Thursday, July 15, 2004

For Services Rendered 

Here's an item we missed last week (luckily our esteemed colleagues at The Corpus Callosum were on the case). While the President was busy paying lip service to veterans on July 4th, the Daily Mislead was busy comparing his words to his deeds:
[A] new report shows that more than half a million veterans are going without health care benefits owed to them - and the Bush administration has tried to keep those veterans in the dark.

According to Knight-Ridder newspapers, 572,000 veterans nationwide "are missing out on disability payments from the Veterans Administration" even though they are owed those payments from their service. A large portion of these veterans are not receiving their payments because they do not know about them - a situation the White House has tried to perpetuate. In 2002, VA officials were ordered by the Bush administration "to cease efforts to enroll new patients into its health care system." The directive said it was "inappropriate" for local VA workers to attend health fairs, open houses and community meetings to educate veterans about what their eligibility and to enroll them in health care programs.

The President's efforts to prevent veterans from getting the benefits they are owed came at the same time the White House was squeezing veterans programs overall. Specifically, the President has drastically underfunded veterans health care programs, leading to major veterans groups calling his policies a "disgrace" and noting his most recent budget falls $2.6 billion short of what is needed this year alone. The President also raised premiums that veterans pay for their prescription drugs.
From the Knight-Ridder story linked above:
"I think it's a dang disgrace on the country," said Missouri Lt. Gov. Joe Maxwell. "We've asked men and women to serve and pay a horrible price, and then to abandon them when they come home. These are not handouts; these are earned benefits."

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