One View: Veterans deserve a higher standard of care
Dan Caldwell 3:06 p.m. PDT
March 23, 2016(Photo: Provided to the RGJ)
The VA failed us. That much is clear after nearly two years of shocking headlines — secret wait lists, months-long appointment times, veteran deaths. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs wants us to believe more money will finally help them deliver the health care Nevada’s veterans have earned. Yet the VA’s latest budget request of over $180 billion won’t change much.
It’s clear we need far greater reforms. Ever-increasing budgets have done little to stem long wait times for care and benefits processing — the kind now seen in Reno, across Nevada and throughout the country.
After the scandal that erupted in 2014, one might have expected dramatic changes. Veterans were waiting too long for care and — worse yet — VA managers were manipulating data to protect their jobs and qualify for bonuses. Investigations into wrongdoing occurred across the country, including in Nevada.
Dozens of veterans likely died from neglect as a result of that scandal, leading to leadership changes at the VA Central Office in Washington. Yet in spite of all that, the latest data still show over one thousand appointments for care at Reno-area VA clinics have wait times longer than one month.
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It’s even worse in other parts of the state. Over 15 percent of appointments made at the Las Vegas VA Medical Center currently have excessive wait times longer than one month. Over 1,000 appointments have wait times as long as four months.
Nevada Veterans submitting claims for VA disability benefits are also suffering from inefficiency at the VA. In fact, the Reno VA claims office was the slowest in the nation last year, averaging 425 days to process a disability claim. Delays at the Reno processing office got so bad that congressional leaders had to call for the executive in charge to step down. Veterans shouldn’t wait that long for the support they’ve earned.
Increasing the VA’s budget yet again will not fix this chronic failure. What the VA truly needs is an infusion of proactive, determined leadership at all levels. Too few within the department’s leadership have been willing to hold and enforce a higher standard.
We veterans rely on the VA when we need help. Now we need your help. Those who have been beating the drum for reform should continue doing so, and patriotic Americans eager to make a difference should join in.
Policymakers will also have a major role to play. VA administrators and members of Congress should follow the example of leaders like U.S. Rep. Joe Heck, who has provided veteran-focused oversight and policy recommendations during the VA’s time of crisis.
A one-star general who served with distinction during multiple deployments, Rep. Heck has advocated reforms that put veterans first. He warned that VA Secretary Shinseki’s resignation in 2014 would not truly address the VA’s overdeveloped bureaucracy — and he was right.
Rep. Heck has instead focused on reforming the VA from the top down. He supported the VA Accountability Act, which ensures the VA retains only the best, most professional employees and managers while holding those who are negligent or unethical to task. He has staunchly advocated giving veterans more access to health care choices — an important means of empowering veterans.
This proactive, reform-minded leadership is the kind the VA desperately needs. The department must be willing to take a hard look at itself and fix what’s broken. Fulfilling the nation’s promise to veterans is worth it.
Dan Caldwell is the vice president of political and legislative action of Concerned Veterans for America. A U.S Marine infantry veteran, he served in Iraq with the 1st Marine Division.
Published on Aug 21, 2014
After over 8 months of marathon+ days, Mike Ehredt's amazing personal tribute to over 6,550 fallen US Servicemen and women ended on Veterans Day, November 11, 2012, in Galveston, Texas, at 1:30 PM. In 2010, Mike ran from Astoria, OR, to Rockland, ME, and placed 4,424 flags, one every mile for every US
"OUR COUNTRY IS IN MOURNING,
A VETERAN DIED TODAY."
He was getting old and paunchy
And his hair was falling fast,
And he sat around the Legion,
Telling stories of the past.
Of a war that he once fought in
And the deeds that he had done,
In his exploits with his buddies;
They were heroes, every one.
And 'tho sometimes to his neighbors
His tales became a joke,
All his buddies listened quietly
For they knew where of he spoke.
But we'll hear his tales no longer,
For ol' Joe has passed away,
And the world's a little poorer
For a Veteran died today.
He won't be mourned by many,
Just his children and his wife.
For he lived an ordinary,
Very quiet sort of life.
