May 29, 2015

May 29, 2015 Column

By Miles Hutchins

Whose job is it anyway?  Who is responsible to fight the litter problem we see on our streets and sidewalks?  And who is responsible for providing education, housing, health care services and more for our veterans?  These two issues are on my mind because of the proliferation of plastic bags, milk cartons, plastic and paper food containers strewn about our neighborhood and nearby environs.  And because of the proliferation of ads asking for private donations to support our returning military forces seems strange to me, since our military is supposed to have its own version of medical care, clinics and hospitals. 

First things first.  We know the litter problem is created by thoughtless acts of tossing debris on the sidewalks and streets.    Here's an idea for high school students, contact the city public works people and set up an area near your school, or home, for litter patrol.  Here's an idea for all  of us, quit littering, use a bag or box in your car to stash debris, then dispose of it properly.  It really is everyone's job to fight litter.

Now about veterans and their families.  There is obviously a need for support when the vet returns home.  The ads featuring Gary Sinise and others, do a good job of pointing out the need.  COVO, and other veterans based organizations do what they can, and the Veteran's Affairs medical clinic in Bend does a really good job, from what I hear.  Did you know that veterans have their own medical care program?  And their own hospitals?  They have for many years.  Seems to me it is in need of review on many fronts.  There are just a few VA hospitals in Oregon, none in Central Oregon. Yet we have very good hospitals here.  John McCain brought up the issue when he was campaigning for President a few years back.  He suggested a vet be given a card allowing him access to medical care anywhere in the country.  The implication was that the VA hospital system was out of date.  With the recent VA "scandal" about waiting lists being manipulated, it should be even more on the front burner for reform.

In addition to health issues there is the need for education and housing support for returning vets.  That seems to me to be a responsibility of all of us, the taxpayers of the nation for whom the military person served. To protect us and our national interests.  Why should people like Sinise beg us to donate when the issue is really a national cost that should be borne by the entire nation? 

What I envision is a more perfect world.  I know, I am a dreamer.  With Congress spending most of its time campaigning for reelection and very little time actually working in D.C.,  the most universally praised element of our population, the veterans among us, are getting the shaft.  Congress will not approve spending to cover the benefits. But they will suggest an even larger budget amount to buy more weapons of war.  Even more than the military folks are asking for. As  Ike famously said many years ago, "beware the military industrial complex".  By the way, a study of our history in this country shows that veterans  have many, many times over the years been denied promised benefits.  Some things, sadly, never change.

 So, Sinise and others help raise money for our vets and their families.  Too bad they have to do it, but bless them for doing it.

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