Richard Burr misleads veterans...again

The wisdom (or lack of) surrounding the combined wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is one of the most debated issues of our time, but what is not debatable is the terrible impact those wars have had on the men and women in uniform who have served in those theaters. And, for many, coming home presents a whole new set of obstacles to overcome, not the least of which is navigating the labyrinthine maze to access benefits that can help them find their way. But for people like Senator Burr, this issue is merely an opportunity for posturing.

Here's the posturing:

Senator Richard Burr will host a VETERANS FAIR at Wayne Community College in Goldsboro, NC from 9:00AM to 12:00PM, Tuesday, January 26, 2010. Please join his staff and North Carolina Economic Development and talk one-on-one with Officials to address your individual needs.

The event will include opportunities for veterans to have questions answered by Veterans Administration officials regarding the following:

Claims and Benefits
Home Loans and Housing
the G.I. Bill
Employment and Training programs
Transition and Readjustment Programs
Contracting with the Government
Federal Legislation that affects veterans

Here's the fancy flyer (pdf) advertising the event Burr is "hosting":

Senator Richard Burr
is pleased to invite you to attend a
Talk One-on-One with Officials to Address Your Individual Needs

And here is the reality those announcements only hint at:

Members of his staff will attend the meeting, but Burr will not.

I understand the Senate is in session today, but if Burr can work in golf fundraisers and more parties than any other Senator, you'd think he could schedule this veteran's meeting so he could work them in, too. But all they would give him is questions he couldn't answer anyway, so let the staff handle it.



So, are you saying that these men and women that come home from Iraq or Afghanistan cannot get access to the Veteran's Health Care system?

I have a golfing friend that is a Vietnam Vet that has full VA health care coverage including prescriptions and semi-annual Dr.'s visits at his VA clinic in Danville, Va. and even if he has to go to the emergency room in Winston Salem, he will ultimately be covered. He can call for any prescription refill and he has immediate access to his PA who helps him with every illness he contracts.

What the hell is up with not giving ALL our veterans that same kind of coverage. Yes, he was in a war zone and affected by "agent orange", but these guys and gals coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan have had every bit as much stress and trauma as he did. Why is he a "protected class" when they are not? It is soooo sad.

I wonder what we, as citizens, can do about that.

There are so many complexities

to the system I can't even begin to scratch the surface here, Foxy.

I did some digging into this over a year ago for a blog article and (somehow) ended up attending monthly meetings of the Governer's Focus on Returning Combat Veterans, which brought together officials from the VA, DHHS, NCNG, etc., to help identify and fill in gaps in health services these folks encounter.

Just to give you a sampling: When National Guard & Reserve are activated, they have access to most of the same benefits Regular Army troops do, but their families are still living in podunk county. So getting health care for their dependents entails a lot of hassle. After their combat tour and some winding down, these troops are deactivated, and then they have to buy Tricare insurance if they want to be covered. And only so many hometown doctors accept Tricare, etc.

That's just a small taste of the health care issues veterans face, but there are also other areas like financial and legal assistance that folks may need, and just finding the right person to ask is a challenge.

I can say this: There are good, compassionate people working on trying to resolve these issues. But from what I have seen, Richard Burr is not one of them.