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Upside Down Under

By Marvin Baker, a new weekly column in The Kenmare News


Throwing vets under the bus...

Posted 10/25/16 (Tue)

There’s a Republican congressman in Ohio who said something that has really stirred up a lot of military veterans.

Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Ohio, made a statement calling some veterans “moochers” and “pretenders” and if we get rid of all the “moochers,” the Veterans Administration wouldn’t be in the shape it is today.

It seems ironic that this guy would say something like that seeing how he was an officer and a graduate of the Army’s Ranger School.

He must have some kind of chip on his shoulder because veterans seeking help at the VA are anything but moochers and pretenders.

And to break this down, we can take a look at Vietnam veterans who were horribly treated, if at all, when they came back from the jungles of Southeast Asia.

Things have gotten better, but there is no way, shape or form, they should have been treated like they were; turned away, denied specific medicines and treatments and even lied to.

We could probably go on for days about the Agent Orange problem that surfaced and how the U.S. government and the VA continued to deny there was any kind of problem following exposure.

Agent Orange, a defoliant made up of 2-4D and 2-4-5T Brush Killer, that was used in Vietnam, brought on respiratory, reproductive, neurological and post traumatic stress issues and the VA refused to help for years.

Moochers and pretenders, eh?

Things have changed in the VA since the bombs first went boom in Iraq. But conditions still aren’t where they should be.

As an example, numerous people who came back from Desert Storm in 1993 complained of sores in their mouths, quite possibly a result of the chemical weapons that Saddam Hussein wasn’t supposed to have had.

I wasn’t one of them, but friends who were there have told me the VA told them nothing was wrong, take a couple of Motrin and that will clear it up.

That seems to be the trend with the VA, minimize or deny, and that’s where the real problems lie, Mr. Davidson!

The real moochers and pretenders are some of those within the VA. They are there to draw a paycheck and fantastic federal government benefits. They could care less about American veterans.

I want to stress there are good people working for the VA who genuinely do care. Unfortunately, there’s a few who milk the system as far as they can take it.

There are also a select few who seem to be on some kind of power trip. They have the authority to deny a veteran treatment so they deny it for no apparent reason even though the issues are clearly within the VA’s parameters.

It’s as if they are changing their own rules as they go.

There’s no doubt, the VA has issues and I would make the assumption that it is much like the postal service. Heads need to roll starting at the top and working down until this culture of minimizing and denying is eradicated and veterans are cared for like they promised they would be.

There is so much paperwork and so much wasted postage and sometimes two different doctors will examine you for the same thing. It’s quite incredible really.

The answer is in getting rid of the fat cats at the top and then to streamline the administration.

I’ve often said, and this is my own opinion, the hospital is fine, the administration is a mess.

One of the important things to note is there are different categories of Veterans Health Care coverage.

For some, it’s very minor and those vets are covered for a minimum of issues.

For others it’s more intense. For example, if someone has lost a limb or something, or is permanently disabled because of what has happened in conflict, they are entitled, yes entitled to the medical assistance they were promised before they left for overseas.

When Obamacare became a reality, millions of veterans received letters in the mail stating they didn’t have to do anything because they were covered under the superior VA Health Care System.

Hardly superior, perhaps more like marginal, one doesn’t know from one day to the next if the VA is on your side or Warren Davidson’s side.

So to call fellow veterans “moochers” and “pretenders” is blatant.

And as a former officer, Mr. Davidson knows full and well that he better have proof to back his words up, because if he doesn’t, there’s no doubt he isn’t going to get re-elected.