Hurry up and wait! It’s a phrase commonly known amongst those who served in our armed forces. But thousands of troops are coming home. The Department of Veterans Affairs is expecting to spend more than $140 billion to meet the growing needs of our nation’s heroes. Isn’t it time for the hurry-up-and-wait business to come to an end? If President Obama is sincere about his latest promise to support veterans and their families, those days should be over. I’d like to think that our federal government has done its checks and balances to ensure that more money for veterans to hurry up and wait doesn’t become a part of a transitioning trend for our veterans!
Based on President Obama’s budget, medical research in Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) , suicide prevention , and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are at the top of the priority list. VA designated $1.4 billion towards fighting the battle of veteran homelessness. That’s a 33% increase – and it’s not just going towards homelessness, but also strengthening work transitional assistance for employment and vocational rehabilitation. By 2015, VA has committed to the lofty goal of eliminating their disability claims backlog.
I am a supporter of the Department of Veteran Affairs and its mission. But as a combat veteran, I want to ensure that we aren’t just throwing money at the problems without providing real, sustainable solutions.
I encourage those supporters of the veteran community to join ARVets in observing to see which of these goals are met. We don’t want Arkansas veterans to have to wait on a national trend to trickle down to us locally. ARVets as a one-stop shop for veterans and their families will be closely watching this issue to see how these budget increases help our local communities.
ARVets through our Network of Care (NOC) is tracking and vetting local entities that help Arkansas veterans and connecting these real services to veterans and their families. I’d like to continue to see improved initiatives like the Federal VA Drop in Center that speak to statewide challenges for veterans and work seamlessly with other veteran providers.
Let’s not cheer frantically because the Department of Veteran Affairs escaped looming budget cuts in Washington. Let’s ask how does VA and the Obama Administration ensure more money equals a change for the better in the veteran community in Arkansas! That’s the question we at ARVets won’t stop asking!