Ken Buck: Privatize the VA, except when I’m talking to Veterans

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Ken Buck is clueless about Veterans issues.

In a state where we have 460,000 veterans, with 4 major military installations heavily involved in two major wars (including the Colorado National Guard) the GOP nominee has yet to put out a single substantive statement on where he stands on National Security and Veterans issues.

Buck STILL does not have any comprehensive National Security or Veterans issues posted on his website, or as a press release. It’s not surprising, since he JUST formed a Veterans advisory committee (consisting of ONE Veteran) and is still casting about for support from the veterans community. His first “Meet and Greet” with Veterans was Monday. No announcement of policy was made at that event.

Well, let me clarify that – he did suck up to the Tea Party by stating that he would privatize the VA:

Buck:  “Would a Veterans Administration hospital that is run by the private sector be better run then by the public sector? In my view, Yes.”

Now, not surprising. Buck will say anything to appease the Tea Party, regardless if he knows anything about that subject or not.

Now, let’s fast forward to the United Veterans Committee (UVC) candidate forum a few weeks ago. As background, the UVC is the an organization that has 50+ Veterans groups as members, from the biggest (AmLegion, VFW, DAV, Paralyzed Vets of America) to the smallest (Jewish War Veterans.) They coordinate their concerns and activism as a unified committee, and present their findings and legislative priorities to the Governor and the Colorado Board of Veterans Affairs.

The UVC is unique in that it is the only one in the United States to work this way – no other state in the US has that kind of veterans organization.

So, the bi-yearly candidate forum is a big deal. The UVC presents it’s legislative agenda that has been set for the year, and asks them to state if they support it, and what are their specific positions on Veteran Issues.

With this as background, every Federal candidate in Colorado attended the UVC Candidate forum this September. (Yes, I know I said I’d do a diary. Maybe today.) They were all presented, in advance, with this Legislative agenda:


( I call your attention to points #2 and #3)

Buck arrived late, but still had the entire committee present to address. His response was this:

“I support all your issues. I don’t have anything prepared to say, so what are your questions.”


Now, if Buck was sincere in his statement that he wanted to privatize the VA, wouldn’t this be the opportunity to relate that position?

But he didn’t – he said “I support your positions.”

So, that means one of three things:

1) Ken decided to lie to the UVC on his stance regarding the VA.

2) Ken forgot what he said to the Tea Party, and decided to say whatever he thought the veterans wanted to hear.

3) He lied to the Tea Party and told the truth to the UVC.

I don’t see which possibility is better than any of the others.

Now I know the hooting on the Right will begin about how bad government run health care is. And that’s a debate I’m MORE than happy to have with those posters on this site, esp those who have never set foot in a VA healthcare facility.

So, rather than put up a bunch of links that will be dismissed by the paid shills on the site, let’s just go with the opinion of Veterans who use the site. Since 2000, when the VA started doing a survey regarding the quality of health care that veterans received, it has outranked the private sector EVERY YEAR.

But here’s a link anyway:…

And if you want to read the report, it’s a .pdf so be warned when it takes a while to load:…

(I especially like how the VA pharmacy system is rated the equal of Kaiser Permanente, the preferred provider of several Consevative Polsters.)

The point of all this posting is this – Ken Buck is clueless on this issue. It’s clear he made NO attempt to research this issue before he started sucking up to the Tea Party, and it’s even clearer he’ll say whatever he has to if he thinks it’ll help his chances at getting elected.

I don’t appreciate being played for a rube. I know my fellow vets don’t appreciate it either.

And we vote.

The Best Care Anywhere

Ten years ago, veterans hospitals were dangerous, dirty, and scandal-ridden. Today, they’re producing the highest quality care in the country. Their turnaround points the way toward solving America’s health-care crisis.


Effect of the Transformation of the Veterans Affairs Health Care System on the Quality of Care

A head-to-head comparison in 2003 between Medicare patients who were free to choose their own private doctors and veterans who were covered by the Veterans Health Administration, the New England Journal of Medicine found the latter “significantly better” on all 11 measures of quality.…

VA Care Is Rated Superior to That in Private Hospitals

The telephone survey, conducted in October, found inpatient care received a rating of 83 on a 100-point scale; outpatient care got a rating of 80. In comparison, a similar survey of patients receiving private care found they rated their satisfaction at 73 for inpatient care and 75 for outpatient care. The survey involved more than 200 veterans who received care at one of the VA’s 154 hospitals or 875 clinics.…

44 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. parsingreality says:

    The VA system – which that Socialist Bill Clinton turned around from the Reagan-Bush disaster – is one of the three highest customer satisfaction HC systems in America.

