By Patricia Meakin, Stevensville
If we are going to fight wars, we should be willing to take care of our injured veterans in an expedient manner. Yet, hundreds of thousands of veterans have come home from Iraq and Afghanistan only to find that they are fighting a new enemy: red tape.
Imagine coming home with a missing limb, only to be told that you must wait nine months or more before you receive medical care, job retraining, and compensation. Picture paying medical bills out of your own pocket for injuries incurred while fighting America’s wars.
Currently, there are over 900,000 pending veteran claims. The average waiting time is 273 days for a decision that is wrong as much as 30% of the time! 53 veterans die each day while waiting for their claim to be processed. In fact, at one regional VA office in North Carolina, the weight of the paper files for claims was so enormous that it affected the structural integrity of the building. That’s ridiculous! Despite all this, staffing at the VA has actually decreased since the start of the war and the sequester has only made matters worse for Veterans.
It is immoral for us to limit the access of those who have served to health care and benefits. We must eliminate the backlog of Veterans’ claims. We must increase the staffing at the VA offices and hospitals to meet the demand and care for our injured veterans. Show an injured veteran that you really do value his or her service to our country – write your representatives (Representative Daines, Senators Baucus and Tester) – tell them to fix this mess!