2008 Obama Flashback: 'The True Test of Our Patriotism' Is How We Treat Our Vets

'Caring for our veterans is one thing we can still get right'

Speaking at a campaign rally in Charleston, W. Va., then Senator Obama promised veterans he would fix the problems plaguing Veterans Affairs hospitals: 

"At a time when we're facing the largest homecoming since the Second World War, the true test of our patriotism is whether we will serve our returning heroes as well as they've served us.

We know that over the last eight years, we've already fallen short of meeting this test. We all learned about the deplorable conditions that were discovered at places like Fort Bragg and Walter Reed. We've all walked by a veteran whose home is now a cardboard box on a street corner in the richest nation on Earth. We've all heard about what it's like to navigate the broken bureaucracy of the VA - the impossibly long lines, or the repeated calls for help that get you nothing more than an answering machine. Just a few weeks ago, an 89-year-old World War II veteran from South Carolina told his family, "No matter what I apply for at the VA, they turn me down." The next day, he walked outside of an Outpatient Clinic in Greenville and took his own life.

How can we let this happen? How is that acceptable in the United States of America? The answer is, it's not. It's an outrage. And it's a betrayal -- a betrayal -- of the ideals that we ask our troops to risk their lives for.

But it doesn't have to be this way. Not in this country. Not if we decide that this time will be different."

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