Thursday, May 1, 2008

Busy Thursday ... VA process for troops needs to change

I've spent the day putting out newsroom fires, moderating a panel discussion, and pushing forward with my upcoming sweeps series "The Long Road Home."

I had a great experience with the Akron Press Club luncheon today, moderating a panel discussion on our local veterans and if we're taking good care of them. We had guests from the VA, the Veterans Service Commission, and the Attorney Generals office. The entire discussion can be seen on Time Warner Cable beginning May 13 at 7 p.m.

Among the issues that has always stuck with me is that troops returning from war have to go out on their own and register with the VA. Why doesn't the VA come to the troops to make sure they get signed up?

When I got off the plane, my out-processing included briefings from the VFW, the American Legion, someone selling soldiers' life insurance, but no one from the VA. Over and over again, I was told by the military "oh the VA will take care of that" or "you can take that up with the VA."

Later, after I signed up at the VA office in Akron, I learned that not everything I was told by the military about the VA was accurate.

The VA rep on today's panel told me that locally, only 37 percent of veterans are signed up with the VA and are using the health facilities or receiving benefits. Wouldn't that number go up if we could just get the VA in front of the troops as they come off the plane?

After the panel discussion, it was nice to catch up with Cindy Carney, who works at Oriana House. Years ago, Cindy was a top victim advocate with Summit County Victim Assistance. I would work through her when it came to interviewing victims and their relatives. It was great to have her as a go-between with families that had been through so much and who didn't need the media swarming them. Cindy also went above and beyond in helping a great many of these families. Victim Assistance's loss .. certainly Oriana House's gain.

Meanwhile .. at the office .. I've spent the afternoon writing for my upcoming series on how our local veterans are adjusting. Just interviewing these troops has brought back a lot of memories for me. I'm hoping that their stories really hit home with veterans and their families -- especially those who may feel like they're alone and have no one to connect with.

43 newscasts left ... til the Akron-Canton News signs off May 30th.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Have to agree with you about Cindi!