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Daily Journal
     August 11, 2022      #99-223 KDJ

Money shouldn't be an issue to care for veterans

By Ron Jackson

Thank you for your service. A phrase so often used it has become as common and generic as good morning. Or how are you, and I’m sorry. All are phrases that roll off our tongue so effortlessly, the genuineness can seem questionable.

Do we really wish each person a good morning when we greet them? Or are we just acknowledging their presence and the time of day? When we ask someone, “How are you?”, do we really care or even have the time to listen to how they really are? And how regrettable are we when it is so easy to say I’m sorry? Especially if the apology is for a repeated or habitual offense like tardiness.

Certainly, there are individuals who sincerely mean it when they thank a veteran or current service member for their sacrificial contribution to our country. And we should all genuinely appreciate every citizen who took the oath, whether conscripted or voluntary.

But as a country, we at times fall very short of demonstrating our gratitude. The mere utterance, “Thank you for your service,” seems hollow when we do not support our veterans beyond those words.

It should not take the advocacy of a comedian with enough influence to publicly embarrass members of Congress to do the right thing for our most deserving. It should not require injured or suffering veterans protesting outside the halls of Congress to stop elected representatives from playing politics with their health care. It should not reach the point of publicly shaming a select number of senators to get them to properly thank our veterans for their service. But it did.

It was outright painful to watch members of Congress fail to reciprocate for a job well done and to fulfill a promise to provide care and benefits to those fortunate to return from war. It is disheartening to learn that 11 fortunate sons in the senate, none with military service, played games while men and women who fulfilled their service obligation have to grovel for the help they have earned. It is shame on the highest order when we do not expediently render service to those who served.

The Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act was finally approved. Under this new law, “veterans can receive high-quality health care screenings and services related to potential toxic exposures.”

The expanded benefit is projected to increase our federal budget by $280 billion over a decade. That is an average of $28 billion per year. The cost of our 20-year war or terror costs more than $8 trillion. During this current administration, we have already allocated nearly $9 billion to Ukraine. Money is never an issue to engage in war. Money should never be an issue to take care of our veterans. But it is.

The justification given by one of the senators who flip-flopped on supporting the latest veterans’ health care bill was more than appalling. The senator objected to the bill because it would cost too much. Thank you for your service, veterans, but that is until it costs too much. Our 2022 national defense budget is $777.7 billion. That is 2.75 times the 10-year estimate for the PACT portion of the budget. We can afford war. We can afford post-war.

How ironic that a man who makes his living telling jokes succinctly put the veterans’ health care debacle in serious perspective. After the bill was passed in the senate, comedian and veterans advocate, John Stewart summed it up, “I’m not sure I’ve ever seen this situation where people who have given so much had to fight so hard to get so little.”

There is a big difference between a funny man and an elected clown.

Ron Jackson can be contacted through the Daily Journal at editors@daily-journal.com

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