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Veterans - Know Your Benefits

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Many vets are unaware of benefits available to them

Well the 2012 elections are over and for approximately the next 16 months we probably won’t be inundated with radio and TV ads telling us, “Elect Me—my opponent is a rotten SOB who hates his (or her) mother and this country.” In my opinion the entire veteran’s community scored a huge win on November 6. The results of the 2012 election pretty much guarantees that the VA will continue to be adequately funded—not ignored as in the Ryan Budget—for the next two years at least and that significant inroads will be made into the daunting task of reducing the tremendous backlog of claims brought on by a decade of war.

As a nation we owe a great debt to a very small percentage of the nation’s population. These men and women have sacrificed much and have earned the vast majority’s eternal gratitude. The majority should be ecstatic to repay these heroes with very small sacrifices of their own rather than complaining about the ‘gifts’ these veterans are being given. It’s not a ‘gift’ if it has been prepaid in pain and blood.

In last month’s article I urged all veterans to break out their DD-214s and contact the local VA Clinic in Ponderay. I recently called the clinic (208 263 0450) and was gratified to hear that maybe—just maybe—somebody actually read the piece and followed my suggestion. The lady I talked to seemed to think that there may have a been an uptick in calls asking for information and/or appointments to be evaluated and referred to the Spokane VA Medical Center for the multitude of services they offer. She really made me feel good by thanking me for writing that piece.

Not everyone appreciates my efforts in trying to get information out to our community. Earlier in November I received a call from an individual that suggested that I stop writing my “liberal B#**[email protected]” and focus on writing stuff for veterans. That confused me as I thought that was what I was doing. For several months I’ve been trying to make it clear that while the GOP is very fond of creating wars they have very little stomach for paying for the consequences—like meeting the needs of the veterans those wars create. Then I remembered a quote from President Truman. He had been told that he was giving people hell. His response to these charges was,  “I never did give anybody hell. I just told the truth and they thought it was hell.”

If half of our current crop of elected officials throughout the country had half the guts that Harry S. Truman had we wouldn’t be in this mess of gridlocked government, divisive politics and a complete lack of civil discourse between the two sides. We also need our elected law-makers to tell Nordquist that his signed pledges are worthless in today’s fiscal environment. If that is not as ‘Politically Correct’ as you’d like I’m sorry, but the truth can sometimes be very painful.

Recently I read an article written by Chris Adams for the McClatchy-Tribune. This piece was based on an analysis of the Department of Veterans Affairs 2010 National Survey of Veterans. In the article, Mr. Adams quotes Joseph Curtain, the newly appointed VA’s Director of Outreach, who said, “We want to accept them into the VA. We want to help them.” Apparently Mr. Curtain wasn’t just talking about post 9/11 veterans. The analysis covers all veterans from December 1941 through the Afghan/Iraq Wars of September 2001 to the present. Please visit the website (at http://tinyurl.com/bqydrd2 ) to view the graph that accompanied the article. It clearly shows that over 60 percent of WWII veterans have only a little or no knowledge of the benefits to which they are entitled. The percentage is even worse for Korean and Vietnam era veterans. The level of understanding doesn’t even go much over 40 percent for veterans of the first Gulf Wars and nobody goes over 35 percent when it comes to knowledge of the insurance benefits they may have. 

After looking over this graph I highly recommend that veterans of all ages visit the VA website at www.va.gov. The website is easily navigated and will give you a tremendous amount of information very quickly. If you do not have access to a computer you could give the VA clinic in Ponderay a call and ask if they have the latest copy of the Rights and Benefits booklet issued by the VA. The last time I was over there they had several copies on hand.

I’ll close this month’s piece with a little more “Liberal B#**[email protected]”. The election is OVER and rationality won out over the lies, distortions, half truths, obfuscations, delusional thought and misdirection spewed by talk radio and Fox. If one must blame someone for these losses, please take a look in a mirror. If one wished, they could even start to listen to the more rational voices now being faintly heard among GOP moderates—a previously endangered species. The Party of Angry, Old White Men is growing smaller daily, mostly through sheer attrition. The world is changing rapidly and it is time for this fact to be accepted. It is time for the voters to cast their ballots in their own best interests and not be tied to the party designation following the candidate’s name.

I wish everyone a great Holiday Season and a healthy, prosperous New Year. I ask everyone to recognize that our veterans are the primary reason that we have all the blessings that we enjoy in this country. Give a big “thank you” to every veteran you meet.

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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 News, Ponderay VA Clinic, veterans benefits

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