    The other two are Tri-Care and Medicare.

    Damned gummint can’t do anything right!  Oh, wait…..

    Thanks for this info, Dan.  Interesting about the UVC.  Pretty cool.

  2. H-man says:

    what were the questions and what were the answers?

    Do you want to fill us in on the next Senator’s views or do you just feel like ranting?

    • sxp151 says:

      He doesn’t have any. He both agrees and disagrees with veterans about all their issues. He will say anything to get elected, including lying to all potential constituencies just because, for him, it’s easier than telling the truth.

      But you already knew that, didn’t you?

    • parsingreality says:

      Does he want you to earn your shill, I mean, keep?

      Seriously, all slurs aside, the man has a major policy consistency problem.  That was the point of this posting.

      Whatever he says, or you say, is probably of no consequence because it will change with the next audience or the next web page rewrite.

    • SSG_Dan says:

      I posted the legislative positions of the UVC that Buck “agreed” with. That’s the point, not the Q&A session.

      There wasn’t any Q&A at the UVC – the rules of the forum (provided to all who appear) are that you get a set amount of minutes to make a speech to the committee on EVERYTHING you think is important. Since they only had candidates and one incumbent (Ed Perlmutter) they waived the time limit and let each Federal & State candidate speak as long as they want.

      Ken said three sentences, as related above. So either he lied to the Tea Party, lied to us, or both.  

      • H-man says:

        I just wanted to know if there was going to any substance to the discussion or whether this was more loser therapy session.  You answered the question.

        • SSG_Dan says:

          .so, where’s Buck’s stand on Troops to Teachers? Upgraded GI Bill? Concurrent Receipt? Agent Orange presumptive disabilities? The Transition Assistance Program? Career Development for the Wounded Warrior Program? The National Guard Education Equality Act? Service Member Student Loan Relief Act?

          Does Buck has a policy regarding Mental Health Screening? PTSD training for Company-grade officers and above?

          He doesn’t have one.

          In fact, he doesn’t have a SINGLE issue on Veterans or National Security other than he knows his son is at West Point.

          More importantly is the question posed by my diary (and I’ll put it in caps so you can see it):


          And now that you’ve seen that:


        • and in  this election cycle he should be.

          His VA views are horrendous. The Chicken hawks talk tough and then treat returning VETS like vermin.

          50% of the new homeless in Denver county are coming back VETS from theater. That comes from George Cassidy, Denver County Vet liason.

          I suppose we need to cut progams that help them if your candidate’s views are followed.

    • Ken buck doesn’t give a damn about Veterans and hasn’t ever been involved with helping them. He knows nothing about the VA. He only favors giving corporate welfare to for profit organizations.That’s why he supports privitazation.

  3. MADCO says:

    we could “privatize” the VA med centers, and save money.

    Hmm- let’s assume for the sake of argument that a major medical facility such as the Denver VA Med Center is going to be staffed and operated much the same whether it is gov’t owned and run, or privatized.  Further, let’s assume that gov’t employees make the same total wage and compensation as the private sector staff. (The VA pays ok – but not as well as Rose Hospital right across the street).  

    But Buck leaves out one crucial component- the VA is a non- profit. Most of the private sector is carefully guarding and improving when and where they can the profit margin of their operation.

    Study after study conducted by the DoD shows that even though military hospitals are expensive, and insurance for military members and their families is expensive, both together are still far less expensive than shutting it down and just paying the military members to buy their own insurance and health care on the market.

    Same for the VA.

    It’s why even in the “free” market American economy we can tell that single payer would result in total healthcare expense being less as a percentage of GDP than it is now.

  4. Libertad says:

    The brothers were stunned when they received letters from the Department of Homeland Security in 2009 informing them that they would face deportation hearings.

    • Ralphie says:

      Your random screed generator is working well lately.

    • AristotleAristotle says:

      I doubt that, Lib.

    • SSG_Dan says:

      ..the problem with with DoD – they should’ve taken care of the citizenship issue once they served more than one term of enlistment.

