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Some lesser-known benefits veterans have received

Here it is the end of August. The Festival has completed another highly successful season. Let me say this—if you didn’t hear something you liked you don’t like music! By the time you read this the Labor Day weekend will have slid past us and we’ll get our lake back. Soon we’ll be well on our way into Fall. It seems that the older I get the faster the seasons fly by. Quicker than you can blink the General Elections of November will be on us. This coming election will be important for many reasons but for many veterans—and those soon to be veterans—it bears special significance. I recently received an email from a Boundary County resident that listed the real accomplishments of the current administration. I was surprised by the number of actions taken over the past 18 months that directly benefited the veteran community.

What follows are some of these changes. They are in no particular order of importance or potential value.

  • Provided for the expenses of families of fallen soldiers to be on hand when the body arrives at Dover AFB.
  • Improved benefits for veterans.
  • Ended media blackout on war casualties; reporting full information.
  • Initiated a new policy to promote federal hiring of military spouses: the Military Spouses Residency Relief Act.
  • Authorized construction/opening of additional health centers to care for veterans.
  • The Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010 improving care for millions of veterans.
  • The Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act of 2009.
  • Improved housing for military personnel/(Donated 250K of Nobel prize money to Fisher House).
  • Provided minimum essential health care coverage by Veteran’s Affairs.
  • Established the Blinded Veterans Association.
  • Established the Major Charles R. Soltes, Jr., O.D. Department of Veterans Affairs Blind Rehabilitation Center.
  • The Medal of Honor Commemorative Coin Act of 2009.
  • The Korean War Veterans Recognition Act.
  • Promoted a bill to award a Congressional Gold Medal to the Women Airforce Service Pilots (“WASP”).
  • Established the Interagency Task Force on Veterans Small Business Development
  • The Weapon Systems Acquisition Reform Act of 2009.
  • The Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2009.
  • Worked to clear the backlog of veterans’ claims to streamline benefits to those who served.
  • Made it easier for veterans with PTSD to receive the benefits and treatment they need.

There has been more money put into programs and into benefits aimed specifically at active duty personnel, their families and the veteran community in the past 18 months than in the eight years of the previous administration. These are facts  not widely recognized nor reported by the national media.

There are many in opposition to this administration who are hell bent to do everything in their power to see it fail. I question these motives when many of the things they are doing actually hurt their constituents and seem to violate the very oath of office they took upon assuming office. Some have even tried to promote the idea that less is being done by this Administration and Congress than was done in the preceding eight years. To this claim I say, “Bulls**t”. The one thing that the previous administration did well was ensure a growing pool of veterans without making any attempt to provide for the needs of these newly minted vets. High sounding rhetoric does nothing to pay the costs of treatment. Some are real good at talking about the sacrifices we veterans have made on Memorial Day or Veterans Day but are real slow to put the money into hospitals, clinics and programs that help our veterans.

I suggest we all listen very, very closely to those who want to represent us—at every level from county to Washington, DC—and make our voting decisions based on their words and deeds rather than party affiliation. We Idahoans pride ourselves on being ‘Independents.’ Now is the time to assert that independence and choose our elected officials based on what they offer as real solutions to our very real problems.

On a much lighter—or should I say higher—note there has been significant movement on the medical marijuana front. In a recently published policy statement the VA has decided that it will allow patients that are being treated at its hospitals and clinics to use medical marijuana in those states where its use is legal. This policy took effect on August 1. Granted, the VA doctors will still not be allowed to prescribe medical marijuana but it does remove the threat that patients who use it could lose their access to other pain medications. This policy ensures that treatment plans will be promulgated on a case by case basis—not a blanket policy. Progress is being made; we can only hope that it comes more quickly. Until next month hang in there—we shall endeavor to persevere.

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Author info

Gil  Beyer Gil Beyer A 21 year Navy veteran, lived in Bonner County for over 30 years, Past Commander of the Priest River DAV Chapter and admitted news junkie.

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veterans, elections, veterans services, benefits

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