The Wounded Veteran “Pay Your Own Way Plan”

Secretary For Veterans Affairs Shinseki

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.

Alaska Territorial Guard During World War II
Alaska Territorial Guard During World War II

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.  .  .


8 thoughts on “The Wounded Veteran “Pay Your Own Way Plan”

  1. Rob,

    Yet another insightful post. Really, are you surprised? America has a very good track record of neglecting its veterans. The examples are prolific and you point out the Alaskan scouts as one. Remeber 100% health-care to include dental and eyes? Remember the “Squatters Army?” Agent orange, no gulf-war syndrome, etc? The government will always go cheap on veterans, especially these days when there is a such a small number of people who are veterans. The future will be even grimmer as our influence wanes; not just in terms of people who have served who are in government but also in terms of sheer numbers/percentage of population. Do you think Ike, Johnson, or Nixon would have tried this with the 11+ million WWII veterans? Hardly.

    To be fair it is just not Obama who has abused veterans but the last three administrations. Bush opposed pay raises because of its impact on the budget but didn’t have a problem coughing up 3/4 a trillion for banks. WTF?

    As a combat veteran myself, and a vocal voter, I keep these issues close to my heart. I give the entire federal government an “F” in its treatment of veterans. I have no illusions about what my service means to my country, government. When the flag waving is done and last refuge for scoundrels is no longer needed to ensure a vote the military will go back to an expensive “problem” to be managed by the government. Never forget what Rudyard Kipling, who had his pulse accurately on sentiments that dealt with soldiers and society:

    I went into a public-‘ouse to get a pint o’ beer,
    The publican ‘e up an’ sez, “We serve no red-coats here.”
    The girls be’ind the bar they laughed an’ giggled fit to die,
    I outs into the street again an’ to myself sez I:
    O it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, go away”;
    But it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins”, when the band begins to play,
    The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
    O it’s “Thank you, Mister Atkins”, when the band begins to play.

    I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
    They gave a drunk civilian room, but ‘adn’t none for me;
    They sent me to the gallery or round the music-‘alls,
    But when it comes to fightin’, Lord! they’ll shove me in the stalls!
    For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, wait outside”;
    But it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide,
    The troopship’s on the tide, my boys, the troopship’s on the tide,
    O it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide.

    Yes, makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep
    Is cheaper than them uniforms, an’ they’re starvation cheap;
    An’ hustlin’ drunken soldiers when they’re goin’ large a bit
    Is five times better business than paradin’ in full kit.
    Then it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, ‘ow’s yer soul?”
    But it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll,
    The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
    O it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll.

    We aren’t no thin red ‘eroes, nor we aren’t no blackguards too,
    But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
    An’ if sometimes our conduck isn’t all your fancy paints,
    Why, single men in barricks don’t grow into plaster saints;
    While it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, fall be’ind”,
    But it’s “Please to walk in front, sir”, when there’s trouble in the wind,
    There’s trouble in the wind, my boys, there’s trouble in the wind,
    O it’s “Please to walk in front, sir”, when there’s trouble in the wind.

    You talk o’ better food for us, an’ schools, an’ fires, an’ all:
    We’ll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
    Don’t mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
    The Widow’s Uniform is not the soldier-man’s disgrace.
    For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Chuck him out, the brute!”
    But it’s “Saviour of ‘is country” when the guns begin to shoot;
    An’ it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ anything you please;
    An’ Tommy ain’t a bloomin’ fool — you bet that Tommy sees!

  2. 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

    As you imply, he’s got his. Plus he’s got his big cabinet appointment, after sucking up to the little squirrel, which he is continuing to do.

    Nothing in this surprises me. The hard left in this country, of which the little squirrel is a card-carrying member, has long been contemptuous of veterans and their sacrifices, dragging them out as props only when is serves their purposes (see, eg, John Kerry).

  3. hey there. first thanks so much for visiting my blog. 🙂

    yes this is very disturbing. thankfully all reports are saying that if it goes to coongress it would never pass. blessings! kate @ blatherings

  4. This latest money-grubbing proposal is truely a disgrace! I am not a veteran, but many in my family are. And to even think, much less to suggest, that veterans should have to pay for the wounds they received doing this country’s heavy lifting in foreign conflicts is utterly disgusting and disgraceful. I would not blame anyone currently in the military who laid down his/ her weapon and said, Mr. O’Bama fight your own damn wars from now on. You arrogant little F __ K!

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