For the second time in as many weeks, a military veteran has gunned down police officers at random. And, in both cases, the police killed the veteran.
Also, less than a year ago, in the Atlanta Metro Area, a naked veteran was shot and killed by police. Yes, all three of these are related because in the investigations that followed, we found each veteran had cried out for help…each in their own way. Neither of them received the help they needed from the V.A.
Has the high number of senseless killings of Blacks by white police officers intensified or triggered anger and rage that most of us are able to control??
Is the U.S. climate such that people who are feeling on edge have the same sentiments as Fannie Lou Hamer felt, “sick and tired of being sick and tired?”
So, what is being done to curb this before it becomes an unstoppable trend?
What can we, as individuals, do if we know there are veterans in our family or our community that we believe needs help?
Should we protest in front of the Congressional offices and U.S. Senate offices across the country and at the U.S. Capitol until veterans get the same level of medical care as those elected officials who voted for the US to go to war? Are these elected officials willing to give up their benefits so they can see what it is like not to have them?
Why is it that the U.S. Congress would have better benefits than those who have put their lives on the line in foreign lands so that they may have the freedom and lifestyles enjoyed by most Americans?
I wonder: How many who serve (and have served) in the Congress and Senate, as John McCain, have been there long enough to have done something about this problem 20-30 years ago?
I wonder: How many times did they vote against increasing funding for VA services and treatment?
WAOK Radio’s Derrick Boazman is right, ‘it is heart-breaking to hear the awful stories of how veterans are denied treatment. Or, they get it and later it is terminated for no apparent reason.’ Boazman is trying to find veterans who are receiving all the benefits they were promised and are entitled to receive. Most have simply have detailed accounts about the tricks played to deny them basic benefits.
Many of us know a veteran who is suffering, barely getting by, and in dire need of medical services. Unfortunately, many are also homeless. How is that acceptable?
Around 2006, Air Force Veteran and Chair of the Arizona Democratic Party’s Veteran’s Caucus Chair, Robert Stelling, took it upon himself to lead patrols along Phoenix area streets looking for and getting veterans off the streets. And, when Greg Stanton became Mayor in 2011, he unveiled a plan to help end homelessness in the City by prioritizing housing for the chronically homeless. The comprehensive Phoenix Homeless Initiative redeploys existing homeless services and grant funding at no new cost…through a ‘housing first’ strategy was passed by the City Council in late 2012 and has been in operation since July 2013. Around that same time, in Atlanta, our City Council was in the process of passing laws that would further criminalize homeless citizens so they would be arrested more and spend more time in jail.
Due to a huge public outcry, Councilman Michael Bond and others had to “back peddle” on the proposed legislation. Hmmmm. What were they thinking?
Because I have a Ph.D. in Veterans Affairs earned by helping my great uncle who was a WWII veteran, I know what it takes to try to navigate the V.A. system. I also know how long it takes to get an appointment. I witnessed tempers flaring when they have been at the V.A. all day and frustrated by the lack of good service. I understand how some have access to the V.A., yet they say, ‘I am a vet and would not dare go there’.
I have seen it up close. PTSD is serious. Most veterans have not been officially diagnosed. If all who have PTSD were actually diagnosed, the VA would need to increase their capacity to care for these war heroes by more than ten-fold. That is the problem! If Congress spent money on V.A. medical care instead of “bridges to nowhere”, etc., we would have a different and better situation. A good question is: How did we get here? How did so many good Americans let it get to such an extremely inhumane situation where we look the other way and not hold our federal elected officials accountable?
It has been almost ten years since two stories about the Walter Reed Army Medical Center Scandal in Washington D.C. were reported in The Washington Post. The reports included gross patient neglect. Why are we not looking at this in the rear view mirror instead of trying to measure how much further behind we are in correcting this atrocity?
In 2014, President Barack Obama hired Robert McDonald former Proctor & Gamble CEO to revamp the V.A. He immediately found: 1) the hospitals were under staffed and the reason veterans have to wait so long for an appointment; 2) the facilities and equipment were in dire need of being updated, and 3) doctor pay needed to increase to attract more doctors to decrease patient wait times. Last year, 60 Minutes ran a story about the new VA Chief’s efforts to recruit and hire more doctors (with the new salary increase).
‘When you come back from war you are not the same. They had us stabbing dummies…setting off explosives. It is why I still have ringing in my ears…I am a Vietnam Vet. Like many, I have problems sleeping. I still have issues and cannot get all the help I need from the V.A.,’ according to a veteran on a local radio talk show.
So I ask you: How can Congress sleep? How much longer can we allow this to continue?
What affects one household and one community more often than not, eventually affects all of us. When people do not get proper medical treatment, they become a ticking time bomb. We have seen it end tragically with two vets, one in Dallas and one in Baton Rouge, killing policers and one “naked” vet being killed by an officer. It happens to non-veterans too as we saw it in Tucson when Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and about 20 others were shot at random and again at Sandy Hook. In these two latter cases, it was known that both shooters needed but did not receive psychiatric help. Again, innocent people were killed and others wounded.
Yes, our Veterans are crying out for our help. Let us not see more bloodshed before we help them.
If you want to help them. One of the main thing to do is to make sure you are registered to vote (www.mymvp.sos.ga.gov) by October 11, 2016. Research (Google the candidates and referendums, attend community meetings to learn about the issues and candidates) and vote the entire ballot on November 8, 2016. Do not just vote for president and turn in your ballot!! Discuss who to vote for with your friends and family. Post your questions about who to vote for in Congressional and US Senate races on social media. Also, discuss all 20 plus items on the ballot which, in Georgia, includes constitutional amendments.
What we know for sure: When we do our research and vote in blocks and turn out in high numbers, we ALWAYS win!! We will get better people and better results! If they let us down, we go back and vote them out!! I dare you to try it!!
I dare you to care enough to do one of the most important things to help our Veterans. So, do your research, spread the word and vote the entire ballot on November 8, 2016!!