Does America hate its veterans -- or just the ones who have the nerve to get sick?
The Portland Phoenix reports:
This summer, VA secretary Anthony Principi said during a San Antonio speech that his department was weathering "the perfect storm" of too many veterans enrolling in the VA and not enough money from Congress to take care of them all.
"I think most health-care systems in America would collapse under the burden," he told his audience.
...The VA’s financial woes were compounded in 1996, when Congress mandated that all veterans be allowed to enroll in the VA health-care system, without fully funding the expansion.
"We [the DAV and other veterans organizations] went out on a big recruitment to find those people who may not have been service-connected," says Brodeur, "but they did spend some time in the military and now they may have some health problems, or they lost their job and they’re having a hard time just getting prescriptions.
"And we really went crazy doing that, and we found a lot of people who needed assistance," he says. "And we started flooding the system with them, and we choked it."
So bad did they choke the system, in fact, that incoming veterans now routinely wait six months to a year for their initial VA medical appointments. Meetings with specialists often take just as long....
(Click on the link, by the way, and you can read about the guy who couldn't get the VA to pay for a hearing aid for his stepfather, a World War II vet, because they couldn't provide specific information about the weapons that damaged his hearing: "To go back and ask the day, the time, the type of gun, the commanding officer — I mean, these are things that are 40, 50 years old, and it’s almost impossible, unless you kept a diary, to be able to convey in any kind of manner that can make sense on paper, like they’re trying to produce.")
Meanwhile, USA Today reports this:
Scores of private factories that helped make the nation's first atomic bombs stayed polluted for decades. And thousands of people who later worked in them were exposed to radiation and toxins without knowing it, federal records show.
The government is refusing to compensate workers who say they have illnesses from the latent contamination. It says only those who had jobs while the weapons work was going on are eligible for money.
About 250 chemical plants, steel mills, machine shops and other private factories got classified contracts in the 1940s and '50s to process radioactive and toxic material for atomic bombs for the government. Officials knew contamination at many sites remained above federal safety limits for years after weapons work ended, declassified records on conditions at the factories show. A few stayed polluted into the early '90s.
...Most workers were not told of the contamination or its health risks....
We really hate to admit that there are any negative consequences to our military might, don't we?