As noted before, our Rhode Island veterans need to be recognized for their sacrifices regardless of how one perceives warfare. These folks have been assigned a duty and they have performed it. If people have a problem with those duties, it should be addressed politically and not individually.
That said, we need to seriously consider what we are doing as a state to aid veterans and their families. The most glaring area is the way we provide health care to those who have served.
As a state we operate veterans’ homes, a system by which those who have served have the ability to receive health care in a retirement setting. While we are making an effort, we are not operating up to par.
The problems of funding and care are often raised. This demonstrates the fact that the state cannot really operate a health care system for veterans. If this is true for this small group, how can the state even possibly consider a full blown universal health care program?
The needs of returning veterans are often taken care of on the federal level through veterans’ hospitals operated by the federal government. The state is largely left to supplement this care, largely through a nursing care facility.
The state has an obligation here, especially where there is a need created by service to the state and country.
But with tightened budgets and the need to minimize staffing, the care of this group may be falling into a state of disrepair.
While the goals of these programs are most noble, the state has failed in its end of the bargain. By not recognizing the obligation it was undertaking, the state’s politicians wanted to woo the veteran vote by making promises to them. Such promises were little more than political pandering, but they are still state obligations that must be met.
The fact that budgetary constraints are pressing makes this even harder. Either the state must take the position of triage funding or it must make cuts that expose it to the reality that political actions are not good faith promises.
Of course, there is always the possibility of tax increases to cover these costs. It is a strong tug at the heart. No one wants to make cuts in programs designed to help the young or infirm. The problem is indicative of the nature of politics. The guy who gives away the money is remembered fondly, but the guy who is saddled with the reality of making tough cuts is damned.
Still, I am of the position that promises are to be kept to the extent that they are realistically capable of being kept. People have relied on these promises, although likely in a very unwise way.
This said, we need to continue to fund our veterans’ programs, making cuts where appropriate with a spirit of keeping the unrealistic promises made by politicians. We own these veterans that much and more.
Labels: #35 VETERANS' AFFAIRS