Mistreatment of United States veterans a national disgrace<br>

Veterans today are waiting between six months to one year to be seen by a Veterans Administration doctor. More than 300,000 veterans are on waiting lists just to be seen by a doctor and that list is growing every day.

Many veterans are being cut off completely from any entitlements to medical care while other veterans are seeing their medical benefits being cut year after year. Even more veterans (more than 173,000) are being re-categorized into a ‘category 8’ where it makes them not able to enroll in a VA health care facility.

Making matters even worse for our veterans is the many closings of VA facilities and severe reductions in medical staff due to yearly budget cuts. Our government has voted to cut veterans benefits by more than $25 billion over the next 10 years and $463 million slashed for next year alone. These budget cuts mean 168,000 fewer veterans with health benefits and 400,000 fewer VA hospital beds for veterans. More than seven VA hospitals are being considered for closing to streamline its $26 billion healthcare network.

Our government has not backed away from a 1995 decision to rescind a promise of free lifetime healthcare benefits for soldiers, who from 1941 to 1956, had been told and promised lifetime healthcare benefits. President Bush has had the chance to rectify this and hasn’t done it yet.

Congress just recently cut more than $1.8 billion from the veterans’ budget. (Keep in mind that members of Congress have just voted themselves a pay raise for the fifth straight year in a row).

The fiscal year 2004 budget plan, approved by the House Budget Committee, would slash $470 billion from domestic spending, which includes compensation for disabled veterans. Due to this budget cut more than 1.2 million veterans will be dis-enrolled from the VA health care system.

In 2002, the Veterans Admini-stration appropriations bill ordered the VA health care directors to start cutting costs even though the VA healthcare system is already in a crisis and the situation is rapidly getting worse. Veterans are condemning the House Republican’s failure to deliver a $3.2 billion boost for the Veterans Affairs Department that would have shrunk the agency’s waiting list for medical care.

Our elderly are also getting the raw end of the deal by being told to liquidate all their assets in order to pay the out of pocket costs of $4,000 per month for nursing home care, and once all their assets are liquidated they may apply for Medicaid. Our veterans and our elderly deserve better than this.

In his second inaugural address to the nation, Abraham Lincoln committed the nation, “to care for him who shall have borne the battle”. I bet good ole Abe is rolling over in his grave right now knowing what is happening to many of our heroes, our veterans.

“A shameless betrayal” is how AMVETS sums it up. “A moral outrage” is what the American Legion said.

While all these budget cuts are taking place that severely affect the lives of many veterans and our elderly, the government is taking care of another group of people without blinking an eye to the cost to the American taxpayer. There are approximately 9 to 11 million illegal aliens entering the United States each year. Taxpayers are paying every year over $7.4 billion dollars to educate illegal alien children. The free medical care that illegal aliens receive is more than $68 Billion dollars per year and climbing.

The cost to Georgia alone for illegal alien education for one year estimated at $231 million dollars and this figure does not include the costs for medical care given, which is in the millions of dollars. The United States is paying out each year in the billions of dollars for illegal aliens to receive free education and medical care.

These dollar amounts do not account for the billions of dollars going to many hostile and untrustworthy foreign countries each year. One U.S Marine Corps Captain who served in Vietnam has said that by our government funneling billions of dollars into (free) health \care for illegal aliens while at the same time they are cutting benefits for veterans is a “kick in the gut to veterans”.

I myself have come to the conclusion that most politicians really do not care. If one is not extremely wealthy, politically connected or from a special interest group, then most politicians do not have the time nor do they really and truly care about all this.

Many politicians give a ton of lip service. They tell you what you want to hear in hopes of pacifying you and making you go away quietly.

I believe that ‘actions speak louder than words and I see very little action on the part of many politicians to correct the wrongs being done to our veterans and our senior citizens. All these political speeches and “I care” hoopla is nothing but a bunch of smoke and mirrors and window dressing made to confuse you, tire you out and make you give up. I see right through all that and I have another thing coming to them—I am in this fight for the long haul and I will be parking myself at their front doors and putting them on the spot as much as I can.

Our veterans deserve better than this. Shame on all the politicians who allow this to continue and refuse to denounce what is being done to our heroes, our veterans.

My 87-year-old father, a WWII veteran who is dying from brain cancer, has also had the VA turn its back on him as well. This is a national disgrace.

(Joanne Consalvo-Mulvaney is a U.S Navy Veteran who resides in Stockbridge, Georgia.)

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