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Get serious about helping veterans

Citrus County Chronicle - 5/13/2017

There have been several articles regarding the county's Veterans Affairs Office. One commissioner wants the supervisor's pay raised because the tourism director makes more. I guess there must be some logic there. A Chronicle editorial calls for a salary study, which would make sense.

My personal concern is, why do we have a county Veterans Affairs Office, or for that matter, a State Veteran Affairs Department?

On Jan. 23, 1973, the U.S. discontinued the draft and moved to an all-volunteer military. Prior to that, the military was maintained by requiring young men to enter military service, or some like myself signed up because they did not want to wait around to be drafted. During the time of the draft, those in the military were not employees, but rather government property. Many of the ailments experienced by vets were not from the enemy but from actions of their own government: Medical experimentation, exposure to radiation, asbestos, Agent Orange, etc. were commonplace. Today. young people are volunteering to protect our country and values. I should mention that historically, our military has been made up from the poor and middle class.

All veterans are the responsibility of the United States government. Every presidential and Congressional candidate trying to get elected asserts their support for the vets and promises to make the Veterans Administration more accountable to our American veterans. Once elected, the vets are quickly forgotten, other than photo opportunities or lip service.

One can only wonder why Medicare and Social Security are considered extremely efficient organizations, yet the Veterans Affairs Department has historically been one of the worst. The VA is one of the most political departments in the federal government. Many employees cannot even be removed by the administrator because of politics.

Why should vets have to find a VA hospital to go to or a VA doctor? Why not cover all disabled vets through Medicare? Why should a vet have to go through the mountains of paperwork and bureaucracy to receive a benefit they earned by risking their lives for this country? I might suggest that the claim-processing portion be turned over to an independent, non-political agency.

The application process should not be complicated. In the age of computers, I would venture to say they should be able to identify a veteran rather quickly, where they served and what their duties where. Medical records should be a computer key away. Why should it take months to years to get approved? Maybe the government should hire hackers, because they seem to find federal records faster than the government.

The idea that state and local governments should have to intervene for vets is ridiculous and insulting. Abolish the Veterans Administration and use the savings to help vets in need, not political appointees.

One can only assume the process is designed to discourage vets from applying for assistance. I am confident that Congress is very aware of the problems but chooses not to address them. It appears our government has no problem sending our military into harm's way, but quickly forgets them after they give their lives or health.

It is time to set political parties aside and vote in people who actually care about our military vets. Voting records are available on the internet and only takes minutes to see how our elected officials vote. It is not difficult to email them and let your feelings be known. If they fail to address the issues, we the citizens of this country must vote them out.

Roger Krieger

Beverly Hills


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