Friday, February 02, 2007

SC Times Opinion on Veterans Issues

Here is the opinion of the SC Times, published today.

Might it consider putting — or redirecting — resources toward helping veterans, especially from state Guard and Reserve units, cope with mental health issues Schulze's family said he faced?

It was fitting that Governor Pawlenty annouced a plan for increased Veterans benefits days after this death. Some of us have seen these issues coming for quite some time now and talked about them significantly during our recent election cycle.

The young Marine was orignially from Stewart, MN. From Stewart, it is quite a drive to St Cloud or the Twin Cities, to get VA mental health care. With more and more of our citizen soldiers standing up and fighting for this nation, we must do more for them.

Locally accessible benefits. First off, he should not have been denied coverage at a VA facility. However, we can work to make access easier. Our county VA counselors are great at their work, strong advocates for our Vets. But even they are not enough. Being able to access benefits at a local hospital or a clinic is key.

The Governor annouced a plan to at least take steps in this direction. He is starting with small steps, which is understandable. I just hope that more Vets do not fall between the cracks as we politicize their health and welfare.

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