December 2001/January 2002
Best Wishes and Best Efforts
By Thomas Corey
Let me wish each of you and your families a wonderful holiday
season. We offer our best wishes to the men and women serving our
country today and their families. Many will be unable to share the
holidays with their families as they face the reality of a holiday
in a hostile environment.
VVA’s Founding Principle compels us not to forget them. We need
to recognize their service today and to fight on their behalf
tomorrow for the service they render to our nation. We pray for
their safe return home.
As we approach the holiday season, many of us count our
blessings and put them into the context of our own belief systems.
We are here and we are alive. We can be thankful our names are not
on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Nor have they been memorialized
in Father Phil’s ``Taps’’ column in <I>The VVA Veteran<$>.
I have learned to thank my God for allowing me to survive each
day, no matter how terrible it may have been. I have lived each
day of my life, knowing it is better than the alternative. Many
Vietnam veterans and other family members have passed away. Can we
stop the dying? Yes, to some extent. We can get regular check-ups
and pay attention to the warning signals our bodies send and the
messages we receive from others.
I again must address the VA system when discussing our health.
We hear both praise and condemnation of the Department of Veterans
Affairs’ health-care system. Many of us continue to use the
system; others choose not to. For some of us it is our best and
only option. One of our missions as a veterans service
organization is to insure that veterans using the system are
treated properly, with a level of quality care that includes
compassion for all veterans and their situations. This system was
created for veterans. It is up to us to make certain that it never
retreats from its commitment, ``To Care For Him Who Has Borne the
Battle, And His Widow And Orphan.’’
We have seen the VA go through many changes of policy,
practice, and leadership. Since Anthony Principi became Secretary
of the Department of Veterans Affairs, he has tried to meet the
problems and obstacles head on.
He meets regularly with VSOs--including VVA--and listens
carefully to our concerns. His recent move to keep open the
enrollment of veterans into the VA health-care system is discussed
in the Government Relations Report in this issue, as are several
other of his recent initiatives to improve and expand the services
provided by the VA and his recognition of veterans with ALS.
Also in this issue you will see a report on Shipboard Hazards
and Defense (SHAD). We have been working with DoD and the VA to
address this veterans health issue. We will continue to be active
until all of the veterans involved in the project have been
Secretary Principi understands that the VA needs the input of
the consumer--you and me. We will continue to remind all of the VA
leadership that the system is for America’s veterans. It is
important and necessary to include the views and opinions of VSOs
when making decisions about our future in the system.
In order for the Secretary to fulfill his mission, he must
receive an adequate budget. Nothing else will work. We support his
recommendations. We are at war to protect and defend our country.
We do not need another war at home. Every year the VSOs spend an
enormous amount of time testifying about the funding needs of our
health-care system only to see it again inadequately funded.
Does this country recognize its veterans’ service? Not if the
dollars appropriated by OMB, the President, and Congress are any
indication. We look forward to seeing the budget the President
submits. We hope we are remembered.
God bless you and your families, and God bless the citizens of
the world. Peace.