McCain Proposes to Ration Veterans' Health Care





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Published on Jul 23, 2008

QUESTION: "Sir, I'm a disabled Iraq war veteran. Myself, along with other disabled veterans, have been having difficulties receiving benefits from the VA. The issue is from the adjudication process that hasn't been changed since World War I. When you become president, and I do mean when you do become president, will you facilitate change in the adjudication process that's 90 years old?"

MCCAIN: "We did make some improvements in legislation that was recently passed by the Congress. We need to do more. But I think you would agree, first of all, thank you for your service. Could I ... While the rest of you sit down, could I also say that there's another veteran that I see here from our greatest generation. Would you stand also, sir? Thank you. Because we appreciate your service of the greatest generation. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you and God bless you, sir. Thank you. We have veterans of all wars here and, of course, you continue to inspire all of us.

"Um, look, I carry with me, usually, a little card, quote, from General George Washington in 1789. That's why I mentioned our greatest generation being here, too. And, basically, what he said in 1789, and I am not as eloquent, he said, 'The willingness with which young Americans will serve their country in time of war will be directly related to how the veterans of previous wars were treated by their fellow countrymen. That, those words are as true today as they were then.

"I think we have great people working for the VA. I think you would agree with that. We have wonderful, dedicated people. I was recently down, Phoenix VA, and met with them, some of them, and they're doing a great job. But we also know there's not enough facility and there's not enough care. So here's my idea, and it's not originated with me, but I've consulted with so many ... others who are here. Look, we need to concentrate our efforts to handle those wounds and those disabilities that are directly the result of combat. We need to expand our ability to treat PTSD. PTSD is going to be tough in this war, you know that. And we need to treat the combat wounds. We need to increase that ability to do so. And, right now, unfortunately, there are people now drive a long way and they stand in, and they have a routine healthcare need, and they stand in line to stand in line to get an appointment to get an appointment. Now, my friends, we need to give those veterans that have routine healthcare needs a plastic card, and say, 'Take that to the doctor or the healthcare provider of your choice and get the care you need.' And, meanwhile, concentrate, concentrate, concentrate on our ability to treat PTSD, the wounds. The good news is, as you know, we are getting the wounded more quickly to medical care than ever before and saving so many lives.

"So, and by the way, um, there are various efforts, including led by a couple of men down here, where we care for our homeless veterans, as well. And they're doing a great job in the city of Concord, Nashua, Concord and Nashua ..."

VETERAN: "I was a football player. I just want to say, number one, I'd like you to, I'd like one of your good friends to stand up ... one of your prisoner of war buddies. Gentlemen, ladies and gentlemen, a POW from Vietnam. Let's give him a standing round of applause here.

"I just want to say, again, as I've done before, thank you for what you've done for us. In Nashua, we have Buckingham Place, that you of course spoke at when it opened up. And we're hoping in the next year or so to open up our second home. We do have one in Manchester and we do have one in Concord, so you may get mixed up, John, but we know where your heart is. Thank you very much."

MCCAIN: "In Buckingham Place, they take people who are homeless and they are, for two years, and during that period of time they're expected to stay clean, they're expected to do certain things, and the success has been remarkable. And I thank you. ... First one for families. Thank you." (7\22\08, Townhall Meeting, Rochester, NH)


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