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Government must do better job of caring for our nation’s veterans

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Randi Elmer
June 19, 2009
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is among commentaries written by students in the Washington Seminar program at Janesville Parker High School.

Although the government was lagging in years past, veterans have reason to hope for better care in the future.


The government must take action to help veterans, not only those with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) or Post Traumatic Brain Disorder (PTSD), obtain the best care and service possible.


As stated by Lynda Sue Hurley, officer in charge at Walter Reed Army Hospital, “TBI is considered the signature injury for this war.”


This is due to the prevalence of improvised explosive devices. Most IEDs are roadside bombs used by enemy military. Some men and women have gone through many blasts, but trauma all depends on how close to the vehicle or bomb they were located. The major problem with Traumatic Brain Injury is that it is hard to detect because PTSD and TBI share many symptoms.


Gerald Manar, deputy director of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, stated that, “the administration has gotten off to a good start.” This relates to community-based outpatient clinics provided for veterans who live in rural areas.


“There will be no more than 50 miles for veterans to travel to receive outpatient care,” states Robin McClanahan, senior associate of the American Red Cross.


This is good news not only for veterans but also families of the wounded. Another system, known as Telehealth, has been set up to enable veterans to renew prescriptions or talk to a doctor or registered nurse by phone. This is a big step toward giving veterans better care.


Regarding the backlog of veterans claims, the actual backlog is within the claims for benefits, not so much health care claims. The numbers that the Veterans Affairs gives the public is much lower. The actual number of backlogged claims tops 1 million. That combines the pending, appeals and education claims.


“We are in the 21st century,” McClanahan stated. The system should make all claims electronic.


In the end, the government is working to give the best care and service possible to veterans. In using community-based outpatient clinics and Telehealth, veterans are able to stay home and recover more quickly. Going to electronic claims will speed the process and lower the backlog.


So the question is, what can you do as a citizen to help veterans in your own community receive the care they deserve?



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