I play my U.S. Navy 20-year retiree, disabled Persian Gulf War veteran card every now and then because…well, I can.
It’s a meaningful card because along with that 20-year service to country, my Veterans Administration (VA) disability rating is 100%, and my disabilities are service connected.
Sometimes, it’s even obvious that I should play this disabled veteran card.
Well, I’m playing the card today. During a recent The Ed Show segment on MSNBC, Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) made a comment about the VA Healthcare System that I found a little galling. He said he wouldn’t want to receive care at a VA Healthcare facility — here’s the 18-second excerpt where he said this (on July 22, 2009):
Watch the whole video at MSNBC. You can see for yourself that this comment isn’t taken out of context. Basically, he is more than implying that he doesn’t believe disabled veterans who, like me, literally sacrificed our health for our country, are receiving adequate care.
I see Senator Barrasso has a statement on record regarding veterans issues made for his 2008 Senatorial campaign:
As a physician and the son of a World War II veteran, I understand how important it is to provide the health care benefits our veterans earned by wearing the uniform and honorably serving their country. After their service, I do not believe we should disregard their great sacrifices.
At a time when our nation’s veteran population is steadily aging and the VA system is increasingly receiving more veterans from Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, we must proved the resources and infrastructure to meet the growing demand for services. Furthermore, I believe the Washington, D.C. one-size fits all policy should not be applied to rural states like Wyoming. Our veterans in many cases travel for miles for care and we must ensure that our rural Wyoming veterans are not forgotten by providing access to the care. I am resolute in fighting for our veterans and future veterans so that they receive the health care and benefits at top notch and fully staffed facilities in Wyoming and across the country.
So I see that, unlike me, he didn’t sacrifice personally in serving his country in the military, and he definitely didn’t sacrifice his health like I did. And, he believes that as a Senator receiving healthcare coverage from Blue Cross/Blue Shield he receives better healthcare than “our veterans” who “earned” our healthcare benefits “by wearing the uniform and honorably serving their country.”
I’m reading his voting record on veterans issues in the 110th Congress,, the bills he sponsored in the 110th Congress, and the bills he co-sponsored in the 110th Congress, his votes in the 111th Congress and his press release entitled Highlights of Barrasso’s First Year in the Senate. I’m not particularly impressed with his Senatorial record on veterans issues.
Although the Veterans of Foreign Wars awarded him a “Legislative Service Award” for his support of Wyoming veterans when he was a Wyoming State Senator, I’m not seeing in the Senate from him any sort of high level legislative action on veterans issues. I’m definitely not seeing from him a legislative commitment that backs up his campaign assertion that he is “fighting for our veterans and future veterans so that they receive the health care and benefits at top notch and fully staffed facilities in Wyoming and across the country.”
Frankly, if Senator Barrasso doesn’t believe that disabled veterans, like me, receive adequate healthcare, then his failure to aggressively seek legislative relief for veterans who “earned by wearing the uniform and honorably serving their country” would be something that is actually odious. And, if Senator Barrasso doesn’t believe that disabled veterans, like me, receive adequate healthcare — and believes the healthcare that disabled veterans like me receive at at a level that he wouldn’t want for himself — then Senator Barrasso should have been already working extremely hard to fix the problem as he sees the problem for disabled veterans.
Basicly, Senator Barrsasso’s previous statements about being “resolute in fighting for” veterans care have been rendered meaningless since he hasn’t worked to actually fix the quality of healthcare for deserving veterans that he believes is inadequate.
So, what is Senator Barrasso’s fix for disabled veterans, and when are we going to see his fix for disabled veterans implemented? My guess is that he’s a hypocrite politician, and he’s not going to put forward any fixes for the problem of inadequate veterans healthcare that he apparently has perceived is the reality for veterans for quite awhile now.