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La Grande Observer Paper 08/20/14

The LaGrande Observer is now online in a Replica E-edition form and publishes Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Current subscribers have full access to the E-edition.

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Home arrow Opinion arrow Our View arrow DON'T SHORTCHANGE OUR NATION'S VETERANS


Don't shortchange

our nation's veterans

This nation owes a debt of gratitude to its men and women who have served in the military, whether they be veterans of World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan, Iraq, or of peacetime. And part of that debt is ensuring that they have access to quality medical care.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is in the process of scaling back health care services for veterans. Among the proposals is the elimination of most inpatient services at regional centers such as the Jonathon M. Wainright Memorial VA Medical Center in Walla Walla and the White City Domiciliary near Medford. The VA says most outpatient services would be retained and that the possibility exists for contracting for inpatient care with local hospitals.

The public needs to be questioning the motive behind the VA's proposals. Not the war in Iraq, or the tax cuts, nor the spiraling costs of medical care are reason to shortchange this nation's veterans.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., has not been afraid to speak out on the issue. A few weeks ago he questioned the reasoning behind the proposed cuts and the impact it would have on veterans. This week he questioned the VA's decision to allow only written testimony to the department's Capital Assets Realignment for Enhanced Services (CARES) Commission.

Proposed cuts in health care services — regardless of the name the VA puts on its commission — shouldn't sit well with anyone who recognizes the contributions veterans have made to this country. The least the federal government can do is to ensure, for perpetuity, availability of health care services, including regional inpatient care when needed.

That the CARES Commission won't accept oral testimony at its hearings, including one scheduled for Sept. 29 in Walla Walla, is a travesty. The Bush administration needs to rethink what the VA is doing and set it on the right course.

Want to comment?

The CARES Commission's decision to accept only written testimony submitted via e-mail on proposed cutbacks in veterans' health care services could present a hardship to many veterans. The Observer would like to help facilitate those veterans who want to send a message to the commission at www.carescommission.va.gov.

Veterans or others who don't have access to e-mail but want to submit comments can stop by The Observer's office between 2 and 4 p.m. any weekday afternoon through Sept. 29 and an Observer staffer will assist them in inputting and sending the messages.

Veterans deserve a voice in this issue — even if it has to be delivered electronically. The Observer pledges to help make that happen.

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