Vallarta Living | Veteran Affairs | March 2009
|Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki|
David Lord - PVNN
The Navy Times (3/13, Maze) reports Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki "released an unusual open letter to all veterans Friday, saying he is committed to transforming his department into a 21st-century organization in which veterans are central to everything VA does."
|Criticism is something we can easily avoid, by saying nothing, doing nothing, being nothing.|
Issued after two weeks of controversy swirling around VA for problems both inherited and caused by some preliminary decisions within the Obama administration, the letter is an unusual step. VA officials said that other than annual Veterans Day messages, they are unaware of any other such letter to veterans sent by a VA secretary for at least a decade, and probably longer.
VA spokesman Phil Budahn said it would be wrong to read too much into the message. "It is what it is," Budahn said. "He wanted to send a message to veterans that introduces him and lays out his priorities." Veterans organizations - who so far appear to like Shinseki - seemed pleased.
Joe Davis, public affairs director for Veterans of Foreign Wars, the nation's largest group for combat veterans, said VA "is in the service industry, and its leader is communicating in simple language that his customers are his No. 1 priority and the reason his department exists. Secretary Shinseki is one of us, and we look forward to working with him to ensure that VA fulfills a grateful nation's promise to her veterans," Davis said.
The Times notes that Shinseki "is a disabled veteran - twice wounded in Vietnam - who served a full career in the military, rising to Army chief of staff." In his letter, he says he views his new job as an 'opportunity to give back to those who served with and for me during my 38 years in uniform and those on whose shoulders we all stood as we grew up in the profession of arms.'
Syndicated columnist Tom Philpott, in a piece appearing in the Tacoma News Tribune (3/14) among other outlets, writes:
Obama is drawing high praise from veterans service organizations for proposing a Department of Veterans Affairs budget that would exceed by $1.3 billion what even the veterans groups suggested be spent next year.
No previous president has offered a VA spending plan that surpassed in size the 'Independent Budget' presented to Congress by major veterans groups. Obama seeks to fulfill several promises made to veterans during his presidential campaign, including a big increase in VA healthcare budgets.
But it was a new and unpopular proposal being studied by the administration that created uncomfortable moments for VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki when he made separate appearances Tuesday before the House and Senate veterans' affairs committees...
Shinseki received a warm welcome when he presented the budget outline to the Senate and House veterans affairs committees. But he also got a string of strong warnings from committee members over a cost-saving proposal that Shinseki conceded is under study.
The administration is considering charging veterans' health insurance plans earned through civilian employment for VA's costs in treating service-connected injuries or ailments. VA already taps 'third party' insurance plans for treatment of nonservice-related conditions.
Collections in fiscal 2008 totaled $2.4 billion. VA expects to collect $2.5 billion this year. The total could jump to $3 billion next year if care of service-connected conditions are included. Shinseki emphasized that this is only 'a consideration' and not yet part of Obama's budget request.
Volunteer work is what I do for the benefit of those that I feel deserve the best in life, the U.S. Veteran. I sometimes get it right and gain a lifetime income for those that have served.
The veterans participation in this process is to fill out claims forms and to keep his or her records and to keep me informed of any or all communications made by the V.A. to them. It is important to remember that all contact is made by the V.A. directly with the veteran.
I can only assist and the veteran should report back to me the claims progress by the V.A. I am pleased to assist veterans and will always do so to the best as a national service officer volunteer. I charge no fee and my time is donated, sometimes the V.A. loses paperwork, it has happened to me, I can do nothing about it, unfortunately.
David Lord has been a National Veterans Service Officer doing veteran's benefits in Mexico for over a decade. David is a combat veteran, wounded by gunshot in Viet Nam 1968 and is a retired Marine. The Veterans Administration has played a critical role in his life, by his having both medical and compensation benefits. He uses his personal experience in the claims process along with having legal and credentialed Accreditation by the Department of Veterans Affairs. His use of Congressional approved Veterans Organizations, to steer veterans and dependants through the maze of regulations and entitlements due them from military service is outstanding. For more information, email him at david.lord(at)yahoo.com.
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