Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Strib Vets stories

Governor Pawlenty annouced that more Veterans could recieve better access to their benefits.

The expansion of the TRICARE network should make it easier for 55,000 Minnesota
enrollees to seek care closer to home. Now, 40 percent of licensed physicians, or 4,702, in the state will take TRICARE patients, up from 3 percent last fall. Twenty-seven hospitals will be part of the network.

It's a very nice start. I know this was an issue I have fought hard for the past several years and I am glad to see some progress. I will feign excitement though until we learn which hospitals will see this increased focus on our Veterans.

In future expansion of this idea, I would like to see an alignment with Allina Clinics and other small local community clinics to offer comprehensive care for our Veterans.

Tragic is what this really is. Going door to door and advocating these issues, some would love to debate the fact that their are inherent risks to being a soldier and that the money to pay for such programs is too much for the tax base. Now, the Governor seems to have the same ideas we had...

The Letters also touch on the tragic death of a Veteran from our area.

VA let him down
I was appalled and deeply saddened by Jan. 27 story on the suicide of Marine Jonathan Schulze of New Prague.
To have a soldier with symptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome and suicidal thoughts and be turned away from two Minnesota VA hospitals is unconscionable.
Of course, the Department of Veterans Affairs is overwhelmed with dealing with the painful casualties of this war. But once our brave soldiers reach the safety of our shores, our government has a moral obligation to treat both their physical and psychological wounds.
This event was probably preventable and is absolutely unacceptable and calls for immediate legislative investigation and resolution.
Is it not the obligation of service providers at VA facilities, when psychiatric beds are unavailable, to arrange for services in the public or private sector for patients who are potentially dangerous to themselves and others?
The government should not spend another dime on sending more troops to Iraq until we know that the VA and other medical care systems have sufficient resources and appropriate policies to deliver excellent and efficient care to our returning soldiers. They should not have to beg for help after the sacrifice they have made.

Fix the problem
That a young soldier could return from Iraq, try to check himself into a hospital with suicidal thoughts and be told to take a number and sent home is simply unconscionable.
There should be a new law that says citizens who manage to get themselves to a Minnesota health care facility with suicidal (or homicidal) thoughts must be admitted -- even if they have to put a bed in the cafeteria.
I would also name that law in honor of the memory of Jonathan Schulze.

And the struggles of our Veterans continues on...

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