Apparently the Department of Veteran’s Affairs is developing a course of action that would force American veterans to have to pay for treatment of service related (including combat) injuries:
Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki confirmed Tuesday that the Obama administration is considering a controversial plan to make veterans pay for treatment of service-related injuries with private insurance. No official proposal to create such a program has been announced publicly, but veterans groups wrote a pre-emptive letter last week to President Obama voicing their opposition to the idea after hearing the plan was under consideration. The groups also cited an increase in “third-party collections” estimated in the 2010 budget proposal — something they said could be achieved only if the Veterans Administration started billing for service-related injuries. Asked about the proposal, Shinseki said it was under “consideration.” Currently, veterans’ private insurance is charged only when they receive health care from the VA for medical issues that are not related to service injuries, like getting the flu.
But the proposal would be “dead on arrival” if it’s sent to Congress, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, said [emph added].
Good for Senator Murray, and hopefully this proposal never advances beyond a few crappy Powerpoint slides. What’s interesting is that Secretary Shinseki, himself a wounded veteran who lost part of a foot in Vietnam and no doubt has benefitted from VA care in the years following his retirement, would ever let such a proposal see the light of day in an organization he leads. Maybe the whole “speak truth to power” meme was less accurate than previously reported.
So far, 2009 is off to an inauspicious start for Veterans. In January, several elderly Alaskan Territorial Scouts, veterans of the Second World War, suddenly lost their pension benefits:
The Army has decided to cut off retirement pay for veterans of a largely Native militia formed to guard the territory of Alaska from the threat of Japanese attack during World War II. The change means 26 surviving members of the Alaska Territorial Guard — most in their 80s and long retired — will lose as much as $557 in monthly retirement pay, a state veterans officer said Thursday. The payments end Feb. 1. The Army doesn’t intend to seek to recoup past pay, [an official] said.
It is alarming that some government government bureaucracy could ever come to the conclusion that it must, in being a steward of the taxpayer’s dollars, abruptly end pensions for a handful of men on the basis of some arcane technicality, or force servicemembers who have been wounded in the service of their country suddenly have to worry how they are going to pay for a new prosthetic; one would think keeping the newly-installed color laserjet printers an extra 18 months on one floor of any federal building would surely have saved the government the same amount of money, and kept a few soulless bureacrats from ending up in the pits of Tartarus.
What all Americans should find troubling, however, is the larger message these and other recent government actions send: If you buy a house with one bedroom too many, the government will be there to help; but if you go on one patrol too many, you’re on your own. . .