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« The Rescuers of Jews During the Holocaust | Main | Strike in Chicago »

For all the Veterans; what is your answer?

By Randy Leer
September 14, 2012

I’m a Navy Veteran. As you might expect, I have many friends who are Veterans. As a result I tend to hear about the interactions they have with the Veteran Affairs Administration, on top of my own experiences. Most of our experiences are not good. There has been coverage in the media about the failings that have taken place in the VA. Immediately, everyone wants to point fingers at the directors of the VA. Perhaps there is some fault that needs to be laid at their feet. However, our elected officials, both Democrats and Republicans, deserve much more of the fault.

Our elected officials talk a great deal about the military and foreign policy. In fact, there have been those who have called for military intervention in Egypt, Syria, Iran, and most recently in Libya. Others have been calling for the end to our military involvement in many regions. Regardless of which side they are on, they are making decisions that will dramatically impact the number of Veterans that are being churned out.

"A veteran - whether active duty, retired, national guard, or reserve - is someone who, at one point in his or her life, wrote a blank check made payable to The 'United States of America', for an amount of 'up to and including my life.'”

When our elected officials beckon, our troops go. When the citizens of this nation are left vulnerable from natural disasters, it is often military aid that reaches them first. When countries find themselves in peril, the United States Armed Forces are swift to help. We see the support for our troops and Veterans all over. We see the waving flags and the little magnets on the back of the cars. The sad truth is that most of the support that exists for our troops and Veterans goes no deeper than those superficial emblems of support. Many times we only hear our leaders mention Veterans when it is campaign season. Their interest in the wellbeing of our Veterans is, in many cases, artificial at best.

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The unarguable truth is that the Veterans Affairs Administration is heavy with demand and light on resources. Some will say that President Obama’s administration isn’t doing their job. Others will point out the government cuts that the Republican congressmen have forced are obstructing the VA from adding staff. It is almost a certainty that both have caused this.

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I have heard stories about disability claims pending for around two years, resulting in Veterans being unable to thrive in the civilian sector or be able to have access to the care they need. Early on in the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, homeless shelters were seeing alarming numbers of combat Veterans showing up. It was predicted that since the majority of homeless Vietnam Veterans showed up around 10 years after the conclusion of the war, that these large numbers could be indicative of a massive issue, with perhaps more homeless Veterans coming from the Iraq/Afghanistan Wars era than came from the Vietnam War era.

Even on the education side of the VA there have been problems. The GI Bill, which military recruits are promised on their enlistment contracts, has not been delivering as promised. In July of this summer, many Veterans did not receive their living allowance checks that are due at the end of the month. These checks are part of the new Post 9/11 GI Bill and are intended to help Veterans offset some of their living expences in order to work less and focus on their education more. The July checks that should have been received by August 1st were not received until much later in the month, for some it was the end of August before they saw their July benefits. The VA indicated that they were overwhelmed with claims and they were working as fast as they could and that employees of the VA were even working overtime. That is nice to hear that they are taking it seriously, however, their assurances don’t pay the rent. This is not a handout and should not be viewed as such. This is a benefit that was contractually guaranteed to these Veterans when they entered the Armed Services.

Medical care is also suffering. For a reoccurring back injury that is service connected, a Veteran can expect to wait as long as a month to see a physical therapist. There are more situations similar to this were Veterans are waiting ridiculous amounts of time to receive appointments. That is just simply unacceptable.

The problem is very clear. We have failed to take care of our troops and Veterans. This is inexcusable. The military operates with tons of data on troop numbers from accounting to logistics to medical to personnel management. There are numbers kept by numerous sections of the military. The information as to how many Veterans were coming out of the Armed Services was no secret. It is just that no one took any action to prepare for them.

So, with the current situation explained, I would like to pose a question to our elected officials:

Were more service members expected to die in these wars? Or do you just not care?

It is as simple as that. Either more were expected to die, or our elected officials just don’t care. The Veterans of this nation are entitled to these services and these services are being delayed and mishandled to the point of just being denied. So, at the very least, they are owed an answer as to why this is happening.

Were more service members expected to die in these wars? Or do you just not care?

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