HARLINGEN, September 23 - In a local newspaper, Congressman Rubén Hinojosa, is quoted saying that he has submitted a proposal for funding for an Emergency Room at the “Veterans Medical Center” in Harlingen, Texas.
The article is written in Spanish. Some of his comments (translated by this writer) state “I submitted a request for funding for the construction of that Emergency Room and it will be at the end of this year or the beginning of the of 2013 when they will give us a response.”
The article, which appeared in August 21, 2012, was authored by Victoria Roldan. Hinojosa was attending the groundbreaking ceremonies for the new McAllen VA Veterans Clinic held last month.
VA Texas Valley Coastal Bend Health Services Director Lawrence Biro recently told veterans there were no proposals or requests for expansion of the new Surgical Center. He said any efforts to expand the new Surgical Center had to originate at the national office, which is under the direction of Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki.
There seems to be a discrepancy between Hinojosa's comments and Biro's comments.
Some veterans think that Hinojosa was just making a political campaign speech, taking advantage of the groundbreaking ceremonies. If he was sincere, veterans will be asking for a copy of the request for funding. And just one ER room will not make a Full Service Medical Center and is not what veterans want. Why doesn’t Congressman Hinojosa want to approach the Department of Veterans Affairs and discuss the Strategic Capital Investment Plan? It is easy to tell your constituents that you support a VA hospital and are working for them in Washington when in all possibility it is political double speak.
With all the unrest in the Middle East, that area of the world is very susceptible for us to get involved militarily. This means more veterans for the future. Rest assured that many of those will be from South Texas. America will always have a sizeable number of veterans. There will always be veterans from South Texas.
When the Republicans failed to mention our veterans and those military personnel in harm’s way at their national convention, the issue became one of the major issues in the election. Now, everyone supports our troops and veterans. The best for our troops and let’s take care of them when they return home is heard more often nowadays from our politicos. All political double speak. Everyone supports our troops and veterans, but yet Congress votes against the Veteran’s Jobs bill.
Sad to say, the “you can’t fight city hall” and/or “you can’t fight the Government” attitude has taken over veteran’s advocates in their efforts to bring a Full Service Medical Center to the area.
VA Claims Backlog
Many veterans are still waiting for their claims to be adjudicated. It is a slow process. Lately, the VA has started mailing benefits booklet to all veterans that have registered at the VA. The large envelope upon receipt by the veterans makes him jump to conclusion that he is getting news on his claim. Once they open that mail and find out it’s only a benefits booklet, their hopes are shattered and they wonder how much longer.
Veterans should not give up on their claims. There is a huge backlog on cases nationwide. Thousands of veterans are waiting for the VA to take action on their claims. When the VA does act on some claims, they issue a low disability rating. Veterans should quickly have their VSO mail out a letter of disagreement to the VARO that is handling the claim. Veterans have up to a year to challenge the rating, but they should do it as soon as possible. Remember that there is a huge backlog and the veterans claim will go back on the waiting list.
All retired veterans receiving their hard earn benefits and TriCare, and all veterans receiving VA compensation and health benefits - which were hard-earned - are part of Mitt Romney’s 47 percent.
Arturo 'Treto' Garza is a resident of Harlingen, Texas. He served as a Marine in the Vietnam War and is a former co-chair of the Veteran’s Alliance of the Rio Grande Valley. He writes in an individual capacity and not on behalf of the Veteran’s Alliance. His Veteran's Voice column appears exclusively in the Guardian.