Now that TYFYS Day is over … can we get back to helping vets?

Phil Briggs
November 13, 2018 - 12:48 pm

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The party is over.  Our national weekend of “Thank You for Your Service,” retail sales, patriotic promotions, football, and beer has come to a close. 

And oddly, the day after our Veterans Day hangover should be completely gone, it seems like a few partygoers are still arguing in the parking lot.     

Take the debate over whether President Trump insulted veterans by failing to make an appearance at WWI memorials in France or at our own Arlington Cemetery in Virginia.

According to the Twittersphere, this is truly despicable:

Even Massachusetts Congressman Seth Moulton, a proud Marine Corps veteran, claimed that failing to visit Arlington renders one incapable of understanding what service means.

And while there are literally thousands of comments on either side of the cemetery situation, the fact remains that there is still plenty of work to do. Here are just a few items that would be a great way to keep the Veteran Day momentum going:

  • Fix Delayed GI Payments, ASAP: Thanks to technological issues at the VA in managing the “Forever GI Bill,” student veterans across the country have fallen behind on payments for housing, tuition and other services, leaving them to figure it out themselves. The VA even told some students that the solution could be months away.  In a world where we can establish an online checking account in the morning and by that afternoon order groceries online and have them delivered to our house, getting our vets college payments fixed should not be this difficult!
  • Expand Mental Health Services for Veterans:  Every veteran suicide or other tragedy breaks our heart. But with each passing day, there are veterans who can’t access services at the VA due to their discharge status, criminal record or because of long wait times. However, the majority of Americans can access vision care at the local mall in the morning and have glasses by that afternoon.  Mental health is obviously far more complex, but the ability to receive treatment should be as simple as going to a VA or visiting an equally qualified local mental health professional.  Is the path to a solution paved by the VA hiring more mental health professionals? Merging with those in the private sector? The solution may not be just one thing, but in a world where many are hungry for answers actually experimenting with a few options may just save a life. 
  • Bring a bill back to life: Another element of mental health support died in Congress earlier this year-  HR 5520.  Introduced by Rep.Tim Walz (who is transitioning out of Congress to become the next Governor of Minnesota) the bill authorizes the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to “conduct and support research on the efficacy and safety of certain forms of cannabis for veterans [enrolled in the VA health care system> diagnosed with conditions such as chronic pain or post-traumatic stress disorder.” What's truly amazing is how every election has medical marijuana initiatives on a ballot somewhere, yet on the federal level VA officials justify doing nothing by claiming the research application process is too difficult, and Congress simply refuses to bring bills like HR5520 to the floor for a vote.  So much for every official's promise to "Support the Troops."

In an era of unprecedented division, the last thing we need to do in honor of Veterans Day is waste time arguing about Presidential memorial ceremonies and cemetery visits.

Just keeping the promises our government made regarding health care and education would be much more appreciated.

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