I have a friend whose World War II vet grandfather recently passed away.
The cancer that killed him was the long-term results of the wounds he received during the war. That same cancer disabled him, cutting his working-years short by several years.
A few months before he died, he and my friend began “putting his affairs in order”. To her immense surprise, he never received any sort of veteran’s disability payments.
She immediately set the wheels in motion, but he died before the payments began.
Very unfortunate, and very sad. But I didn’t realize how disgracefully common the problem is until today.
A Knight Ridder analysis of the VA’s own survey data puts the number of those veterans at about 572,000. If all of them were to secure monthly benefits, they could be collecting $4.5 billion a year, based on current average payments.
Funding such a sizable liability wouldn’t be easy, of course, during this time of high deficits, competing national priorities and reconstruction of Iraq. But advocates for veterans say the nation made promises it’s obligated to keep.
This certainly isn’t just a Bush administration program; every administration since World War II bears responsibility.
But it’s up the the Bush administration to put it right. Judging by their record of “supporting the troops”, it’s crucial that anyone who knows a disabled vet make sure they understand their rights.