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Letters to Washington, DC

Feel free to copy and paste and send your own letter(s)!

Note:  Read these musings from the bottom up if you want to understand how the events transpired and get a feel for the chronological order of things.  WFM

22 September 2008:

As your constituent, I ask you to work for Congressional passage of the Veterans Health Care Funding Reform Act, H.R. 6939.  This bill is a very important priority for me and for America's sick and disabled veterans.  Therefore, I urge you to support it.
 
As you know, funding for health care for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is normally late, always unpredictable, and on a regular basis, has been insufficient.  I believe the lateness and unpredictability of the budgets are typically unrelated to any objection in Congress to funding care for veterans; rather, the budgets are late because Congress faces extremely difficult challenges on how and when to fund the government as a whole. 
 
VA health care is only a tiny percentage of overall federal spending.  I believe the Veterans Health Care Funding Reform Act provides Congress a commonsense means to solve this problem for veterans, without impeding your rights.  Passing this law will allow Congress to continue engaging in the larger annual budget debates, but still enables veterans to get proper care while restoring normal operations, management and planning in VA health care facilities.
 
I urge you to work on a bipartisan basis to solve the funding problem for VA health care.  This bill, the Veterans Health Care Funding Reform Act, is a step in the right direction.  Please co-sponsor this bill and work for its passage.  America's veterans worked and sacrificed for your and my freedoms.  Please provide me your position on this important legislation, and what actions you have taken to gain its passage into law.

22 January 2008:

OK, I was out of line on 16 January 2008.  I don't know Mr. Washko personally and for me to call the idea of a new clinic on the Lincoln, VA Campus a "hair brained" idea was not right.  I also should not have called his job performance into question and I should not have cussed or called him a name.  However, Mr. Washko did make the statement that we should move to Omaha and he also made the statement that we would probably all just use our Medicare anyway.  However, that meeting got pretty heated and, I too, have a tendency to lose my temper.  Bottom line...I apologize.

 

I hope that you will keep an open mind, Senator Nelson.  I know you have more of a level head than I do.  Thank you for the opportunity to express my concerns to you through April Dunning. 

 

I know it is always fun to build new buildings and tear up a bunch of land and trees and tell the owl to go away, but…I think we ought to stop and think.  Why not just sell the place as is to the private sector and let veterans in Lincoln have a pass to go to civilian contractors?  Or…how about just leasing the place, giving us a pass to go to the civilians and see if we really need a VA Health care system in Lincoln? 

 

As I expressed to April…if the VA in Lincoln can not handle a strep throat…what can they handle?  Why should I trust them at all?  April said that incident was probably an anomaly, but I don’t think so.  I have heard many stories similar to mine.

 

I mentioned to April the danger in transporting veterans to the Omaha facility and the fact that it is not cost efficient, nor is it practical.  Veterans have died in Van rollovers on the way to Omaha.  A veteran can spend their whole day up in Omaha and they might have to come back if they don’t get done what they need to get done.  Not to mention the fact, that if they are incontinent, they could soil themselves.  That will happen and probably already has.  Is that anyway to treat a veteran?  What if it was your Dad?  What if it was you?  Will a new clinic in Lincoln solve any of the problems I have mentioned? 

 

I also mentioned to April the discrepancy in cost between what the VA pays for mileage and what the active service pays.  When I left the military in 2003 it was 38 cents a mile.  That is a far cry from what the VA pays the veteran.

 

I know you can’t solve every problem and I am sure that you and I will disagree on many things, but, please listen to what I am trying to say even if you don’t care for me personally.  It is the veteran that I am concerned about and I am sure you and everyone else are concerned too.  Let’s keep what is best for the veteran in mind and ask ourselves, how can we make things better for the veteran?  

22 January 2007:

Here is what I have observed at the Lincoln, VA the last few years: 
 
At one point we had a contract with Houses of Hope (an organization that runs half-way-houses for alcohol and drug abuse folks that are trying to recover)  I was asked if I could find some linen for our veterans for use at their house which housed approximately 6 veterans at the time.  The Nebraska National Guard and General Lempke were happy to provide this much needed linen.  Well, then Houses of Hope decided they could not renew the VA's contract.  The VA has requirements that they could not meet.  So...presently...we have no place for veterans in recovery in Lincoln to go.  They are on their own like any other citizen.
 
