13
Aug
08

172. Veterans Not a Divided Issue for Presidential Candidates

Anyone who passes through this site on a regular basis will know that Wanderingvet has very strong opinions about the Veterans Administration services for our veterans. There are numberous articles throughout this site about the shortcomings of the VA in terms of serving the veterans of our country. Of course, this is just the experience of one man who has been part of the VA system,but there have been other readers who also have noted various points of concern regarding the VA and the service it provides to our veterans. Interestingly, our current Presidential candidates have also  noted that the VA is a government agency that could benefit from a major “make over”. What’s even more amazing about this interest in the VA is that both candidates see “eye to eye” on the issue. It’s fair to say that the VA hasn’t been a shining example of care for the veterans of our country

Here’s what our Presidential candidates have to say on the topic :

“Too many of our wounded veterans come home to an administrative nightmare rather than a hero’s welcome. … We must also modernize our disability system to make sure that eligible service members receive benefits quickly, based on clear, predictable, and fair standards. … I’m not here to tell you that there is a cost that is too high to be paid in the care of our nation’s veterans. I will make sure that Congress funds the VA health care budget in a sufficient, timely, and predictable manner.” John McCain

“We know that the sacred trust cannot expire when the uniform comes off. When we fail to keep faith with our veterans, the bond between our nation and our nation’s heroes becomes frayed. When a veteran is denied care, we are all dishonored. …Caring for those who serve – and for their families – is a fundamental responsibility of the commander-in-chief. It is not a separate cost. It is a cost of war.” Barack Obama

 Veteran’s issues have transcended the usual biparitsan dissection and  both candidates agree that a serious focus on how we administer support to our veterans is in order.  This is great news even if at this point in time this may just be  campaigning rhetoric~at least both the candidates have gone on record that the VA is on their radar. But talking about changes and actually having a plan to address changes in the VA are two entirely different issues. Here’s what our Presidential candidates have planned for the future of the VA.

Among the specifics of McCain’s plan:

  •  To aid vets who can’t get to a Veterans Affairs hospital because of geographical constraints, long waiting lists or a lack of specialized facilities, he proposes that no vet have to drive more than an hour for care and that they receive routine care within a week, urgent care within 24 hours and specialty care within a month.
  •  A Veterans’ Care Access Card would be created, which would supplement ordinary VA care for low-income veterans and those with illnesses or injuries incurred during military service, permitting those who can’t get “timely and appropriate” care at a VA facility to receive care at a private one.
  •  He would build on his co-authored Wounded Warrior Act, which was among the first legislation to address injuries specific to the modern war on terror by providing enhanced screening and treatment.
  •  He called for a better response from the VA to the “specialized health care needs of women veterans, including victims of sexual assault.”
  •  He would establish a Wounded Warrior Resource Center, which would give vets accessible information and clear pathways to rehabilitation, as well as document the long-term needs of the veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • He would expand educational programs for family members of veterans to teach them how to properly care for their injured or ill loved ones.
  •  An eight-point plan would be enacted to overhaul the Veterans Disability system, which includes comprehensive, ongoing training for VA employees who process claims, more accountability for claims processors, converting the claims-processing system into a paperless one that will provide instant search capability, and providing vets with disabilities the proper treatment, rehabilitation and training they need to return to productive, fulfilling lives.

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Obama’s Veteran plan includes:

  • Allow All Veterans Back into the VA: One of Obama’s first acts will be reversing the 2003 ban on enrolling modest-income veterans, which has denied care to a million veterans.
  • Strengthen VA Care: Obama will make the VA a leader of national health care reform so that veterans get the best care possible. He will improve care for polytrauma vision impairment, prosthetics, spinal cord injury, aging, and women’s health.
  • Combat Homelessness among Our Nation’s Veterans: Obama will establish a national “zero tolerance” policy for veterans falling into homelessness by expanding proven programs and launching innovative services to prevent veterans from falling into homelessness.
  • Fight Veterans Employment Discrimination: Obama will crack down on employers who commit job discrimination against guardsmen and reservists.
  • Ensure a Seamless Transition: Obama will demand that the military and the VA coordinate to provide a seamless transition from active duty to civilian life.
  • Fully Fund VA Medical Care: Barack Obama will fully fund the VA so it has all the resources it needs to serve the veterans who need it, when they need it. Obama will establish a world-class VA Planning Division to avoid future budget shortfalls.
  • Fix the Benefits Bureaucracy: Obama will hire additional claims workers, and improve training and accountability so that VA benefit decisions are rated fairly and consistently. He also will transform the paper benefit claims process to an electronic one to reduce errors and improve timeliness.
  • Improve Mental Health Treatment: Obama will improve mental health care at every stage of military service. He will recruit more health professionals, improve screening, offer more support to families and make PTSD benefits claims fairer.
  • Improve Care for Traumatic Brain Injury: Obama will establish standards of care for Traumatic Brain Injury, the signature injury of the Iraq war.
  • Expand Vet Centers: Obama will expand and strengthen Vet Centers to provide more counseling for vets and their families.

The welfare of all our veterans deserves top priority by the Veteran’s Administration. Mediocrity in services for our  veterans should never be an option for those who have  placed trust in our government to honor their contributions and to stand by our duty of caring for militaty personnel. Only time will tell if these campaign promises will come to pass,but in the meantime it’s good to know that our prospective President has hopes of elevating the VA to meet the true needs of all veterans.

AnAmerican

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