Along with being part of the Wounded War Care Project, Lorraine is the husband of a veteran. His wife, after being wounded, was forced to travel several hours to another VA hospital -- passing about nine VA hospitals on the way -- to see a 'specialist' who spent less than 30 minutes with them and informed them he didn't want to see any of the records that they had brought along.
The refusal to meet the needs of veterans includes that nonsense. Imagaine being wounded and forced to travel hours to another VA to see some doctor for less than a half hour? You're just being jerked around. Begich explained that in parts of Alaska they didn't even have roads. He felt the needs of rural veterans weren't factored in and that the travel requirements the VA imposed upon veterans was unfair.
And as I listened, I had to wonder about the money wasted forcing veterans here, there and everywhere. And money entered the equation for me when Afghanistan War veteran Steven Bohn was talking about how he has a small, one-bedroom apartment that he lives in. He has to pay monthly rent and it takes up pretty much all of his $699 a month retirement pay. He has to depend upon resources, he explained, like the Wounded Warriors Project providing him with food cards and gas cards. And I'm glad -- and you probably are too -- that WWP exists but should it have to?
Why can't the government take care of the veterans? Why can't the government keep the promises they've made?
There is a position entitled federal recovery coordinator. It was invented to help veterans navigate the health care system and know what was out there. But veterans like Steve Bohn aren't being paired with them. And again, my opinion, it comes to money. The VA and the DoD like to put on a show about all these resources that are available but actually utilizing them, actually using them to help veterans, costs money and it really seems like somewhere in the system people are being instructed not to provide veterans with information as a cost-saving device.
I would also like to point out that when people know that they are testifying to the Committee, they should come prepared (a point that was made by Senator Richard Burr on Wednesday). And when DoD or VA is unable to offer answers, it only confirms to me -- just me -- that they're hiding something.
Now here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
the new york times
chelsea j. carter
the associated press