Demonizing Veterans Will Not Save Us Any Money


In a better country, the solution to the problem of how to compensate combat veterans for their service-related injuries, both physical and mental, would reveal itself to the people who run things.

I can solve this problem, and here's how: you grant the benefits, but review the conditions. If no red flags appear, you grant the benefits. This is not a discussion we need to have because I refuse to believe that there is widespread fraud, only widespread need.
Mark Rogers, a longtime claims specialist with the Veterans Benefits Administration, agrees. "I could get 100 percent disability compensation for PTSD for any (honorably discharged) veteran who's willing to lie," said Rogers, a Vietnam-era vet who is now retired.
Some claims are built on a foundation of fake documents; in other cases, the right medals — plus a gift for storytelling — secure unearned benefits. Consider:
_Gulf War veteran Felton Lamar Gray told a VA psychologist he was spattered with "blood and chunks of head" when his "best friend" was shot in the face in Iraq. But only after the VA rated Gray 100 percent disabled did anyone check into his stories — and discover the comrade he spoke of is very much alive and said he barely knew Gray.
_Thomas James Barnhart is a Coast Guard veteran who used forged documents to convince VA doctors he was an elite, much-decorated Navy SEAL. Barnhart's tales of daring rescues and of cradling a dying helicopter pilot in his arms won a congressman to his cause and helped him get a 30 percent PTSD disability rating from the VA, before he was outed by a watchdog group.
_Vietnam-era veteran Keith Roberts said he was traumatized when he was prevented from rescuing a friend being crushed under a Navy airplane, and was eventually granted 100 percent disability. But when the case was reopened, investigators could find no evidence that Roberts was even present when the accident occurred.
Each of these cases represents potentially millions of dollars in tax-free benefits over the veteran's lifetime — benefits that may continue while the veteran works and even into retirement.
Congratulations--the media found evidence that at least three individuals are shitheads. Might we then conclude that everyone else is doing what they are supposed to do? Until you show me evidence, I have to conclude that everyone else is on the up and up. I'm a Republican, after all, but an Independent sort of a Republican now. I am conditioned to believe the worst in people. I'll believe the best in Veterans until the media can prove me wrong on that front.
I say, give them the benefits. Don't create a super-bureaucracy of wanna-be gumshoes who make it their solemn duty to deny benefits to people who need them. Certainly, a few unethical people would then be able to "game" the system and get something they are not supposed to get. That's life. But, that's no reason to deny deserving Veterans the benefits they need. We have people who regularly defraud the government with regards to taxes, Medicare, Social Security, home mortgages, education, and whatever else you want to throw in there. Do we then conclude that we should stop giving these things to people just because a few people are ripping off the system?
No.
When it comes to Veteran's benefits, establish a common sense approach. Does what the Veteran is saying gibe with reality? Can it be proven? Can it be disproven without entering into a massive witch hunt? Can someone reasonably conclude that there are good reasons not to award benefits? You can reform and enhance the way you award benefits, just don't make it out to be some sort of crusade against anyone who can't get their shit together, sir. If you were homeless, alcoholic, and having screaming nightmares, how together would you be in front of a bureaucrat filling out your paperwork? Thankfully, not every Veteran fits into that category, but, the ones that do need help. Quit being pissy and make certain they have that help. Don't stoke the outrage and make it so that some idiot can make a generalized pronouncement about how all of the Veterans are ripping off Uncle Sugar. This is why unemployment for Veterans creeps up--misplaced outrage and uncertainty.
I would have to think that there is a special place in hell for someone who steals Veteran's benefits; let such a person discover that hell on their own. Meanwhile, pay out the benefits and quit being busybodies. How offended can we really be if some Private Snuffy is getting a few hundred bucks a month when we live in a day and age where Senators and Congressmen whore themselves out for peanuts and give millions to their buddies back home?