Demand better care for all of our honored veterans

Six-thousand, eight-hundred and eight. That is the number of American men and women in uniform who have died in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
May 23, 2014

These were 6,808 fathers, sisters and sons.

Many more suffered debilitating injuries — mental and physical.

They served our country, fighting for each other and to uphold our firmly held national principle of liberty. Liberty is precious and worth fighting for.

So, bring out your flags and dust off those old family albums this Memorial Day weekend. Plant flowers around gravestones and tell stories about Aunt Helen or Grandpa Jim.

But this year, you, our readers, could take one extra step in honoring our servicemen and women. Take one hour out of your long holiday weekend to write your congressional representatives and President Obama to demand better treatment of our veterans. Demand that they make the care of our veterans a priority, because clearly it has not been.

In recent weeks, we have once again been alerted to the failings of the Veterans Administration in providing timely health care to our heroes. These heroes have been made false promises by our government.

This time, veterans died while waiting for that promised care. In several states, phony appointment records — to make it appear like veterans were getting care in a reasonable timeframe — are to blame.

Retired Gen. Eric Shinseki, secretary of Veterans Affairs, said the recent “adverse” incidents made him “mad as hell.”

We should all be mad as hell.

This isn’t the first time the VA has failed this nation’s veterans. Obama himself in 2007 said that failed VA care was unacceptable and that issues revealed at the Walter Reed Medical Center served as a “wake-up call.”

Yet, seven years have gone by and still veterans are waiting, and dying, for health care. At what point, exactly, is our government going to get a move on in fixing this serious problem?

U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland, recently expressed outrage of the idea of employees at the VA "cooking the books" after voting for HR 4031, which would add some small measure of accountability in the VA. "While this bill is not a cure all," he noted, "it is a long-overdue step in the right direction."

We certainly hope this bill gets the nod of approval. A cure-all, however, would be preferred.

Puffed up on empty promises and pretty prose about how our heroes deserve better, many politicians will likely redirect their spin-doctoring to other topics of the day. They will again forget all about our veterans — until the next scandal or election, of course.

Our veterans deserve an honorable level of health care treatment without months-long waits. This federal agency needs improved staffing, adequate funding and accountability. A complete overhaul — top to bottom — wouldn’t be out of line.

We have a duty to stand up for our veterans and demand immediate and long-term improvements. They fought for us, and now it’s our turn to fight for them.

CLICK HERE to read the CNN special report on the most recent incident.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Alex Doty and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to news@grandhaventribune.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.

Comments

Lanivan

I question why the Our Views commentary didn't address the blocking by Republicans of a Veterans Bill back in February....."A massive veterans legislative package that would have expanded a host of post-military benefits was sidelined Thursday after Senate Democratic backers failed to find enough support among their Republican colleagues.

The vote came after three days of debate on the Senate floor — much of it focusing on what topics should be debated. Each day, Sanders [Bernie Sanders - who wrote the proposal] implored his colleagues to focus on the veterans bill and avoid offering unrelated amendments.

But Republicans shifted much of the floor focus to new sanctions on Iran for its nuclear program, a move opposed by the White House, and continued objections to portions of the Affordable Care Act.

It contained a host of benefits and program changes advocated by veterans groups, including improved services for military sexual assault victims, new fertility treatment options for wounded veterans and an extension of health care coverage for recently returned veterans.

But the bill also had a hefty price tag. The Congressional Budget Office originally estimated its cost at $21 billion over 10 years, but the removal of the retirement issue would drop the total to about $15 billion over the next decade." http://www.armytimes.com/article...

This is a fine example of misplaced priorities, ideological warfare, and political football with legislation that in the past would have been passed with bipartisan approval.

The following link is an article written by a Navy veteran, Tyre Nelson, who believes Obama has done more for veterans than in the last thirty years. He goes into great detail as to what Obama has focused on, and what he has accomplished for vets.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ty...

MaHubah

The only thing Obama has done for vets is to put up barricades to keep them out of WWII memorial. Vets die waiting for healthcare which is what the ACA will be if left in tact. Pronounces Navy Corpsman as (corps-men)instead of (core-men). Wouldn't send help to Benghazi compound under attack. Doesn't know an assault rifle from a shotgun.

