“The underside line is that this: Our nation exposed our veterans to poison for years, and we knew about it, and we did not act with urgency and appropriateness,” mentioned Stewart, an outspoken advocate for veterans affected by poisonous waste.
Prior to Wednesday’s assembly, Takano invited veterans to full a web based survey that requested about their publicity to poisonous supplies, their subsequent well being points and their expertise in coping with VA well being advantages. Takano mentioned greater than 400 veterans from 48 states responded to the survey, and plenty of of them mentioned they face lingering, even life-threatening, illnesses on account of poisonous publicity.
“Poisonous-exposed veterans have held up their a part of the pact,” Takono mentioned. “Now it is our flip.”
“We imagine that is completely important,” mentioned Aleks Morosky, deputy director of presidency affairs on the Wounded Warrior Venture. WWP estimates some 750,000 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan served in areas of identified publicity however are ineligible for VA well being advantages underneath present coverage, he mentioned.
Whereas the objective of offering advantages to affected veterans confronted no problem from roundtable members, some expressed concern about logistics. Many VA hospitals are understaffed and underfunded, mentioned Jim Vale from the Blinded Veterans Affiliation. Introducing an inflow of newly certified veterans to these hospitals may overwhelm the system, he mentioned.
“Are we unintentionally creating an ideal storm?” Vale requested. “We assist the laws, however we’re involved about insufficient funding to assist it.”
Rep. Mike Bost (R-Sick), the committee’s rating member, mentioned that logistical considerations ought to take a again seat to the overarching objective of offering entry. “We will chew gum and stroll,” he mentioned, explaining that laws must be handed first, whereas adjusting to a rise of eligible VA sufferers can include time.
All through the assembly, as audio system talked about bureaucratic challenges and funding hurdles, Stewart pulled the main focus again to veterans and their lives. “If one other nation was doing to our veterans what we’re doing to our veterans,” Stewart mentioned, paraphrasing a buddy, “we’d be at battle.”
The primary episode of Stewart’s new present, titled “The Downside With Jon Stewart,” targeted on veterans who struggled to obtain well being assist after poisonous publicity.
Rep. Ruben Gallego (R-Ariz.), a former Marine deployed in Iraq, mentioned that Congress wants to contemplate what it owes veterans. “Nobody instructed me something after I acquired despatched to Iraq in 2005,” he mentioned. “They simply mentioned, ‘get on the aircraft and do what the nation is asking of you, and we’ll handle you later.'” He pointed to tax cuts through the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as proof that the power to pay for veterans’ well being care is a matter of will, not skill.
The laws has proceeded via a full legislative listening to and markup. It nonetheless awaits a vote in the Home.