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Helping Our Veterans

By Pat Lisi

Southern Utah Vets Aid

It’s 2014 and there are nearly 30-million military veterans living in the United States.  They come from all walks of life and from wars dating back to World War II.  Most are men but 15% of our veterans are women.  They have families, and extended families, all of whom are affected by any afflictions “their veteran” brought back to civilian life with him or her.  So, that 30-million number is predictably much higher in real life.

There is an agency run by the United States Government called the “Veterans Administration.”  This is a good institution with mostly wonderful people running it.  But, it is a broken organization because the numbers of veterans and their families who count on the VA are simply staggering, and the VA cannot keep up with the increasing demand.  The flow of veterans will probably never stop completely.  Just when they think there is light at the end of the tunnel here comes another train – in the form of war!  Folks, if the United States keeps policing the world using our military then you can certainly count on the Veterans Administration to be a never-ending revolving door costing billions of dollars per year to operate.

Yes, we’re all taxpayers and we do feel the urgency, just like the fine people who actually run the VA, to be “fiscally responsible” so our precious money is not wasted but rather spent in a diligent and judicious manner.  Here’s the thing, though.  If you’re a veteran returning from war and now you’re a civilian, and you have an arm, a leg, or an eye missing from doing your duty and making all those sacrifices, then you darned well deserve everything that the taxpayers can possibly come up with to thank you.  And that’s where the Veterans Administration comes in.

We NEED the VA; we WANT the VA; the VA has a tremendous responsibility to any military veteran who needs and asks for assistance, because if we (the taxpayers who support the VA) do not respond to veterans’ issues it will, sooner or later, create an atmosphere in this country where people no longer are willing to volunteer for military duty.  Wouldn’t that be a fine “How do you do?”  In kind, the Feds would then respond how?  Well, they’d have to bring back the draft system.  And then the insidious nightmare would start all over again.  So, when the VA does not act in a timely manner to help a veteran under the pretense of ‘fiscal responsibility (in other words by denying a righteous claim, or stalling with an answer for so long that the veteran gives up and goes away), then it’s time for someone else from a different organization to step up and lend a hand to get the job done.

And that’s what Southern Utah Veterans Aid is here for.  We work mainly with veterans who live in Washington and Iron County, Utah but if we hear from a vet from anywhere in the world we will at least get him or she pointed to the right people in their area who can help.  One of the most common calls we get is about starting a claim with the VA.  Veterans, especially those older heroes who fought in WWII or Korea, have almost no experience filing claims or even knowing what their benefits are.  Some of their military records were destroyed in a fire at the archives in St. Louis in the 70’s and we have to start from the beginning to prove to the VA that they served.

We also have a website: www.southernutahvetsaid.org where one can go and find a long list of links on the home page.  These links will take you to just any organization you need for your particular case.  The website is also meant as a ‘sounding board’ where you can post your stories about your military experiences.  If you want to respond to an article that read on the site, simply click on the title of the story and a contact page will open up for you.  Submit your comment in the box provided and it will come to SUVA in an e-mail for approval.  We do not publish political or religious argument.

Being a Vietnam Veteran myself, I know that what we veterans need and want most is to be recognized and respected for what we’ve done.  We also want to be treated with dignity as we seek medical treatment for service-related maladies and compensation for our suffering if it’s a legitimate claim.  We want professional, timely response to claims and we do not expect to have to beg for this service.  The Veterans Administration has actually been pretty good to me, but I had got a veteran’s advocate on my side to help campaign for my rights.  And, it worked.  There is a way to go about it.

Welcome home all you veterans!

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