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An Unacceptable Situation
At the VA
“In the dental clinic at the John Cochran VA Medical Center in St. Louis, our federal government is letting U.S. veterans down. The VA says 1,812 patients at the dental clinic in May were exposed to instruments that were improperly cleaned and sterilized by the staff and could have carried serious transmittable diseases to veterans. This is an unacceptable breach of protocol, and a real failure to serve the men and women of our area who have earned the best care and benefits our nation can provide.
All in all, too many veterans are falling through the cracks at VA. One veteran falling through the cracks is too many. Some are treated unfairly by a benefit claims process that doesn’t recognize exposure to Agent Orange from their service in Vietnam. Others, suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders, are dismissed from the VA without getting the care they need. Still more veterans experience problems when scheduling appointments to see the doctors charged with treating them completely and efficiently.
Congress has boosted funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs to improve the medical services and to eliminate the backlog of benefits claims. Yet, incidents like those at John Cochran VA Medical Center persist, and veterans are still waiting years to hear the response of the VA to their claims of combat-related injuries and diseases.
The VA needs a return to basics. They need to be reminded just who they are serving. These are Americans who, 65 years ago, won World War II. These are patriots who left their homes for the jungles of Vietnam or a battle formation in the Pacific Fleet off the shores of Korea. These are our sons and daughters who fought in the 120 degree heat of Iraq and the mountainous terrain of Afghanistan. These are willing servicemembers who risked life and limb for our freedoms to win the Cold War and who fought for our nation around the world under the banner of our American flag.
They do not deserve, in the phase of their lives in which it is our responsibility to care for them, to be exposed to hepatitis or HIV at a VA dental clinic. Words can’t express how angry that makes me.
Instead of results, a solution to the problem, and a full-court press from the VA in response to the situation in St. Louis (which reaches to veterans living in the Eighth Congressional District), we are getting the runaround. I’ve heard from patients that the facility is dirty, that no one there is accountable, and that veterans bear the consequences of this indifference. Unacceptable.
Now, there is evidence that a staff member was fired from John Cochran for revealing that sanitation protocols were not being followed. If this is true – it is the final straw. A congressional committee is investigating this incident and held a hearing in St. Louis, and an independent board from the VA will conduct its own review of what happed there. When those actions are complete, I will ask the VA for a special commission to return this facility to the high standards the VA should keep.
In the meantime, ANY veteran in our congressional district who has encountered a problem getting the care they need from the VA should contact a member of my staff and we will start working on their behalf immediately. My staff and I deal with hundreds of cases each year, some easy to resolve and some tough, but we will do whatever it takes to get answers when the VA isn’t doing its job.”
ÇHealthy Skepticism for the Planet
After several years of being told that global warming and climate change science are certainties about which there can be no debate, the American people now have more good reasons than ever to be skeptical.
The average adult human being exhales, mostly carbon dioxide, more than 20,000 times per day. That means 300 million Americans “breathe out” some 60 trillion times every day. Sounds like time for the federal government to step in, eh?
Global warming and climate change are now being used to promote new rules at the Environmental Protection Agency to treat carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas and to give the agency license to regulate the gas as it sees fit. That regulation almost certainly will include onerous new restrictions, rules, surcharges and taxes on gas, electricity, manufacturers and homeowners B anyone and everyone who turns on a light or starts up an automobile. With the potential to touch every business and family in the United States, the new power of EPA to enforce climate change policies will be an overwhelming hardship for our economy.
The Administrator of the EPA has promised to use her newly-declared power with common sense, but the concentration of authority within the EPA should be a cause for concern among Americans in every part of the country and all walks of life. The EPA already makes it as difficult as possible for members of Congress to conduct oversight and investigations of policies on which we disagree.
More often than not, the desires of the EPA to restrict economic activity, regulate agriculture and industry, and force changes on the American people are in direct conflict with the Congress – responsibility to work in the best interests of Americans and our economy.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a version of climate change legislation earlier this year; I voted against it. That bill was estimated to cost Missouri trillions of dollars in economic activity and thousands of jobs each year it was in effect. The effort has foundered under pressure in the U.S. Senate. However, EPA could inflict policies and regulations with ramifications just as bad, if not worse, for our national economy.
The solution must be two-fold. First and most importantly, Congress must do more than stop the cap-and-trade legislation from gaining final passage. We must also restrict the EPA from unilaterally implementing new standards for greenhouse gases that go even further than the bad legislation in the House. Then, second, we must make every effort possible through the legislative as well as the judicial branches of government to hold EPA to standards of accountability when they pick and choose scientific findings to substantiate these regulations.”