A Report from the Field
Should this war continue any length of time, in the great summing up those whose , dear ones have been sacrificed by maladministration in this important branch of the army will be justified in their resentment, and the taxpayer doubly taxed to support our pension burdens. VETERAN.
New York, May 27, 1898.
Published: September 6, 1898 Copyright © The New York Times
I am uniquely positioned to address both military healthcare and veterans healthcare and services. A patient at Walter Reed Army Hospital, I am constantly seeking to educate and assist veterans and returning military concerning access to benefits and opportunities. The news is not good.
The unknown veteran above was warning of civilianizing the military medical establishment. A lesson we learned well at great price. During this Iraq War, the Walter Reed military healthcare team did something the Department of Defense unsuccessfully tried to do since the Korean War. They reduced wounded deaths from 25% to 15%. In actual lives, this major success means well over 3,000 of our wounded soldiers did not become Killed In Action (KIA). However, the carnage of war makes casualties of us all. I first noticed the increasing numbers of local deaths due to military action. Then I noticed the financial and legal troubles mounting among our local young men and women who served in these wars. I became involved assisting them on an individual basis until I became known as a "veteran guy". I even accepted a position as county director of veterans affairs for a time. I found the situation to be FAR worse than expected.
Just yesterday, a young soldier discharged after two tours in Iraq, said he was finished dealing with the VA. His not unusual complaint was that he was grilled and treated like he was trying to get something for nothing. He will not pursue his claim any further. This veteran's claim involved PTSD, back injury and shrapnel damage. He has at least two purple hearts. Somehow the VA has gone from a supporting veterans to blocking veterans. Their on line fact sheet clearly does not first address caring for those who served; rather is clear it is a distributor or provider. Care is only mentioned well down the sheet.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) was established on March 15, 1989, succeeding the Veterans Administration. It is responsible for providing federal benefits to veterans and their families. Headed by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, VA is the second-largest of the 15 Cabinet departments and operates nationwide programs for health care, financial assistance and burial benefits.
Fact Sheet: Facts About the Department of Veterans Affairs
Perhaps this is the exact problem. Somehow caring for the veteran and his family is lost as it is in the mission statement. Many current executives at both the national and regional levels appear to have neither the will nor the courage to fight the fight for our veterans. Or perhaps they are just worn out from trying? Perhaps they provided more with less for so long that they now feel that they are being asked to do everything with nothing? Why? The answer is to save money to fight Bush's Iraq War and for tax cuts for the well off trickle down that never did trickle down. All this causes even some veterans to see VA benefits as welfare rather than what they really are: earned benefits from a grateful nation and a direct cost of war.
The military family, composed of active, reserve, retired, veterans and their families, gives much to the United States. The requirements to restore the military and to care for "those who have borne the battle" are immense. The sea of incompetence and sheer malice left behind by the Bush Regime creates numerous challenges and opportunities. As General Shinseki's 54-page disclosure so clearly demonstrates, the general "gets it" and is rightly open to new ways of operating the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Payments to veterans and their families offer an immediate and continuing boost to the local economy and benefit men and women who were, and are, assets to their nation and community. In addition, many veterans remain deeply involved in their communities, veteran education and business development assistance not only immediately benefit the economy but provide our proven men and women with the tools and abilities to lead their community and nation into the future.
General Shinseki deserves quick Senate approval; veterans desperately need him.