Government breaks promise to veterans but ponies up for illegal immigrants

Article by D.A. King, published in the Marietta Daily Journal, August 5, 2004

In 1966, my friend Fred was sent to Vietnam and was a door gunner on a Huey helicopter gunship. You won't hear it from him, so I will let you know that Fred had one of the most dangerous jobs possible in that long ago and divisive war. While Fred's ship went down more than 10 times in action, he came home without a scratch.

Welcome home Fred Dague - and thank you.

Unlike Fred, in 1970 after observing my 18th birthday in Marine Corps boot camp, I was fortunate enough to have been assigned duty in sunny southern California. I count my blessings.

Fred and I have things in common other than our military service. We are both Marietta residents and our government, as a condition of our service, promised us both "free medical care for the rest of our lives" - and now, as "50-somethings," we have each applied to the Veteran's Administration for those promised free medical benefits.

There's another thing we have in common: Both of our applications for that free medical care have been declined.

The letter from the VA reads in part: "You are not eligible for enrollment or VA health care for most conditions. -"

Fred and I have been placed in "Priority Group 8g" which means that we earned over $31,000 last year and have no service related ailments, thereby disqualifying us.

"Priority Groups" are the result of the federal government's budgetary shortages. Veterans without service-connected ailments are now held up to a "means test" to determine eligibility for VA medical benefits. While we can make do without the promised care, many other veterans are not so fortunate.

So much for the promise.

There is something else that Fred and myself and other vets who are denied or offered limited medical care from our government have in common: We can see millions of illegal aliens not only demanding, but receiving free medical care in American hospitals and clinics - at taxpayer expense. There is no "means test" for anyone, from anywhere in the world, who can make it across our virtually open borders and demand medical care in any hospital with an emergency room. It's a law. A law that is enforced.

We are taxpayers, Fred and I, so it seems more than a little ironic that as veterans we are paying for health care for invaders while we are told that we are not eligible for that same promised free care.

It looks like our nation is keeping a promise to illegal aliens. We wonder: Who decides which promises to keep? Is it the same people who decide which of our laws are to be enforced? Do American citizens have a voice in this very confusing arrangement?

The Medicare Prescription Drug Modernization Act that Congress passed in December included $1 billion dollars to help reimburse American hospitals for the federally mandated health care that they must provide to illegal aliens. It included nothing to help Priority Group 8g American veterans.

Hmmm. Maybe Fred and I should tell the government that we are illegal aliens?

I guess "ironic" is the polite word here, too.