What is too good for wounded veterans?

This is my first post. I was just invited to post and considering that fighting for veterans with PTSD has been my life since 1982, this invitation couldn't have come at a better time. I blog over at Wounded Times if you are not familiar with me. I'm a Chaplain working with veterans and my husband is a Vietnam vet.

Right now the veterans need your help, especially the veterans with PTSD. There is a Bill sponsored by Congressman John Hall that has just made it thru the VA Subcommittee. Some Republicans voted against it telling me that when it comes to a full house vote, we'll see more Republicans saying "it's too good for veterans" instead of asking is it good enough. It also says that when it comes to the Senate, there will be an ever bigger fight from more Senators thinking along the same lines and saying no. While Democrats will hold the majority, we need to make sure that this Bill gets as many votes as possible. Not just for the sake of the newer veterans but for the sake of all of our veterans as a way of telling them, yes, we are a grateful nation and nothing is too good for them.

The rest is what I posted on my blog.

How can any Republican or Democrat say anything is too good for the troops or our veterans? These are the same people that were in position to send them into combat in the first place right? If a man or woman is willing to set aside "normal" life as a civilian, ask their families to sacrifice for the sake of the nation, then risk that life facing death or life changing wounds, how can there be anything at all that is "too good" for them in return? Think about it.

Think about what we ask of them and what they deliver on. What is it they ask in return? They ask that they be only used as a last resort; they are provided with the plans to carry the mission they are given out; they are trained to do their jobs; they are fed and clothed with uniforms that don't fall apart in the crotch (yes, this happened too) and in the end, they ask their families are taken care of if they pay with their lives, and should they live, they will not have to suffer neglect or financial hardships for surviving. Not a lot to ask for since from every corner of this nation we are able to spout out "Support the Troops" "Freedom isn't free" and use the words "from a grateful nation" yet when you get right down to the bottom of all this talk, talk is cheap but actually doing what we claim is very expensive.

I've been tracking PTSD in this country for far too long to know exactly how bad it is for them and how much worse it's going to get. They have to put up with people saying PTSD is not real and that they are just trying to suck off the system. Lord help these people if they ever encounter a traumatic event that changes the rest of their lives, but in order for that to happen they would have to have a tender soul and feel for others first. So that's unlikely.

They have to carry on with the mission watching over the backs of their buddies, while nightmares and flashbacks are eating them away. They have to then come home, bulldoze past ignorant fools trying to make them feel as if they are responsible for the pain they are carrying with them, and then, then they get to fight the VA to have their claims honored. No easy task either when they have to prove what moment in time did it to them. It's almost as if the VA cannot understand that sometimes it's not one, two or three times, but hundreds of them. Simply being able to show that they were fine when they were in boot camp and not fine after their deployment into hell the first time, the second time or third time and so on, would be honorable but all they have to go thru is just not enough for some law makers who have never once lived with them, talked to them or held them in their arms.

John McCain and Bush whined about the GI Bill being "too good" and would make the troops want out to go to college. Members of congress, guess which side, took to the floor of the congress and said there just wasn't enough money to increase the VA to take care of the wounded when they absolutely no problem at all funding two military campaigns without plans or accounting at the same time both were producing more wounded veterans. Was that really supporting the troops?

Want to use the excuse about money? Well that one doesn't work either because when you consider how much they could be making as a private citizen instead of military pay, you would then understand that they are not in the military for the money. Then consider when they are wounded by body or soul, and they cannot work they receive a lot less than they could working. The VA does not pay bonuses and it does not pay overtime. It does not give merit raises but it does give measly cost of living increases. If you think those increases keeps pace with inflation or what gas prices did last year, you must be living under a rock.

Set aside the over 900,000 claims in the system already still waiting to be processed and denied that they have to wait their turn on. Set aside the fact that between now and the time they begin to be treated, PTSD gets worse and when you add in the extra burden of bills that cannot be paid because they can't work and the VA won't approve their claim, is hell for them and their families. Set aside the fact that for the last 8 years we had people in charge without a clue what to do. Set all of that aside and then please tell me, what could possibly be too good for any of them after all we ask of them?

So please tell me how any member of congress would ever say that anything is too good for any of these men and women? Ever think about how many years lapse between the time a soldier or Marine is wounded by PTSD and they actually sought help? How about over 30 years later and they don't get retro pay for the 30 years they were suffering in silence. Think about how much money they save the government? Then take it a step further and look at the Korean veterans and WWII veterans seeking help for the first time.

My father-in-law had a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart because of serving this country in WWII, but never sought one dime from the VA. We had to pay to bury him. My husband came home in 1971 and knew he brought home an enemy inside of him but he thought he could work and the VA was for the "guys missing legs" so he didn't receive a dime until 1999, six years after PTSD was full blown and killing him. He knew something was wrong in 1971 but he didn't cost the government a dime all that time. He sucked it up as PTSD got worse. He had a job and made good money, worked overtime, got longevity bonuses and raises along with promotions for when he learned to use another piece of equipment. PTSD got so bad, his doctors told him he had to stop working. That, well that came two years shy of 20 years on the job. That cost us money as well as the lost overtime and raises but I still had my husband living instead of in the ground with a very early death. Then we had to go without any income from him while we fought to have his claim approved. All he had was a decreased pension coming in instead of the pay check we were used to living off of. His retroactive pay only went back to the time he filed his claim and not back to Vietnam. Think of how much money he saved the government and what it cost him to do it.

If you want to try to tell me that making it easier to have a claim for PTSD approved is "too good" for the men and women serving this country, you better be prepared for an ear full because when you consider that civilians like you and me would get workman's comp if we suffered from trauma on the job and they can't just walk off the job and go to a trauma center or make an appointment with a psychologist, you'd know what they have to go thru. They have to still pick up their weapon and risk their lives the next day and the next day until they can do it no more. They have to stay until they are ordered back home. Everything they do from the time they enlist until the time they are discharged is for the sake of all of us. So why aren't we asking will we ever be good enough to them instead of what's too good for them?

Make sure your congressman votes to approve this bill and get it done for their sake!

Subcommittee approves bill easing PTSD compensation for vets
By Otto Kreisher
CongressDaily June 4, 2009
The House Veterans Affairs Disability Assistance Subcommittee on Wednesday approved a bill that would make it easier for veterans to receive financial compensation for post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from service in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The bill was referred to the full committee on a voice vote, despite votes against it from at least two of the three Republican members.

Sponsored by Disability Assistance Subcommittee Chairman John Hall, D-N.Y., and 16 other Democrats, the bill would allow a veteran to qualify for the monthly compensation for combat-related PTSD just by demonstrating that the psychological disorder was caused by something that happened while he or she was serving in the "combat theater" as defined by the Defense secretary. Currently, the Veterans Affairs Department requires proof that the stress occurred during "combat with the enemy."
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