01 November 2007:  I got a phone call from Dave Nelsen who works as a Drug and Alcohol counselor at the VA "Clinic" here in Lincoln.  He said he had a young homeless Marine just back from Iraq and would I put him up for the night?  I said sure.  He lived with me until after Thanksgiving and was probably completely out by 1 December of 2007.  This brought home the plight of Homeless NEBRASKA Veterans coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan to my front door step.  Jason was a great kid and I would still do anything for him, but I was in no shape to take on this challenge and the challenge of even more of my comrades coming home is even more daunting. 
 
During this time and before, I always noticed that there were several un-used buildings on the Lincoln VA Campus.  Why, I thought, are these buildings not being used for anything.  Well, we started pushing for a domiciliary to house homeless veterans and have had a little success:  According to Maryann Thompson...another Drug and Alcohol counselor...they are supposed to be making room for 4 or 5 beds for Drug and Alcohol patients in one of these un-used buildings. So, that is a small victory, but...the need is greater!
 
Before the New Year the people in my house had all had strep throat.  I got what I thought was strep throat.  So, I waited until the VA in Lincoln opened up at 0800 on 2 January and I got in touch with the nurse of my Primary Care Doctor and told her the situation.  I didn't think it seemed all that complicated, but she said she had to call Dr. Killian and see what he wanted to do.  (You see...Dr. Killian is just a part-time VA employee).  Anyway, she got back to me about an hour later and said I could come in for a throat swab at 1330 that day.  I did that, took it upstairs to the lab and thought I would get the results the next day at the latest.  Nope...she said it could take three or four days.  The civilians in my home got swabbed, diagnosed and got their medication from Walgreens all in about 2 hours.  WTF?  If the VA, here in Lincoln needs more people or equipment to take care of something as minor as a strep throat, don't you think they should have it?
 
Last week, I got an email from a concerned veteran that they had shut down the Urology department at the VA here in Lincoln.  Now, we can not even urinate in Lincoln?  WTF, over?  
 
Yes, we can all go to Omaha and that is not too difficult for me.  I was born in Omaha and know I-80 pretty well, but what about veterans that have special needs.  A lot of them would rather just die at home than to try and go to Omaha for help.  And what about the guy or gal in Chadron, Nebraska?             
 
So, on a temporary and local (State) level, I propose that we use the un-used buildings at the VA for the Lincoln VA Regional office, the Lancaster County Veteran Affairs office and the State of Nebraska Veteran Affairs office.  Room should also be made for a domiciliary for Homeless Veterans.   This would consolidate services and save money.
 
I also recommend that the current proposal to build a new VA "Clinic" be set aside and that the VA should make better use of what is already available to them in Lincoln.
 
What about the guys and gals in Chadron, Nebraska?  On a national level, we need to push for a Veterans Health Card to be issued to Veterans more than 50 miles away from the nearest VA medical facility.  We also need to push to get mileage re-imbursement increased for veterans that drive their own car to VA medical facilities.  When I left the Army in 2003, the re-imbursement was 38 cents per mile and our re-imbursement as veterans should be no less than what the active duty military is getting. 
 
While I thank President Bush for subsidizing the VA budget last year with 3.7 billion dollars, all I have seen in Lincoln is services for veterans getting cut!  If the VA has more money, we sure are not seeing the effects in Lincoln as far as services.  Where is that 3.7 billion dollars going?  I think as citizens and veterans, we need to be asking those questions.
 
They have talked about leasing our buildings in Lincoln to a Private Contractor in exchange for that Contractor building us a new building on the current VA campus.  This seems like a bill of goods to me!  Here is what I have seen on the Lincoln, VA campus:
 
1) Two brand new pretty signs at both entrances to the VA.  Knowing the government...these came at a cost of 100,000 dollars or more.
 
2) Painting and renovation of the old buildings along with some new furniture.
 
While these things are great, they are just cosmetic!  We appreciate comfortable chairs to sit in, but what we really want is to be able to get taken care of for minor illnesses and injuries.  Something major...take us in an ambulance on life support to Omaha, but something like a strep throat or a urinary tract infection, should be able to be handled in Lincoln.  What good is building a new building if it does not have any guts?
 
Why are they making repairs to a building they want to lease to a Private Contractor?  Yes, the old buildings are not energy efficient, but...why not bring in Lincoln Electric and Aquila and ask them for recommendations for saving money and making them more energy efficient?
 
