March 12, 2007
A top official with the national Veterans of Foreign Wars says that compensation for wounded veterans is taking too long to get to them.
"They don't have ways to pay their bills. They are out of the service. They can't go back to work. They have lost legs and arms and it is just a system that needs to be worked on," said Junior Vice Commander-in-Chief Glen Gardner.
Gardner says the wounded soldiers that are coming home from battle are not being taken care of. Speaking before a local VFW Post, Gardner says some Iraq Vets are waiting six to twelve months to receive money from the Government after coming home from war.
"Nobody anticipated that this war was going to last near as long as it has lasted. As a result, they have just been overwhelmed," he said.
Gardner's comments come at a time when one of the Army's main treatment centers, Walter Reed, is under fire for substandard living conditions. Just today, a third high ranking Army doctor resigned his post. Virginia Senator and former Vietnam Vet Jim Webb wonders if the changes are enough.
"The question really is, 'Has the administration done enough in terms of leadership and resources to assist the people who have served, including those who have been wounded as they transition back into the civilian world?' That is an issue larger than Walter Reed," he said.
Gardner hopes Walter Reed can be a stepping stone to something bigger.
"We hope that this will be an eye opener for the federal government, and that they will help us to get this backlog taken care of," he said.
Gardner says the VFW has given several million dollars in the past three years to help the new Vets. There is talk that the Veterans Administration will hire more support which Gardner hopes will speed up the money process for the wounded.