He held a job and raised a family,
Going quietly on his way;
And the world won't note his passing,
'Tho a Veteran died today.
When politicians leave this earth,
Their bodies lie in state,
While thousands note their passing,
And proclaim that they were great.
Papers tell of their life stories
From the time that they were young,
But the passing of a Veteran
Goes unnoticed, and unsung.
Is the greatest contribution
To the welfare of our land,
Some jerk who breaks his promise
And cons his fellow man?
Or the ordinary fellow
Who in times of war and strife,
Goes off to serve his country
And offers up his life?
The politician's stipend
And the style in which he lives,
Are often disproportionate,
To the service that he gives.
While the ordinary Veteran,
Who offered up his all,
Is paid off with a medal
And perhaps a pension, small.
It is not the politicians
With their compromise and ploys,
Who won for us the freedom
That our country now enjoys
Should you find yourself in danger,
With your enemies at hand,
Would you really want some cop-out,
With his ever-waffling stand?
Or would you want a Veteran
His home, his country, his kin,
Just a common Veteran,
Who would fight until the end.
He was just a common Veteran,
And his ranks are growing thin,
But his presence should remind us
We may need his likes again.
For when countries are in conflict,
We find the Veteran's part,
Is to clean up all the troubles
That the politicians start.
If we cannot do him honour
While he's here to hear the praise,
Then at least let's give him homage
At the ending of his days.
Perhaps just a simple headline
In the paper that might say:
"OUR COUNTRY IS IN MOURNING,
A VETERAN DIED TODAY."
Hold our troops in your loving hands.
Protect them as they protect us.
Bless them & their families for the selfless acts they perform
for us in our time of need.
In Jesus name,
Honor Flight Network
Honor Flight Network is a non-profit organization created solely to honor America's veterans for all their sacrifices.
Oct 2015 - Newsletter - Click here
FALLEN ANGEL – THE SHOOT DOWN OF SEAL TEAM SIX
An investigative documentary on the cover-up of the single largest loss of life in Navy SEAL history
#film #filmmaking #filmfunding #fundraising #sealteamsix
Published on Nov 23, 2015
Thank you for watching our opening video for our Indigogo crowd-funding campaign. Tom Trento’s presentation provides the overview for our critically important project: FALLEN ANGEL – The Cover-up of the Shoot Down of Seal Team Six. It is essential for you to review ALL the information on our Indigogo site
Our Brave Veterans
By Colleen Young
Our American flag flies high in the breeze
In honor of those in the military
Who fight to keep our country free
Who have died to protect our liberty
Never shirking responsibility
Never avoiding work or their duty
Ready to meet head on obligations
Ready to give all for our nation
Stars and stripes, wave high with pride
Our pledge and allegiance we will not hide
With Respect and honor
And untold wonder
We will always remember
And forever ponder
What our flag stands for
Praise God for our brave veterans
Outstanding men and women
Remaining firm and true to the end
Thank them all again and again
For in service to our great country
They have suffered, bled, and died
Our homeland is kept safe
As they continue to take their place
Living lives of sacrifice
The Veterans Crisis Line connects Veterans in crisis and their families and friends with qualified, caring Department of Veterans Affairs responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat, or text. Veterans and their loved ones can call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1,chat online, or send a text message to 838255 to receive confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Support for deaf and hard of hearing individuals is available.
More about the Veterans Crisis Line
"Betrayed" Exposing the High Cost of the War on Terror.
Betrayed’ – Billy Vaughn and MG Vallely’s new book on Extortion 17 (With Foreword By Lt. General ‘Jerry’ Boykin)
“Grief and politics don’t mix. When raw, aching grief and the dirtiest kind of politics meet, a hot volcano of pain and outrage erupts that is unstoppable. But it is necessary. It is the only way things might ever be clean again.” ~ Diana West
The warriors on that CH-47 Chinook helicopter were compromised by their leaders:
Karen & Billy Vaughan's
Son Aaron Vaughan resting in Arlington National Cemetery
Combat Veterans to Careers Mission Statement