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Despite being badly broken, AOC doesn’t see it.

In the past two weeks, three veterans have publicly committed suicide in VA Hospital waiting rooms or parking lots because of sub-standard care, hopeless feelings, and endless waiting games. 

Yet U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez sees no issue, and dismissed the Trump Administration’s strong efforts to improve care for veterans.

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Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez

 

According to Fox news, and originally reported by The Washington Examiner, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., claimed during a recent town hall event that the Department of Veterans Affairs “isn’t broken” and is actually providing “some of the highest quality” care to veterans.

“All I can think of is that classic refrain that my parents always taught me growing up, is that: ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’” she said in New York.

It was part of her argument against privatizing aspects of the scandal-scarred agency’s work. 

“That is the opening approach we have seen when it comes to privatization, it’s the idea that this thing that isn’t broken, this thing that provides some of the highest quality care to our veterans somehow needs to be fixed, optimized, tinkered with until we don’t even recognize it anymore,” she said.

Two thoughts on this – we can throw rocks at AOC all day and add this ludicrous statement and ideology to the many dumb things she’s said.  The problem isn’t that she’s just dumb – she’s dumb and has a huge microphone and a following of people who believe everything she says. 

I have a deeper feeling on this and choose not to throw proverbial tomatoes at the stage performer. 

She’s ignorant on so many things and is simply misinformed about this and wants to attack the Trump administration, right on cue with the scripted narrative of the extreme left. 

The second area of thought involves William (Bill) Folds Jr., who was one of my best supervisors in the Air Force and later, a direct coworker, and I have the utmost respect for this man. 

Save A Warrior Saving Police and Veteran Lives

 

Bill retired from the Air Force after a strong career as a Vietnam-era Flight Medic, a supervisor in Security Police, and a recruiter and began working for the Veteran’s Administration in Colorado.  He not only retired from the VA and the Air Force, but he uses VA services for medical care.

While at the VA, I know he worked hard to take care of every veteran he contacted.  In fact, his son, Will, also works for the VA. 

Bill was the supervisor for the foreign medical program in its early stages where veterans who retire outside the United States could seek good care – and of course, these benefits and that care wasn’t available in other countries.

To address something President Trump is handling with the VA MISSION Act, Bill reminded me of a situation where one of his veterans lived 200 miles away from the VA Hospital in Cheyenne, Wyoming.  

But he needed immediate medical care after an accident that badly injured his leg, and he was required to pay out of pocket simply because there’s not a VA hospital or small clinic in every town. 

This new act would allow the man to be treated at home in his own hospital, urgent care facility or personal doctor’s office and have those medical providers be reimbursed by the government.

Bill also said one of the toughest things he dealt with as a supervisor was that it took months to terminate a bad VA employee in the old system.  With the new act in place, his son Will is now able to terminate bad employees in a reasonably short period of time.

It is as simple as this – President Trump’s efforts made it possible to fire bad VA employees when the employees were previously nearly untouchable – not a problem something seen in other medical arenas, or just about any career field, for that matter. 

Government bureaucracy got in the way of improving veteran service – there were VA employees who were lax in their duties or were just riding the bench and drawing a check. 

We had a term for those people in the military – we called them “Retired On Active Duty” or ROAD troops – people just doing their time and getting paid. 

President Trump Vows To Take Gloves Off, Release FISA Documents

 

And President Trump created a system to at least be able to get those people out of the VA.

Dan Caldwell, executive director of Concerned Veterans for America, told Fox News when asked about Ocasio-Cortez’s comments:

“Putting our veterans first means making sure they are at the center of any reform efforts. That is exactly what the administration did with the VA MISSION Act — put the veteran ahead of the bureaucracy,” he said.

He points out that the VA is structured for a veteran population that has fundamentally changed from when it was built.

“Policy reforms should fundamentally change with the population and the times. When the resources follow the veteran, the veteran wins.  When resources go to prop up an aging and outdated bureaucracy, the veteran loses. It’s not about ‘fixing’ the VA, rather it is about making sure the focus of the VA is on the veteran, not itself,” Caldwell said.

I don’t find it unusual that AOC would dog efforts by this administration – she’s just following the liberal narrative of slamming any progress the president makes, God forbid that he’d be successful at something. 

The left simply can’t allow Trump to “win” in any form – even if it hurts and kills our veterans. 

I know partisan politics will always be in play in our country.

But I really wish as an American, a veteran, and a law enforcement officer that everyone involved would center their thoughts on one group of people that matters – the American citizen – and then realize that many things they do and say to undermine our current administration directly impacts those people who elected them.

And veterans deserve more thought in times like these than any group. 

They’ve been forgotten, they’ve been marginalized, and simply deserve better. 

“We have the greatest country on earth.  We can overthrow governments.  We can take over countries.  We are back to back World War champions.  And yet we can’t take care of our own.”  ~Salvatore DeFranco, Navy SEAL, Founder of Battle Grounds Coffee.

Let’s talk for a second about the three members of our military who took their own lives within five days of each other at the VA in two different states this month.  Because that’s apparently what it took for lawmakers to start getting their act together.

The first was Gary Pressley. He was 29-years-old and took his own life on April 5 in his car in the parking lot of Carl Vinson VA Medical Center in Dublin, Georgia.

He shot himself in the chest.  He was pronounced dead at 8:45 p.m., according to the Laurens County Coroner Richard Stanley.

His family said he was medically discharged from the service in 2012 after a bad car accident.  His mother, Machelle Wilson, said he’s been struggling with mental health care ever since.  She told local media outlets that his sister called the VA to tell them her brother was threatening suicide from their parking lot.  Moments later, he killed himself.

(Photo is in public domain from Health.mil)

“He told his girlfriend he was going to do it in the parking lot, so they could find his body, so somebody can pay attention to what’s happening, so other vets do not have to go through this,” she told the television station.

The next day it happened in Decatur, Georgia.

Olen Hancock, a 68-year-old from Alpharetta, took his own life outside the Atlanta VA Medical Center. According to reports, he had been pacing in the lobby of the building before going outside and shooting himself.

 

(Above: Salvatore DeFranco from Battle Grounds Coffee speaks to wounded officers in Texas about PTSD.)

 

Officials didn’t give much background on Hancock or say what branch of the military he served in. Sen. Johnny Isakson, a Republican from Georgia is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs.  He called the deaths “unacceptable and devastating”.

“While we have taken a number of steps to address and prevent veteran suicide, this weekend’s tragic deaths clearly indicate that we must do better,” Isakson said.

The third was in Austin, Texas on April 9.  An unidentified vet shot himself in front of hundreds of people in a waiting room of a VA Clinic shortly after noon.

“All of a sudden, over the intercom, they have this statement about everyone must clear the building including staff, so it was a little surprising,” said Ken Walker, who was at the clinic that day.

Richard Stone is the executive in charge of the Veterans Health Administration. According to an interview he did with Stars and Stripes, there have been more than 260 attempted suicides on VA properties.  240 have been stopped.

death

 

It’s said that some 20 veterans a day die by suicide, which is 1.5 times higher than those who haven’t served in the military.

Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., the chairman of the House Committee on Veteran’s Affairs, weighed in on the tragedies.  He said the deaths were part of a “national crisis” and that a full committee hearing is scheduled for later this month to discuss the issue.

“Every new instance of veteran suicide showcases a barrier to access, but with three incidents on VA property in just five days, and six this year alone, it’s critical we do more to stop this epidemic,” Takano said  “All Americans have a role to play in reducing veteran suicide, and the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is going to make this issue a top priority.”

Meet Eli Crane.  He’s a former Navy SEAL Sniper and the CEO of Bottle Breacher (which you probably saw on Shark Tank).  Eli spoke last year at Not All Heroes Wear Capes, an event for wounded police officers in Florida.  You should give a listen to this patriot’s thoughts.

(Above: Eli Crane, Former Navy SEAL Sniper and CEO of Bottle Breacher speaks at event for wounded officers.)

 

That quote about us being the greatest country on earth was from Sal DeFranco, who is a former Navy SEAL.  Sal was nearly killed, first in an accident and then by depression in his recovery.  Below is his story.  Coffee and his wife saved his life.

(Above: Sal DeFranco of Battle Grounds Coffee is featured in an interview for the Long Live The Veteran Brotherhood Series, started by Navy SEAL Sniper Eli Crane, the CEO of Bottle Breacher.)

What is it going to take for us to come together as a nation to protect the men and women who serve and protect our communities and our country?  Perhaps we need to stop relying on politicians and start relying on each other.

To talk to someone, veterans are urged to contact the VA crisis line at 1-800-273-8255. You can also text 838-255 for help and also talk in a confidential online chat session.

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