      “Service During Hostilities : By Executive Order Number 13269, dated July 3, 2002, President Bush declared that all those persons serving honorably in active-duty status in the Armed Forces of the United States at any time on or after September 11, 2001 until a date to be announced, are eligible to apply for naturalization in accordance with the service during hostilities statutory exception in Section 329 of the INA to the naturalization requirements. This means that individuals with even one day of honorable active duty service can apply for citizenship, regardless of how long they have been a resident. Note: Under this provision, individuals who apply for citizenship after discharge must present a DD Form 214, with service characterized as “Honorable,” or “General.” Those with other characterizations (including Entry Level Separation), are not eligible.”

      “Section 329 of the INA also applies to service-members who served on active duty during World War I, World War II, the Korean Conflict, the Vietnam Conflict, and Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm.”

      This has happen before, and it’s going to happen again until DoD gets their shit together.

    • SSG_Dan says:

      Why doesn’t Rep Lamborn do something for these two brave decorated Vietnam Veterans?

      Is it because their last name is Valenzuela? Or is it because Repubs just use Vets for photo ops and press releases?

  5. BlueCat says:

    since R pols have shown any inclination toward making serving troops or vets a priority. Throughout the Bush years they shot down all Dem efforts to pass legislation that would have funded better equipment for our troops or care for our vets, always saying that we couldn’t afford it. The only thing the Rs have ever insisted that we can and must afford are the huge tax cuts for the rich, tax cuts that have never produced the promised jobs that Rs have insisted were the reason these breaks were vital, no matter the cost.

    Not surprising that, up until now, vets have just slipped Buck’s mind. Once the magnet goes on the SUV, that’s been about it for the party dedicated only to the interests of the top 1%.

  6. Froward69 says:

    I have been pointing to the VA as a model.

    Frankly it is nice to see Buck so clueless and two faced on the subject. I really hope Veterans see just how much Buck will abandon them.

    the “profit motive” of private insurers Guarantees higher premiums. Buck fails to see this.

    I have always advocated single payer.

    roll Medicare and Medicaid together under the direction of the VA. Simple and effective.

    • SSG_Dan says:

      I am a fan of the Veterans HEALTH Administration. That’s the part of the VA that actually provides care to Vets.

      The Veterans BENEFIT administration is the larger part of the two, and it’s a giant, clueless clusterfuck. This is an organization that forced Tammy Duckworth to come to an exam to prove that she had indeed lost both legs and an arm in Iraq.

      The better model would be TriCare Prime for all.

      • Froward69 says:

        I am not a Vet and am unfamiliar with the different agencies. (buck could never admit that)

        The agency that does consistently rank higher than the rest, should be in charge (of the rest) as it has a history doing more with less.  

  7. Pam Bennett says:

    Dan a very fine diary!

    There are a few misconceptions about veterans, veterans organizations and voting.

    First is the UVC, I represented the City of Aurora Veterans Affairs Commission a couple of years on it, is a wonderful organization bringing together a powerful group that any politician needs to follow.

    Several members of congress, notably from CD6 and CD7, with CD2 and occasionally CD4 (fill in others I do not remember right now). The Governors office is also represented. Other politicians drop by too. The meetings are once per month except for July and August so attending is not a hardship.

    The organizations coming together present a very strong block at local, state and the federal levels. You cannot dismiss the requests offhand from the UVC.

    The various organizations may have bylaws that can be and are often viewed as hard right.  There are also organizations that are not hard right.  That is the organization level.

    Veterans as a group are as varied as the rest of the population.  Vets do not vote only one direction or as they are told to do so by their organizations. This is where a lot of CW gets screwed up.

    Dems need to step in and be leaders with veterans.  As I related in an earlier diary I was given CW campaign tips about keeping knowledge of my service to a minimum. Which is actually the opposite of what I needed to do.  And I did change to proudly discuss why my time in the Air Force makes me a better candidate and why I would be better in office.

    That is what Dems need to do. Many veterans are Dems! And, many of them are Repub’s; repub’s looking for someone to take a solid leadership role for them too.  

  8. VoyageurVoyageur says:

    I long used the VA as an argument against socialized medicine on the British model, because it proved the government doesn’t do well at actually providing services.  Of course, I contrasted it to the Medicare model, where the government provides the insurance (writes the checks) while letting private sector and nonprofit groups like Kaiser Permanente (where I’ve been a member 40 years) provide the service.

      I was lucky enough not to need the VA but had relatives who did and it was a fairly poor quality of service.  But it was greatly improved in the Clinton years.

       I’m not a fan of some of the wars we fight, frankly.  But God Damn It, if we send young men and women over to smash their brains on ieds, we owe them the best of care.  Wearing a god damn ribbon and cutting their benefits just doesn’t cut it.


