Rep. Charles Rangel, New York Democrat, said Tuesday that the country’s religious community must do more to speak out against war and situations that place veterans in harm’s way.
“We have these tremendous people committing suicide every day. We’ve lost more feeling that their life is not worthwhile in America than those who were put in harm’s way,” Mr. Rangel said. “There’s something wrong with the way we fight these wars, with the people with the least economic opportunity always being called on for unconstitutional wars.
“I’m just surprised that the ministers and the rabbis don’t scream out — it’s their responsibility for human life, not just blessing guns and wishing them well and sending a chaplain over there with a gun,” he continued. “This is morally wrong, and the people should scream out — not just the politicians.”
Mr. Rangel spoke outside of a Democratic caucus meeting in which members received a briefing from White House chief of staff Denis McDonough. The recent problems with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) were among the issues discussed in the meeting.
Asked whether VA Secretary Eric Shinseki should continue in his position, Mr. Rangel said the problem was larger than that.
“I am saying it’s our whole country — it’s our religious community that allows this to happen,” he said. “And I tell you, if it was a different class of people that were dying on Wall Street, it would not happen, and I know that. And no one can challenge that.
“They’re destroying their own lives because of this — they come home and they find [themselves] jobless and homeless and [hopeless], and we don’t talk about it,” he said. “And we just talk casually about the introduction of troops … so you asked the wrong guy for any rational explanation for what’s happening to them; VA or no VA, it’s wrong.”