Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What General Convention (Hasn't) Said: Veterans and Health

This morning I happened to catch the repeat of “The News Hour” on PBS (in my market they run it the following morning). What caught my attention was this report: “Military, VA Confront Rising Suicide Rates Among Troops.” I encourage you to watch it. The information in it, and the concern for high rates of suicide and emotional trauma among veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, are not new to me. This report suggested the Army is working hard to improve the response to these needs, while the Veterans Administration may be lagging behind.

That brought me to wonder what the General Convention had said about care, and especially health care, for veterans. When I searched actions of General Convention since 1976, I discovered that there was, sadly, very little. Indeed, there was only one resolution, dating all the way back to 1976. That year the General Convention passed resolution 1976-B182, titled “Affirm Bicentennial by Resolving Issues Relating to the Vietnam War.” While it did not speak specifically of health care, it did say in part,

1. Commend the leaders of the United States Government for the efforts and programs aimed at restoring to productive lives those who served the nation in the Indochina conflict as well as those who chose not to serve;

2. Urge the furtherance of those efforts by granting to Vietnam veterans benefits fully equivalent to those granted to veterans who served the nation in World War II and in the Korean conflict; ...

On this Veterans Day I would hope that all of us, without waiting for a resolution from General Convention, could support the same efforts for veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan; and, for that matter, of Panama, Grenada, Bosnia, Somalia, and elsewhere. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder isn’t really new. It’s just a medical diagnostic term for how emotional traumas have affected some veterans in any conflict. Thank God that more veterans have not been so seriously affected; but we are still called, both in national responsibility and in Christian compassion, to support appropriate services for those veterans who have been.

Again, I regret that General Convention has not had more to say on this over the last generation. On the other hand, we’ll soon be in Anaheim....

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