To the Editor:
While there is no doubt that some existing VA facilities across America are aging and need replacement or extensive upgrading, some of the geniuses at VA should be able to prioritize those areas that HAVE NO HOSPITAL AT ALL, especially with the more-than-100,000+ Veteran population in the Rio Grande Valley. Here, we are talking about the most economically devastated region in our country; the most impoverished group of aging and disabled Veterans, but always the most-recruited in time of war. The Rio Grande Valley receives less financial assistance for our mostly Mexican-American Veterans than many third-world countries. There is plenty of money to build more than enough new prisons and racist border walls all over South Texas - but not enough money to build a full-service VA Hospital. Why does this pathetic and shameful situation allowed to exist, while our legislators apparently mentioned absolutely NOTHING about funding for our Veterans from the 'stimulus' BILLION$$$. Do any of you, including President Barack Obama, GIVE A DAMN about the campaign promises you made to our Veterans while begging for their vote? "I promise a Rio Grande Valley Veterans' Hospital" - DOES THAT RING A BELL???
If those making Veterans' health decisions are too-far-detached from our Veterans' pathetic logistical impossibilities, too-out-of-touch with the reality of their physical and financial situation, maybe our legislators should step in and ensure that they be replaced with more-sensitive, humanitarian-minded professionals who care a bit more about our people. Our impoverished Veterans have only two choices: having to travel all the way to Audie Murphy in San Antonio if they have a car and the money to put fuel in it to get to San Antonio - or simply giving up on their life-sustaining major surgeries and post-surgery rehabilitation. Too many are dying without the closer-to-home proper follow-up care after major surgery at Audie Murphy. Gentlemen, our Veterans ALREADY PAID FOR THAT CARE - risking their lives for our country. Why should Valley Veterans have to continue humiliating themselves; marching, pleading, begging - as no other Veteran in any other region of the country has to. We demand that our HEROES be treated with due respect and dignity.
Now, is the time for all our Veterans' organizations and Civil Rights organizations to come together for the sake of those who are unable to fight the VA bureau-cratic leadership, through the legal system, if necessary - so that our country can fulfill its humanitarian obligation to those who sacrificed our youth and our health on the far-off battlefields, including the lives of our loved ones, when our country needed us. Me, I'm lucky that I decided to stay in the San Antonio area close to proper medical care, because I was already having heart and lung problems when I retired from the Air Force at age 37 - but I could never turn my back on my fellow-Veterans who were too young, in their early 20s at the end of their enlistment and returned to The Valley. Now, after the latency period, Agent Orange, Atomic radiation, or depleted uranium and other military 'benefits' have caught up
with all of us. These PROUD AND BRAVE WARRIORS of yester-year should not have to beg, in order for our country to comply with its obligation, but on THEIR BEHALF, I beg for your help in bringing a full-service VA hospital to The Rio Grande Area (McAllen-Harlingen area).
We have THOUSANDS of 'political campaign promises' in the bank from quite a few years back - but we are having trouble cashing them in.
Placido Salazar, USAF Retired Vietnam Veteran Class of '65
State 2nd Vice Commander for The American GI Forum of Texas
America's Last Patrol, Post #3