This Week's Not Commented on Topics in the news total four.
One - Not The Right Man To Run The VA
ADMINISTRATION'S CARELESS CHOICE FOR VETERANS -- The administration's nominee to head the VA oversaw a military healthcare crisis long before the Walter Reed scandal. Sick and wounded soldiers back from Iraq were warehoused in dilapidated barracks, waiting weeks or even months to see doctors. Many were not getting proper treatment for one of the signature ills of this war, post-traumatic stress disorder. Buried in a blizzard of paperwork, frustrated soldiers became ensnared in an Army bureaucracy that is supposed to provide them with medical treatment and disability payments. To make matters worse, separate efforts to care for soldiers by the Army and the Department of Veterans Affairs were duplicative and confusing. It sounds like the headline-making scandal over Walter Reed Army Medical Center in early 2007, in the wake of which the Army Surgeon General, Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley, downplayed the problems. But these kinds of nightmarish struggles faced by ailing war veterans existed as far back as 2003, and were brought to the attention of Congress before Kiley's tenure. The Army surgeon general presiding over the crisis back then was Lt. Gen. James Peake, who, like Kiley in 2007, sought to whitewash the situation. Peake retired in July 2004 -- but now he's back in the news, as the administration announced his nominee for the new head of the Department of Veterans Affairs. While not all veterans blame Peake for failing to fix these problems back in 2003 and 2004, many veterans blame the administration for trying to fight the war on the cheap -- including penny pinching on outpatient care and benefits - they do suggest generals like Peake need to make a stand and do the right thing. "Do you resign or do you salute and follow civilian authority?" If confirmed for the job at the VA, will he have the gumption to refuse to march in lockstep with the administration if he doesn't get the resources he needs to provide adequately for veterans? The rising number of injured veterans returning from Iraq may be wondering the same.
Two - Scam Those Who Would Help Our Veterans Population
DAV APPLAUDS TV REPORT ON ALLEGED VETERANS' CHARITY FRAUD -- A charity using a name similar to the Disabled American Veterans was able to obtain more than 5 million dollars in donations, with most of it going into the pockets of fund raisers. The Disabled American Veterans (DAV) is commending Cleveland WEWS-TV investigative reporter Ron Regan for his expose about an organization, known as the "Disabled Veterans Associations," that is preying on the patriotism of our nation's citizens by seeking financial support allegedly for those who have served and sacrificed for the cause of liberty, but with most of the money going into the pockets of unscrupulous fund raisers. Of the more than $5 million in donations, less than 13 cents of every dollar actually went to veterans. While the "Disabled Veterans Associations" is very similar in name to the Disabled American Veterans, the fulfillment of the mission to help disabled veterans is not." "The Disabled Veterans Associations is despicably preying on the generosity of a grateful nation for personal gain." "Deceiving the American public by using a name similar to ours and then misusing the money donated to help disabled veterans is a scandalous act of betrayal that fills every veteran with anger and disgust." "There is a vast difference between DAV and the Disabled Veterans Associations. We are pleased that Mr. Regan's reports will tell America the truth."
Three - Veterans, 11 Percent Of The Population, 25 Percent Of The Homeless
VETERANS MAKE UP 1-IN-4 HOMELESS IN UNITED STATES -- "We're beginning to see, across the country, the first trickle of this generation of warriors in homeless shelters. But we anticipate that it's going to be a tsunami." Veterans make up one in four homeless people in the United States, though they are only 11 percent of the general adult population. And homelessness is not just a problem among middle-age and elderly veterans. Younger veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are trickling into shelters and soup kitchens seeking services, treatment or help with finding a job. The Veterans Affairs Department has identified 1,500 homeless veterans from the current wars and says 400 of them have participated in its programs specifically targeting homelessness. Data estimates that 194,254 homeless people out of 744,313 on any given night were veterans. In comparison, the VA says that 20 years ago, the estimated number of veterans who were homeless on any given night was 250,000.
Four - Veterans Of Modern Warfare Wounded - How Many Did You Say
DAV REFUTES ADMINISTRATION'S CLAIM OF JUST 30,000 WOUNDED IN IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN -- "That 30,000 number is a fantasy...202,000 have filed claims for VA disability...A quarter million have turned to the VA for treatment...Our government tried to do war on the cheap..." Disabled American Veterans: On Veterans Day, politicians will praise the 30,000 troops "officially wounded" in action in Iraq and Afghanistan as if this "statistic" were some kind of "fact." In doing so, they'll harm the men and women who carry the burden of our nation's defense in today's very dangerous world. That 30,000 number is a fantasy. Here's the truth about the human cost borne by the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan as shown by data from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Of the 1.5 million troops who served in Iraq or Afghanistan, 720,000 (48%) are now veterans in the civilian population. Of these, 202,000 have filed claims for VA disability benefits. The VA granted benefits in more than 90% of the cases processed so far, and will grant more upon appeal or presentation of additional evidence. In other words, real statistics show that one out of four veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan is disabled in military service. This should shock no one as troops return to the war zones for their third, fourth, and now fifth tours of combat duty. Of the 720,000 veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, a quarter million have turned to the VA for treatment - more than one out of every three veterans of the combat theaters. The figures above don't include troops still on active duty, many of whom remain in the service after being harmed by war. They too must not be forgotten. Yet that 30,000 figure keeps floating in political and media circles as if it had authority. Well, it all depends on what you count. If you intentionally count to get a low number, you'll get a low number. Obviously, someone wants a low number. But what happens as a result? For one thing, the scandal at Walter Reed Army Medical Center developed as Washington officials dazzled each other with low "casualty counts," but this was just the tip of an ugly iceberg! Even as our troops shed their blood in Afghanistan and Iraq, health care and benefits for veterans have been decaying across the nation. Our government tried to do war on the cheap, failing to recognize the back-end cost of veterans with disabilities. True, it increased funding for VA programs each year - by amounts far below the rapidly increasing needs of our disabled heroes. By using the tightest definition to minimize the casualty count, politicians deny reality, preparing a ruinous future for all disabled veterans, especially our youngest generation. In no way is America prepared to deal with the aftermath of today's wars as it will be experienced by veterans in the VA. This is not meant as criticism of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but to present a more complete picture of the sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform. Much is made of the idea that veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan differ from past generations of America's defenders. Actually, that's been true of every generation of veterans to date, and the veterans' movement has accommodated those differences. But one thing will always be the same; Veterans age, and the costs of war last a lifetime. A soldier who suffers a severe brain injury in Iraq today will still be a disabled veteran 60 years from now when reaching the age of today's World War II veterans. Our nation will still owe that veteran every care in the world. We must not allow self-serving rhetoric to shortchange any American hero - not now, not ever!
--- Regards, Walt Schmidt