  9. Mallard says:

    I use the VA for all my health needs having received a Purple Heart in Vietnam (USMC).  I too can vouch for the fact that the care is excellent once you are in the system.  And by nearly every measure it is very cost effective compared to the private sector.  

    I am a member of the UVC and was extremely disappointed when Senator Bennet had to miss the Candidates Forum due a floor vote as part of his day job in the Senate.  That was understandable.  What wasn’t was the fact that his staff did not show the flag there for him.  Buck’s crowd was all over the place.  I was embarrassed since I am a staunch and active supporter of the Senator and had urge that he appear. Gotta question, again the smarts of some of those responsible on the campaign staff.

    Can’t question the ability of Bennie Milliner who works for the Senator in his Denver Senate office in charge of veterans issues.  He and Bill Holen in Permutter’s office are the best advocates for veterans there are, IMO.  Can’t imagine losing Bennie if Buck wins.


    • SSG_Dan says:

      The rules are that only Candidates and Incumbents can talk at the forum. I know Buck packed the house with some people to represent for him, but Bennie is well-known at UVC and really doesn’t need to show the flag on these events – he’s there for all the other meetings.

      On that note, several incumbent staff was not there – Coffman, DeGette, Lamborn and Salazar. At least I didn’t see them in the crowd.

      • Just as anyone who has not served, regardless.

        For a variety of reasons.

        For me, trying to explain UCMJ  what (801-904) and why DADT was a mistake but why HR 1283 is wrong also, can be misinterpretation and misunderstood ( I AM NOT A LAWYER), so its a daunting task…

        I served when the UCMJ reflected as it should the changes in this area, for heterosexuality. President Clinton, I really can’t second guess, maybe for lack of service, could have articulated a similar solution for “sexual preference.” Still, that would be my choice.

        Thanks again, Dan.

        • SSG_Dan says:

          …shortly after his appointment, he made it to an Army reserve redeployment ceremony in Aurora. When he got to Washington, the first bill he signed onto the Veteran Family Caregivers Act.

          Bennie Milliner is probably one of the better Military & Veteran Affairs rep of all of the Colorado Congressional Caucus, and Sen Bennet has been approachable on a number of veterans issues, esp S902 (The SERV Act, aka Veterans Court.)

          He’s had a real veteran advisory board for months, and a very comprehensive veteran issue page on his website:

          • He showed up somewhere and smiled? That’s not the problem I mentioned, is it? Otherwise, its a bunch of political hogwash and the reason you have to consider, fighting to stop the insanity.

            Let me know what branch he served in, as far as I know he came from the same set of wealthy millionaire family as Ken Buck, with as much in common with the “little guy,” none.

  10. H-man says:

    In the last week Buck picked up another point.  Now he is up 49-44 in the just released Time CNN poll.  Here is the link: http://www.realclearpolitics.c

    • SSG_Dan says:

      ..there’s 460,000 veterans in Colorado. When you include their immediate family members, that’s more than 2 Million Colorado residents who will vote against this double-talking dickhead when they realize what a con artist he is.

      If they vote at the average rate they do nationally, that means that 71% of these voters will vote for Bennet and not the Buckpedaler.  

      • H-man says:

        and your boy Bennet didn’t show.

        Nice to have some input from someone else that was there.

        I am a member of the UVC and was extremely disappointed when Senator Bennet had to miss the Candidates Forum due a floor vote as part of his day job in the Senate.  That was understandable.  What wasn’t was the fact that his staff did not show the flag there for him.  Buck’s crowd was all over the place.  I was embarrassed since I am a staunch and active supporter of the Senator and had urge that he appear. Gotta question, again the smarts of some of those responsible on the campaign staff.

        Too bad, so sad.

        • Mallard says:

          were probably not veterans.  I had never seen them before at a UVC meeting and they were nearly all young twenty something looking staffers. So to say Buck had/has a large veterans following based on what happened at the UVC Forum is disingenuous, H-man.

          Since you are quoting me above I must reiterate that my problem is not with Bennet the man, nor his policies, which I am behind 100%, but with his campaign staff and their priorities.  

          I personally know Bennet “gets” veterans and their issues. I also know he has a hell of work ethic and a sense of responsibility to the Job of Senator.  I believe he has not missed a floor vote since he has been in office, which is where he was when the Candidate Forum was held.  Has Buck been so conscientious in his day job?    

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