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Honoring the Providers of Freedom

A Webb Weekly salute and thank you to our Veterans. Without all the special men and women that have put everything on the line in the name of Country, we would not have our independence. Our One Nation Under God was founded by war, and it will always take the daily commitment of the United States Armed Forces to preserve our precious freedom.

Since the founding of our Country, America has been at war 225 out of the 242 years we’ve existed. The one constant has been those fellow Americans that are willing to give everything, including their future, to assure the Stars and Stripes fly over our land.

It disheartens me in today’s world that so many folks do not understand the true cost of the freedom they are blessed with. They think it just happens each and every day. They have no idea how fragile our freedom, democracy, and future are. They have no understanding of how many American Soldiers it has taken to provide and preserve our Independence. At home and abroad.

The humanitarian efforts of our military, past, and present are also taken for granted. Whether it’s a natural disaster or man-made disaster, the service men and women of the United States of America always respond. Some of the best work done by our military has nothing to do with armed conflict. It is saving lives during a hurricane like has been viewed way too much recently. It’s responding to a third world country after an earthquake. It’s sending U.S. troops, including medical personnel, to Africa to help with the Ebola breakout. The United States military provides humanitarian aid to an average of 50 countries yearly.

As we approach Veterans Day, take the time to say thank you to those special people that have served. Maybe buy a Veteran a cup of coffee, lunch, or even dinner if you would like. Remember those Veterans that are in nursing homes, hospitals, or maybe just not in the best health, and reach out to them. A ten-minute visit or phone call expressing a “thank you for your service to our country” will mean more to them than you will ever know.

This leads me to my next message. Our Veterans are often forgotten about. Many are proud, independent individuals that don’t want to be a burden. Many have suffered some type of setback while serving our Nation. We need to demand these folks are better taken care of. They should be honored, respected, and made a top priority.

We have all heard the stories about the Veterans Health Administration and the system of VA Hospitals. President Trump and Congress have been working on trying to turn things around, but how did it ever get to this point?

The Veterans Health Administration is the largest integrated healthcare system in the United States. The taxpayers of the United States invest a lot of money into the system. Unfortunately, bureaucracy takes precedence over taking care of our Veterans. We need to make sure those that have served our Country and provided our freedom are first in line at all VA hospitals. If they can’t be seen in a reasonable time, then they need to be seen outside the system immediately.

It is still estimated that under the current VA Health System, it takes 27 days to schedule a primary care appointment. More alarming is that it still takes 26 days to schedule a mental health appointment. This just cannot be allowed to continue. I understand there is a shortage of doctors and healthcare professionals, but I don’t believe for a second that’s the problem.

It’s been documented that veterans have died waiting for care in Arizona and Virginia. There is instant outrage; the VA says they will make things better. Then, eventually, all just seems to be swept under the rug and forgotten about.

Back to the length of time it takes to see a mental health professional. It is estimated that between 20-30% of veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. There’s a wide variety of numbers available depending on the service of the individual. Vietnam War Veterans, for instance, have one of the highest rates of PTSD. Currently, 20 veterans a day are committing suicide. We need to cut through the bureaucracy to get these folks help as fast as possible.

Overall, it is estimated that 3.8 million Veterans suffer from a Service-related disability. Obviously, there are different degrees of disabilities. We need a completely new system to evaluate and deal with these special people that have given so much for our Country.

There are over 67,000 homeless Veterans in our Nation today. The fastest growing number within the homeless population is women Veterans. This is just not acceptable.

The United States Department of Veteran Affairs needs a complete overhaul. It is just another example of government gone wild. They employ over 375,000 people. They have nearly a $200 billion budget. They are rated dead last amongst Federal cabinet-level agencies by the people that use their services. That tells you all you need to know. We need to get the money in the form of healthcare and other services to those that need it, not in the wallets of those administrating it.

God Bless America.

Jim Webb

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