Posts Tagged ‘Veterans


208. New Era of Responsibility?

A transformed VA will be a high-performing 21st century department, a different organization from the one that exists today. Beyond the next five years, we’re looking for new ways of thinking and acting. We are asking why, 40 years after Agent Orange was last used in Vietnam, this Secretary had to adjudicate claims for service-connected disabilities that have now been determined presumptive. And why, 20 years after Desert Storm, we are still debating the debilitating effects of whatever causes Gulf War Illness. If we do not stay attuned to the health needs of our returning veterans, 20 or 40 years from now, some future Secretary could be adjudicating presumptive disabilities from our ongoing conflicts. We must do better, and we will.

General Eric Shimseki,

Secretary of Veterans Affairs

Back in January Wanderingvets posted news of retired General Eric Shinseki taking the office as Secretary of Veterans Affairs .(Real Changes Ahead for Veterans Affairs?) With the confirmation of General Shinseki there was great hope that the VA would be revamped to better serve the needs of our growing veteran population. This week General Shinseki addressed Congress with a “State of the VA Message” that is the result of 9 months of assessments within the VA.

Out of my discussions with Veterans, three concerns keep coming through — access, the backlog, and homeless Veterans.

It would seem that General Shimseki has a very accurate pulse on the shortcomings that have been demonstrated with the current VA system.
From medical negligence to a long backlog of disability claims for veterans,the layers of improvements needed for treating our veterans with the services they deserve seems to have been identified.

It’s very encouraging to see the needs of our homeless veterans being acknowledged and addressed by the VA. With 25% of all homeless Americans being veterans this is an area that has been put on the back burner for too long. The current VA system does little to reduce the burden of homelessness for veterans and historically has let community organization bear the burden of providing for homeless veterans. Sadly, in this current economic climate community resources aren’t able to meet the growing needs of all homeless citizens and many of our veterans remain on the streets without shelter.A survey by the National Coalition for The Homeless shows that shelters for the homeless only provide shelter for less than 40% of people in need of basic services.  A previous statistic by the VA estimated 154,000 veterans (male and female) are homeless on any given night and perhaps twice as many experince homelessness at some point during the course of a year. The VA claims this number is being reduced despite the overall rise in the homeless population in the US and the need for expanded VA services due to returning military from Iraq.

Veterans lead the Nation in homelessness, depression, substance abuse, and suicides. We now estimate that 131,000 Veterans live on the streets of this wealthiest and most powerful Nation in the world, down from 195,000 six years ago. Some of those homeless are here in Washington, D.C. — men and women, young and old, fully functioning and disabled, from every war generation, even the current operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. We will invest $3.2 billion next year to prevent and reduce homelessness among Veterans — $2.7 billion on medical services and $500 million on specific homeless housing programs. With 85 percent of homelessness funding going to health care, it means that homelessness is a significant health care issue, heavily burdened with depression and substance abuse. We think we have the right partners, the right plans, and the right programs in place on safe housing. We’ll monitor and adjust the balance as required to continue increasing our gains in eliminating Veteran homelessness. We are moving in the right direction to remove this blot on our consciences, but we have more work to do.

The men and women of the armed forces have been made a promise that if they defend our country in military service, we will provide them with the benefits they have earned. Sadly, the VA has fallen short on this promise to our Veterans on many accounts. Does this recent report to Congress mark a new era of responsibility  to our Veterans or will we continue to have the “blot” of  unkept promises on our consciences? Only time will tell.


205.Health Care Reform & The VA System:Here We Go Again?

reformAmerica is on the brink of making some very important decisions as relates to healthcare in this country. Currently, our politicians are bouncing around various proposals for the future of healthcare in America. Most recently Congress reported “trimming” this healthcare bill to $1 trillion .The facts about our current healthcare system support the need for some serious realignment in order to cover the healthcare needs of more Americans.

FACT: One-third of adults (31 percent) and more than half of all children (54 percent) do not have a primary care doctor (National Medical Expenditure Panel Survey) Continue reading ‘205.Health Care Reform & The VA System:Here We Go Again?’


202. Memorial Day 2009

LoganLike many Americans, I intend on enjoying this Memorial Day weekend as a holiday that welcomes in the summer season. It’s easy to forget what this national holiday actually is about. While we enjoy a day off on Memorial Day we should all give thought to the real spirit of this day and what it represents for our country and each of us .

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service.

Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan(pictured above), national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.

