Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Veterans, Veterans, Everywhere: When Will They Be Honored?

Military men and women used and welcomed, given honors while on active duty. Then suddenly when you are discharged and become a Veteran. Who cares? Who remembers? Now you are a second or third class citizen.

World War II vets were probably the last veterans to receive proper recognition. The GI Bill did work for them. Education, housing loans were abundant and all veterans were told what was available to them; how and where to apply.

Korean veterans were a little less lucky, not quite as rosy and welcome return home.
For Vietnam vets it was even worse, reviled; spit on left to fend for themselves.

Cold War veterans have to fight tooth and nail to get any of the "benefits" and "rights" they were promised. Even many of the veterans service organizations deny them membership.

The VFW and American Legion exclude most of these Cold Warriors, they did not serve in the right place or right time frame. Also most are not entilted to VA health care.

The National Defense Service Medal, which is I believe issued when you graduate boot camp; was time specific. Many vets were not elegible to receive it. The Sea Service and Overseas Service ribbons were not created until after many were discharged, and it was not made retoactive to cover their tours.

Today's Iraq and Afghanestan veterans are facing hard times, the lines at VA hospitals or clinics. The injuries suffered by these men and women are more debilating and horrific then ever before. The wonderful treatment they are given in the field is so much better and quicker than previous wars. So more are
surviving wounds that would have been fatal in the past.

If they are lucky enough to be approved for VA care, many have to travel many miles
to get the help, and then still wait for long periods to be seen. Sometimes the doctor they were supposed to see is out of the office. Or when they arrive at the clinic they are told that their classification has been changed and are can no longer receive the same care they got last week.

Many turn to "self medicating" to get through life. They are no longer able to function in the real world.
It is a hard tranition to go from battle fields and constant stress to return to civilian life.

More are becoming homeless as they are unable to pay the mortage. The suicide rate
is growing for veterans as they become hopeless and helpless.

We know that the economy is going down the tubes, jobs are vanishing as companies
downsize. Large and once profitable companys are going under and loosing money.
Health care, food and basics are all suffering and prices continue to rise.

So while Congress is handing out money to the financial institutions and the auto industry what is going to happen to the country's veterans. Yup you guessed it, even more cuts in health care, stricter elegibilty requirements, longer waits to see a doctor.

We have some hope that the new administration will do some house cleaning, get the VA
back on track. Restore some veterans rights and benefits.

But, we have to instigate change, contact your elected officials tell them that VA mustvbe fully funded, and properly staffed to handle the ever growing group of veterans needing care.

And once again press the POW/MIA issue, demand a full accounting and repatration of all our missing. They are not forgotten, lets bring them home now to bring closure to their families; some of whom have been waiting for over 60 years.

At this time I will not even go into the Cold War Victory/Service Medal, as much as I desire to see this medal issued this year. Just a small honor for those who gave their all. Thevforgotten heroes of the Cold War

Jerald Terwilliger, Vice Chairman/Treasurer
American Cold War Veterans
"We Remember"