Monday, March 5, 2007

Support of Our Troops, Republican Style

While looking for a transcript of the hearings at Walter Reed, I went to the Oversight Committee website, where I found this report from the Committee on Government Reform — Minority Staff Special Investigations Division. My bolds.

The Department ... has had long-standing problems providing care for eligible veterans. In 1996, Congress passed the Veterans Health care Reform Act, which expanded eligibility for VA care to all veterans. Since the legislation was passed, enrollment in VA health care facilities has increased by almost 300%, from 2.9 M in '96 to an estimated 7.5 M in '03. Funding for the VA, however, increased at a much lower rate during this period, leading to shortages of capacity and long waiting times for many veterans.

That Republican congress had to pass Clinton's bill, but they didn't have to pay for it all that much. In the same way, Bush, demonstrating his support for those heroes he loves to pose before, would impose fees and cost increases on Priority 7 Veterans that effectively forces tens of thousands of them out of the system, and deny enrollments for a whole large group of new Vets, so called Priority 8 Veterans.

Priority 7 veterans are veterans whose injuries are not service-related and whose income is more than $24,644 ($29,576 for a veteran with a dependent) but less than 80% of the community’s median income. Priority 8 veterans are veterans whose injuries are not service related and whose incomes are higher than Priority 7 veterans. Together, these two classes of veterans represent 41% of the veterans currently receiving VA health care.

So to honor our Veterans, the great Cult of the Military Forces, that would be the GOP, would deny access to any VA care for a whole class of Veterans, while raising a never before done TAX!!! on another group of Vets, effectively forcing thousands of Veterans out of the VA system.

We're supposed to honor our troops by supporting them, by taking care of them, even after they're done with their service. They made great sacrifices, of time and body, and we should pay for their healthcare as part of our bargain for their service. Bill Clinton got that done, only the Republicans seem to have undone it, just as they have attempted to undo everything else Bill Clinton accomplished in office, see North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Roadless Rules, Clean Air, Fair taxation, you name it, to the extent I'm surprised they haven't tried to restart the The Troubles in Northern Ireland.

Support the troops indeed.


Seven of Six said...

This is exactly what happened to may Dad. He makes to much money.
A Europe theater and D-Day Veteran of WWII. He has Alzheimer's now so he has forgotten what needs to be said. The VA told him he must have a friend substantiate his claim, his DD-214 is not enough for them. Also, the fire in St. Louis in the mid 60's burned up all my Dad's military records.

He is receiving a small stipend for his 23 year military career. He is also 10% service connected disability.
The thing is, VA disability is non-taxable. They will not review his case because they know he will become a 100% disabled Veteran. Thus adding 1 more to rolls of thousands of Veterans.

I'm satisfied however with his current medical care. He goes to the Mayo clinic here in Scottsdale. My Mom is primary caregiver, and I get to be there for babysitting purposes.

RoseCovered Glasses said...

We need to be careful to differentitate between the Active Service Hospitals and the Veteran’s Administration. There are major differences.

I am currently a resident in a Veteran’s Home after having undergone treatment through the VA for PTSD and Depression, long overdue some 40 years after the Tet Offensive that cap stoned my military 2nd tour in Vietnam with a lifetime of illness.

My blog has attracted the stories of many veterans such as myself and other sufferers from PTSD who were victimized by elements of society other than the VA system of medical and mental treatment. I, for one, became trapped in the Military Industrial Complex for 36 years working on weapons systems that are saving lives today but with such high security clearances that I dared not get treated for fear of losing my career:

When my disorders became life threatening I was entered into the VA System for treatment in Minneapolis. It saved my life and I am now in complete recovery and functioning as a volunteer for SCORE, as well as authoring books and blogging the world.

When I was in the VA system I was amazed at how well it functioned and how state of the art it is for its massive mission. Below is a feature article from Time Magazine which does a good job of explaining why it is a class act:,9171,1376238,00.html

I had state of the art medical and mental care, met some of the most dedicated professionals I have ever seen and was cared for by a handful of very special nurses among the 60,000 + nursing population that make up that mammoth system. While I was resident at the VA Hospital in Minneapolis I observed many returnees from Iraq getting excellent care.

I do not say the VA system is perfect but it is certainly being run better on a $39B budget than the Pentagon is running on $494B.

We have bought into the Military Industrial Complex (MIC). If you would like to read this happens please see:

Through a combination of public apathy and threats by the MIC we have let the SYSTEM get too large. It is now a SYSTEMIC problem and the SYSTEM is out of control. Government and industry are merging and that is very dangerous.

There is no conspiracy. The SYSTEM has gotten so big that those who make it up and run it day to day in industry and government simply are perpetuating their existance.
The politicians rely on them for details and recommendations because they cannot possibly grasp the nuances of the environment and the BIG SYSTEM.

So, the system has to go bust and then be re-scaled, fixed and re-designed to run efficiently and prudently, just like any other big machine that runs poorly or becomes obsolete or dangerous.

This situation will right itself through trauma. I see a government ENRON on the horizon, with an associated house cleaning.

The next president will come and go along with his appointees and politicos. The event to watch is the collapse of the MIC.
For more details see:

Duckman GR said...

Indeed, the VA and The Walter Reed's are two different entities, yet the challenges the yface are the same, neglect and inadequete funding. Then when you toss into the mix a war of aggression with no real planning, and certainly no ramping up of system capacity, because that ramping up would illuminate the real costs of Cheney's war to the American people, you get this crap.

And that's the problem.

Seven of Six said...

The VA works wonders for some.

For others it is a nightmare.

If you don't have copies of your medical records they easily get lost, for no explained reason. (In reality it because it puts the onus back on the Veteran to produce those records and proof of injuries!) I hand carried all my medical records from each duty station.
When it was time to ETS, I waited until they were in my hand. I had to go back 3 days until they were ready. I was not leaving without them. This was advice my Dad gave me, BTW.

I was discharged 0% at first. It was not until a suicide attempt that they knew something was wrong. Even then my first evalution was only 10%. It really does depend on who is interviewing you. On my second suicide attempt, they determined that I had serious problems. I was confined to a Psychiatric ward for 90 days. They then learned of my back injury in the military, shoulder injury, and other misc. nagging injuries. I was finally getting the attention from the VA that I should have gotten when I was originally discharged from the Army. It's fucking hard to concentrate on life when your hurt and in major pain.

Of course I could go on and on about the 3 other hospitalizations but what's the point, I have mine know. And the VA is good at prescribing all the meds in the world for you. They just aren't good at continuing the in depth treatment. They just don't have the bodies or funding.

Duckman GR said...

I hope, my friend, that we can make things work better, now that the precious eye of the media has appeared on the scene. And I also hope that you are getting better, I hope that talking about your situation and experiences as you have at left coaster and low and left, and here even, helps you get organized and prepared and a little less frustrated.

I think back and I can't really see a time where the VA wasn't anything much different than it appears to be today, underfunded and staffed, an unglamorous backwater for some less than dedicated public servants. Look at how it's been portrayed by movies, like Born on the 4th of July, or Rambo or Billy Jack or Forest Gump, they're all the same, a story of neglect and indifference and half assed care.

Maybe that will change, maybe not. But with people like you pushing the issue, I sure as hell hope it does.