PINO: "Patriots in name only."
The accusation seems harsh, and honestly, is unjustified when considered in the totality of a Senator's public service.
But it feels at least a bit appropriate when C-123 veterans suffering Agent Orange illnesses turn to the Hill for help with such a fundamental need as our access to VA medical care we've earned. And, which even VA says is due us.
PINO. Only seven of one hundred United States Senators cared enough about us to lend their names, influence and prestige by signing letters to VA Secretary McDonald. Perhaps they've acted in other ways we are unaware of...but why aren't we aware if they've done anything at all?
Our simple problem is we need to gain access to VA medical care. Even though the GAO rates VA medical care as "high risk" we still need it and our other earned benefits. Of course, part of VA's high risk in our case is their fighting us for four years so far, even though the science eventually proved us right.
And still VA fights doing right by us. Trying to minimize the number of C-123 personnel they'll consider. Trying to delay any resolute action by the Secretary as long as possible. Trying to prevent retroactive benefits. Trying to create illogical statutory barriers. Trying to refuse Freedom of Information Act requests. Trying to prevent access to the VA Agent Orange Registry exam. If VA has been helping in the months since the January 9 2015 Institute of Medicine report, it is being kept very, very quiet. And very, very delayed.
Senators could help, just as the bipartisan group formed by Senators Bennet, Merkley, Burr, Warren, Blumenthal, Brown and Wyden have done in challenging Secretary McDonald to act.
Only seven voices among one hundred.
Silence by the 93 seems louder than the voice of the seven Senators who've shown care. In fact, we've never heard silence this loud, a silence so comforting to the VA in supporting its actions against us, but a silence of little comfort to us.
PINO. No, not that. No, it just feels and acts and results some little bit like it.