The National Homeless Organization estimates that more than 300,000 veterans are living on the streets on any given night. The fact is, that it seems like there is always plenty of money when it comes things like giving to $313 million in home mortgages for Palestinians living on the West Bank. It is infuriating when our government will give financial aid for things like helping Arabs living in Israel but not giving to our own veterans.
There are also billions of dollars in social and welfare spending on illegal aliens. A study updated in 2011 found that approximately $113 billion is spent every year, with about $84 billion which is paid for through state and local taxpayers. Illegal aliens who are on the public dime received at the time of the study, $250 million worth of emergency medical care, $2.2 billion in free and reduced costs meals, $637 million in housing programs, $633 million in child care and development and $1 billion in temporary assistance for needy families. How is it that people who have come into this country illegally are being rewarded while those who have fought and paid huge sacrifices are still having to fight just to receive what they have paid in full to earn?
It was reported last month that the defense dept. was considering eliminating imminent danger pay in 18 countries and five waterways around the world that military officials believe may no longer be hazardous enough to warrant the extra pay, which could affect up to 56,000 troops who serve in designated danger zones.
We all know about the so-called sequester, which seems only to be an excuse given by the government when they don’t want to pay for something. While each branch of our military has faced severe budget cuts, the government certainly doesn’t seem to have problems paying for ridiculous ‘studies’, vacations complete with separate air travel for the ‘first dog’, and a host of other things billions of dollars are wasted on.
One story recently just took my breath away however. It seems that even though that the number of veterans waiting for disability compensation has increased 2000% under Obama, The Department of Veterans Affairs paid out millions of dollars in bonuses to workers for “excellent performance”.
According to the Washington Post, the Office of Personnel Management records show that many of the worst performing and backlogged offices scored the highest bonuses:
“The Baltimore office, which has the longest wait times in the country, gave bonuses averaging $1,100 each to 40 percent of its workforce. The Oakland, Calif., office, which shut its doors to retrain underperforming employees, awarded nine out of every 10 workers a total of about $33,000 — almost enough to pay the standard year’s benefit to a veteran who is 100 percent disabled.”
In 2012, Veterans Affairs issued $44.3 billion in disability benefits. By comparison, America will spend nearly twice that amount in 2013 on food stamps, and as reported, illegal aliens are rewarded more than three times that amount in medical, housing and financial aid.
It’s been reported extensively about the backlog and long wait times for veterans and inadequate scheduling processes at VAMCs, and because of VHA’s scheduling policy this often results in increased wait times or delays in scheduling medical appointments. Long waiting times means veterans have to wait to receive much needed care, in many cases important medications, pain management, critical care, important follow up procedures and operations.
This is nothing new, as our men and women who have served this country have been having issues with benefits and medical claims for years, but in these times where so much wasteful spending is rampant, and at a time critical in our defense, during times of war and increasingly dangerous events unfolding in the middle east, the continuous disregard for our veterans and troops is deplorable. Many have written about situations of veterans’ personal experiences in dealing with government bureaucracy, and we’ve heard accounts from those who still serve who deal with shortages of basic supplies and badly needed equipment while in country.
Those in our government argue and then decide to send our men and women into harm’s way, but forget about them once they return, many who are broken in body and/or in mind. This is an absolute disgrace, but not surprising in an age where the government is so bloated and out of touch with the people they are supposed to be serving.
I don’t watch TV at all, but Dr. Phil had a show back in 2008 on which Veterans issues were discussed. A veteran friend passed this along to me recently. I wasn’t able to view the whole show, but his web page has links and videos for some of the segments. It is heart breaking to know that while our returning troops and veterans were dealing with 5 years ago, and even longer ago, they are still dealing with the same red tape, backlog and disinterest by the bureaucracy of our government.
Thankfully there are great private organizations that are doing so much with limited funds through donations to help and support our Veterans, returning troops and their families. Without these incredible folks our best patriots would be in even worse situations.
I want to end this article by highlight one story, which I just received from a friend who happened to meet this amazing lady not so long ago, while she was on the road.
Lisa Groves, a disabled vet herself, has been driving and living in her Jeep which is covered in pro-veteran messages. She has travelled across the country once to help veterans and raise awareness of their struggles. Now she’s doing it again. “We’ve really got a beautiful country,” Groves told the Huffington Post recently, “but we don’t take care of our veterans… I found a lot of sadness,” she added later. “I cried every day.”
We can’t all do what folks like Ms. Groves does, and not all of us are equipped or knowledgeable enough to start up an organization, but we all can give a little in time or money to those who fought for us. As I said, there are so many excellent organizations already that are doing incredible things for our veterans and returning troops. Too many to list, but please visit the links I’ve included here and see if there’s not something that you would feel important enough to donate to or volunteer for. And please contact your representatives and urge them to do more to fund programs which would help those who deserve it the most- those who have given the most.
US House of Representatives