Affairs employees improperly cancelled tens of thousands of medical orders, jeopardizing Veteran health.” Slack notes “auditors blamed the problems on backlogs, breakdowns, and mismanagement at every across the country.” The extent of cancellations, delays, and abuses is massive. Staff complaints resulted in position changes and demotions. Slack claims VA officials promised to have problems solved by July 2020.

Part II:  Micro-Level Considerations: Multivariate Equation

As the VA strives to offer care and services to military veterans, and as government offices and veterans strive for accountability, it is clear there is virtue in recognizing the multivariate nature of the veteran-VA relationship. There are many variables that must be considered with varying degrees of importance in the decision quality of care calculus.

Quality of Care = f constant X [1] service center profiles (service center location,  service center services, service center history, care manager) X [2] veteran profile, (e.g., age, gender, race, ethnicity, economic status, employability marital status) X [3] veteran history (birth place, schooling), X [4] veteran medical and behavioral (medical/injury/psychological trauma profile, disabilities, suicide potential) X [5] military service (years of service, rank, discharge, service locations, active duty), X [6] family and social supports (marriage, children, religion) X [7] veteran satisfaction with past and current care and services.

It is obvious this equation is beyond processing; however, what is apparent is the complexity of each individual case in an organization (i.e., VA) in which numbers and policies favor more anonymity than is best for quality care and service.

Once again, I wish to point out there are tremendous variations in veteran satisfaction and respect for VA services and care. Clearly, many veterans have received quality care and services, and this is at it should be for all. The challenge is transparency, honesty, accountability.

Closing Thoughts

Enough said! Veteran and VA problems are many, complex, enduring, and punitive. This article proposed that problems are a function of ironic celebrations (Veterans Day) lauding veterans heroic sacrifices with little commensurate actions to assist both active and retired veterans. The system is based on War, too often not for national security, but for military-industrial profits, some have attributed to a “Transnational Elite (TNE).”  The abusive system is furthered by a now established military policy of deceit regarding sharing actual war situations, in favor of misrepresentations and lies of military successes.

War is itself the heart of the problem! Yet the costs and consequences of war are ignored in favor of continuing endless wars benefitting a selected few. The USA is a nation addicted to war, using military solutions for major social, economic, political, and moral challenges. Veterans may recognize this policy orientation as they suffer the effects of meaningless struggles.

Nowhere is the plight of the veteran more visible than in the failure to provide appreciative care and services through the VA. Repetitive scandals, some revealed in their shocking consequences, and others hidden beneath accepted silences designed to protect offenders.

Macro-Level and Micro-Level factors combine to create a destructive context for many veterans. Their plight is overdetermined by factors over which they (or citizens) have little control. Patience brings frustration and anger directed toward self, family, and society. The situation is untenable and requires redress.

Use the November 11 Veterans Day holiday for speeches praising veteran bravery, courage, and sacrifice, but also use it for frank appraisals of veteran care. Include reports from VA facilities indicating status of services.  Include media opportunities for veteran stories about their experiences in seeking services.  The idea is the best celebration of veterans is an accurate summary of services and veteran needs.

Military deceit, a major problem in discussing the status of wars and occupations. This can best be handled by of accurate reports of the status of wars and occupations.  Basic facts must be shared and signed off by military leaders, including human, environment, and financial costs and consequences with regard to the spectrum of variables displayed in Chart 1.

The Washington Post report on military deceit must be used as a starting point for honesty about invasions, occupations, and wars. The lies we were old keep us embedded in spurious conflicts, bringing death and destruction for armed forces, and stained profits for the MIC.

While some may reject the existence of a transnational elite (TNE) who benefit from war, and who are engaged in citizen influence and control, it is clear technology has given those seeking control an opportunity to use it for personal gain. Call it what you will, the concentration of wealth, power, and position in a self-chosen few, provides opportunities for abuse and exploitation. Honest and ethical media must be used to provide accurate insights and information into the actions of TNE and other secret groups. Chart 3 displays some of these Macro-Level organizations cabal and alliances.

Chart 3:  Power Players Pursuing Special Interests

The reality is the MIC/TNE must share power with a score of other global organizations, each are entrenched within their own system and interests.  This distribution of power across many organizations makes it difficult for any single group to control their interests, however, military might may trump specific interests.

VA problems are massive and have exacted tolls for veterans and administrators. Some have suggested privatizing the VA or certain functions or services, believing privatization is necessary to trump incompetence, vested interests, unions, staff incompetency, and problematic financial compensation systems. Something must be done to arrest the widespread scandals which appear on a regular basis. The VA is a behemoth. While the disposition is uncertain, changes are needed.

The Micro-Level equation identifies the complex interdependent variables influencing veteran quality care. More must be done here to establish frameworks for assessment and evaluation. While the equation is missing variables, the seven sectors call attention to the complexity of individual quality care. Ultimately, this is where all concerns, policies, and actions converge.  Veterans are us!


Anthony J. Marsella, Ph.D., a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment, is a past president of Psychologists for Social Responsibility, Emeritus Professor of psychology at the University of Hawaii’s Manoa Campus in Honolulu, Hawaii, and past director of the World Health Organization Psychiatric Research Center in Honolulu.  He is known internationally as a pioneer figure in the study of culture and psychopathology who challenged the ethnocentrism and racial biases of many assumptions, theories, and practices in psychology and psychiatry. In more recent years, he has been writing and lecturing on peace and social justice. He has published 21 books and more than 300 articles, tech reports, and popular commentaries. His TMS articles may be accessed HERE and he can be reached at

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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 23 Dec 2019.

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One Response to “USA Military Veteran Plight: Macro- and Micro-Level Considerations”

  1. I was asked by Dean Jerris to apply for the Directorship of the NCPTSD in the Paciific

    AFter reading your piecce I will say NO THANKs been there seen that dont think it is fixable.

    Love a depressed friend named Barbara Should I send this to the hiring personnel.