{{show_title_date || "Decades after Vietnam, still failing America’s veterans, 3/29/13, 9:33 PM ET"}}

40 years after Vietnam, America still failing its veterans


On the eve of the 40th anniversary of the last U.S. combat troops leaving Vietnam, Chris Hayes, host of the new msnbc show All In, and Rachel Maddow discussed how America is failing its veterans again.

“We weren’t supposed to get into another war in which our leaders were not honest with us about why we were getting into it in the first place. We were not supposed to do that again,” said Maddow. “After Vietnam, we vowed that the way that Vietnam veterans were treated when they came home would not happen again. … And yet right now, with the war in Iraq over and with the end of the war in Afghanistan (at least in sight), we are screwing some stuff up when it comes to how we’re treating our veterans.”

Maddow is referring to the backlog at Veterans Affairs in disability compensation and other benefits. According to a report by the Center for Investigative Reporting, the average veteran will wait 273 days for their claims to be processed.

Veterans Affairs’ Assistant Secretary Tommy Sowers appeared on msnbc and blamed the inefficient, paper-based claims system for the delay. Sowers added that the VA is committed to fixing the problem.

“There’s the rhetorical honor [veterans] are granted and then there’s the actual power that they have,” said Chris Hayes. “There’s something fundamental about the way a nation goes to war and its kind of politics when it’s going into a war and when it’s coming out… What we are able to marshal in the frenzy of the nation getting together to go to war looks very different on the other side of that war.”

Hayes adds that the “original sin,” is in the wars themselves. Americans, he said, “were able to marshal a level of social consensus and  resources on the front end. We told ourselves we wouldn’t forget about it on the back end.”