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Contact: Bruce E. Parry
Mandatory Funding of VA healthcare on February 5th Ballot
Chicago—During the February 5th Presidential Primary, voters in Cook County and 21 other counties in Illinois* will have the opportunity to vote for Full Mandatory Funding of VA Healthcare. This advisory referendum will be on every ballot—voters are encouraged to look on the back page of the ballot!
The Referendum tells the United States Congress that the voters of Illinois want and expect the U.S. to properly fund healthcare for all veterans—particularly ensuring benefits for those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Sadly we have not taken care of all those veterans! The VA treats over 5.5 million veterans. Even so, Harvard University found that more than 1.8 million veterans have no health care; they are excluded from the VA. The disgrace is that veterans who have honorably served this country are still turned away from the VA or have to pay for VA healthcare.
At present, veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are limited to 5 years of VA healthcare without charge for their care. It is questionable as to what has happened to those veterans that served during Operation Enduring Freedom that did not enroll in the VA when they were discharged in 2003. Experience from past wars shows that it often takes veterans 10, 20 and even 30 years before they go to the VA. This happened with the Viet Nam veterans and the VA was unprepared to deal with the influx of problems that were residuals of that war. It has been 33 years since that war ended and VA will soon see those veterans again in the system. There are 7.2 million living “baby boomer” Viet Nam war veterans, and they will retire from the work force in 5-10 years if they remain healthy. The odds are that when they see the changes in their health care coverage as retirees, they will need help too. Veterans that are currently being compensated for their war injuries will more than likely see more health conditions existing as they progressively age.
Veterans have paid for their healthcare. They paid through their honorable service in the military, where they were promised VA healthcare without pay for life. The VA gave it and then took it back from those war veterans that previously received it for free. It is time for the VA to return to this important and necessary standard. We urge every voter in Cook and the other 21 counties* holding this referendum to vote YES for Full Mandatory Funding of VA Healthcare to tell the Congress this is what the American people want.
The exclusion of veterans to receive healthcare is a direct contributor to homelessness, joblessness, and poverty. There is no greater disgrace than the very existence of homeless and jobless veterans on our streets. Healthcare problems are the number one reason for bankruptcy. They are a reason that many people cannot work, and ultimately that cannot even get a roof over their head. The VA is the largest, and one of the most effective healthcare systems in the country. It has been noted for its computerized system-wide ability to follow and treat veterans and to promote preventative healthcare measures that save lives and money in the long run. VA is the most cost effective healthcare system in the country: it is more economical to care for and ensure every veteran has free comprehensive healthcare now, than to wait for them to turn to the public healthcare system later. We must stop denying healthcare services to millions of veterans. Congress must stop using veterans as pawns each year to decide if it will increase necessary spending to care for those who bore the battle.
Vote YES for Full Mandatory Funding of VA Healthcare this February 5th and tell Congress that it is time to pass Mandatory Full Funding of VA Healthcare for all Veterans.
* With Cook County, the other Illinois Counties voting on this referendum are:
Christian, Clark, Clay, Clinton, Coles, DeKalb, Edgar, Grundy, Hardin, Jasper, Jefferson, Jersey, Jo Daviess, LaSalle, Lawrence, Marion, Richland, Rock Island, Stephenson, Tazewell, and Woodford.
WHO: Military veterans from various organizations; Montford Point Marine
Association Chicago Chapter, American Legion, Veterans Strike Force,
National Women Veterans United (NWVU), Triple Nickel Parachute
Infantry Association, 24th Infantry Regiment, Veterans of Foreign Wars IL
District 2, VetNet, Veterans for Unification, Korean War Veterans
of America, AMVETS Chicago Chapter, Filipino-American Veterans of
Illinois, 173rd Airborne Brigade Elite Forces Chapter VI, Country Club
Hills Veterans Assistance Commission.
WHAT: Press Conference
WHEN: Tuesday, January 29, 2008 at 1:30 p.m.
WHERE: Pritsker Military Library
247 E Ontario St
Chicago, IL 60611