I am ashamed of myself for not doing my small part to make this an issue that is publicized and one to fight for. America should be ashamed of itself for this willful ignorance. Most importantly President Obama should be ashamed of himself for not leading effectively in solving the problem of veterans getting the benefits they’ve earned for going to war. Most Americans are oblivious of the terror most of our veterans faced on the battlefield and the struggles they must deal with as they are reintegrated into society.
Everyone loves to be patriotic on the Fourth of July, on Veterans Day, and at times when the country’s uniformed soldiers are performing. Yet as one goes home after singing the Star Spangle Banner and America the Beautiful, most forget that the soldiers that were thanked with words deserve the corresponding deeds.
It is true that on any giving day, the mainstream media will provide a nibble or antiseptic snippet of the plight of the veterans that are waiting for their benefits. That comedian/satirist Jon Stewart is the one trying to make this an issue and assigning blame where it really belongs, speaks poorly of our entire mainstream media.
President Obama must be commended for providing budgets with large increases in veterans’ benefits. President Obama made a whole lot of promises to veterans and fulfilled most. Michelle Obama has been working with veterans and military spouses to match them with private jobs. That said, having great benefits is one thing. Being able to access it is another. According to the Center for Investigative Reporting, veterans are waiting over a year for their benefits.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has failed to provide key information to Congress and the public that shows the agency’s ability to quickly provide service-related benefits has virtually collapsed under President Barack Obama.
Internal VA documents, obtained by the Center for Investigative Reporting and authenticated by the agency, reveal that delays newly returning veterans face before receiving disability compensation and other benefits are far longer than the agency has publicly acknowledged. The documents also offer insight into some of the reasons for those delays.
The agency tracks and widely reports the average wait time: 273 days. But the internal data indicates that veterans filing their first claim, including those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, wait nearly two months longer, between 316 and 327 days. Those filing for the first time in America’s major population centers wait up to twice as long – 642 days in New York, 619 days in Los Angeles and 542 days in Chicago.
The ranks of veterans waiting more than a year for their benefits grew from 11,000 in 2009, the first year of Obama’s presidency, to 245,000 in December – an increase of more than 2,000 percent.
Jon Stewart in the video below provides a strong critique of government and specifically President Obama. He makes a salient point that could be paraphrased as follows. Republicans can be blamed for much of the bad that is occurring in government. On this specific issue the President must accept responsibility and ensure that solutions are effected. After all, as the head of the party that promotes the truth that government makes a difference and only government can do certain things, showing failed government by having a broken VA system could insure that the party that hates government is returned to power.
This infographic is probative. The VA has released a new plan called Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Strategic Plan To Eliminate The Compensation Claims Backlog dated January 25th, 2013. This plan maps out a strategy to get the waiting time down to under 125 days.
President Obama is pushing very hard to get gun legislation through Congress. President Obama is pushing very hard to get comprehensive immigration reform. Every special interest from bankers, to drug makers seems to get waivers or special attention when it is deemed an emergency. The treatment of our veterans is an emergency. It is likely costing lives and livelihoods.
The inadequate dispensation of benefits to veterans is not the fault of our brave soldiers. It is of an incompetent process. It is time that every veteran is allowed to file for benefits and get them immediately. Every American files their taxes and gets their returns on the assumption that they are being truthful. Cheaters can be prosecuted at a later time. We owe at least that to our veterans.
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Interesting critique of PBO regarding veterans, but perhaps you should have taken the time to find out what his administration has managed to accomplish for veterans BEFORE you wrote the article.
On November 7, 2011 President Obama introduced new resources created to help veterans translate their military skills for the civilian workforce.[….]
[….] On March 6, 2012 he announced new measures major mortgage servicers will be taking to provide significant relief to thousands of servicemembers and veterans.
First Lady Michelle Obama announced on August 22, 2012 that more than 2,000 American companies had answered President Obama’s challenge and had hired or trained 125,000 veterans and military spouses in the past year through Joining Forces. This effort, combined with policies and legislation put in place by the President, have resulted in a 20 percent decrease in veteran unemployment compared to the same time last year
On August 31, 2012 President Obama signed an Executive Order that strengthens suicide prevention efforts across the Force and in the veteran community and improves access to mental health services for veterans, service members, and military families members.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) enabled the VA to improve medical facilities and national cemeteries, provided grants to assist states in acquiring or constructing state nursing homes and extended care facilities, and to modify or alter existing facilities to care for Veterans.
VA dedicated ARRA funds to hire and train 1,500 temporary claims processors to speed benefits delivery to Veterans and pursue needed information technology initiatives for improved benefits and services. Funds were also used to oversee and audit programs, grants, and projects funded under ARRA.[….]
The President announced the Joint Virtual Lifetime Electronic Initiative. The Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs have worked together to define and build a system that will ultimately contain administrative and medical information from the day an individual enters military service throughout their military career, and into the Veteran phase of life.
With Secretary Shinseki, the President will make sure the VA provides veterans the best care possible. This means improved care for poly-trauma, vision impairment, prosthetics, spinal cord injury, aging, and women’s health.[….] Untold thousands of servicemen and women and veterans suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or other serious psychological injury. This Administration is determined to address the challenges of caring for those affected by PTSD when they return home.
We all share the shame of well over one hundred thousand veterans going homeless on any given night. This Administration has worked on pilot programs with not-for-profit organizations to make sure that veterans at risk of losing their homes have a roof over their heads.
Read more: http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/veterans
Egberto Willies says
I am an ardent supporter of this President. I think you would see in the article where I fact checked the great work this President has done for veterans. I have also acknowledged what our first lady has done. That said it is important that we critique where critique is necessary. Bankers get their bailouts immediately. The president must be on the frontline using the bully pulpit to provide assistance to these guys. It is true that we have an obstructionist Congress but for the party who likes to state to the troops we thank you for your service, the president must make this an issue.
Sir, there are thousands of our fellow citizens hurting that have fought for us. They need the ears of the president and that is what we should all be pushing for.
The president went to Israel and stated an important truth, politicians must be pushed to do the right thing. I must do that. You must do that. America must do that.
Thanks for reading the blog post.
The point of my rather lengthy post was to demonstrate that President Obama IS doing his part. Should President Obama do everyone else’s job for them too? It’s up to us to put pressure on elected officials on the state levels to ensure that these policies are working as intended and actually benefiting veterans and their families. Where’s the criticism for Congress, the body which holds the purse strings? Where’s the call to organize and put pressure on them to make this happen? Where’s the outreach to grassroots, nonprofits, and veterans groups to coalesce around this issue?
Egberto Willies says
I have done that in several of my blog post ad nauseum. I want my President using the bully pulpit where our veterans can see the commander in chief having their back on this issue. Like I said in the post, the President fulfilled most of his promises to veterans. It is all for naught if many die before they can ACCESS it.