Disabled Vets Get Priority Treatment At VA Facilities
Disabled veterans will soon be given priority to receive treatment in veterans’ hospitals, placing them ahead of veterans not disabled in service, Anthony J. Principe, Veterans Affairs commissioner, has announced.
Principe based his decisions upon the fact that more than 300,000 veterans cannot get to see a doctor within six months, and thousands cannot get an appointment at all.
Under such a situation, many veterans with serious disabilities sustained in service, even some paralyzed, often have to wait in line behind some whose minor ailments are not connected to their military service.
Principe’s decision is meeting some opposition. Countering the commissioner’s viewpoint: "We need to get back to our core mission: the service-disabled and the poor," are those like Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, a Vietnam War vet, who says the proposed change "represents an extraordinary broken promise to the veterans of our country."
But veterans organization leaders are supporting Principe. David W. Gorman, Executive Director of Disabled American Veterans, said in a recent story, "The one that took the bullet for his country should be given the priority in care."
Principe decided on the policy change after he sent Gordon H. Mansfield, a VA assistant secretary who was shot in the spine in Vietnam in 1968 and paralyzed, to eight VA medical centers to seek an appointment. Mansfield found six centers overbooked and unable to schedule an appointment for him.
Under Principe’s proposed rule change, priority for appointments and treatment would be granted to severely disabled vets, like those in wheelchairs, even when they seek treatment for problems not connected to their service disability. It would also grant priority to moderately disabled vets seeking care for service-connected disabilities.
Presently there are about 25 million veterans. About 4.2 million of them were treated last year in VA medical facilities, an increase of about 45 percent since 1996.
POLL SHOWS SENIORS ARE ANGRY: A recent poll taken by the Peter D. Hart Research Associates for the Alliance for Retired Americans shows 44 percent named prescription drugs as a top priority and 34 percent named Social Security as top priority. Nearly nine in 10 said they would be more than likely to vote for a candidate who favors Medicare prescription drug coverage.
An overwhelming number selected a prescription drug plan that had low monthly premiums and no annual deductible, unlike the Republican plan passed in the House early this year. The Senate has failed to pass any Medicare drug plan so far this session.
MEETINGS: The following AARP chapter meetings are scheduled for next Wednesday: Chapter No. 2889 at 12:30 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church of Newtown, 54-05 Seabury St., Elmhurst; Chapter No. 991, Jackson Heights, at 1 p.m. at the Jewish Center of Jackson Heights, 37-06 77th St., Jackson Heights. Entertainment will be featured at both meetings.
North Flushing Chapter No. 4158 presented "Seniors On Stage" yesterday at Church-on-the-Hill, 167-07 35th Ave., Flushing.