Shameful

Troubled vets left without health care benefits.

Every member of Congress should have their pay and vacation suspended and be locked into the chambers of the House and Senate under armed guard until they pass a bill guaranteeing these guys a free pass to any hospital or medical facility they need for the rest of their lives. If any member of Congress attempts to leave the Capitol, they should be arrested, condemned for treason, and sent to Afghanistan to clean latrines until the last soldier is brought home.

  • Hezekiah Garrett

    Have you ever burned 55 gallons of crap with a tank of diesel fuel? That smell!

    I thought you were agin’ torture?

  • David Davies

    Well, it isn’t just Congress which is screwing people over. It is the military itself in the persons of it’s managers. They seem to be affected by the same ‘Zero Tolerance’ bull that gets a 1st grader kicked out of school for having a plastic water ‘gun’. Read through the comments to the article. Certainly soldiers who have been injured in training or combat should have medical benefits forever without being compromised by their discharge status. Those cases are certainly different than a soldier who never is injured or shot at but who commits an offense which gets himself a court-martial and dishonorable discharge. I sympathize with Mark’s outrage but lack a mechanism for locking the congresscritters in the Capitol building until they behave. Write letters to them. Get your friends to write letters. Call. Raise the issue at town hall meetings. Be persistent and annoying. Sadly, that is about the only way to move them.

  • bob

    Veterans being denied medical care is a very old problem. When the military had a giant fire in its records some decades ago they lost records of the majority of men who served in both WW 1 & 2. Those men had to fight and the remaining ones still do to have the government recognize their need for care. Scandalous. It STILL goes on and should be a warning (I wish I didn’t have to say this) to anyone who wants to volunteer for honorable service. If they treated the “greatest” generation this way they certainly will treat you no better. They’re doing it now and nothing seems to able to deter them.

  • Ghosty

    The really horrible thing is that in many of the cases, and most likely in the case presented in the article, the behavior that leads to a less-than-honorable discharge is directly linked to the mental and physical trauma that was a result of the soldier’s service. Brain trauma, PTSD, and even just chronic pain from war injuries could easily lead a person to erratic behavior, or seeking things like marijuana for pain relief (the latter being legal with prescription in Washington State, where the soldier lived, and practically decriminalized even without a prescription here).

    Shameful indeed. Unless the soldier was discharged for being a total disgrace before being shot at or blown up, or even being in a combat zone, I’m more than happy as a taxpayer to contribute to all their medical care for the rest of their lives. Such care shouldn’t be restricted to VA hospitals either, IMO, as they are packed to the gills as it is. In my line of work I make frequent visits to the VA hospital here in Seattle, and it’s depressing to see so many men and women younger than me lined up for an hour for a check up by an overworked doctor.

    Peace and God bless!

  • Frank Weathers

    “For he today that sheds his blood with me
    Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
    This day shall gentle his condition;”

    Write your Congressional Representative today. This is unconscionable.

  • Richard Johnson

    “Freedom isn’t Free” is a nice bumper sticker. Unfortunately far too many who have this on their vehicles also tell their Congress-critters to cut the budget so they can have their taxes cut. Thus the Congress-critters listen to their constituency and cut the budget. Veterans are easy targets as they have so few lobbyists working for them (as opposed to the military-industrial corporations, who hire lobbyists by the truckload).

    I plan on button-holing my Representative and Senator this fall when they are campaigning here and making my concerns known. Hopefully others will do likewise.

  • George Lower

    A couple of thoughts come to mind regarding this article…my maternal step-grandfather was a Korean War (Police Action) veteran. He served over 15 years in the Army, never rising above the rank of E-5 (sergeant). He told me in partial jest that he used to pin his stripes on with safety pins because he would lose and regain his rank on a daily basis. It seems back in his day the Army had a more rational policy for dealing with combat veterans who had minor behavior problems. Today’s military seems to be more constrained to regulations when dealing with these issues. Company commanders and first sergeants could probably deal effectively with this kind of stuff by docking pay, restricting soldiers to quarters, extra duty or other company level punishments rather than letting these issues escalate to court martials. It does seem to me that this is zero tolerance run amok.

    Second point, I served briefly during the pre-Gulf War era. I was injured in a training accident and recieved a medical retirement. I never had any issues obtaining VA benefits because my case was well documented. However, during the press of combat paperwork and protocol can be compromised and I can sympathize with those who have struggled to prove eligibility. Once in the system even a veteran with a clear service connected condition can be overwhelmed by the fact that the VA system is underfunded and care is rationed. Appointments can take weeks and if one develops an acute condition (i.e. bronchitis, flu, etc.) it usually means a trip to the ER. Recently, I had a case of bronchitis. I had an appointment for an unrelated medical test and afterwards went to my primary VA doctor because I was feeling lousy. I was told the doctor had no appointments available and I was referred to the ER. After waiting in the ER I was finally referred to another primary doctor. That doctor examined me, ordered some x-rays. I went and waited again for the x-rays. After the x-rays I went back to the primary doctor, who pronounced his diagnosis and proceeded to prescribe 6 different medications. Then I had to wait 3 hours for those prescriptions to be filled at the outpatient pharmacy. So my total time at the hospital was about 7 hours. Did I get decent care? Yes. Was it free for me? Yes. Would I wish this kind of waiting on someone else? No. Of course, I was in a lousy mood because I was sick. However, this is the kind of beuracracy and ponderous slowness that will be the norm for everyone under Obamacare.

  • Papabile

    As a former congressional staffer of 14 years who dealt with countless VA casework requests, and as a former enlisted infantryman, I have little to no sympathy for those who are denied care because of an OTH discharge.

    Have I helped those with OTH discharges go through an appeal process for care? Yes.

    Have I helped them actually get care? Yes.

    But, in my experience, after working on countless cases once district staff had exhausted their appeals, I found exactly one guy who I thought had been railroaded. The rest of them deserved OTH discharges and if it were my decision, I wouldn’t have lifted a finger to help them.


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