Vets tell Cortez Masto VA needs to do better job

(Photo: AdobeStock)

(Photo: AdobeStock)

  • Discuss Comment, Blog about
  • Print Friendly and PDF
U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto was told the Veterans Administration must do a lot better in helping veterans transition to civilian life and connecting them to the services they’ve earned.
Cortez Masto promised during the Friday meeting to take their recommendations to Congress and push for changes that will better advise vets what rights and services are out there for them.
Brian Neuman of the Wounded Warriors Project said the annual grant to vets with prosthetics is a good example. Neuman lost an arm in his fourth deployment in the Middle East. He said he tried for five years to get the annual $841 award to help with upkeep on his prosthesis but was unable to get through the bureaucracy so he gave up. He said services like that used to be automatic but too many times they now have to sign up each year and go through the process again.
He said that should be a simple process, not one tangled in red tape.
Cortez Masto said she has introduced legislation to fix that problem.
Rob Fidler, who retired after 28 years of service, said a key problem is that, when service members are about to retire, they have to attend sessions designed to explain what benefits are available and how to get them but that few of them are listening. He said many just don’t think they’ll need those services then.
He said the problem is that, 24 or 25 year olds, “are not socially educated.”
He said they don’t know how to survive outside the military. Fidler said the outside world has changed dramatically in recent years and, when just about to leave the military, those people, “are more interested in getting through the briefing than listening to that briefing.”
When they realize they need services a few years later, the window to sign up has often passed and they can’t get into the programs they need.
Neuman said the problem is compounded for veterans living in rural areas because they may have to drive for hours to get to the VA to access the services they are entitled to.
Kat Miller, Nevada’s director of veteran services, said she would like to provide Veteran Services Officers in rural communities but that in order to fund the positions, they must work at least 1,000 hours a year. She said that isn’t a problem in urban Nevada but simply won’t work in a town with just 2,000 residents.
Cortez Masto said there is a disconnect between veterans in areas such as Nevada and what’s happening in Washington, D.C. She said she will try to include language in bills now under consideration to make the sign up process much smoother and more automatic. She said some of the changes like that have strong bipartisan support and should be easy to get to the president’s desk.
Miller said her office is working to provide transition meetings for vets that even include job fairs and counseling.
Masto promised to work with Miller and other advocates to make those changes, promising that, if the VA won’t make some of the changes, she’ll introduce legislation in Congress to make them.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment