As we head into the July 4 weekend, it is important to keep the promise we make to all who serve our country. Every veteran deserves access to a family-supporting job and high quality healthcare. Last week, workers fromthe Department of Veteran Affairs were joined by veterans, patients and concerned citizens for rallies in Wisconsin and across the country to call on Congress to Keep its Promise to Veterans by rejecting the Commission on Care. The Commission on Care proposes to privatize and close VA hospitals across the country over the next two decades. Rally-goers chanted staff the VA, keep the VA open and not for profits, for veterans' care as they marched to the sounds of beeping cars and shouts of support from passing cars and motorcycles.
George Koernea, a Vietnam and Korean War veteran, joined the rally in Milwaukee because “each and every veteran, we deserve the best care and we are not going to stand by and let the VA become privatized, no way. The compassion and care that the VA staff show us patients is unparalleled and we will fight any privatization efforts.”
Congress' misguided VA Commission on Care has been rigged against veterans from the start. It is stacked with for-profit, pro-privatization hospital executives who have called for shutting down VA hospitals and selling out veterans’ health care and good jobs to the lowest bidder. Veterans overwhelming prefer the VA for their health care.
Greg West of Milwaukee, who served two tours of duty in Vietnam and has been a patient at the VA for 44 years stated, “this VA does not need outsourcing or privatization. What it needs is full funding and full staffing so the nurses and doctors and everyone from hall cleaners and food workers can do their job and continue to provide high level care. It is darn good care here. We’re ready to stop Ron Johnson and anyone else who wants to privatize the VA.”
Workers who work at the VA are represented by the American Federation of Government Employees, the Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, AFT, and the Service Employees International Union and want to provide quality health care and assistance to our veterans. We are all standing together to urge lawmakers to keep the promise we’ve made to our veterans for their sacrifice.
This July 4, let’s recommit ourselves to keeping the promise to our veterans.
Phil Neuenfeldt, President Stephanie Bloomingdale, Secretary-Treasurer