As a veteran, I was stressed to hear that the Obama Administration was considering a proposal that would force veterans to use their private insurance to pay for the treatment of combat-related injuries. During the campaign, Obama made several promises to veterans including “Fully Fund[ing] Veteran’s Administration Medical Care” and “Allow[ing] All Veterans Back into the VA health system.” It was strongly implied that when he became President, he would ensure proper health care to those returning from war.
In less than two months since being inaugurated, President Obama almost broke a sacred promise to those that have served our country. He considered limiting payment for our medical care for combat-related injuries. This would have not only broken his campaign promises to veterans, but would have fundamentally brought into question his administration’s commitment to the men and women still in uniform, those in harm’s way ensuring our freedoms and liberties. One of the reasons many veterans voted for Obama for President was his promises to not fail those in the uniformed services, like the previous administration had done so often. With the horrors of the Bush Administration dumping Reservists and National Guard personnel back into the Pay-As-You-Go Civilian Health Care system, rather than providing proper treatment of their injuries, wounds and amputations after deployments, veterans turned to then Senator Obama for real and permanent change. It appears that what we got for our support was the same disregard we received from former President Bush. Although we applaud our President for reversing course in favor of support for veterans with service related injuries, he should be aware that he will have to earn our full trust back, and it will not be won easily or cheaply.
Veterans, however, can praise, without reservation, the 70 members of the House of Representatives, from both political parties, who sent a letter to President Obama to urging him to abandon his proposal that would have forced veterans to use their private insurance to pay for the treatment of combat-related injuries. They were lead by Representative Glenn Nye (D-VA 2) and wholeheartedly supported by Virginia Representatives Tom Perriello (D-VA 5) and Rob Wittman (R-VA 1).
Congressman Perriello’s strong and vocal support was especially meaningful to veterans, because he is a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. To underscore his commitment to veterans, Representative Perriello stated:
We saw a threat to our veterans, and joined across the aisle to produce immediate results. That is what our brave veterans deserve from Washington.It showed great courage and leadership for Representative Perriello, a freshman, to challenge the new President. Perriello honored his pledge to veterans, and it is good to know that people of Virginia’s 5th Congressional District are represented by someone who supports us. Veterans have fought and died to ensure our national security and fragile freedoms remain safe. It is heartening to be reminded by our Representative that our actions are not forgotten. He has shown himself to be a true friend of Veterans.