Obama won’t improve VA service

Published 11:59 pm Friday, January 23, 2009

Dear Editor,

Last March, the Pentagon determined that “enhanced benefits” offered under a new law would only apply to those meeting a more narrow definition of “combat related injury.” This was a more widely defined term of combat, totally different than any other time in our history. This decision was made by a “Congress” that had, basically, no “combat” experience, or, the whole of our last 16 years of the office of President.

Now, I have a problem with that. The Department of Defense stated in justification of the change, “special distinction for those who incur disabilities while participating in the risk of combat in contrast with those injured otherwise.”

So, I guess that airmen on the tarmac don’t qualify, sailors on the aircraft carriers don’t qualify, medical nor administrative personnel don’t qualify, transportation or support of any kind don’t qualify, only the personnel who carry weapons on patrol or in an attack mode.

Wrong, wrong, wrong! A young man from Georgia was on his third tour — look people, third tour — when the vehicle in which he was riding was hit by an E.I.D. He and his team were in a “combat zone” and were fired on and were hit; several were injured.

He received a Purple Heart, yet, when discharged, was told that his injuries were not “combat-related,” and that he would only receive half the severance pay he was promised at enlistment. Plus, he would get no disability pay from the VA, versus the amount equal the severance pay. Duh … just another way for the VA to cut costs for the deserving veteran, and “welcome home one of their warriors.”

This veteran suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, and, was recently, after over a year of letters and arguments, changed from “non-combat” to “combat-related” status and awarded his pension. He said, “If they could turn me down and I have a Purple Heart, then they could do it to just about anybody.”

The whole point of this is to clue you, the voting public, in on what you can expect in this next go-around. Obama has replaced the head of the VA with a former member of the Clinton staff with no combat or military experience Thus, a setback for any rational or favorable future

for our military. We only now have even reached a place where we can “lobby” for our “promised benefits” and this is only from the Vietnam war, not now.

So, Obama, who has no military background, nor does his family, is all of a sudden, “master of the chess board.” His appointees are all former Clinton staff and he even thinks that a 71-year-old, Clinton Chief of Staff — the guy who set schedules, got coffee, approved speeches and appearances, put cigars in the Oval Office and made sure that the limos showed up on time — is qualified for the position of Director of the CIA.

Obama has never pulled the trigger on any weapon that stopped a war, a school killing, a bank robbery, a dope deal going bad or a drug-related incident.

My point is this, if the “wounded vets” whom we sent into harm’s way have no salvation, how do you think the rest of us can put any faith in the government? No, I am not against what we have and what we do, but I am always on the lookout and always on the defense.

And, what I say in reference to the VA, it has nothing to do with our local VSO Gary Petty, who does all and everything for his vets. My problem is at the Washington, D.C. level, and with that quagmire. Thank you.

Steve Bryant