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Tell It Like It Is


Wounded Warriors Have A Never Ending Battle




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Thomas Segel is responsible for this content, which is not edited by the Wilson County News or wilsoncountynews.com.

Tell It Like It Is
January 9, 2011 | 1732 views | Post a comment

Harlingen, Texas, January 8, 2011: From the minute they pin that Purple Heart Medal on his or her uniform, the battle begins. If they wish to continue with a military career, they face a battle to remain in uniform. If their wounds are so severe they bring about separation from the armed forces, the warrior battles just to regain some semblance of his or her former health.

Those who deserve retraining or compensation also have a huge fight on their hands. They often face extremely long bureaucratic entanglements, just to obtain justified benefits.

Tony Nathe is the immediate past president of the Uniformed Services Disabled Retirees. He is very familiar with the long-term battle members of his organization, and almost countless veteran retirees before him, fought to hold on to both their disability compensation and their retired pension. For 108 years our government deducted the amount of disability compensation they received from their earned retirement pay. That battle is still being waged, for there are still retired military personnel with disabilities who are not receiving their full entitlements.

Tony Nathe claims that when there are concerns about the needs or treatment of our wounded warriors the usual government response is to form another “commission”. He also charges that while there are thousands of highly qualified and experienced military or veteran advocates, the politically motivated officials in Washington have ignored them. He says, “The government has done the same thing over and over. They appoint commissions. The commissions are made up of individuals who have no first-hand knowledge of the problems they are appointed to solve.”

He concludes saying “Denying veterans their earned benefits and military retirees their earned retirement entitlements are just a few of the hundreds of problems experienced by our dedicated heroes.”

The Lord has blessed me many times over, because my battle scars have not been debilitating. However, my experiences with the Department of Veterans Affairs have been worse than combat engagements. Over many years of writing commentary on military and veteran issues I have received hundreds of messages from the warrior clan expressing similar attitudes.

In response to massive governmental bungling and mismanagement a number of military support groups have been formed. The one organization receiving some major media attention is the Wounded Warrior Program.

The primary function of the Wounded Warrior Program or WWP, according to its own written materials, is to serve as an advocate for those wounded in combat and their families. They also strive to assure that quality healthcare for a full range of injuries is accessible throughout the transition from active duty to veteran status.

My brother-in-law Allen Rogstad is a retired Navy Captain now residing in Yakima, Washington. He thinks highly of WWP and has contributed to the program. He told me of a friend who was involved in the WWP and its efforts to have visitations to wounded men and women who were hospitalized.

My old warrior friend retired Marine Master Gunnery Sergeant Ed Evans tells me that the WWP “goes beyond what the military and federal government can do for these heroes.” He says, “I know that recreation trips to improve their outlook, build up their physical abilities and get them back successfully into society have been arranged by others with the cooperation of the Wounded Warriors.” He also believes housing has been provided for extremely wounded veterans. Ed claims this is “ another example of Americans rising to the occasion once again.”

Another retired Marine; Col. Wayne Morris has some important words about support programs and “needs”. He says, “It is good that there are a lot of local folks throughout America doing what they can to help out, but we need a well-coordinated effort to address the overall issue.”

Those around the country who have been involved in governmental programs have found them to have a mixed record of success. Some work out very well for the individuals in need. Some are just out and out awful. The same case can be made for and against charitable organizations. The Wounded Warrior Program may be just what Colonel Morris is thinking about...an organization that can become the well-organized coordinator to look after all the interests of our wounded heroes. They have surely had enough national exposure to allow them to assume that mantle.

The one thing that slows down the WWP efforts is lack of funds. They constantly have solicitation messages on television, radio and the Internet. One question to think about is adding a bit of government support. The federal establishment is always passing out grants to do everything from feeding the hungry to repairing damaged housing. Perhaps it could send some of those grants to the WWP or other veteran support groups and allow them to do a bit more to help our heroes. Both the government and the charitable organizations know only too well that our wounded warriors have an unending battle just to regain the quality of life they fought so hard to defend...and they need all the help we can extend.

Semper Fidelis
 
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