Over the past few years, more has been done at both the state and federal levels to assist veterans as they re-integrate into civilian life and deal with the aftereffects of their service. And while there have been plenty of bumps in the road during that time, the fact is that more is now being done than there has been in some time, and the government's efforts aren't going to stop soon.
President Barack Obama made this point and others in a speech to the annual convention of the Disabled American Veterans this week, according to a report from the Associated Press. While Obama was in office at the time the massive wait lists and documentation backlogs at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs were uncovered, he noted that his administration has also done more to cut down those problems since the revelations, and that veteran homelessness has been significantly reduced during his presidency.
A big announcement
Moreover, Obama also noted that the U.S. government is now more than halfway through its goal of building a database of health care information for every veteran nationwide, the report said. That, in turn, should go a long way toward helping to shore up the kind of care to which veterans have access, regardless of where they seek it. And in general, this comes at a time when many in the veterans' community already have a strong opinion of the treatments they get at the VA, just not how long they sometimes have to wait to get it.
"We know that even though the access is a problem, health care in the VA is very good," DAV executive director Garry Augustine told the news organization.
That could, in theory, still pose some problems going forward because demand for health care among vets grew 13 percent in the past year alone, and that number could continue to rise, the report said. Add in the backlog of disability claims the VA still has to process, and it's clear issues still linger. While only about 80,000 remain from the initial backlog number of 610,000, there are still hundreds of thousands more appeals left to review.
More steps being taken
Meanwhile, even as the Obama administration touts its achievements with respect to veteran care, more work is being done on their behalf in Washington as well, according to U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota. Writing in the St. Cloud Times, she said that she and Iowa Republican Sen. Joni Ernst recently introduced a bipartisan bill that would allow veterans to have more personal power when it comes to scheduling health care treatments at the VA. As it stands now, wait times can easily exceed 90 days, and that number may be on the rise.
With all this in mind, it's important for veterans to know what it is that government officials are doing to help them when it comes to getting the care they need. Everyone in Washington and elsewhere would agree that veterans have sacrificed a great deal already, and therefore deserve the best possible treatment when their service is done.