It was 1978, in Talien, Cambodia, when the Khmer Rouge soldier came for my mother. An acquaintance had betrayed her, informing the Khmer Rouge leadership about her past as a teacher.
Government, community-based organizations and non-profits all existing in the same place look like they're part of a cohesive thing. In reality, they tend to be isolated because all are competing for the same limited resources.
A single day's work can be transformative for any Veteran, especially one fighting his way back from homelessness and addiction. I know this because I am a Veteran and was once in need of not only a well-paying job but a safe place to live.
We have seen our share of both visionary success, as well as obstructive and grossly ineffective policies. We want to make simple suggestions that we believe would help government avoid the pitfalls of inadvertent bureaucratic congestion and more rapidly improve safety, increase access and regulate more transparently.
Former CTO of the US, Todd Park, is now chief advisor of the US Digital Services and has been given the formidable task of "Crossing the Chasm" between the US government and the people. But unlike most government programs that utilize internal resources, the USDS will leverage private tech sector talents to provide solutions.
VA mismanagement is not the problem but rather a symptom of a bigger problem. We really do need to find a way to instill accountability in the federal bureaucracy.
The natural ability of a horse to accept, without judgment, anyone, including a soldier who had seen or done horrific things and, by so doing, express compassion and benevolent acknowledgement was another extraordinary gift that horses were capable of giving to humans.
Nearly everyone honors our war dead. More ignored are the military dead who died following the wars. Far too often, family and loved ones were abandoned to cope with wounded who would never really recover. Perhaps it is time to discuss when politicians ignore veterans when no one is watching.
Yet the persistent shortage of low-cost housing across the country is a challenge too many communities face. Success depends in large part on housing providers being willing to generate more permanent housing for Veterans.
Among those who did return and the family members of all who served, I see too much addiction and pain. That personal human suffering is an unacceptable legacy to those who died in service to their nation.
When published suicide statistics reached 22 veterans a day, Frank Spady said "Enough!" A decorated Vietnam combat Airborne ranger, Spady realized that vets in crisis couldn't wait for the VA or Congress to fix the system to address their needs. The problem didn't need more discussion, it needed action and that's something Spady knows about.
There are reasons to be optimistic about a vote in Congress that didn't go our way.
With all of this talk of privatization ramping up, now is the time for Hillary Clinton and other Democrats to knock the idea down. Veterans will be watching.
Today, the United States is home to more than 21 million veterans. Their service should never be forgotten, least of all when they're in need of care. While the progress achieved by the VA's revised rule and legislation like the Clay Hunt SAV Act takes an important step forward reforming access to care for our veterans, our work is far from over.
It occurred to us at VoteVets.org that there will be a lot of statements from conservative candidates for president that range from "fudged" to "completely wrong." Most of these statements are easy to predict. So, as a public service, here's a cheat sheet for you, so when you hear those statements, you know why they're just not right.
When we see people as heroes, we don't leave enough space for them to struggle as all people do at times in their lives. When we see people as head-cases, we don't leave enough space for them to demonstrate their strengths, courage, and creativity.