VA is the symptom; government is the disease

Today is tax day — the day our federal government laughs all the way to the bank while our elected representatives in Washington give us the giant middle finger by finding more ways to spend our money without keeping promises made to those who protect and defend our nation.

Every day the best and brightest of our nation are called by our government to stand in harm’s way — no questions asked. These men and women are smart, athletic, disciplined and extremely proud to serve our nation.

Regardless of what branch of service they served, where they were deployed or what job they performed, they are all owed a debt of gratitude we as a nation can never repay.

Unfortunately when it comes to taking care of those who serve, our nation has a horrible track record.

I’ve never understood why our federal leadership seems to quickly approve sending our sons and daughters into conflict, but doesn’t seem to care about them once they return home.

Following more than a decade of U.S. military engagement in the Middle East, the problems with the Veterans Administration system has reached critical mass. The bureaucracy is imploding under its own weight and the system cannot meet the demand for services. Some needs are more critical than others. All are vital to that particular veteran’s well being.

Yet every day treatment for critically ill veterans is delayed by bureaucratic red tape and a systematic “deny/delay” attitude that encourages veterans to give up.

Not taking care of those who take care of us is unacceptable.

It is shameful.

It is disgraceful.

Even more disgraceful is how skillfully Congress manages to turn a blind eye to the plight of our veterans and pleas to reform the VA. Congress has the power to act — if it chooses to do so. Even in today’s polarizing political climate, one would think this would be an issue both parties and the President could rally around.

I’ve heard lots of platitudes from Congress, but our veterans have seen very little action.

I encourage everyone to visit the VA Hospital in Dallas. Make a point to notice the jobless veterans walking along Lancaster Road seeking assistance from the nonprofits located near the hospital. It is a safe bet some of them are homeless. It is also a safe bet that nearly all, if not all, are on the waiting list to receive notice if their claim for benefits has been rejected. In almost every case, every claim is denied on the first attempt. The lucky ones are those inside the hospital waiting areas, many spend an entire day waiting to see a physician or clinician — or to get a prescription refilled. And most of those, many of whom have little or nothing at all, are often required to pay for a portion of the healthcare they receive.

How can Congress and the President — who send our patriots into battle — be entitled to the best healthcare in America free of charge?

It should be the other way around.

Then, every time our federal government feels compelled to commit our military in defense of our nation’s interest abroad, there should be a law requiring the Vice President and a Congressional delegation be the first boots on the ground.

I bet the current crisis at the VA would be resolved in a hurry.

I also bet it would deter our government from committing our military into so many conflicts abroad.

Neal White is the Editor and General Manager of Waxahachie Media Group. His recent novel, “Crosswinds” published by The Next Chapter Publishing, is available at Amazon.com. Contact Neal at nwhite@waxahachietx.com or 469-517-1470. Follow Neal on Facebook at Neal White – Waxahachie Newspapers Inc., or on Twitter at wni_nwhite.