This Memorial Day Let’s Start Caring for Our Nation’s Veterans: No More Ducking the Real Cost of US Wars!
Whether he ever said it or not, I’m going to borrow from a quote often attributed to Abraham Lincoln and alter it a bit to say: “American politicians must love war veterans -- they keep making so many more of them.”
The ugly truth though, is that American politicians, and in fact the American public as a whole, don’t really give a damn about veterans. Sure, the politicians will go to the parades and wear their American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars hats (some even if they never really served in uniform or went to war), and sure ordinary Americans will applaud in the airport as a bunch of men and women in uniform walk by, but that’s about it.
When it comes to adequately funding health services and pensions for vets after they’ve put in their time, or paid a price in terms of lost limbs, disease or mental trauma, though, the government is always ducking responsibility and the public is whining for lower taxes, not calling for more money for veterans’ benefits.
My mom, a WWII Navy veteran who in 1944 selflessly answered the call for women to sign up so that more men would be freed up for combat duty, currently suffers from Alzheimer's and other health problems. She has a modest pension from my late father’s job, and from his Social Security, but that’s all eaten up by the cost of her live-in companion and other health care assistance that is not covered by Medicare. We helped her apply for a veteran’s pension that could provide another up to $17,000, but were told it could take up to a year from the time of filing the rather simple paperwork before she’ll see a dollar.
From what I hear many vets simply die while waiting for the processing of a pension to which they are clearly entitled.
This is a disgusting way to treat veterans, and the only explanation I can think of for it is that the Feds just want to avoid paying out all that money. For that matter, I’ve met many veterans, and spouses of men who died of war-related wounds, who didn’t even know they were entitled to pensions. Why isn’t Congress requiring the VA to run TV ads like you see all the time for things like burial insurance or blood pressure medicine, only informing vets and their families about the VA benefits they’re entitled to? For years Congress actually barred the VA from doing TV advertising. Now it's allowed, but you don't see any ads anyway. There are plenty of ads urging kids to sign up for the military, but none telling vets about benefits they're entitled to.
When we applied to have my mom’s Social Security switched from her own account to the much higher widow’s benefit after dad died, it took the SSA a month to make the change, and they backdated the payments to the date of his death. When we applied to the Connecticut State Controller’s office to have my dad’s pension shifted to my mother, who was entitled to half the amount they were getting when dad was alive, all they required was an original death certificate, and the change was effected within three weeks.