LETTER: Canceling Veterans Affairs benefits is unpatriotic

Monday, June 27, 2011 | 7:22 p.m. CDT; updated 8:34 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Articles in recent issues of Disabled American Veterans Magazine and American Legion Magazine report on efforts by members of Congress in favor of canceling enrollment in Veterans Affairs health care for 1.3 million veterans who fall in priority groups 7 and 8 — those who have no service-related disabilities and also are not poor, at least by prevailing government yardsticks. This action would adversely affect Iraq/Afghan veterans!

More than 2 million of our servicemen and servicewomen have served in Iraq/Afghanistan, and nearly 500,000 have already enrolled in the VA health care system. Rather than cutting back on these earned benefits, Congress should enact legislation paying for these wars now financed primarily with money borrowed from foreign countries such as China. Thus far the cost is over a trillion dollars, nearly one-tenth of our national debt, and will continue to rise for at least 60 years. By not raising additional revenue, Congress will, in effect, cut earned veterans' benefits in order to pay for the wars. 

Many of the congressmen in favor of cutting the VA budget are strongly supporting the Iraq war and sending our best and finest men and women into "harm's way." They should have the fortitude to pay for wars they started or supported instead of placing additional burdens on the backs of the men and women who fought the wars. Unconscionable and unpatriotic.

Carl H. Niewoehner lives in Columbia.

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Mark Ansley June 29, 2011 | 12:30 p.m.

Congress always talk about cutting this or that.Now they are suggesting cutting veterans benefits.Why not cut congress members benefits?Oh no,This idea never comes up.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield June 29, 2011 | 1:35 p.m.

"Why not cut congress members benefits?Oh no,This idea never comes up."

Sure it does. In fact, earlier this year, our own Sen. McCaskill sponsored a bill to eliminate Congress' automatic annual pay raise. Republicans from Louisiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania, and a Democrat from Utah, all sponsored similar bills.

Need another recent example? In January, Rep. Coffman (R-CO) introduced legislation that would cut Congressional pay by 10%. At the same time, multiple other members of Congress -- Republican and Democrat, including Gabrielle Giffords -- introduced similar legislation (e.g., a 5% pay cut).

(Report Comment)
Allan Sharrock July 2, 2011 | 3:25 a.m.

As a Vet I know that if we can't afford then you can't have it. Furthermore, I don't want to be indebted any more than we are.

(Report Comment)
Delcia Crockett July 2, 2011 | 4:03 a.m.

Are there people who have never served in the military, yet get benefits under false pretenses?

An example of this could be a woman who draws military benefits and gets insurance benefits while claiming to be the bereaved widow of a military-death spouse - but lives with another man for more than seven years (legal common law marriage then?), allows him to pay off her house, help support her household with money - but yet draws the check from the government as a military "widow"?

How much money would this free up - if this were investigated and these woman taken off the military check pay roll and the money given to vets who are truly in need of it?

If a woman has another man in the house for more than seven years who is helping support the household, then the benefits should be stopped and given to those who do not - as if a remarriage has taken place. Anyway, that is the judgment call on a lot of people's minds who want better benefits for our Vets - and want to see them get all they deserve.

This is just one of the way the system is used, a woman who chooses to move the other man in and take his money as well as the government's - while not remaining loyal/true to her deceased spouse, who died many years before in the service.

But is what she is doing fair to other Vets, or to the wives who remarry and list their marriage as legitimate?

To not be truthful about such matters in claiming the military check is compared to the person who takes a government check, while hiding money at home and never tell government about it, or being paid across the table instead of through tax-registered means, or not telling the government about a live-in person while on the government check and food stamps/health benefits. This is the way a lot of people see this, and see it a disgrace to our fallen and to our present military who have needs that the money should go to, instead.

A lot of people see this as a misuse of the system and question if there are many other ways misuse of the system undermining legitimate claims/needs?

Can we get more for our Vets and less for the mis-users then?

Maybe this is something the government is already working on?

" )

(Report Comment)
Delcia Crockett July 2, 2011 | 4:05 a.m.

Correction: could be undermining

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith July 2, 2011 | 6:39 a.m.

Possibly the only federal agency having a worse track record than Veteran's Administration is the BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs).

(My comments pertain to the Veteran's Administration and not to veterans.)

(Report Comment)
Delcia Crockett July 2, 2011 | 10:10 a.m.

If you remarry, you are not supposed to get benefits from the deceased spouse?

What about those who are dishonest and practice a commitment to common law marriage that goes past the seven year mark?

Should they be found, penalized for dishonesty, and benefits adjusted to correctly portray their actual status?

There are probably other ways that people cheat to get benefits, too.

Maybe our government just needs to keep investigating and trim from there.

It is only fair to the ones who honestly report their status, and to the ones who do not have enough, and honestly deserve the benefits, because "there is no money."

Trim out the cheaters.

: )

(Report Comment)
John Schultz July 2, 2011 | 3:58 p.m.

Delcia, I'm not sure about other states, but Missouri does not recognize common law marriages.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith July 2, 2011 | 4:30 p.m.

John Schultz:

Fifteen (15) states and the District of Columbia recognize common law marriage; obviously, most states do not.

[Since I know you to be the soul of discretion, I assume you will not inquire as to why I know that. :)]

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle July 2, 2011 | 6:05 p.m.

Decia, beware: Means testing and cost controls can be VERY expensive.

The cost control measures enacted by Medicare in the late 70's and quickly adopted by the entire medical insurance industry, today accounts for a good solid 25% of all healthcare costs.

This phenomenon occurs almost anywhere there's a 3rd payer. Most notably in government, since they are always a 3rd payer (a good argument against any kind of government redistribution), but it happens in private industry too. I've seen private companies pretty much kill themselves trying to contain costs. They departmentalize with cost centers, and then end up doubling their labor cost because of all the extra work having departments (within the same company) bill each other, squabble with each other, and have turf wars. The University isn't a private enterprise, but it certainly has this problem.

When you add up all the costs of means testing and cost controls, they are frequently nearly as much, and often far more, than the fraud they were designed to prevent. Few people ever wrap their heads around this; they think since it's called 'cost control' that if whatever they're doing isn't working, they just need to do more of it. And the administrative costs just keep spiraling.

To address the point of the letter, the fact that anyone could be all like, "Rah Rah!" about the military, but then be "Veterans? Bah, they cost too much." should drive home just how mentally and morally corrupt those people are.

(Report Comment)
Paul Allaire July 2, 2011 | 6:45 p.m.

NOW we've got it.

(Report Comment)

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