Lanivan

1. Initiated a new policy to promote federal hiring of military spouses. ref, ref
2. Improved benefits for veterans. ref, ref, ref, ref
3. Interagency Task Force on Veterans Small Business Development . ref
4. Worked to clear the backlog of veterans claims and streamline benefits to those who served. ref
5. Provided for the expenses of families of to be at Dover AFB when fallen soldiers arrive.ref
6. Donated 250K of Nobel prize money to Fisher House. ref
7. Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act of 2009. ref
8. Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2009. ref
9. Medal of Honor Commemorative Coin Act of 2009. ref
10. Promoted a bill to award a Congressional Gold Medal to the Women Airforce Service Pilots (“WASP”). ref
11. Ended media blackout on war casualties; reporting full information. ref , ref, ref , ref
12. Military Spouses Residency Relief Act. ref
13. Improved basic housing allowance for military personnel. ref
14. Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010. ref
15. Provided minimum essential health care coverage by Veteran’s Affairs. ref
16. Authorized construction/opening of additional health centers to care for veterans. ref
17. Korean War Veterans Recognition Act. ref
18. Blinded Veterans Association. ref
19. Major Charles R. Soltes, Jr., O.D. Department of Veterans Affairs Blind Rehabilitation Center. ref
20. Improved access for Veterans to receive PTSD treatment. ref
21. Green Vet Initiative to promote environmental jobs for veterans. ref

http://exposingreligionblog.tumb...

http://www.politifact.com/truth-...

http://thinkprogress.org/securit...

http://content.usatoday.com/comm...

http://voices.washingtonpost.com...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u...

zwesterhouse

Can just imagine is high school kids in mass across the country took that list of 21 items to their recruiters, and not join until something is done.

Zegota

The administration in Washington D.C., has planned this from the start, to force the closure of all VA facilities and turn VA medical care over to all public medical care facilities or systems.
This is already starting to happen, the reason is to destroy the private health care system in the United States. With Obama Care and now the VA medical challenge, it is only a few years away, if that. Wake-up America...

MaHubah

Dopes like Smokingdopeinvan will defend all means necessary to justify their means. Dopeinvan could provide you a study and a link to read her convoluted non-science (nonsense)no matter if you told her that liberal government means more government and conservative means less. Just like Al Gore invented the internet, Dopeinvan will refuse to wake up from her hypnotic state. I know its fun to argue with opposite sides of the political spectrum, but no matter how much common sense you try to provide, IT JUST DOESN'T SINK IN. No matter. Most people have enough life experience to know you cant spend more than you take in. Most people know you shouldn't give weapons do Mexican drug cartel. Most people know if your Ambassador to Libya was asking for increased security and the anniv. of 9/11 was approaching you would act. Most people know that the government shutdown recently only affected non-essential gov.employees. But they still had enough to put barricades up to (try) and keep vets out of the WWII memorial

GH55

MaHubah, your disrespect and ignorance is showing.
It really is kind of ironic how much of your post is true, the data proves that in the last several decades, the government has grown significantly, along with the deficit, under Republican administrations and been reduced under Democrat administrations.
And again, the Congress controls appropriations, the President only suggests a budget, Congress authorizes it.
The funds for VA and embassy security were significantly curtailed under Republican administrations and Congresses. Additionally, the govenment shutdown was brought about by Republicans not willing to compromise. The first ones to vote for the shutdown and the first ones at the barricades whining about it. Grandstanding! Hypocrites.
What would make even more sense would be if we quit getting into wars on false pretenses. This would yeild a two fold benefit, less debt and few vets to have to take care of.
the United States spends more on defense than the whole rest of the world combined. Where could we put some of that money to better use?
Perhaps the education system, based on many of the comments in this system.
It is clear to me that "The World" for most people in this area, consists of Ottawa County. Open your eyes and look at the rest of the world.

pablo

interesting! our current problem in health care is that we can't afford to continue on the current trajectory. we currently have five tax payer subsidized health care models. they are the VA Health System, Tri Care, Medicare, Medicade (fed subsized ), and the ACA. add in an increase in projected use with aging baby boomers and you quickly run into a input vs output problem. this only leads us in one direction, single payer system. i am not saying i would prefer this but that is the direction we are heading.i would prefer increased HSA contributions, opened competition for for health care across, and consumer responsibility for choosing health provider, and care model.

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