Op-ed: Congress And The VA Vacillate While Disabled Veterans Suffer030625-N-5024R-001 Honolulu, Hawaii (Jun. 25, 2003) -- A Korean War veteran salutes as the 25th Infantry Division (Light) Artillery Battery carries out the 21-gun salute during the 53rd Anniversary of the Korean War Ceremony held at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Johnnie R. Robbins. (RELEASED)
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For more than a year, our Lame Duck Congress and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs have ignored disabled Veterans who reside a considerable distance from “full service” VA facilities!
The VA Health Care System, as presently configured, is not capable of providing proper health care for the growing number of Veterans that need it. Unless and until the VA is staffed sufficiently to cope with the number of Veterans requiring health care, many of our Veterans will die needlessly for the lack of immediate and proper care!
Properly organized and properly funded, the proposed Veterans’ Choice Program would immediately provide the care our Veterans deserve. As an interim measure, this program should immediately be authorized for Veterans rated 100% disabled (including those who are tagged as Individually Unemployable and 100% disabled for compensation purposes). Once the program is up and running, the VA can institute procedures for authorizing Veterans’ Choice to all veterans rated at least 50% or higher!
The proposed program included Veterans who reside more than 40 miles away from full-service VA facilities! 80 miles or more roundtrip, once a month or more, creates considerably painful problems for most Veterans rated by the VA as 50% or more disabled!
The Veterans’ Choice Program would provide a quick, sorely needed fix for one of the most serious problems facing the VA. Time is running out for many Veterans, thus the urgent call for positive action on the proposed bill!
Brooks Outland is a Korean and Vietnam war veteran.He volunteered to serve in Vietnam because he was keen to help the people of South Vietnam keep their freedom and their country from communist takeover by the North. After retiring Brooks and his wife spent eight years volunteering aboard his old battleship, USS Missouri (BB-63), before returning to the mainland in Arkansas in 2015.