Veterans are demanding, not asking, for better care

Matt Saintsing
December 12, 2018 - 6:23 pm

Connecting Vets Staff


Veterans, advocates, and a bipartisan Congressional duo gathered on Capitol Hill on Wednesday to push lawmakers to approve legislation that would connect veterans with the benefits and care they’ve already earned, but still need. 

Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), and Brian Mast (R-Fla.) stood shoulder-to-shoulder with members of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA)  to urge their colleagues to improve VA care for women, pass crucial burn pits legislation and to make vets impacted by delayed GI Bill payments whole. 

“There are still too many of our brothers and sisters across the country who are still not getting the care and benefits they have earned and deserve,” said Gabbard. “It’s as simple as that.”

She called for any veteran who has suffered an “extreme amount of emotional and financial stress” due to delayed or inaccurate GI Bill payments to be fully repaid. 

“Our veterans deserve better than to return home to empty promises and excuses,” she said. “They deserve real leadership and action that honors their service and sacrifice.”

“All of our veterans are reliable, that’s the easiest thing we can say about anyone who puts on a uniform,” added Mast. “Whether it’s in terms of female care, or burn pits legislation, or what’s going on with payments on the GI Bill, we’re going to make sure that the Department of Veterans Affairs becomes that entity that is looked at in the same way—where its reliable.”

But they weren’t the only ones calling for change. 

Connecting Vets staff

Veterans from across the country traveled to Washington, D.C. to ensure their voices are heard in the halls of Congress. Two motivating factors driving Marine Corps veteran Hether Zeckser to make the trip from Michigan are cannabis research for veterans and care for women vets.

“Coming here to be able to get that (marijuana) research, I think it’s important,” said Zeckser “We need alternatives for veterans, alternatives to medication and for pain management.” 

“It helps everyone to understand just the issues women have gone through traditionally, but it also helps increase awareness that we all serve in the same way, and have gone through similar situations,” added Julienne Williams, an Army veteran who currently serves in the Air Force. 

Others came out of a sense of community and wanting to improve access to care for their brothers and sisters in arms.

“Being able to come here and talk to our lawmakers and make sure they’re putting veterans support up front is very important to me,” said Shannon Adams, an Army veteran “I see people struggling all the time in our communities, and anything I can do to try to support the efforts is what I want to do.” 

The three met with staffers with the office of Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), to advocate for the benefits many veterans are still waiting for, but have fully earned. 

“It's important knowing we can come as a community, with IAVA at the forefront, to help make a difference when it comes to cannabis, burn pits, education with the GI Bill, suicide prevention, the whole gambit and to know you can make a difference by showing up and speaking and making people aware,” said Williams.

“And to not sit back in the shadows.” 

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