|Dear Senators Davis and Van de Putte,
We read that President Barack Obama will be in Austin, Texas, next week. We respectfully request your assistance in securing a brief meeting between four Rio Grande Valley (RGV) veterans and I with President Obama.
We are all well aware of the great VA disaster which too many of our veterans are faced with in many parts of the country – but we are also aware that recent VA reports have rated the situation in the Valley as "the worst in the VA system." While campaigning in South Texas in 2007, Mr. Obama promised that, “As soon as I become president, I will deliver a full-service 24/7 VA hospital in The Rio Grande Valley, so our Veterans will no longer have to travel more than 500 miles, more than ten hours round-trip to Audie Murphy VA Hospital in San Antonio to receive the medical care they have earned. They bravely served our country – and now our country owes them.”
We have had enough of our RGV U.S. veterans being treated at a much-lower level priority than veterans in other regions. We have had too many of our veterans, no longer physically or financially (or both) unable to travel to San Antonio, who find it necessary to give up on their life-saving VA medical care entitlement. That is unacceptable to us – and it should be unacceptable to every elected state or federal official, who so often claim, “We Support Our Veterans”. With all due respect, “The rubber needs to hit the road.” This is not a political, but a humanitarian situation, which should have been corrected long ago.
We might never have another opportunity to speak to the Commander-In-Chief so close to home - to impress upon him the continued need for the full-service VA hospital he promised; and the fact that he, “can issue an Executive Order” as he promised directly to me in San Antonio, to stop the needless suffering and early deaths of the more than 120,000 RGV U.S. veterans who gave so much for our country. Many regions across the country, there are VA hospitals serving a much-lower VA population, so this should not be an excuse to not provide the readily-available care which our mostly Mexican-American Veterans need and which they earned... the hard way.
How many Veterans must die – or continue suffering without the care which VA should have provided? How much more embarrassment will it take for our President and VA to act promptly, to put a stop to this very-preventable situation?
Please let us know as soon as possible, when and where we can accompany you, to meet President Obama.
USAF Retired Vietnam veteran
Veterans’ Legislation Liaison
Dr. Hector P. Garcia American GI Forum Organization of Texas