Letters: Roe, protect sanctity of VA

Johnson City Press • May 12, 2018 at 6:00 AM

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Roe, protect sanctity of VA

I’m delighted Rep. Phil Roe weighed in to attack my Community Voices column challenging the truthfulness of his latest position on outsourcing the VA. If you didn’t see the column, I invite you to access it and read for yourself. The Press titled it “Roe, Kochs fall flat on outsourcing VA” (Johnson City Press, April 22, 2018).

I stand by my words and Roe’s own words prove them. He often writes of his superlative support for veterans in his weekly newsletter. I refer you again especially to the 10/8/17 edition which provided a link to his Care in the Community Act, which lauded some 30 percent of VA care already privatized, in his view an “accomplishment.” You will also note that I didn’t sugarcoat the failings of the VA, in Phoenix or elsewhere, but I did provide a context for understanding, given normal human limitations, why it likely happened. I laid the blame for lack of VA capacity on Congress’s failure to plan for the predictable increase in war injuries.

He says in his op-ed that now funding for the VA has greatly increased. Good — as long as the money strengthens the VA and does not substitute outsourcing of VA services, except in necessity. Trump himself favors privatizing the VA, as do most Republicans. Why? They do not support public-funded and publicly run systems in principle (What, no profit?). My column describes their failed efforts to reshape veterans services, and the valid resistance which continues to block them.

Mr. Roe says Democrats deliberately misrepresent his position on the VA, only for politics, but his own words expose pandering and backtracking. Be wary, veterans. The future of a treasured public institution remains in the crosshairs, with Koch Brothers lurking in the background.

Johnson City

Be clear on VA outsourcing

It occurs to me that Rep. Phil Roe would do himself a good turn and either lie low or come out clearly on the issue of outsourcing veterans care. There's far too much in his past statements strong enough to indict him as a proponent of privatizing the VA. Just being a congressional Republican does that, but speaking as the chair of the Veterans Affairs Committee as often as he has done leaves an indelible trail of evidence. Maybe I'd advise him to speak less, but he seems one to need the last word.

It is my understanding that District 1's representative is not held in general high esteem by many at the VA. One can't be heavy-handed and interfere in ways which demean the professional staff responsible for the day-to-day running of our facility, routinely credited with excellent care. They know the fairest and best scheduling of patients and shouldn't always be expected to bow to Phil Roe with concessions to make him look good. In our local situation the professionals know their jobs. Roe should listen and support but not act high-handedly.

If he's now honestly against Trump's public/private option, "either/or all private," he needs to plainly take a stand and say so. Perhaps he'd convince us if he'd acknowledge previous stands and actions and make a firm statement that Trump's position could do immeasurable harm to the VA. In fact, I challenge him to do that, to prove the sincerity of words he published in his May 10 op-ed. Perhaps that would help us all determine what is really "fake news."

Johnson City

Blackburn contributed to opioid crisis

The candidates for the midterm elections of 2018 are slowly beginning to make their pleas to the voters why they should be elected.

There is one candidate that certainly does not deserve your vote, and that candidate is Tennessee Republican Marsha Blackburn. She, along with Pennsylvania Republican Tom Marino, created the bill ( H.R. 4709) that allowed the drug companies to continue flooding the country with opioids and the deaths to continue. Please look it up, this information is readily available on the internet.

Anyone but Marsha!

Piney Flats

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