As we prepared to honor those who served on Veterans day, I’m happy to say that there have been a lot of good things done by local lawmakers for Orlando area veterans.
Congressman Darren Soto chased down an award for a local veterans that was decades overdue and recently held a town hall for vets (story HERE).
Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy recently held another awards ceremony for veterans in her district (story HERE).
State Representative Anna Eskamani helped a local vet find housing last week (story HERE).
And yesterday county leaders marched in the Veterans day parade. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer remains mindful of the needs of veterans, and Governor Ron DeSantis, a veteran himself, has brought much more attention to the issue of veterans affairs.
I’m not naive, I understand there were media avails at all of these events and there is some PR currency here, but if it brings awareness to the issue an helps us then I’m all for it.
And there are still many challenges that remain.
Many of those challenges for Orlando veterans run parallel to those of many other residents, like more affordable housing, and better paying jobs after transitioning out of the military.
However, the real problem remains with the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The VA continues to be negligent in providing benefits to veterans that have earned and in many cases paid for them. Health care is still a regular problem. Educational benefits aren’t always processed in a timely manner. Small business aid remains a joke.
It falls on the “higher ups” with the VA.
Now, I’m not talking about on the ground service providers. Don’t go shouting at nurses, doctors, or support staff. Most of them are doing their best.
I’m talking about management. Upper level administrators that have let a backlog of VA claims pile up. They turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to complaints from veterans. But make no mistake, they themselves are still making a great salary.
They are out of touch and rationalize after the fact, through arrogance and ignorance, that they’re entitled to high pay for merely sitting in their offices.
And don’t try to exercise oversight. They will fight to eliminate that.
Earlier this year, they inexcusably kicked out elected officials from both parties out of our VA medical facilities (story HERE).
And Secretary of Department of Veterans Affairs, Robert Wilkie (story HERE) let it happen.
The call to action here is to make noise. If you know a vet that isn’t getting the care he should receive then pick up the phone and tell someone. Tell Secretary Wilkie that if things don’t improve then the people will find someone who will make that improvement happen.
I’m grateful, and many other veterans in the Orlando area are grateful for the lawmakers that take the time to honor veterans and take the initiative to help us throughout the year.
But we need everyone to apply pressure to the upper echelons of the Department of Veterans Affairs. That’s what truly improves quality of life for us and that’s what will make every day a great veterans day.