Concerns of veterans fall on deaf ears among our politicians
To the Editor:
Recently there have been many lively, passionate discussions pertaining to a number of topics. I would like to bring your attention, again, to issues pertaining to our military veterans.
When Vietnam veterans complained of medical and psychological problems they believed were related to their military service, they were frequently called "cry babies" and their claims for service-connected disabilities denied. Forty-four years after Vietnam veterans began their fight for undiagnosed illnesses of Vietnam, the government is now conceding the presumption of even more illnesses from that war.
Similarly, veterans of the Gulf War have had their claims for service-connected medical and psychological problems denied. In an April 22, 2010 American Forces Press Service article by Lisa Daniel, Gulf veterans are now being told they should seek treatment through the VA in light of a recent study that says Gulf War service is a cause of post traumatic stress disorder.
In an April 23, 2010 article by Rick Maze, it is reported that new data shows there are now an average of 950 suicide attempts each month by veterans who are receiving some type of treatment from the VA. The VA's suicide hotline has been receiving about 10,000 calls a month from current and former service members. Eighteen veterans commit suicide each day, about five veterans receiving VA care. This is a loss of 6,570 veterans in one year. Access to care appears to be a key factor.
Last year we met with State Rep. Kevin Daley expressing our concern about treatment and red tape routinely facing veterans who seek or need medical assistance at VA hospitals. In light of an article last year by Rick Maze, staff writer for the Air Force Times, concerning thousands of veteran's claims documents being shredded and lost by VA employees, letters to the Tri-City Times were published. Requests were made of our state representatives to conduct a formal hearing into these matters. We have received no notice that a formal hearing has taken place or been scheduled.
It is likely that candidates from both major parties in the upcoming elections will verbally express their appreciation of veterans and seek the support of the veteran community in their campaigns for election, or re-election. It is also likely that we will hear more promises that will be forgotten after the election.