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Wounded Times

Where Veterans Get Their News

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

American Legion Commander "Washington is failing troops and veterans"

Washington failing military, Legion leader says
Army Times
By Rick Maze
Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Feb 26, 2013

The head of the nation’s largest veterans’ group said Tuesday that Washington is failing troops and veterans.

Army veteran James Koutz of Boonville, Ind., national commander of the American Legion, criticized politicians for using the defense budget and service members as pawns in a battle over deficit reduction and spending priorities.

He also objected to attempts to increase out-of-pocket Tricare costs for retirees and opposed a recent Pentagon move to create a new medal for drone operators that ranks higher in precedence than some medals awarded to combat troops on the ground.
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also

New VA clinics, expansions left in limbo
By Kevin Freking
The Associated Press
Posted : Tuesday Feb 26, 2013
WASHINGTON — A veterans’ health clinic in Brick, N.J., is in such disrepair that when the snow gets heavy, patients have to go elsewhere for fear the roof might collapse. Another in San Antonio has extensive mildew and mold problems that could prove a health hazard for employees and patients in the coming years.

In Lake Charles, La., it’s not the condition of a clinic but the lack of one. It’s estimated that 6,000 veterans would enroll in VA health care if the community were to get a new clinic.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has cited these examples as it sought approval from Congress last year for a dozen new or expanded health clinics around the country.

Lawmakers anticipated that the cost for the current fiscal year would probably run into the tens of millions of dollars, but the estimate from the Congressional Budget Office came in at $1.2 billion. The nonpartisan CBO said that sound accounting principles require the full cost of the 20-year leases for the clinics be accounted for up front.

The huge jump in the clinics’ price tag left lawmakers scrambling, and in the face of the budget-cutting climate on Capitol Hill, the VA request stalled. Now the agency is warning that unless lawmakers act, some currently operating clinics may have to close after their old leases expire and other long-planned expansions will not go forward.
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