More Wars, Less Veterans Benefits

Seems like a week can’t go by with­out hear­ing some new deficit reduc­tion plan with vet­er­ans’ ben­e­fits in the crosshairs of politi­cians. All the while, these same politi­cians appear more than will­ing for us to “help lib­er­ate” one oil coun­try after another. Con­flicts like these are great for mak­ing head­lines and dis­abled vet­er­ans, but they also take from the lim­ited tax dol­lars needed to care for vet­er­ans after the con­flicts end.

Recently, Min­nesota Con­gress­woman Michelle Bach­mann backed off her plan to cut $4.5 bil­lion of fed­eral vet­er­ans’ ben­e­fits. But, Wisconsin’s famous Gov­er­nor, Scott Walker, is look­ing to cut state funds for home­less vet­er­ans by 53 per­cent and over­all ben­e­fits by over $30 mil­lion.

Texas is propos­ing a 20 per­cent cut for the Texas Vet­er­ans Com­mis­sion(TVC), total­ing over $3 mil­lion of their cur­rent $14 mil­lion bud­get. TVC filed over 170,000 vet­er­ans’ claims that resulted in over $2 bil­lion being paid out by the Depart­ment of Vet­er­ans Affairs. This cut­back could result in a loss or delay of $760 mil­lion in vet­er­ans’ ben­e­fits and a loss in state sales tax rev­enue of more than $26 mil­lion.

Cal­i­for­nia Gov­er­nor Jerry Brown­ re­cently pro­posed a $10 mil­lion cut for another agency that helps return­ing Iraq and Afghanistan vet­er­ans in acquir­ing fed­eral VA ben­e­fits. Accord­ing to lob­by­ist Pete Conaty, for every $1 spent to get a vet­eran his or her ben­e­fits, the vet­eran receives $100 in ben­e­fits. This is money that stays in the local econ­omy where the vet­eran lives. It doesn’t go to for­eign aid or to some Wall Street bank. It goes to the veteran’s local hard­ware store or cof­fee shop, wher­ever she spends her money.

Per­spec­tive. In Cal­i­for­nia, 30,000 vet­er­ans return to civil­ian life every year, many of them with injuries and ques­tions about their ben­e­fits. Prior to the cur­rent wars, vet­er­ans had a 10-day wait to talk with a ben­e­fits coun­selor in per­son. Now, it takes 6 to 8 weeks for an appoint­ment. With these cuts, that delay could be even longer. States with sim­i­lar cuts will impact vet­er­ans every­where. But, what makes no sense is, that by cut­ting the up front money, these same states could lose even more mil­lions in tax rev­enue.

But this all may make sense on a broader spec­trum, even though the logic is skewed. There seems to be a recent polit­i­cal trend to cut fed­eral ben­e­fits for every­one. Unfor­tu­nately, as in Texas, vet­er­ans ben­e­fits pro­grams are being cut at a dis­pro­por­tion­ate rate within the state gov­ern­ments. When attempts to cut vet­er­ans’ ben­e­fits show to be unpop­u­lar on the national front, polit­i­cal par­ties appear to be turn­ing to the states to make up the dif­fer­ence. Either way you skin the cat, the Depart­ment of Vet­er­ans Affairs could be pay­ing out less money in ben­e­fits to vet­er­ans who are truly enti­tled to them over the long term.

Voc Rehab Survival Guide Benjamin Krause is the creator of the DisabledVeterans.org community, author of the Voc Rehab Survival Guide for Veterans, and numerous other guides. 

Benjamin is an award winning investigative reporter, Veterans Law attorney, and a disabled veteran of the US Air Force, where he served in its Special Operations Command. After receiving an Honorable Discharge, Benjamin began his decade long fight for benefits after being lowballed with a 10% rating in 2002. During that fight, he received degrees from Northwestern University and  the University of Minnesota Law School while using VA Vocational Rehabilitation.

You can connect with Benjamin on  Google+,  Twitter,  Facebook and LinkedIn.

Comments

  1. Ryan agustus Robinson says

    IM a Vet. I been rated at a 100% but I receive 800$ a month. I love people why would the government do me like this. IM hurt I can’t work. My medication make me tired and IM not focused. Why cut our Benifits. When our friends are dead some of us have children. I was rated permanent total now you say cut his check. Have we forgot how many died I didn’t want to go to Iraq but I did. People died every day IM lucky to be living IM scared all the time I will kill I have before the government traind me. I don’t want that. Why take our money I can’t be cum in ertain citation. IM scared why make me work I can’t because the first time IM mad IM killing everything even women that’s the way I was trained. We got mad at terrorist I’ll get mad at you. Don’t even concider cutting off our money. I will Chang I will kill I will rob I will steal. Just to survive. Love the vets we loved our country love us. I went days even weeks eating mre’s make me kill to survive I will you mad at us make us mad. I am a x marine with a purple heart and two combat action ribbons. I can’t kill the US but I will try. Love me talk to me help me I gave when I have nothing. I give some of my food stamps to the less fortunate. And you all think about taking my Benifits I will kill. There are people that are stupid and sell there food stamps. Not me I need them. I need everything you all will give. I love the US but we can be awholes. Stand up for us. United we stand divided we fall. Where is the love. F theses ignorant people who make it hard on us . Read this need to be heard. I faught I killed for us don’t hurt me help me. I have a child. I have a girlfriend with twin girls she is a good girl. I lose her I will rob,steal,and kill don’t do this call and talk to me let me know IM ok cause you all said IM permanent and total and I receive ssi I need it why take. Don’t kill me. Take my money and you will. Stand America. IM not oveseas anymore love me while IM hear. If die it will be for my family and future vets. Don’t make me snap. Please help. I take my medication without it I am very scarry I only like tfeeo be around white and black people. There or people that misuse the system that is wrong but what about the people that really need government assistant stop making easy for check there background interview them for real cause will beat the system if the can. Use this message to help a disable person not only vets we need help. Help us. Just do thera back ground check before you say approved don’t kill the ones that need help. My medicines comes in the mail would you take that to. Let’s just love and care. Background check people good stop saying approve. People get food stamps and sell them that is dumb but I need more. God a fix it. I love this country love me. I need my Benifits. Background check these people good check. Jesus love us I will be ok but IM dagerus I can’t even own a gun why I know how to use it the government taught me that. Lock me up or take care of me. I need my Benifits. IM completely gone. I will never be the same I seen death I saw Iraqi people they seem cool but they crazy. They me with kind of nerve agent I use my fads mask to survive can you say that. I seen a child with a ak47 I cried at might knowing I was going to die but God said no and I thank him take my Benifits and I will make the news I promise. Remember me my name is Ryan Agustus Robinson my is 2568721183 just call me I will show you first hand it’s hard for a Vet and IM a 100% it’s hard. Love us help a Vet today not tomorrow it might be to late help us please!

  2. joe butrie says

    maybe the politicians and there cronies should take a significant cut in their benefits and wages to help balance the budget

  3. Janine Spears says

    As a veteran waiting these past 12 years for my benefits, I have been denied over and over for evidence they say they can’t find but is readily visible within my records. It took my contacting my congressman for a third look and now that’s been done several months ago, I am still waiting…to hear that our benefits are dwindling with each passing day is disheartening beyond belief. These would allow me to gain much needed health care, housing…..not to mention the fact that those extra funds would help oil the cogs of my community and our economy.

So what do you think?