Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Promises broken

Readers of The New York Times on Sunday opened their papers to find a full-page ad from an advocacy group calling upon the federal government to keep its promises to wounded warriors.

The ad carried the headline, "They Fought For Us. Now It's Time To Fight For Them," along with a photograph of a woman standing next to a disabled young man strapped into a wheelchair.

The root of the appeal by a group called the Wounded Warrior Project is a delay in implementing a bill passed last year and signed by President Obama that would have provided benefits for family caregivers who have given up jobs to care for loved ones severely wounded in the Iraq or Afghanistan wars.

The group had spearhead passage of the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act, which contains provisions for training, counseling and monthly stipends for family members who care for vets who sustained brain injuries or other severe wounds. The benefits were due to begin Jan. 30, but didn't.

The only benefit instituted by the Department of Veterans Affairs, which is in charge of implementation, is a caregivers support hotline.

Thus, the Sunday appeal from the Wounded Warrior Project.

Under pressure from lawmakers who have asked why the program isn't under way, the Department of Veterans Affairs responded only with dense, verbal boilerplate about regulations and unspecified timelines.

Severely wounded vets and their caregivers are suffering while bureaucrats dither and delay. They deserve better from the country for which they sacrificed.

It's beyond shameful.

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