Twice now in just a few days {editorials, Nov. 12 and Nov. 25}, The Post has taken it upon itself to inform its reading public that a Cabinet-level Department of Veterans Affairs would be "Such a Bad Idea." Well, enough said from The Post. Of course, I do not know nor do I desire to know just how much collective combat against an armed enemy of the United States The Post's editorial staff has served in the past, but you can be damn sure that if there were no veterans there would be no United States and no Washington Post. Think about it.

The veterans of the nation have suffered enough. There are enough veterans and their families, black and white, red and yellow, to band together -- if they only would -- to vote men and women into office who would do something for them and this great nation in order for it to survive for coming generations in a cold and hostile world. The real world is just that. When you see your friends die, you know.

The Post makes its point in saying "but at some point this obligation {to assist the veteran} is fulfilled." Really? I strongly suggest that The Post get off its backside and go visit some combat veterans in VA hospitals and nursing homes and see what it's all about.

I am a combat veteran of Korea and Vietnam. I am proud that I served my nation, and I am proud too of the men and women in both houses of Congress who support the veterans and who wish to see a Department of Veterans Affairs rightly created. I am tired of seeing the VA and its programs continually wiped in the fiscal mud by OMB and others who are forever finding fault with how our government is run.

I am proud of my membership in the Disabled American Veterans, the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Without them and the other veterans organizations, the American veteran would have no voice in his government, which veterans have fought to protect.

I say thanks to President Reagan, my commander in chief, for thinking of us and trying to give us a Department of Veterans Affairs. To others who disagree, that's their right under the laws of this beloved nation. But stop and think sometimes about where your freedom comes from and the price in blood and pain it has taken to pay for it. America -- love it or leave it. It's as simple as that -- period. Freedom is something you earn, it's not automatic. And it sure as Hades ain't guaranteed.


The Post's editorial "Such a Bad Idea," which ran on the day before Thanksgiving, was a big turkey stuffed with innuendo, contradiction and a total disregard to those veterans who have served our country honorably. (Imagine -- The Post editorial staff's becoming conservative.) The Post should have celebrated Thanksgiving by giving thanks to President Reagan and Congress for their support of this legislation elevating the Veterans Administration to Cabinet-level, thereby strengthening the veterans programs provided by the VA.

The Post neglected to point out that VA medical centers are affiliated with major universities and that a significant amount of the VA's budget is spent on medical and prosthetic research and for the training of doctors and nurses. Additionally, the education and vocational rehabilitation training programs administered by the VA return veterans to the mainstream of society as taxpaying citizens. The editorial staff also failed to mention the intricate role the VA plays during times of hostility. The VA is continuously on medical standby, having always to be prepared to treat military wounded on short notice.

The bill to create the new Department of Veterans Affairs has been referred to the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, chaired by a retired U.S. Marine colonel, Sen. John Glenn. I remember during the 1984 presidential debates how insulted Sen. Glenn was by the remarks candidate Walter Mondale made when he stated, "Sen. Glenn never had a real job." Sen. Glenn responded by saying that Mr. Mondale's remarks were not only a slap at his own military service but also a slap at all who have worn the uniform of the U.S. military. I hope Sen. Glenn regards The Post's editorial in precisely the same way as he regarded Mr. Mondale's remark -- as "a slap in the face."

I urge the Senate to join the president and the House of Representatives in giving U.S. veterans a living memorial for Christmas 1987: the Department of Veterans Affairs, trimmed with efficient and sufficiently funded programs. Please, no post-mortem for this important legislative endeavor.

JOHN FALES President, Blinded American Veterans Foundation Washington