What is The Best Way to Honor Those Who Have Fallen?
“Take care of those who came home,” is the answer given by Dr. Chrisanne Gordon, founder and chairwoman of the Resurrecting Lives Foundation (http://resurrectinglives.org/index.html), and physical and rehabilitation physician. Who could disagree with making sure veterans, our most noble of citizens, who write a blank check to every man, woman and child in America for their lives, are cared for when they make it home alive?
Michelle Obama, in her “Open Letter to Veterans,” published on September 30, states that, “If you are a veteran who is uninsured and hasn’t applied for VA coverage, you may be eligible for [Obama] care through the VA.” Yet the VA states if you have non-service related ailments or injuries, you don’t qualify for free coverage with the VA, fees and co-pays would apply.
The HealthCare.gov website Mrs. Obama recommends veterans go to stipulates that veterans who are enrolled in the VA system are considered “covered” and therefore do not qualify for care under the new health care law. Similarly, veterans who may be enrolled in Tri-Care, the military health care system, do not qualify to use the new Health Insurance Marketplace.
It’s no secret that “there are an estimated 1.3 million uninsured veterans,” according to Mrs. Obama’s letter, but what apparently is a secret are the estimated 400,000 veterans suffering from Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), which is a leading cause of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which can lead to myriad social, physical, mental and emotional health complications, including suicide, which claims the lives of 22 veterans every day according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, based on the agency’s own data and numbers reported by 21 states from 1999 through 2011; that’s one veteran every 65 minutes.
Mrs. Obama omits even mentioning these two devastating conditions for veterans, their families and loved ones. The VA backlog and ill equipped and trained VA service providers barely make a dent in helping those afflicted with TBI and PTSD.
Dr. Gordon, on her website, states that, “It is estimated that only 36% of the veterans returning from the Iraq & Afghanistan wars actually receive treatment through the Veterans Administration, although all are eligible.” That’s 792,000 out of 2.2 million returning veterans.
How will the Affordable Care Act provide relief for veterans if the VA can’t do it? How can Obama Care hope to even scratch the surface of treating ailments the government already can’t get out of its own way on?
The HealthCare.gov website claims that if a veteran can’t afford private health care coverage they “may be eligible for Medicaid.” The website also says that “if you’re a veteran who isn’t enrolled in VA benefits or other veteran’s health coverage, you can get coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace.” But is the Marketplace ready for these special needs patients? And if they are, can the veteran not enrolled in VA health care afford it?
“Getting coverage,” means “paying” for coverage through the Obama Care Marketplace. Why would a veteran, who qualifies for VA coverage, not go to the VA? It doesn’t make sense. It’s as if Michelle Obama is trying to get “caring for veterans” points with a health care merry-go-round that will deposit the veteran exactly where s/he got on!
Veterans need to be directed to the VA, and then some hand-held into signing up. Medicaid should cover the non-service related costs should the poor veteran not be able to afford these costs, but because last year the Supreme Court ruled it would be up to the States to decide whether or not to implement Medicaid expansion, an estimated 284,000 poor veterans who would have qualified for Medicaid under the expansion will not be able to access it. Obama care has NOTHING for the veteran, nor should it. But why the smoke and mirrors towards those who already are faced with a daunting bureaucratic labyrinth and well deserved mistrust of the efficiency of a government program?
There are those, like Dr. Gordon, who are dedicated to helping veterans with no strings attached or fairy tale promises. On Sunday, November 10th, from 7:00 – 10:00 p.m., the Military Channel (http://homewardboundtelethon.org/) cable television station is hosting a telethon supporting veterans with PTSD and TBI. Bonnie-Jill Laflin, sportscaster and the only female scout in the NBA, is founder of Hounds and Heroes (http://houndsandheroes.com/who-we-are/), a national nonprofit dedicated to lift the spirits and morale of our active, wounded, and veteran military troops worldwide. Concerned Veterans for America (http://concernedveteransforamerica.org/), led by Pete Hegseth, a decorated Army veteran, recently lobbied Congress to force the VA to improve the quantity of processed service related veteran health care applications. Dr. Gordon’s Resurrecting Lives Foundation is a non-political 501(c)(3) charitable organization that uses 100% of its donations for veteran’s services directly related to its mission.
It’s a shame that in this age of returning veterans with complex health care issues we can’t find a better way to address their needs than with just a confusing “open letter” to them about something that can do nothing for them.
What we need is to allow veterans to seek out treatment at any municipal health care facility, just like Medicaid patients can do. Restricting care for veterans only through the ridiculous bottleneck of Veterans Administration facilities, which are inaccessible to most veterans who tend to live far from these facilities, for an estimated 400,000 suffering the effects of service-related TBI alone, is trite, myopic, unnecessary and a dishonor to their sacrifice.