Guest opinion: Doing right by our veterans

2014-05-30T00:00:00Z Guest opinion: Doing right by our veterans The Billings Gazette
May 30, 2014 12:00 am

Accountability, otherwise called "doing the right thing" in a social context, according to a scientific study of toddlers, indicates that most humans are born with that trait. So where does that natural tendency get sidetracked? Parents? Teachers? Peers? Or like Flip Wilson used to say, “The Devil made me do it."

I don't know what earthly possible excuse there could be for dumping household trash out along the highway, but there it was. I certainly hope this person's children did not witness this crime against all of us. I intended to clean it all up and haul it off until I spied a piece of the culprit's mail and thought of a better plan. There was no one home at the address I found, so I left a note saying that if the trash was still there tomorrow, I would turn them in for littering.

The mess was gone the next day.

My hope is that someone else did not do what I intended to do and that if the guilty person did clean up his mess, his children may have learned something from that incident. Worst case scenario would be an admonishment for whomever was careless enough to leave a "paper trail" in the trash.

Regardless of noise from the "antis," Americans are the most giving and helpful people on the planet. It speaks well of our culture, and we do have a culture that is uniquely identifiable as "American." That is probably why there is such widespread concern over the offenses to common courtesy, accountability and integrity that occur in our society rather than the shoulder shrug and "not my problem" attitude found in much of the rest of the world.

The flap over the Veterans Administration scandal has a lot to do with accountability and lack of its application in the world of "business as usual" in a fairly emotionless assembly-line process in medical care for our veterans.

But the fault does not lie entirely in the lap of the bureaucrats processing applications for medical help. I know that there is a large number of people scamming the system seeking medical treatment they were never entitled to. These "fakes" clog the application system which must check, cross-check, verify and double check again, often taking months to respond to inquiries, thus burning up precious man hours and creating massive amounts of paperwork. To complicate matters, there was a fire in a huge file storage facility that destroyed probably millions of veteran's records.

As past adjutant for our American Legion Post, I often heard the frustration our service officer expressed about trying to steer applications through the acceptance process at the VA hospital.

Maybe it's time to go to a voucher system for our veterans and, if not, at least a system overhaul.

But just so you know, I think the Sheridan VA does a great job and in no way reflects the horror stories emanating from other parts of the country. Perhaps those facilities could learn something from Wyoming's VA.

Mike Kuzara lives in Wyarno, Wyo.

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