By the next Patriotic Holiday change the name of the Department of Veterans Affairs to the Department of Veterans Advocacy –

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4th_of_july_in_distressFY2010 Budget shows Veterans are not a National Priority

While researching the latest federal budget being proposed for 2010, I was looking for details within the Department of Veterans Affairs part of the budget to determine how much the VA was projecting to need for defending itself. In other words, how much was the VA projecting it would cost them to fend off lawsuits from malpractice to VA Claims Appeals. I’ve yet to find data anyone could be comfortable with or put another way what does the VA have to hide?

Regardless, what I did come away understanding is that regardless if the Democrats or Republicans are running our government that is Congress and the White House, when it comes to Veterans – WE are still not our government’s priority. However, we are in the top 10 at number 9 in list of expenditures.

Robert L. Hanafin
Major, U.S. Air Force-Retired
Veterans Advocacy Editor
VT News Network       1343329july4thfireworks0_400 As one commenter to a previous article I did on how Ohio Vets are treated reflects a nation-wide attitude among non-veterans [civilians if I may], responded that the federal government NOT the states is the one and only entity that determines Veterans Benefits thru the Veterans Administration. Despite all the money thrown at the Department of Veterans Affairs, and that is what partisan parties are in competition about with America’s Veterans caught in the middle. The Republicans cry they’ve spent more on Vets than Democrats, and the Democrat respond in kind. Throwing money at systemic problems doesn’t make them go away even though Veterans are low in the top ten priorities of our government today. As the July 4th graphic above shows, the average days to process a VA disability claim climbed from a low of less than 100 days in 1997 to a high of over 200 in 2002, and that was just in time for the war(s) in Afghanistan and Iraq to result in the further delays in VA claims processing that continue TODAY!

july_4th_distress1_400 A growing number of America’s Veterans despite, or maybe because of rhetoric and political collaboration that comes from the leadership of our national level VSOs, are getting fed up with the never ending status quo, partisan political competition, when in the final analysis both parties care more about War, National Defense, bailing out the housing market, bailing our Wall Street and the Banking Industry (via the Department of Commerce), Medicare, Departments of Health, Education, and Social Service to name a few more than our government cares about our nation’s Veterans in monetary terms.

However, even if our government placed Vets as number two priority behind Defense, and gave us $694,439,000,000 for the Department of Veterans Affairs instead of $97,705,000,000 we are getting, the VA will systemically still be BROKEN. The only thing our government would be achieving regardless of party is wasting more money on the VA system. Veterans know that throwing money at the VA is nothing but allowing the politicians to compete for the Veteran vote until the day comes, and it will that non-Veterans finally decide they no longer need the Veteran’s vote. Veterans know that our government in collusion with the Department of Veterans Affairs has not done their jobs, and they know it. Regardless of party, the name of the game remains saving money to pay for higher priorities on the backs of America’s Veterans. This does nothing but aggravate the VA’s mismanagement and systemic problems. Increase the VA budget what so that VA upper and middles management can earn larger civil service bonuses for cutting costs as Veterans commit suicide or get HIV or Hepatitis from dirty medical equipment at the VA. When is our government going to begin punishing leaders of the VA for the failures of the rank and file as well as kudos for VA employee’s achievements?

t048749a_400 Rating Officials should be Veterans and Civilians should be placed in other Federal Agencies. They have no idea what Veterans have been thru and for the most part, they don’t care. The disparity in the states validates the fact that VA Regional Offices and Veterans Integrated Service Networks (VISNs) don’t have the welfare of Veterans first and foremost in their minds. They have has only saving money on their minds for near a decade or more. All of management of VA facilities should be replaced and a new mindset be installed. Civilians have a tendency to count Veterans money, and some of them feel that Veterans are getting money for nothing while they have to be there to work to get paid. Their intentions are not to provide service to Veterans. What they display is that they are there to prevent as many claims as they can, whether it makes sense or not. No matter what lie they have to tell.

