Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Guest Post by Mark Brooks

The Stewardship We Owe Our Veterans

Christmas night 2003 my son Jon was nearly killed by an Improvised Explosive Device while driving through the streets of Baghdad . The bomb was a near miss and he and another soldier were only slightly wounded. Still to this day he bears the marks of that blast. Fragments of concrete or shrapnel remain in his knee. His back and hearing were affected. While mild compared to many other wounded veterans he none the less is rated 50% disabled. My concern is that as he ages those wounds which now in his youth he takes in stride will become more of an issue.

So you can imagine my horror when I read the headline that said, "The American Legion Strongly Opposed to President’s Plan to Charge Wounded Heroes for Treatment.” The lead paragraphs tell the story. I have copied them below.

“The leader of the nation’s largest veterans organization says he is “deeply disappointed and concerned” after a meeting with President Obama today to discuss a proposal to force private insurance companies to pay for the treatment of military veterans who have suffered service-connected disabilities and injuries. The Obama administration recently revealed a plan to require private insurance carriers to reimburse the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in such cases.

“It became apparent during our discussion today that the President intends to move forward with this unreasonable plan,” said Commander David K. Rehbein of The American Legion. “He says he is looking to generate $540-million by this method, but refused to hear arguments about the moral and government-avowed obligations that would be compromised by it.”

The Commander, clearly angered as he emerged from the session said, “This reimbursement plan would be inconsistent with the mandate ‘ to care for him who shall have borne the battle’ given that the United States government sent members of the armed forces into harm’s way, and not private insurance companies. I say again that The American Legion does not and will not support any plan that seeks to bill a veteran for treatment of a service connected disability at the very agency that was created to treat the unique need of America ’s veterans!”

I am not sure that I can say it any better than Mr. Rehbein. Our troops did not ask to be sent into harms way. They certainly did not ask to be shot at and blown up. They served believing in our country and believing that our country would honor their service by fulfilling its promises to them. What are we saying not only to today’s soldiers but also those that served in years past? In our rush to save a dime are there not some things that should be off limits? The care of ALL veterans but especially those who belong to the fraternity of the Purple Heart should be sacred and secure.

Just a few days ago our politicians were telling us that our concern over earmarks that totaled billions of dollars was unfounded. We were told that the earmarks were only a fraction of the cost of the bailout bill. At the time I wondered if our politicians were so removed from reality that they thought nothing of another $7.7 billion that the thousands of earmarks total up to. Yet when questioned about the earmarks they had submitted they without shame explained the absolute necessity of why all Americans needed to pay for beaver control in North Carolina and countless other programs.

So I have an idea. Since our law makers think nothing of inserting a few million here and a few million there why can they not find another $540 million to help veterans? After all when added to the trillions they have already voted for what is another $540 million? Tell me what is more important, fulfilling our promise, “to care for him and her who shall have borne the battle,” or 9,000 earmarks?

I for one would not mind if my taxes went up to support those that have sworn an oath to defend me and my freedoms. I would gladly pay my part without hesitation not just for the sake of my son but the countless others who have so selflessly sacrificed for our country. On April 15th I could have some sense of satisfaction that the tax I pay goes to something worthy and worthwhile. Now I am left to wonder what we really value and what the future holds for not only the men and women in our service but for our nation.

Good stewardship means taking care of those that have taken care of you!

Mark Brooks
Founder and President
The Charis Group

(You can read Mark daily at The Stewardship Coach)

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