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VA Mileage Reimbursement

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Senator E. Benjamin Nelson

440 North 8th Street

Suite 120

Lincoln, Nebraska  68508


                                                                             02 February 2008


SUBJECT:  VA Increases Travel Reimbursement for Eligible Veterans


I want to commend Secretary Peake for raising the mileage reimbursement of “eligible” veterans.  It was long overdue.  It was nice of him to acknowledge that we “earned” it too.


However, like I told your staffer (April) and she seemed to agree, it seems funny to me that when I was Active Duty in 2003 and I submitted a travel voucher for my troops for health care at Offutt AFB, we were reimbursed at a rate of 38 cents per mile.  I am sure the troops are receiving more now at today’s gas prices.


Veterans now receive a rate of 28 cents a mile.  Why the discrepancy between veterans and Active Duty?


I posed this question to Larry Scott, Founder & Editor; of VA Watchdog dot Org www.vawatchdog.org .   Larry told me that veterans are not government employees.  Mmmmm, seems to me that gas is gas and wear and tear on a vehicle is wear and tear on a vehicle?


Apparently, veterans do not qualify for the government rate of reimbursement...well, then some one is getting paid too much or someone is getting paid too little.  I wonder if the government would accept a pay cut?


You know, many veterans would still be government employees if it were not for the wounds they incurred while in the military.  My friend and former Marine, Jason, comes to mind.  He is only 26 years old and had 22 percent of his brain blown off by shrapnel in Iraq.  Is it his fault he is not a government employee?  Is it his fault he is no longer a Marine?  I don’t think so.


Sir, it is amazing to me how little respect veterans get as compared to their Active Duty brothers and sisters.  Shouldn’t it just be the opposite?  Veterans completed their commitments…the Active Duty are still in the process of fulfilling theirs and who knows if they will accomplish that?  It is more difficult now, in war. 


This all goes back to why the Veteran Health Care System should be sold to the private sector.  If we could go to St. Elizabeth or Bryan LGH…we would not need mileage reimbursement except in rare circumstances.


Why not privatize Health Care for veterans and use the savings in money to hire people to process the claims that the VA is backed up on?  Last I heard there was a stack of 400,000 honorable discharged service members still waiting to hear from the VA. 


By the way…this new mileage rate that Mr. Peake was so generous to give us comes at a cost.  Veterans still have to drive long distances and…the deductible went up!  The deductible is now $7.77 for a one way trip and 15.54 for a two way trip.  What this means is mileage reimbursement just went down for a lot of veterans!  If a veteran drives from Lincoln to Omaha and back (assuming that they make it back after being treated at the VA world class hospital up there)…we might as well not even submit a claim to this “grateful” nation!  It is not worth the trouble of standing in line!  Hell, they might figure we owe them money!


Thank you for your time,