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Ask A Vet
Author: Will in Chicago    Date: 2016-04-19 08:40:12

Good morning.

There is the old saying that the more things change, the more they stay the same. I have seen the truth of this many times, but I was still concerned and disturbed to learn that the U.S. is sending more troops to Iraq.

According to the story in the BBC, we will send 200 more troops to Iraq.

The US is to send 200 extra troops to Iraq to help fight so-called Islamic State (IS), officials say.

The deployment will increase the number of US personnel in Iraq to about 4,100.

Alongside the additional troops, Apache attack helicopters will be deployed for the first time against IS in Iraq.

US Defence Secretary Ash Carter made the announcement during an unannounced visit to Baghdad, where he met with US military officials and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

The US also plans to give Kurdish Peshmerga forces, which are fighting IS on the ground, more than $400m (£280m; €350m) in assistance.

With the exception of the Peshmerga, Iraq's forces have not done very well against ISIL. I am not sure that more money or more U.S. troops will help much. I believe that we should try to pressure Iraq's neighbors to use some of the military aid that we have given them to help Iraq defeat ISIL.

While Iraq is showing up in the news at times, we hear far less about Afghanistan. A new report shows that Afghanistan's children are facing poorer education and worse healthcare due to the war.

KABUL, Afghanistan — Violence and insecurity have made it increasingly difficult for Afghans, especially children, to access education and health care, the United Nations said Monday in a report.

Intimidation by all parties to the conflict continues to cause harm to health care workers and teachers, reduce the availability of medical aid, and limit children’s access to essential health and educational services, the U.N. said.

“The report’s findings are deeply troubling,” Nicholas Haysom, the U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, said in a statement. “It is simply unacceptable for teachers, doctors and nurses to be subjected to violence or threats, and for schools and medical facilities to be misused or attacked.”

The report, jointly produced by the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan and UNICEF, covers the three-year period between Jan. 1, 2013 to Dec. 31, 2015.

Last year, 125 incidents affecting access to health care were documented, up from 59 in 2014. In those incidents, 20 health workers were killed 43 injured, and 66 abducted. The majority of the casualties occurred as a result of the U.S. airstrike on the Doctors without Borders Hospital in Kunduz on Oct. 3, 2015.

In addition, there were 132 conflict-related incidents affecting access to education and education-related personnel, the report said. Conflict-related violence resulted in the partial or complete closure of more than 369 Afghan schools in 2015, affecting more than 139,000 students and 600 teachers.

I fear that we will see civilians and soldiers pay a price for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for many years to come. It may be that the conflicts in these lands will not be resolved soon. I fear that it is far easier to get into a war than to end one.

Meanwhile, closer to home, Veterans Administration officials testified before Congress that the VA is improving its health care services to veterans.

A blue ribbon panel crafting recommendations to Congress on the Veterans Affairs health system heard Monday from the department’s top leaders, who said reforms underway at the department will improve many aspects of patient care by year’s end.

VA Secretary Bob McDonald and Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson addressed the Commission on Care during an open meeting in Washington, D.C., to explain the department’s ongoing reform effort, known as MyVA, which was created to fix internal issues as well as problems highly visible to veterans, such as the benefits appeals backlog, Internet platform problems and the Veterans Choice medical program.

McDonald said MyVA is transforming the Veterans Health Administration, where changes have included new training for employees, increased hiring, one-day stand-downs to focus appointment wait times and patient care, and adding evening and Saturday hours to accommodate patients and increase appointments.

The changes have led to VA completing 97 percent of appointments within 30 days of the date a veteran wanted for an appointment, McDonald said.

My hope is that one day, blogs like this one will be unnecessary as we will see a world at peace. Until such time, may this blog and ones like still highlight the needs of veterans and civilians as we work towards a day when war will be something that will only be part of humanity's past.

24 comments (Latest Comment: 04/19/2016 22:46:55 by livingonli)
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