HARLINGEN, July 28 - Recently the United States Supreme Court ruled that the “Stolen Valor Act” is unconstitutional and thus may not be enforced.
This sends a strong message to the millions of veterans throughout America and to the millions of those servicemen and women presently serving in our Armed Forces.
Why would the Supreme Court justices strike down such an important and critical issue that protects in essence the right of our veterans. Can a citizen of the United States make statements that he is a Supreme Court Justice? In order for anyone to sit on the Supreme Court bench, that person must be lawyer. This in itself could prevent anyone from making such a statement. Why, because it is against the law to present yourself or purport to be a lawyer. You need the education and license to practice.
Can a person legally present himself as a police officer and/or any law enforcement representative (I.e. FBI, DEA, ICE)? Heck no, this person will be identified as pseudo cops and arrested. Can a chiropractor identify himself as a medical provider, even though he does not have a medical license? Etc., Etc., Etc.
Today’s military service is strictly professional. It is a profession of choice and as such should be categorized with a little more respect. As long as there isn’t a draft, all military personnel are professional soldiers. Their service to Country should be held in high esteem and honorably. To allow “wannabes” to declare themselves heroes is a travesty of justice toward our military, especially to those that have paid with the ultimate sacrifice.
Veterans Affairs Health Services
There has been concern among veterans using the local Veterans Affairs services lately. The VA needs more medical providers to offset the patient load of those that are manning the clinics. Medical providers concentrate in preventative medicine and schedule patient appointments at six to ten month intervals. Those under the Warfarin Clinic are seen monthly for their INR tests. Most other veterans have to wait until their next appointment. What has occurred is that many veterans have needed medical care before their scheduled appointments. When a patient walks in to the clinic for treatment as a walk in, he will run into problems. He will be told to wait but the chances are little that he indeed will get to see a doctor. The VA staff will tell him that if it is an emergency he should go the hospital ER. If the patient feels that it is not an emergency he will take his chances and wait in the lobby for a chance to see a doctor. Sometimes the wait can be several hours. Veterans do not really want to go to the ER because they are risking being admitted and then are told that it was not an emergency and VA will not cover the billings. The hospital will run a bunch of tests on the patient to determine his condition. They will attend that veteran. (I feel that the VA quickly referring patients to the ER is a cop out and they should at least have a doctor to attend to walk-ins.) Most private clinics will see walk-ins, why not the VA. If the patient calls by phone he will not be able to speak to his doctor or his doctor’s nurse even though he might be dialing their extensions. What good is it for the VA to provide extension numbers to patients if no one answers them? There are problems at the VA clinic and veterans seem to think that they have nowhere to go to complain. There is what is called the Management Advisory Committee that has been in existence for a while, but it really is just to keep veterans informed of the new services.
This is one of the reasons that many veterans are hesitant to support efforts for a VA hospital. Some are saying that maybe we should revert to the old system.
The Veterans Affairs Hospital Issue
I have spoken to some veterans that have been active in the efforts to bring a VA hospital to South Texas. The general comment that I hear is that it’s a lost cause. That the Veterans Affairs in not listening and won’t change its mind because there are no high profile politicians supporting the efforts. Some say that most World War II and Korea War veterans are too old and slowly dying. “Vamos a dejarselo a Dios, que acabo ya nos falta poco para vivir.” The not so younger Vietnam veterans are still of the opinion that no one cares about the Vietnam Veteran for having lost the war. They have been ignored and feel that their efforts will be in vain. The new younger veterans have seen the efforts of the older veterans and feel that it is too much of a battle to undertake.
What complicates matters is that the present government is really trying to help the returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. When the government gives these veterans priority on some benefits, older veterans do not appreciate it. When the government continuously discusses problems being experiencing these new veterans and ignores or forgets the older veterans, it causes division, and even jealously amongst the ranks of veterans. The new breed of veterans does not want to step up to the plate. Maybe it’s their age. Or maybe they are just glad to have made it back alive and want to enjoy an easy life. Will the efforts to bring a VA hospital to south Texas fail again?
Arturo 'Treto' Garza, a resident of Harlingen, Texas, 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 now writes in an individual capacity and not on behalf of the Veteran’s Alliance. His Veteran's Voice column appears exclusively in the Guardian.