Chuck Hagel, Under Attack Again

Myra MacPherson | New York Times | January 8, 2013

...Mr. Hagel would be the first enlisted combat veteran to be defense secretary, a grunt who has seen war from the trenches. Others who have plunged America into war — like the former defense secretaries Robert S. McNamara and Donald H. Rumsfeld, both former officers — had never fought in combat...

No doubt some armchair militarists on the Hill — many of whom ducked Vietnam — will question whether combat experience has much to do with running the Pentagon. It would be a travesty if they defeated Mr. Hagel. His experience has taught him the physical and mental toll of combat. He would surely think twice before sending young men and women into unnecessary, stupid or unwinnable conflicts. This is a strength, not a weakness. One thing I know: Chuck Hagel will stand up to whatever is thrown at him...

Open Health News' Take: 

There is more to this story. Chuck Hagel is not only a decorated combat veteran and former Senator from Nebraska, he was also a deputy director of the Veterans Affairs Administration. As described in this blog post by Tom Munnecke, Hagel played a critical role in 1982 in fully supporting the development what became the Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA)-- the department’s pioneering electronic health record. Hagel's support of the EHR was critical in its success and for this he was given a special "Underground Railroad" award in recognition of his efforts.

More than a decade of wars have caused over a million casualties among US servicemen. It is long overdue for a decorated veteran that has been involved in combat and then served in the Veterans Administration caring for American wounded to serve as Secretary of Defense. Kudos to Obama for this nomination. Roger A. Maduro, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, Open Health News.