I had the privilege of meeting Senator Mark Udall today and spoke about some key veteran care issues. I think it went very well. Two (or was it three?) reporters grabbed me to ask for more info to do upcoming interviews.
- Access to healthcare in our region vs. the backlog
- The budget cutbacks and risks it will have on veterans. The backlog has already driven veterans into bankruptcy and foreclosure. In addition, many lawmakers wish to dip into veteran benefits to reduce the deficit.
- The Caregiver Bill, which was delayed by more than a year and now in another backlog.
Side note about the Caregiver Bill: Just today I read this heart wrenching story about a mother of a severely-injured veteran who learned that the VA is only going to provide minimal support. After reading this, and all I could do was cry. My heart is broken for her!
If you are curious to see what her son looked like when he was first injured then decide for yourself if this benefit should have been given, brace yourself and click this: http://lesliekamm.blogspot
If that doesn’t put the fear of God in someone, nothing can.
Anyway, back to my soap box with Senator Udall:
I told him I had three issues to bring to his attention (out of many I had to choose from, but let’s stick with three…) as listed above. After the first topic about access to healthcare was shared, he showed sincere appreciation and concern for the issue, and said, “I can’t see from here how much gray hair you have…” and I told him “Oh trust me, I color it. I have a lot.”
I was not speaking just for my husband. I was speaking for all veterans. He recognized that and thanked me for my determination to find a greater good. Little did he know…
By the time I got to the last item, the Caregiver Bill, I told Mark Udall that I consider myself very fortunate after all these years (and for the first time for ANY era of veteran caregivers) to have the chance to apply for this benefit. First, we have been dismissed in our role for decades. Then when it did become law, it was delayed and added restrictions were put in place. Then once you do apply, the delays continue with backlogs. Now we are seeing those who deserve and have earned this benefit getting denied! This is a travesty and yet another slap in the face for our veteran caregiver community.
He asked that we follow up at a later time and it was mentioned that I should serve on his advisory board. We will see.
Then the reporters snagged me when it was over. I gave them my card, told them to visit my blog for details, then call if there were any questions. I just got off the phone with one reporter and I expect that story to be in the Sunday paper.
Then I sent this: My follow-up letter to the Pueblo Chieftain reporter
I hope this story gets the attention of more than Mark Udall. We will see…