I thought the VA in Fla. was bad and it was but the VA here in Cleveland is worse and the politicians here don’t care. I have contacted both a Dem and a republican; both are a lost cause when it comes to veterans issues. When I tried to report abuse of VA officials to the Presidents, both Bush and Obama, no reply has ever come forth. The VA only promotes crooked officials or retires them, never prosecutes or fires them. The VA is just one cover-up after another, one law broken or abused to punish veterans who try to get their benefits. And the VA doesn’t care and their employees, all I’ve met here in Cleveland, get rid of them. I’m a 100% service connected veteran with A&A and housebound, my C file is over 7 volumes thick, six of the volumes is VA mistakes and the 7th is the corrections I’ve made them do. KEEP FIGHTING IS THE ONLY WAY TO BEAT THEM.

1. $618,057,000,000. National Defense

2. $82,648,000,000. Overseas Deployments and Other Activities [That is in addition to the Defense Budget]

$ 700, 705, 000, 000 [Total Cost of War and War related or Defense/Offense Related]

3. $694,439,000,000. Department of Commerce and Housing Credit [Bail Outs]

4. $520,123,000,000. Income Security [Not Social Security by Banking Security]

5. $427,076,000,000. Medicare

6. $380,158,000,000. Department of Health

7. $164,276,000,000. Department of Education, Training, Employment, and Social Services

8. $122,457,000,000. Department of Transportation

9. $97,705,000,000. Department of Veterans Affairs.

10. $31,820,000,000. Social Security

Source: FY2010 Federal Budget

One former VA employee who has been consistently and viciously retaliated against by the VA said it better than any Veterans’ Activists or VSO has EVER said it since Abraham Lincoln gave birth to the idea of respecting and honoring America’s Veterans – the Department of Veterans Affairs desperately needs a name change to the Department of Veterans Advocacy, hell we don’t even have to change the acronym only the ATTITUDE of our government. However not until America’s Veterans are given the same level of respect and dignity as the war(s) we serve and continue to serve in, bails outs for America’s commerce and housing industry due to the war(s), bail outs for America’s banks (due to the wars), poor folks who never served the nation on Medicare, the Department of Health and Human Services (guess one could say we Vets don’t even rate human services), hell we rate even lower than the Departments of Education, Training, Employment, and Social Services.

Until we Vets rate at least a second priority to National Defense which we were and have always been an intimate part of, then the 4th of July will just be a meaningless federal holiday worthy only for retail sales.

Robert L. Hanafin
Major, U.S. Air Force-Retired
Veterans Advocacy Editor
VT News Network

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Readers are more than welcome to use the articles I've posted on Veterans Today, I've had to take a break from VT as Veterans Issues and Peace Activism Editor and staff writer due to personal medical reasons in our military family that take away too much time needed to properly express future stories or respond to readers in a timely manner. My association with VT since its founding in 2004 has been a very rewarding experience for me. Retired from both the Air Force and Civil Service. Went in the regular Army at 17 during Vietnam (1968), stayed in the Army Reserve to complete my eight year commitment in 1976. Served in Air Defense Artillery, and a Mechanized Infantry Division (4MID) at Fort Carson, Co. Used the GI Bill to go to college, worked full time at the VA, and non-scholarship Air Force 2-Year ROTC program for prior service military. Commissioned in the Air Force in 1977. Served as a Military Intelligence Officer from 1977 to 1994. Upon retirement I entered retail drugstore management training with Safeway Drugs Stores in California. Retail Sales Management was not my cup of tea, so I applied my former U.S. Civil Service status with the VA to get my foot in the door at the Justice Department, and later Department of the Navy retiring with disability from the Civil Service in 2000. I've been with Veterans Today since the site originated. I'm now on the Editorial Board. I was also on the Editorial Board of Our Troops News Ladder another progressive leaning Veterans and Military Family news clearing house. I remain married for over 45 years. I am both a Vietnam Era and Gulf War Veteran. I served on Okinawa and Fort Carson, Colorado during Vietnam and in the Office of the Air Force Inspector General at Norton AFB, CA during Desert Storm. I retired from the Air Force in 1994 having worked on the Air Staff and Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon.