Many stories and this can all be easily documented with Google which in 30 minutes turned up the following:
Only about 3,000 Revolutionary War veterans ever drew any pension, and it was limited to those who had been disabled and the payments were quite low.
By 1868 New York Governor Reuben E. Fenton (“the soldier’s friend”) remarked that homeless veterans in New York State “numbered by the thousands.”
After the Civil War, veterans organized to seek increased benefits. The Grand Army of the Republic, consisting of Union veterans of the Civil War, was the largest veterans organization emerging from the war.
Until 1890, Civil War pensions were granted only to servicemen discharged because of illness or disability attributable to military service.
Colonel Charles R. Forbes, a chance acquaintance of Warren Harding, was appointed to head the recently created Veterans’ Bureau. It was later revealed that Forbes entered into corrupt arrangements with a number of contractors, particularly with those involved in the operation of hospitals, and sold government property at a fraction of its value. Charles F. Cramer, attorney for the bureau, committed suicide, which brought increased attention to the agency. In 1923, Forbes resigned his position and fled to Europe.
A Senate investigation in 1924 found that Forbes had looted more than $200 million from the government. He was subsequently indicted for bribery and corruption, and was brought back for trial in 1925. He was convicted, fined $10,000 and sentenced to two years in Leavenworth.
Two months before, the so-called “Bonus Expeditionary Force,” a group of some 1,000World War I veterans seeking cash payments for their veterans’ bonus certificates, had arrived in Washington, D.C. Most of the marchers were unemployed veterans in desperate financial straits. In June, other veteran groups spontaneously made their way to the nation’s capital, swelling the Bonus Marchers to nearly 20,000 strong. Camping in vacant government buildings and in open fields made available by District of Columbia Police Chief Pelham D. Glassford, they demanded passage of the veterans’ payment bill introduced by Representative Wright Patman.
While awaiting a vote on the issue, the veterans conducted themselves in an orderly and peaceful fashion, and on June 15 the Patman bill passed in the House of Representatives. However, two days later, its defeat in the Senate infuriated the marchers, who refused to return home. In an increasingly tense situation, the federal government provided money for the protesters’ trip home, but 2,000 refused the offer and continued to protest. On July 28, President Herbert Hoover ordered the army to evict them forcibly. General MacArthur’s men set their camps on fire, and the veterans were driven from the city. Hoover, increasingly regarded as insensitive to the needs of the nation’s many poor, was much criticized by the public and press for the severity of his response.
World War Two
In 1946, the VA had beds for about 82,000 patients but the VA rolls swelled to 15 million in just a few months and the hospitals were virtually all swamped. There were 26,000 non service related cases also on the waiting list. The VA was building new hospitals but had money for only 12,000 more beds. They came too few too late.
Health problems associated with atomic radiation also have received belated attention. The Radiation-Exposed Veterans Compensation Act of 1988 authorized disability compensation for veterans suffering from a number of diseases associated with radiation, 42 years after the exposure!
The Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1952, called the Korean GI Bill, provided unemployment insurance, job placement, home loans and mustering-out benefits similar to those offered World War II veterans. The Korean GI Bill made several changes, however, in education benefits, reducing financial benefits generally and imposing new restrictions.
The effect of the changes was that the benefit no longer completely covered the cost of the veteran’s education.
A major difference of Vietnam-era veterans from those of earlier wars was the larger percentage of disabled. Advances in airlift and medical treatment saved the lives of many who would have died in earlier wars. There were issues of Agent Orange which took many years to address. At first, the only allowable claims related to Agent Orange were for a skin rash, chloracne. The VA waited until 1991 to recognize for claim purposes two other ailments, soft-tissue sarcoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. (Photo Courtesy erokCom (Creative Commons License)
Vientnam veterans make up the preponderance of homeless veterans. 42% of the homeless veterans served in Vietnam. Many more served during the conflict but in non combat areas.
Many of these suffer from PTSD, alcohol and drug related illnesses that have not been properly addressed by the VA. The VA still claims that PTSD has no relationship to military service.
Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan
Three individuals – including a former top aide to Gov. Scott Walker – were charged Thursday with felonies as part of the ongoing John Doe investigation into Walker staffers.
Tim Russell, a longtime Walker campaign and county staffer, was charged with two felonies and one misdemeanor count of embezzlement. Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm said the charges are tied to Operation Freedom, an annual military appreciation day held at the zoo.
The complaint says that Russell diverted to his personal bank account more than $21,000 intended for Operation Freedom, using some of those dollars to go on Hawaiian and Caribbean vacations with his domestic partner.
Other funds were used, the complaint says, for Russell to attend a weekend political strategy session in December 2010 with Herman Cain and his chief of staff, Mark Block, to discuss Cain’s now-defunct presidential campaign.
Chisholm said some of the stolen money was intended for the families of Wisconsin soldiers who were killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan. Funds also were used for wounded veterans of the war in Iraq. In 2010, Walker’s county administration had asked prosecutors to investigate what had happened to $11,000 raised in 2007 for the event.
The Washington Post published a series of articles beginning February 18, 2007, outlining cases of neglect at Walter Reed reported by wounded soldiers and their family members. Although the article focused primarily on Building 18, a former hotel building just outside the post’s main gates, authors Dana Priest and Anne Hull also included complaints about “disengaged clerks, unqualified platoon sergeants and overworked managers” that make navigating the already complicated bureaucracy to obtain medical care at WRAMC even more daunting. Although Army officials claimed to be surprised at these conditions, a Salon.com series beginning in January 2005 had previously exposed them. In 2004 and 2005, articles appeared in the Post and in Salon interviewing First Lt. Julian Goodrum about his court martial for seeking medical care elsewhere due to poor conditions at WRAMC
Though he has since dodged the question in a television interview, the officer in charge of medical care for the U.S. Army was told more than two months ago that the Army’s outpatient medical care program was dysfunctional, yet he apparently took no action in response. The Army’s outpatient services include the substandard treatment at Walter Reed Army Medical Center that has been the subject of a number of recent articles in the Washington Post and a series of stories in Salon in 2005.
At a meeting last Dec. 20, a group of veterans advocates informed Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley, former commander of Walter Reed Army Medical Center and now the Army surgeon general, that soldiers returning from Iraq were routinely struggling for outpatient treatment and getting tangled in the military’s byzantine disability compensation system — and that their families were suffering along with them.
On July 30, 2009, U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., introduced the “Zero Tolerance for Veterans Homelessness Act of 2009.” The bill would authorize a major increase in the number of vouchers available annually for homeless veterans through the VA Supported Housing Program. Specifically, the bill would increase the number of vouchers available to 30,000 in 2010, and then 10,000 more a year until 2014, when 60,000 vouchers would be available. The bill now sits in the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
On Nov. 3, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki convened the first-ever Homeless Veteran Summit in Washington, during which he unveiled an ambitious plan to establish new programs and enhance existing ones with the goal of ending homelessness among veterans over the next five years.
And now various hospitals misreporting what they have or have not been doing.
Lots of huffing and puffing of anger from every quarter is now being heard – and I expect will be heard again in another 10 years or less.