Saturday, December 27, 2014

Major changes to VA and DOD not right ones or fast enough

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
December 20, 2014
House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller, Florida

For over six decades veterans and families have been waiting for sound judgement instead of sound bites out of the Veterans Affairs Committees in the House and the Senate. With each session of congress we've been moved around, twisted and toppled by excuse after excuse following too many promises they didn't live up to.

How many hearings do members of Congress need to hold before they actually listen? We've heard all the testimonies from families after one of their own returned from combat and committed suicide yet the bills coming out of our politicians are repeats of what already failed. The numbers show an increase after decades of using the wrong address to reduce them.

The easy answers have been palatable for the uninformed while the rest of us are gagging from acid reflux. Every issue we deal with everyday have been reported for decades with generation after generation of veterans waiting for someone to finally figure out the right thing to do instead of repeating what has already failed us.

We waited after hard fought battles to have PTSD associated with combat treated properly but what we ended up with were "better than nothing" bills funded into pockets of fat researchers and corporations hell bent on securing their own futures instead of ours. What works best on PTSD is peer support but we see those programs cut. We're promised that the military has been informing families about PTSD but after the funerals too many families sat in front of members of congress and told them point blank no one told them anything at all.

We were told the DOD has been "training" soldiers to be "resilient" yet they come home and tell us how they didn't feel they could turn to anyone since they were all told if they trained their brains to be tough enough they'd come home "normal" to their families.

In the Warrior Transition Units that thought was reinforced to perfection. While we were told that they were being treated with dignity and respect, they were being abused and after the reporting the Army had to issues orders to stop doing it. It was not until the Dallas Morning News and NBC reporting clued members of Congress in on what soldiers had been talking about for years. The latest bullshit has been about yet another suicide prevention bill not being passed but no one seems to be wondering where the trouble originated from. The answer was clear. Well, at least to most of us living in the real world.

There has been a plethora of bills coming out of Congress but while we hear "peer support" we've all assumed that the peers knew more than the others only to discover they were mostly misinformed. Resilience leaders didn't even understand the basics of PTSD but were expect to take hours of training on the wrong material to lead others out of the valley of death.

Pretty ironic considering that as each family member traveled to tell their stories no one figured out that listening to family members already failed wouldn't do much good. If members of Congress didn't already know how much pain they caused then the bitter tears had little chance of causing any worthy change. The report of "major changes" comes too little and far, far too late for far too many.
2014 Major Changes for Veterans, Military
Bobbie O'Brien
December 26, 2014

Florida state lawmakers granted in-state tuition to all veteran students using their Post 9-11 VA education benefits.

After national reports of long waiting lists linked to some veterans deaths, Gov. Rick Scott ordered Florida regulators to inspect records at the state’s federally run VA hospitals. State inspectors were denied access to the patient records, so the governor sued.

Several local members of congress, including U.S. Rep. David Jolly (R-FL) and U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL), held local “veteran intakes” to help expedite their VA claims and appointments.

Congress held hearings looking at the VA health care system and reports of secret waiting lists that led to veteran deaths and poor quality of care. Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL), continues to spearhead those investigations.

During his first 100 days in office, the new Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert “Bob” McDonald visited VA facilities in the Tampa Bay area.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel resigned, but he remains on the job until his successor is approved. At Tampa’s MacDill Air Force Base: Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie took over as commander of the Marines at US Central Command; Col. Daniel Tulley is now commander of MacDill Air Force Base and the 6th Air Mobility Wing.

Army Ranger Lt. Gen. Joe Votel became commander of U.S. Special Operations Command upon the retirement of Navy SEAL Adm. William McRaven who will forever be remembered as the architect of the plan that captured Osama Bin Laden.
read more here

This is what the House Veterans Affairs Committee has been responsible for since 1946, or was supposed to be in charge of.
Legislation Within the Jurisdiction of the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

Veterans' measures generally.
Pensions of all the wars of the U.S., general and special.
Life insurance issued by the government on account of service in the Armed Forces.
Compensation, vocational rehabilitation, and education of veterans.
Veterans' hospitals, medical care, and treatment of veterans.
Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief.
Readjustment of servicemen to civilian life.
National Cemeteries.
Complete Jurisdiction of the Committee
The Department of Veterans Affairs
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) was established March 15, 1989, with Cabinet rank, succeeding the Veterans Administration and assuming responsibility for providing federal benefits to veterans and their dependents. Led by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, VA is the second largest of the 14 Cabinet departments and operates nationwide programs of health care assistance services and national cemeteries.
"There are now 22 Standing Committees in the House of Representatives. The number of Members (Representatives) authorized to serve on each Committee has been changed from time to time. There are currently 29 members of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs."

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