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The toughest job in Washington is to prosecute war. The second toughest job is, as Abraham Lincoln once phrased it, “to care for him who has borne the battle.”

I tried to do that job once. I was the head of the Veterans Administration under President Jimmy Carter after the Vietnam War.

I found that many folks in the VA were committed to our mission of caring for those who had served our country in uniform. I found, however, that we couldn’t put the genie back in the bottle. We couldn’t heal all the wounds of war. I found that our job was to care, to fail and try to care again.

Now, the VA is caught up once again in dealing with the overwhelming number of claims for benefits and health care after the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. VA hospitals try to see veterans quickly.