Monday, October 26, 2009

Obama Signs Veterans Health Care Budget Reform

This is from a few days ago. Better late than never...

From Obama-Mamas (I swear!), includes video and full text of the Prez's remarks:

Paul Rieckhoff, Executive Director & Founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) announced some “big news” this afternoon. The President signed THE VETERANS HEALTH CARE BUDGET REFORM AND TRANSPARENCY ACT, permanently changing the funding process for VA healthcare.

Inexplicably, the VA used to have to request funds each and every quarter. Probably had something to do with not giving Vets what they had coming for too awfully long after their services to the country with rifles in their hands were no longer required. This now appears to be fixed. I say 'appears' because I'll believe it when I see it. Veterans will understand that because they know that anything involving bennies for the troops is usually as fucked up as Hogan's goat, to use an old apocryphal Marine Corps saying.

From the President's remarks:

We dramatically increased funding for veterans health care: more care for women’s veterans, for our wounded warriors from Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, traumatic brain injuries. For 500,000 “Priority 8″ veterans, we’re restoring VA health care coverage.

I'm a Priority 8. These are Vets with no service-connected health problems who were allowed into the VA program in the '90s when the VA was starting to run out of WWII, Korean War, and Vietnam customers with service-connected health issues. Luckily, I needed health benefits before Vets started coming back from Iraq all fucked up and strained the system to the breaking point.

All told, we have made the biggest commitment to veterans — the largest percentage increase in the VA budget — in more than 30 years. (Applause.) And this includes funding the post-9/11 GI Bill — making sure it works as intended so our newest veterans and their families have the chance to pursue their education and live out their dreams.

But we’re here today because a problem that’s gone on for far too long — the delays and uncertainty that often plague funding for veterans’ health care. Over the past two decades, the VA budget has been late almost every year, often by months.

At this very moment, the VA is operating without a budget, making it harder for VA medical centers and clinics to deliver the care our vets need. The hardworking folks at the VA know this. I was there at headquarters this spring. Michelle was there — if I’m not mistaken, Ric — just this Tuesday. It’s frustrating for them and it’s frustrating for our vets who pay the price when budgets are delayed: the new doctors, nurses, and critical staff that aren’t hired; the new medical equipment that isn’t purchased; the construction of new facilities and clinics that isn’t started; the new programs for medical care that are delayed.

This is inexcusable. It’s unacceptable. It’s time for it to stop. And that’s just what we’ll do with this landmark legislation — the Veterans Health Care Budget Reform and Transparency Act.

Good. Finally we may me leaving behind the Bush-era (shudder!) philosophy of 'no pull trigger, no get food'.

Also out of the House and under consideration by the Senate according to Nancy Pelosi's website is:

...the Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act, to help service members take full advantage of homebuyer incentives.

I bought my first house with a Vietnam Era GI Bill loan guarantee. I hope this one passes and helps Vets out.

Veterans are more unique than ever in this society of me-me-me where most people never give a thought to anyone but themselves or recognize that someone actually sacrifices some time and maybe some blood or their life so they can have that despicable attitude without ever having to think about it other than putting a little yellow Chinese magnetic ribbon on their SUVs.

Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines know that in the final analysis, their job is to stop bullets so the rest of Americans don't have to, or even have to think about why they're safe in their beds.

We owe Veterans a hell of a lot more than what they've been getting and I'm glad the Prez signed this bill.

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