Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

May 1, 2013

For many veterans, the war is not yet over

Armed forces of wars past and present are honored with monuments and memorials. They are symbols to remind us freedom is not free, it is paid for in blood.

Those who served wrote a blank check to our country payable at any cost to include the giving of their life in the name of freedom.

The month of May is when we honor those who served in remembrance of the heroes who fought the battles.

For many, the battle is not over. The wars of Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf Desert Storm, Iraq, Afghanistan they burn deep within us. Many are laden with PTSD, diseases caused by agent orange dioxin exposure, dust inhalation caused by explosives.

We battle with our legislators for equality. This addresses only a few of the battles we deal with today. For the most part we appear healthy unlike those with loss of limb and paralysis.

On those special days in May there are parades. The streets are lined with flag waving Americans to honor the fallen and those of the living. Politicians gather on the steps of government buildings making speeches of praise and glory that are soon forgotten. Those who fought the battles and their survivors never forget.

Soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen submit claims to Veterans Affairs for benefits to include hundreds of pages of required evidence to prove their disability a demanding effort for the veteran.

The VA offers little assistance in how to locate the evidence required, for the most part the veteran is on his or her own. Many are denied benefits only to learn the injury or disease is not on the VA's list or not enough evidence was presented.

Some who served were on covert missions, where they were and what they did in time of war does not exist, personnel records are sealed classified, these are the unlucky vets who can not prove their very existence on a mission and are sick with diseases.

These records should be made available to the veteran for their VA claim.

What does our Congress do about these discrepancies, nothing. Legislative bills are introduced to afford VA benefits for better quality of life. All too often these bills fail, why, because of expenditure. We who served are not worth the dollars.

Yet there are dollars available to give to harboring terrorist active nations, government grants to study how high a grasshopper can leap, the counting of calories of a donut, the painting of a salmon on an Alaska airplane. To what extremes do our dollars go for, do not our veterans deserve to be thought of who are in need who fought the battles?

It is not easy to accept what our government fails to do in caring for its veterans. Many of us have and in time to come will go to our graves with a thought in mind, our government did not care enough for we who fought the battles.

Yes, during the month of May the politicians will offer praise, glory and promises to help our veterans, only to forget their offering in months to follow.

All we ask is for our legislators to do their job, pass legislation to help our veterans in need.

 John J. Bury, U.S. Navy, retired

Vietnam War veteran

Media, Pa.

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