Veterans Day Priority : A Grateful Nation or Cheap Labor?

By D.A. King, Marietta Daily Journal, November 10, 2006

"The character of a nation can be measured by the way that nation treats its veterans." - Author unknown

Veteran's Day reminds me of the curious approach we take to American vets compared to the huge illegal alien population in our country. Illegal immigration, while it affects all Americans, is not generally connected to how we as a nation treat our veterans, but it should be.

There is no better time to bring it up, again, than Veterans Day.

In 1986, the same year that the federal government rewarded about three million illegal aliens with a "one-time" amnesty, it also passed into law the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, which guarantees no-cost medical treatment in American emergency rooms to anyone, regardless of ability to pay or immigration status. Or both.

The fact that the 1986 amnesty was a miserable failure at its advertised goal - stopping illegal immigration and illegal employment - is undeniable. The EMTALA law however, was a smashing success. Millions of illegal aliens, most of whom are paid the lowest possible wage by their law-breaking employers, receive taxpayer funded health care - emergency or not - in America's emergency rooms at the lowest possible charge - zero. Nada.

No questions asked.

On Jan. 17, 2003 the Veterans Administration changed its enrollment guidelines and began to ask a great deal of questions of the U.S. military veterans who applied for their promised medical benefits after that date. Questions such as "Where do you live?", "What was your income last year?", "How many dependents do you have?" and "Is your need for treatment related to your past military service?"

Any vet who applied after the January 2003 date was held up to a "means test." Here in Georgia, if they made more than about $36,000 the year previous to applying, and their ailment is not service-related, they are assigned a VA priority category labeled "8g" and are denied enrollment in the VA medical system.

No-charge VA medical benefits available to the American vets in category 8g for routine medical care? Zero. Nada.

Emergency medical care for the former defenders of the country? To quote the language from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: "These (Category 8g) veterans are eligible for care - on a humanitarian emergency basis and are charged the applicable tortuously liable billing rate for services provided."

Interesting to note here: The VA Web site is available in Spanish.

The clear message from the same government charged with securing our borders and enforcing our laws is this: If you are present in this country illegally, even if you are using stolen or fake Social Security numbers and bogus identity information, we will enforce the law that requires taxpayers to fund your medical care. If you are an American veteran in VA Category 8g, you do not qualify for the routine medical care from the VA you were promised when you joined the American armed forces - and you will be billed for any emergency care.

Interesting to note which of our laws are actually enforced, isn't it?

There should be questions asked here.

There are about 25 million living vets in today's America. Most who study illegal immigration understand that we have about the same number of illegal aliens - notwithstanding the absurd disinformation put out by the federal government.

If you listen carefully you will realize that the sounds you do not hear are the cries of injustice and unfairness in this shameful system of astonishing priorities concerning our tax dollars, a large percentage of which are paid by veterans.

There are now more than 200,000 Category 8g vets and our numbers are growing.

With hundreds of thousands of soon-to-be veterans serving all over the world and millions of illegal aliens coming across our borders each year, we should be asking ourselves about what this arrangement says about the character of our nation. And what we will be telling future veterans on Veteran's Days to come about our "priorities" when they apply for VA medical care.

What was that about looking for a better life, the rule of law, cheap labor and a grateful nation again?

D.A. King is a former U.S. Marine and president of the Dustin Inman Society, a Marietta-based coalition dedicated to educating the public on the consequences of illegal immigration. In 2004, he applied for VA medical benefits and was assigned to Category 8g.

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