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July 7, 2004 |

Bush Tries to Keep Half Million Vets In the Dark

http://www.misleader.org/daily_mislead/Read.asp?fn=df07072004.html

President Bush celebrated the July 4th holiday by praising veterans, saying "we're proud of your service, we're grateful for the example you have set for America."1 But a new report shows that more than half a million veterans are going without health care benefits owed to them - and the Bush administration has tried to keep those veterans in the dark.

According to Knight-Ridder newspapers, 572,000 veterans nationwide "are missing out on disability payments from the Veterans Administration"2 even though they are owed those payments from their service. A large portion of these veterans are not receiving their payments because they do not know about them - a situation the White House has tried to perpetuate. In 2002, VA officials were ordered by the Bush administration "to cease efforts to enroll new patients into its health care system." The directive said it was "inappropriate" for local VA workers to attend health fairs, open houses and community meetings to educate veterans about what their eligibility and to enroll them in health care programs.3

The President's efforts to prevent veterans from getting the benefits they are owed came at the same time the White House was squeezing veterans programs overall. Specifically, the President has drastically underfunded veterans health care programs, leading to major veterans groups calling his policies a "disgrace" and noting his most recent budget falls $2.6 billion short of what is needed this year alone.4 The President also raised premiums that veterans pay for their prescription drugs.5

Sources:

  1. Presidential Remarks, WhiteHouse.gov, 7/04/04.
  2. "Thousands of disabled vets lack disability payments due to poor agency outreach, stigma," Knight-Ridder, 7/01/2004.
  3. "VA says `no' to new patients - Service," VFW Magazine, 9/02.
  4. "VFW Terms President's VA Budget Proposal Harmful to Veterans VFW Appeals to Congress for Relief," VFW.org, 2/02/2004.
  5. "Bush calls for electronic medical records," CNN.com, 4/28/2004


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