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Are You a Disabled Veteran, or Are You NOT?
The following anecdotal conversations, and occurrences, were brought forward during a discussion regarding S. 2966, the Rural Veterans Travel Enhancement Act of 2019. (Author: Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) Summary. Status Introduced in Senate 12/03/2019 Read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs. 12/03/2019).
The observations stated were made by the Editor's most esteemed colleague; a highly astute and experienced man. (please note: the remarks of the Editor will show in blue.)
"It was my understanding, that these travel clauses, were already part of The VA Mission Act. So, why is this Bill even being introduced?"
"Yes, that's correct. Travel for VA medical treatment is provided regularly; especially for the disabled or wheelchair bound Veterans with service related conditions."
He continued :
"What troubles me, and has for years, is the more the benefits for Veterans are increased, the more they are abused. There is a steep rise in those who seek Veterans' benefits, without service related conditions. I have seen them working the system; talked with them as well. It is heart breaking to realize that it is often the Veterans who abuse the system that cause the long delays in the delivery of health care and other services to those who need it quickly and regularly. "
"Surely, Sir, the VA must be aware of this issue, and take preventative measures."
"Oh my, it does not stop at the VA! I have stood in line to purchase goods or services and observed a visibly disabled Veteran present his ID card showing that he is eligible for the generous discount offered to those with service related conditions. Then the next person in line begins arguing with the clerk or cashier , making remarks like, 'I'm a Veteran as well, so where is my discount ? What do you mean, where is my card; I don't have one, but I am a Veteran." It is at this point, when my patience runs quite thin. That is when I approach this vocal Veteran, with no service connected conditions, and ask him to step out of line; I make it clear, I'd like to speak with him. "
"I even received an email from a Veteran trying to set up a demonstration to boycott the Home Depot stores because they did not offer discounts to ALL Veterans. I sent a disdainful reply of disgust and closed copied Home Depot upper level management on the issue."
"Have you ever witnessed non-Veterans posing as disabled Veterans , in order to receive sympathy and thereby gratuities from passers-by? I have. It was in downtown Denver. The man was in a wheelchair, and wore a hat that read 'Vietnam Veteran -
26th Infantry'. To make a long story short, after a bit of conversation, I called him out on his fraud_ especially when I saw able-bodied men unloading wheelchairs from a bus in the adjacent parking garage, and then rolling out in all directions. They were organized pan-handlers."
" Of course I have. I see many Veterans ( or assume they are Veterans) with hats saying Vietnam Veteran with the ribbons embroidered on the logo. Now, at least, they have hats saying 'Vietnam Era'. I passed one yesterday whose hat read 'Disabled Veteran'. I pointed to an obviously disabled Veteran just a bit down the block, missing a leg, an arm, and with a tube inserted down his throat . So, I asked 'Mr. Disabled Veteran': 'Why isn't he the one wearing the hat?'
"The Census Report, of the year 2000, stated that of the 2.7 million military service members deployed to Vietnam , only about 1.0 million were still alive. However, 12- 13 million now claim they fought in Vietnam. How can this be possible? There were only slightly over 9.0 mil in the entire U.S. Armed Forces, at the time. Also, I have had occasion to speak with a gentleman who has been handling and processing disability claims for close to 30 years. His assertion is that the delays are due to nearly 90% of the claims being fraudulent. The time it takes to research those claims is, in large part, causing the issue of delay. "
"As long as there benefits offered to deserving persons, which involve money, there is going to be fraud and abuse. It's the oldest game in the book."
"Yes, that's right. And it is also why it is our mission to keep Veterans, of all branches, and all war arenas, well informed and up to date. Bureaucracy does not rest."