I received a phone call yesterday from one of Will Metcalf’s Staffers advising me that the House Concurrent Resolution that Will submitted had passed both Houses unanimously. It advocated Veteran’s being able to be treated by any Facility or Doctor that would accept Veteran Level payments. It specifically supported John McCain’s Bill written for that purpose. It is now sent to the President and both Houses of Congress expressing Texas’s opinion on how our 1.6 Million Veterans should be treated.
This all started with a Letter to the Editor that I wrote to the Conroe Courier. When all the treatment scandals generated over two years ago involving hidden waiting lists and Veterans dying untreated because of them, a new Director was named to head the VA. Two years later, there were no appreciable improvements. Bills had already been introduced in Congress to empower Veterans. One by Senator John McCain and another by Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers. I had enough and decided that I was going to go to the State Legislature for a Resolution supporting this approach and indicated so in my Letter to the Editor.
I received a call a week later from Will Metcalf that having read my letter, had taken it upon himself to introduce that Resolution. He became the Author of the Resolution. Immediately, both Mark Keough and Cecil Bell signed on as Co-authors. Brandon Creighton advised he would move it in the Senate when necessary. Once he had an opportunity to read it and, I expect, speak with Will, the Chairman of the controlling House Committee, Drew Darby, also became a Co-author. Because of these good people, we had a lot of momentum.
Over several weeks, my wife and I visited Austin to make sure every Representative and Senator had a copy of the Resolution along with an explanation of why it was necessary. Eventually I was asked by Will to testify to the relevant Committee who then passed it to go to the full House.
You would think that this would not be controversial but that’s not how Washington works. The VA is an entrenched bureaucracy which is highly protected. It was only in the past two weeks that legislation was passed and signed permitting discipline against malfeasance. The VA has roughly 360,000 employees. They are also protected. Protection of their fiefdoms had become more important than the needs of Veterans. By necessity, if Veterans can get help elsewhere, the VA would shrink. However wait times for treatment for Veterans would also shrink dramatically as well as not having to go up to 40 miles to get that treatment.
I believe the VA should maintain control over PTSD and Prosthetics where they are the dominant repository of knowledge about treatment. However, we can do a lot better for our Veterans on everything else. We need to do that.
Recently, Congressman Brady piggybacked on Senator Cruz’s initiative to build the Border Wall with monies seized from Drug Lord El Chapo. I suggest he do the same on this issue. Both Senators Cruz and Cornyn are co-sponsors of the McCain Legislation. I am sure with a minimal amount of work parallel Legislation can be introduced in the House, even reviving Representative McMorris Rogers Legislation. We’ll see.
Once more my thanks to Representatives Metcalf, Keough, Bell and Chairman Darby as well as Senator Creighton. On to the next phase.
Bill O’Sullivan, The Woodlands