Editorial Column: Veterans Should Get Better Treatment

Erie Times News

June 7, 2008 – I am upset and angry. My late mother, Susan, always told me to “tell it like it is,” so I will.

I read the Q&A with John Williams, director of the Erie County Department of Veterans’ Affairs (Erie Times-News, May 26). Let me be direct. I don’t believe the federal, state and local governments fight hard enough for our veterans.

I think they are afraid to create waves or ruffle feathers. I was told years ago by a staff member of the Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome Clinic in Batavia, N.Y., that he and other staff members really felt the heat when supporting vets.

It took me more than 10 years to get my benefits, and it was an uphill battle the whole way. Many veterans believe the Veterans Administration wants them to just go away. I almost quit my pursuit of benefits because VA referees kept changing my diagnosis. While many doctors and staff help vets, many retire or quit.

Today, many young vets of the Iraq war are given a diagnosis of “personality disorder,” not post traumatic stress disorder. They lose their bonuses and VA benefits. Many are severely disabled. They need the government and service organizations to create such a stink with the VA that claims are handled in a timely manner.

Many vets can’t handle this on their own, and they shouldn’t have to. At one point in my own case, I was told if I complained, they would pull my file, look at it, then put it on the bottom.

We need fighters for the vets at all levels of government. The VA is always supposed to give veterans the benefit of the doubt. I’d like to believe that.

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