Topics: Veterans Affairs

To honor veterans, fix the Veterans Affairs Department

Politics,Opinion,Op-Eds,Veterans Affairs,Veterans

Every Fourth of July we celebrate the birth of our great nation. While a time of great cheer, we are also reminded that our independence and continued freedom comes with great sacrifice.

As a veteran that has lost friends on the battlefield, that sacrifice is a harsh reality.

As Memorial Day approaches, it is with fondness and heavy hearts that we remember those in uniform we have lost in the service of our country. Their sacrifice reminds us that freedom is not free and that some things are worth fighting for — our ideals, our families and our fellow Americans. While generations of brave Americans gave their lives near and far advancing freedom and democracy, they are never forgotten. I humbly ask that my fellow citizens join me in paying tribute to the memories of our fallen service members and honor their sacrifice.

While the debt we owe can never be paid in full, we can pledge not to break faith with our active military members and retired veterans. Unfortunately, recent developments at our Department of Veterans Affairs indicate our government is failing our veterans.

Nearly a month ago, allegations and reports were made public that as many as 40 veterans might have died awaiting critical care and treatment at the Phoenix VA Health Care System. It has also been reported that at this VA clinic, secret waiting lists were created and doctored to cover up the case backlog and abnormally long waiting periods. And since this shocking revelation, at least 10 new allegations of manipulated waiting times have surfaced at numerous VA clinics nationwide.

This is not how we repay our veterans. This is not how we treat our heroes. They fought for us and now it is time their government fights for them.

Today, more than ever, our country needs leaders who are willing and able to set priorities, assume responsibility, provide solutions and make the hard choices necessary to get things done. Let’s implement some commonsense solutions to take care of our veterans:

1. With health claims increasing at an almost five-to-one rate to that of physicians, we must allow veterans the flexibility to seek care at the closest hospital during emergencies.

2. There must be a greater integration of joint electronic files between the Department of Defense and the VA. An average of 167 days is just too long to wait for VA benefits.

3. Finally, there must be greater transparency. It should not take veterans suffering or dying from lack of care for them to gain the attention of national leaders.

On this Memorial Day, let’s remember the veterans who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Let’s honor their memory by providing timely and quality healthcare for their surviving brothers in arms still with us.

Micah Edmond, a Marine veteran, is the Republican candidate for the 8th District House seat in Virginia. Thinking of submitting an op-ed to the Washington Examiner? Be sure to read our guidelines on submissions for editorials, available at this link.
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