The Official Voice of Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. ®
An organization chartered by the U.S. Congress

December 2003
VETERANS BENEFITS COMMITTEE REPORT
 
 

Remaining Vigilant

BY JERRY KLEIN, CHAIR

Veterans must remain vigilant in the face of many challenges that will be cast our way in the coming years. Recently, an editorial appeared in the Palm Beach Post entitled, "Bush Goes AWOL When Soldiers Need Care." The editorial, written by George McEvoy stated: "The sinister plot to take away earned compensation benefits and survivor benefits shows the true colors of those individuals who support the administration's policy in Iraq, but don't really support the troops."

At issue was a provision of the 2004 Defense Authorization Bill that would have denied disability compensation and health care to Americans who become disabled while serving their country if their disabilities are not directly related to the performance of their official duties. Known as the "direct performance of duty" standard, this provision would overturn current law, which authorizes service connection for disabilities incurred in the line of duty.

This trial balloon - offered by some members of Congress but hidden from public scrutiny - was an attempt on the part of a certain element of our government to cause undue harm to the very individuals they have sworn to protect: men and women in uniform. Some day, our active-duty, Reserve, and National Guard members serving in Iraq and Afghanistan will go to the Department of Veterans Affairs for health care and compensation benefits. As veterans advocates, we must insure that those benefits will be available to all American military personnel.

We must remain vigilant against any stealthy attempt to compromise the VA Health Care and Benefits system.

   

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