Islamic ‘extremists’ are terrorists for sure

Islamic State terrorists – still, for some reason, referred to by many in the media as “militants” or “extremists” – say they have beheaded another American. Given the butchers’ track record, there is no reason to doubt their claim.

Peter Kassig, an American who made himself vulnerable by attempting to help refugees in Syria, is the Islamic State’s most recent U.S. victim. Add him to the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people – including children – massacred by the terrorists.

U.S. efforts to battle the Islamic State have barely slowed down its conquering march through Syria and Iraq. Already, the Islamic State rules large swaths of terroritory and controls enormous assets, both financial and military.

Islamic State leaders grow more powerful and, it appears, more vicious by the day.

President Barack Obama’s administration continues to insist it is taking decisive steps against the Islamic State. Clearly, they are not working. That is obvious to both Democrats and Republicans in Washington and throughout the country.

U.S. strategy and tactics against the Islamic State need to be reassessed, in concert with both other countries and groups such as the Kurdish people of Syria, Iraq and Turkey.

Unless more is done to halt the Islamic State’s march – then to destroy it – the terrorist organization will continue to gain power.

That will result in even bloodier atrocities, making those to date seem mild in comparison.

Department of Veterans Affairs officials have come up with a novel concept for better serving the heroes who depend on them -make things simpler.

VA Secretary Robert McDonald said the agency will hire a new chief customer service officer, and then “simplify the way it is organized to deliver health care and other services.”

Imagine that.

Among the improvements expected is a streamlining of the number of regional structures and websites – each of which demanded its own user name and password. McDonald says one goal is for veterans to have to remember only one username and password for all agency services.

It seems so obvious, but McDonald actually had to come out with a reminder to?VA?personnel:

As VA moves forward, we will judge the success of all our efforts against a single metric: the outcomes we provide for veterans,” he said. The VA’s mission is to care for veterans, “so we must become more focused on veterans’needs.”

It is sad the Department of Veterans Affairs had strayed so far from that mission that its new leader felt compelled to restate it.

Last week has brought a lot of rhetoric about what we owe those who sacrificed so much for us. McDonald’s goals are a painful reminder we were not doing even that which was already promised.

Best of luck, then, to him and those with so much work to do in order to ensure the VA is the agency our veterans of military service deserve.