Veterans today are the heroes of yesterday. They stood up for us, risked their lives just to protect us, and sacrificed their personal needs and wants for our country. We should look up to them, we should be thankful to them. They are our heroes without special powers; heroes who are just the normal people like us. Despite the heroic deeds that they used to do, it is saddening that they do not get that much compensation for their actions. I am not saying that we should always give them praises but simple acts of gratitude like good benefits when they reach their senior citizen age will be a big help to them. I personally think that the veterans do not get all the help they need in some areas most especially when it comes to the financial matters. In addition to this, the veterans’ social class in America is not situated up above the hierarchy.
Before anything else, let us define first what do these veterans do, or did. For those who have no idea of what does the word veteran mean, or who are they, they are the ones who served the military or the armed forces for a very long time. They are deployed to places where military forces are needed: war, in places where there are threats of terrorism and similar scenarios. They are retired personnel who used to fight for the security of our country. That is why for me they were once heroes of our country. However, most people tend to forget the courageous deeds that they did and they do not earn that much the respect that they reserve.
How do the government treat the veterans nowadays? Serota and Singer (page 389) said that as the Civil War comes to an end, President Abraham Lincoln said to the congress “to take care of them those who have fought alongside him; take care of their widow as well as their orphan.” His speech to the congress clearly address that the government should take care of the veterans of the civil war. That speech sparked up the obligations that the American government holds now to the war veterans who fought very hard, risked their lives, and got far away from their families and relatives just to protect the country and the nation. To give back their efforts and their services, the Congress later on created the Department of Veterans Affairs or also known as VA. This department took charge of administering the benefits and the support programs that will be given to the American Veterans and the veterans’ families. Programs done by the Department of Veterans Affairs reflect the deep sense of pride as well the deep sense of gratitude that the whole America feel towards the veterans. VA even proudly declared in their website that the United States of America has the most comprehensive assistance system for the veterans compared to any nation in the world.
Judging the proclamation of the VA, will the veterans agree to this? The benefit and support system to the veterans play an important role to which their class in the American society can be identified. Benefits are given to nearly 3.3 million veterans. Included in that number are the veterans who got disabled after the war, families and relatives of the service members who died during their duty or while in combat, and veterans who are low-income earners who are currently receiving pension benefits (Serota and Singer, page 389-390).
The benefits are good and are very helpful to the veterans and to their relatives. But Serota and Singer (page 391) said that the benefits and the concomitant necessities allocated to the veterans have not been dispersed within schedule. The Department of Veteran Affair’s system in dispensing these benefits has become a national disgrace to the country. They have a backlog of almost one million claims. Eric Shineski, who was the secretary of the Department of Veteran Affairs even said that the backlog of the claims will likely to increase in 2011 by 30%. Without a change to improve their system, the backlog of claims will increase up to 2.6 million which is equivalent to an increase of 250% in just the span of five years.
In addition to these backlogs, the VA’s time in evaluating benefits also take up a lot of time especially those decisions that are being appealed to them. The normal time it takes for a single veteran who is seeking a preliminary decision on benefit claims regarding disability should wait for nearly six months just for the department to either accept or reject their claims. These delays have adverse effects to the veterans most especially to the disabled ones. They are experiencing financial hardships and post-traumatic stress disorder that are the primary reasons that they need the benefits. Disabled veterans need to be compensated because they cannot earn that much of amounts for themselves because they are physically challenged. The combined financial and psychological problems to the veterans are taking up sever tolls on their side (Serota and Singer, page 390-391).
One of the three administrations that comprise the Department of Veterans Affairs is the Veterans Health Administration or the VHA. During to 1980’s up to the 1990’s, this administration had a reputation of bureaucracy, inefficiency, and mediocre net. This type of system does not help our veterans at all, it looks like we just give them false hopes that they will be given benefits to compensate their efforts and services during the times that they are very much needed. This type of system amplifies the thought that the veterans are not an important component of our society anymore. It is saddening that since they hold no values anymore, the government do not give attention to them anymore. The VA tried to change and improve their system by inventing a model of service which is patient-centred, high quality, and with high values. They mandated this structure so that there would be a rationalization of resource allocation, explicit measurement and there would be accountability in terms of qualities and values. The reinventing of their system also developed an information infrastructure to support the needs of their patients most especially the veterans (Perlin et al, page 828). Although the purposes of improving the system should brought the benefits to the veterans faster and easier, this has not been that effective.
One benefit that the veterans can get from the Department of Veteran Affairs is from the Pharmacy Benefits Management Strategic Healthcare Group. This group serves more than four million veterans and their purpose is to give them pharmaceutical benefits including prescriptions on a regular basis (Sales et al, page 104). If all of the veterans will receive this type of benefit, they can save their own moneys since they can get these prescriptions for free to improve their health or to be free from diseases. However, if the backlog of dispersing the medications will still occur, the conditions of the veterans might worsen. The government should minimize or remove the backlogs completely so that the veterans will get the benefits and supports that they really deserve from protecting our nation from various threats. I just also hope that these veterans would not just die not receiving any benefits from the government.
Levy (page 304-305) proposed in his thesis two models in order to improve the structure and the process of benefits administrations that include the benefits of the veterans: the charity model and the social insurance model. First is the charity model which gives out benefits not on the basis of the legal system but on the basis of the moral obligation of the benefits administration. This is where the veteran benefits come into the picture. They will be receiving additional benefits like attorney compensations whenever they will need one.
If the Department of Veteran Affairs will be able to execute their programs efficiently and effectively, these veterans will have easier lives and they will feel valued in the society. These benefits will also encourage more the people aspiring to be public servants with the purpose of promoting the security of the country and removing the possible threats to the country’s safety to join the armed forces or the military. Risking your own life just to protect others is a selfless thing to do and the people who do this should be very well compensated.
Jonathan B. Perlin, Robert M. Kolodner and Robert H. Roswell. "The Veterans Health Administration: Quality, Value, Accountability, and Information as Transforming Strategies for Patient-Centered Care." The American Journal of Managed Care (2004): 828-836.
Levy, Richard. "Of Two Minds: Charitable and Social Insurance Models in the Veterans Benefit System." Hein Online (2004): 303-337.
Mariscelle M. Sales,Francesca E. Cunningham, Peter A. Glassman, Michael A. Valentino, and Chester B. Good. "Pharmacy Benefits Management in the Veterans Health Administration: 1995 to 2003." The AMerican Journal on Managed Care (2005): 104-112.
Michael E. Serota and Michelle Singer. "Veterans’ Benefits and Due Process." Nebraska Law Review 90.2 (2013): 389-434.