Cumberland Times-News

November 22, 2012

It’s time to consider pulling together all veterans’ programs

To the Editor:
Cumberland Times-News

— No nation treats returning veterans better than than the United States.

A recent Warrior-Family Symposium just in time for Veterans Day concluded: After 11 years of war and tens of thousands of injured service members, veterans’ families and caregivers aren’t getting the help they need.

Panelists pointed to sincere statements by all involved that achieving goals over a five-year span is not acceptable. Military Officer Association of America attended, listened and is urging action: “... cut through interagency bureaucracies and achieve quick results.”  MOAA has developed this eight point plan:

• Assume a wartime-urgency mentality focused on near term results.

• Do whatever it takes to implement a joint DoD/VA electric health record within two years.

• Develop a scoreboard to measure results and hold leaders accountable for near-term success.

• Use civilian providers to ease delays in accessing VA mental/behavioral health providers.

• Consolidate all veterans employment programs under the VA.

• Expand — not cut — military and VA family-caregiver programs and recovery coordinator positions.

• Pursue fast-track legislation authorizing service animals for veterans with severe psychological and physical challenges.

• Develop materials to better prepare care-givers for physical, emotional and other challenges they and their wounded, ill or injured veterans will face.

While we all know that all communities, especially ours, serve veterans as volunteers, these leaders, many retired commanders are aware that things move slowly even in the most well intentioned arms of government,but those who need help need it now, and if you wish to learn more watch a video at www.moaa.org/wfs.

Then contact Representative Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), chair of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs who states veterans face a mental health care crisis “right now.”  

Thomas F. Conlon

Cumberland