Inaccuracies about VA

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 24, 2014

On May 15, WSOC Channel 9 in Charlotte aired a story that I believe mischaracterized who we are and our mission. I’ve been troubled enough about the inaccuracies in this broadcast that I want to communicate with everyone who has a stake in the Salisbury VA Medical Center.
Referring to veterans in need, the report quoted an anonymous employee negatively saying “the VA doesn’t turn anybody down.” Let me say that I’m proud to be part of the organization that cares for every eligible veteran who took the oath “to protect and defend the United States of America against all enemies foreign and domestic.” Our commander in chief has recently reminded this nation that we as a nation have a sacred obligation to care for those who have served.
If WSOC or the anonymous employee who came forward don’t subscribe to this way of thinking, it’s their prerogative, but as for me, I’m proud of taking care of veterans.
The broadcast also mischaracterized VA disability benefits as “financial assistance.” I’m confident most of you know that VA disability is not a hand out, but rather compensation paid to veterans who suffered injuries and ailments while in service to our country. It is imperative to explain why these men and women receive these disability benefits.
The employee in the broadcast went on to claim we had some veterans who were admitted 20 times last year. In actuality, the highest number of mental health admissions last year for any single veteran at Salisbury was seven times. This number aside, it is an odd concern that some people think we should be regulating how many times one can seek help. We are in the health care business. We work very hard to identify veterans in need of substance abuse intervention, encourage their treatment and help them in their journey to recovery.
I’d also like to address our efforts to eliminate veteran homelessness. The “housing first” model we use is a proven method to reducing returns to homelessness. Last year we screened more than 1,600 veterans through the program and issued housing vouchers to 467 veterans. From the White House down, we are working to eliminate this unfortunate circumstance that is plaguing many veterans.
So, regardless of what some may think, VA does get veterans off the streets. If you know of a homeless veteran or a veteran on the verge of homelessness, please call the homeless veteran hotline at 1-877-4AID-VET (1-877-424-3838).
Should you have any questions or concerns about our service, or suggestions as to how we can improve, please do not hesitate to let me or my staff know. Thank you for your time and your continued support of our efforts to “care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan.”
I am proud to serve those who served.

Kaye Green is director of the W.G. (Bill) Hefner VA Medical Center.