During this Memorial Day week the theme of the Presidential address is “Sacrifice” which pays tribute to American’s veterans,service men and women. Indeed, the sacrifices of our military should never go without sincere and enduring appreciation by all Americans. While we celebrate this Memorial Day of 2009,let us all remember that this appreciation extends not just on this holiday weekend but throughout each and every day of the year.

The “National Moment of Remembrance” resolution was passed on Dec 2000 which asks that on Memorial Day at 3 p.m. local time, for all Americans “To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence.

Wanderingvets extends our thanks to all our veterans & members of the military on this Memorial Day of 2009.


191. Real Changes Ahead for Veterans Affairs?

General Shinseki (Source AP)

General Shinseki (Source AP)

President Obama became the 44th President of the United States this past week. He certainly faces many challenges as he embarks on the Presidency. Throughout President Obama’s campaign there was a theme of change that surrounded his visions of the government he would lead. The time for putting these changes into place has arrived.

Like many Americans, I didn’t have a chance to witness the inauguration in real time. Later when I did listen to our 44th President’s address to the nation the following part of this speech immediately caught my attention:

What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

Continue reading ‘191. Real Changes Ahead for Veterans Affairs?’


190. Thoughts on Hunger & The Homeless


2009 brings with it many of the same unresolved issues for our country as were present in 2008. Our economy is in a recession, the unemployment rate is rising, and we have been promised that President Elect Obama has changes ahead to lead this nation to better days. Change can be a good thing. We certainly could benefit from closer attention and accountability on many of our economic issues that have recently gained so much attention. We also need change on how we handle so many of our social programs in this country. Homelessness in the US is one area that is in dire needs of change in 2009.

Over the past year we have had unprecedented numbers of Americans who find themselves homeless. The stereotypes of homeless citizens no longer ring true as there are no “typical” homeless people in this country. The diversity of our homeless citizens includes so many subgroups who just haven’t been able to weather the storm of our current economic challenges. ALL communities throughout the country report a sharp rise in local homeless populations. The demographics of our nations’ homeless includes Veterans, families, children, single mothers, middle class families, the elderly, those with both mental and physical illnesses, students and those who never, ever thought that they would find themselves without a home. My point here is the faces of our homeless spans across all demographics and continues to expand….and it isn’t going away without some serious changes.
Continue reading ‘190. Thoughts on Hunger & The Homeless’


188. Home for The Brave Part II





This is the second in the series of the essay by a “concerned citizen” addressing homeless veterans. Part I can be found here.

Home For The Brave:Part II

The Causes of Veteran Homelessness
While it is easy to lay the problem of veteran homelessness solely on inadequate public policy failing to provide sufficient services to veterans reintegrating into society, it is also important to understand the underlying causes of veteran homelessness. A case can be made that, like non-veteran homelessness, even with adequate resources in place, communities would continue to experience some veteran homelessness due simply to the medical and mental health conditions experienced by the veteran’s themselves, either due to pre-existing conditions or to conditions developed during service. The VA has begun to assess potential service-members prior to military service regarding pre-existing risk factors like pre-existing medical and personality disorders, substance abuse, anti-social conduct, criminal history, low levels of education, and domestic issues. However, evidence shows that some policy changes exacerbated veteran homelessness by affecting the quality of the persons entering service. Continue reading ‘188. Home for The Brave Part II’


176. The Victims of 9/11:Our Veterans

This past week marked the 7th anniversary of 9/11/2001. Like most Americans I have memories of 9/11 as I watched the events of the World Trade Centers unfold in New York.  It seemed surreal to be watching such a sinister attack against so many Americans who simply were going about what they thought was an ordinary day in their lives. Little did we know how that terrorist attack would forever change our nation. 

 There has been quite a bit of real footage from witnesses to the events in New York with the anniversary of 9/11 this past week. I was watching some footage of bystanders who witnessed the World Trade Center attack and the prevailing emotion of that day was shock. Mixed in with the shock of that devastating terrorist act was the sentiment of outrage at a plot that was so calculated and evil in scope that most Americans were behind any means to  get justice for this cruel act against America…and to prevent this from ever happening again. The subsequent years that  followed this starting point of the Middle East conflict have left many people forgetful about the intitial outrage and support that most had to engaging in  Iraq. It has also left many people forgetful about the other vitcims of 9/11~our veterans. Continue reading ‘176. The Victims of 9/11:Our Veterans’

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