As a retired military veteran, it has hurt me and countless others to see what this government has done to veterans in the area of healthcare.
Those that are disabled and need to go to the VA are brushed off, forced to wait up to six months for care, or totally ignored all together. Under President Trump it has gotten better, but is still not of the class it should be. There are now earning limits on who can use VA, with the limit at around 23,000 dollars, hardly enough to live on in todays world.
Those who are not disabled and retired after at least 20 years of service are routinely given more and more obstacles to the healthcare promised to them. To understand the problems with the VA, a little history lesson is required.
In 1995, Hillary Clinton was put in charge of a disastrous health care policy. The program itself was turned down by Congress, but certain parts were allowed to slip through. One part that caused great damage to veterans was the limiting of healthcare.
One of the lawyers working on this case was a gentlemen by the name of Phillip Earl Jones from San Antonio, who along with his partner Sean Campbell, took the case to the Federal Court. Mr. Jones also discussed the challenge of trying to restore the health care that veterans were promised in an interview with Tom Brokaw in 2001. The case was scheduled to arrive at the D.C. Court of Appeals when Jones and Campbell were approached by a few senators who wanted to discuss with them “Tricare for Life.”
Tricare for Life was meant to be a program that continued to make sure that veterans received the benefits they deserve. After a handshake deal, the case was dismissed by all parties involved. What was not discussed was that to obtain Tricare for Life veterans were required to purchase Medicare Part B at a cost of $216.00 a month. So it still costs more money than many veterans, including myself, can afford to pay.
In 2002, the U.S. Court of Appeals reached an astonishing decision that military veterans have no legal standing and the U.S. Government could break the promise made to them and was not liable to provide healthcare to our nation’s heroes.
More well known is the case filed by Colonel George “Bud” Day. In his case, Col. Day makes the argument that the decision is misguided and should not punish military veterans for budget waste that was the government’s responsibility.
The Department of Defense, mostly consisting of non-veteran bureaucrats, willfully breached a contract with American veterans. Tricare for Life has been tied to a mandatory payment for Medicare Part B and costs many of our older veterans up to $3,600 despite having healthcare promised to them since the day they enlisted. Older veterans suffering from disabilities have been forced to leave military hospitals and forced to rely on Medicare.
The government had no problem admitting that the promises were made, even in writing in the manuals provided to the Marine Corps and Navy. It was the Department of Defense that convinced the courts that the assurances were not backed up by formal law. Even the judges that ruled against the veterans were discomforted by the decision. These judges claimed “we can only hope that Congress will make good on the promises made in good faith.”
The dissenting judges were even more forthright: “Our veterans were told, if you disrupt your family, work for low pay, endanger your life and limb, we will in turn guarantee lifetime health care. There is no doubt the government made the offer.”
Changes have been made to the U.S. Code that covers military health care as well. The U.S. Code used to read “shall provide” free health care. In Dec. 1956, the wording was changed to “may” provide heath care. In 1966, Congress created CHAMPUS while changing the law to keep veterans from using active duty Military Treatment Facilities. It was in 1994 that Congress, with John McCain a leading proponent, established Tricare and canceled all health care for retirees over 65, forcing them to spend money many of them do not have on Medicare.
The promise of never having to worry about health care costs for a lifetime was always a serious selling point for reenlistments and career choices. Today, there is a deep resentment for this immoral government from veterans, and it is well-deserved. The low wages were dismissed as something military personnel must endure to get the free healthcare they were promised, a promise broken by those who never served for budget purposes without thinking of the damage done to our nation’s heroes.
Doctors are opting out of Medicare and Tricare because once again the government has cut the payments to doctors to the point of losing money by assisting veterans. Once again, the government wants to raise co-pays and enrollment fees that military veterans pay. The question is: how can veterans have any faith in a government that lied to them? Why should they even sign up when our own government won’t treat them with human dignity? America has fallen far from the days of the greatest generation.
The numbers of those willing to join the military will certainly dwindle as word gets out further that this government does not stand by its military retirees, but will spend billions of giving illegal aliens everything they need to live well. It will be interesting to see if President Trump will address this debacle. It seems to coincide with his policy mandate, and I will be waiting for an answer.
All veterans: I have discussed this Mr. Phillip Earl Jones who along with Bud Day filed court proceedings in Texas about this 15 years ago. The false promise to our veterans can not be allowed to stand. Until serious action is taken, feel free to sign this petition and let veterans know that we have their back.