US Senator Jerry Moran focused on his attempted support for veterans and their healthcare needs when he was interviewed Friday afternoon by Mid Kansas Online News Editor Nick Gosnell.
Senator Moran said of those who served, "They, in my view, deserve to be front and center."
Moran then explained a bill that was passed last year that was intended to allow veterans to get care in VA facilities within 40 miles of their home, or if that was unavailable due to distance or due to a waiting list, that veterans could go to their local doctors and hospitals for treatment, paid for by the government.
Unfortunately, according to Senator Moran that promise is not being kept.
Moran said, "What we've discovered is that the Department of Veterans Affairs, the culture of that place, the bureaucracy, it seems like they are just doing everything possible to keep that from being implemented in a way that is just common sense and good for the veteran."
The latest example of that is the Department's intent to use the money set aside for the medical treatments for those on waiting lists or outside of the 40 mile radius to pay for cost overruns at a new VA facility being built in Colorado.
Moran said, "We're trying to make certain that nobody at the VA decides that's a good idea and if they do, that the Congress is there to say, I'm sorry, we're trying to solve problems for veterans across the country and you're not going to take nearly a billion dollars out of the funds to do that to meet the problems created by mismanagement."
Senator Moran then gave an example of where he believes the money should go.
Moran said, "It's been four years since the outpatient VA clinic in Liberal, Kansas, has had a physician. Could you use the money to hire a physician to meet the needs of veterans in southwest Kansas as compared to trying to meet the cost overruns on a mismanaged project by the VA."
Moran also is cosponsoring a bill to allow for research into the effects of chemical exposure in war zones from Vietnam to the present day, not only on veterans, but on their descendants.
Moran said, "Our servicemen and women made a sacrifice when they agreed to serve. I would guess that in nearly every instance, they recognized there might be some personal harm to them for that service. It's got to be even so much more troublesome when they realize that their service, something they were willing to do, willing to take the risk, turns out to be risky to their kids and grandkids."
The idea behind the bill is that the VA would do research on veterans consequences of exposure from Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan, so that the VA could prove whether or not there are any effects on descendants and help those descendants if effects are found.
It also requires the VA to release the medical records of all those exposed to such substances and to declassify those records, if necessary.