The buildings are over 70 years old...SO, the Whitehouse is over 230 years old and they have found a way to run the Country from that little piece of history.  Why can't do the same with our buildings?
 
In my opinion...the people at the top making decisions for VISN 23 all need job evaluations.  It seems to me, there are some poor decisions being made. 
 
In the end...I suppose they will do what they want to do, but...at least I can rest at night knowing I did all I could to stop all the stupidity I could.  My hope is that Senator Nelson can help.  Goodness...someone ought to!?!
 
Your friend,
 
 
 
 
WILFRED F. MARKS
SFC, USAR
Lincoln, Nebraska
402-261-5346

Subject: Senator Nelson in regards to the Lincoln, VA
16 January 2008
Senator Nelson,
 
Thank you for replying and I look forward to your phone call or, better yet, a chance to meet you in person on the issues I have with the VA "Clinic" in Lincoln, Nebraska.  I also look forward to discussing the job that Mr. Washko is doing in respect to the VISN 23 Health Care Network which encompasses most of the plains states including Nebraska.  I am sure that President Bush would like to hear about the job he is doing too!
 
In a conference we had at the Lincoln, VA Medical Center, Mr. Al Washko made the following statements concerning veterans of Lincoln, Nebraska:
1)  He told us that if we really wanted quality health care from the VA, we should all move to Omaha.
2)  He said it really didn't matter what kind of health care the VA provides veterans in Lincoln because we would all just use Medicare anyway.
On his comment #1, I would just like to say:  EAT SHIT, BASTARD.  Are we all suppose to move to Washington, DC so that our government can meet the promises it made to us when we signed the dotted line saying that we would lay down our lives for Mr. Washko?
 
On his comment #2, I would just like to say:  Pretty much the same thing!  Not all veterans qualify for health care under Medicare and if we did, we would have to all have Medicare Supplements to meet the huge gap in coverage!  I know...I sold Medicare Supplements for Mutual of Omaha before joining the Army.  They are not cheap!
 
#3  Since Mr. Washko's ill conceived idea of having a Private Contractor build us a new "Clinic" on the grounds of the present Lincoln, VA Medical facility, he has come up with a brand new "Hair Brained" idea of having all Urology procedures done at the Omaha VA.  Now I can't even piss in Lincoln?!?  This, to me, is totally unacceptable and a disgrace to the Military and this Country!  How dare he!!!
 
#4  You have already heard my story about how the Lincoln VA can not handle a simple strep throat!  Luckily...I did not have it, but what if I had?  A)  If the Lincoln VA needs more staff, they should get it.  B)  If the Lincoln VA needs new equipment...they should get it!  C)  Why in the world would any Private Sector Company or Agency build us a new Clinic on the grounds of the Lincoln, VA and rent our old buildings when we can not even staff or equip a new clinic?
 
#5  If you don't believe what I have said about what Mr. Washko said...there was a court recorder there and Senator Hagel's staff was there and a bunch of my friends!
 
I know that you and your staff will do the best you can to resolve this situation.  Thank you all for your service!
 
My recommendations:
1.  Fire Washko
 
2.  Have a seminar for the staff of VISN 23 and let them know that the attitude that Mr. Washko professed will not be tolerated.  Mr. Washko proliferates an attitude that the veteran is at his mercy and the mercy of his staff.  This attitude can not and should not be tolerated.  The staff is employed to serve the veteran! 
 
3.  It is my opinion that veterans should be given the highest priority for employment at the VA.  The military does a wonderful job of training all of the skills necessary for running and organizing the Veterans Administration.
 
4.  If worse comes to worse, as many Candidates for President have said, every honorably discharged veteran should be issued a government visa card to go and seek out the medical care they require in the civilian world.  I know the staff at St. Elizabeth and/or Bryan LGH would be happy to see us if we had payment ready in our wallets!
 
Further more...please visit the following web page for ideas about VA reform and the plight of the Homeless Veteran in Nebraska:
 
We would also be honored to have you sign a petition for Homeless Veterans at:
 
I really hope to get the results I want through your office, Senator, but like President Bush, I will not tire, I will not falter and I will not fail.  What's right is right.  I will pursue the best care for our veterans until I die!  I might succeed and I might not...but I will not quit and I will not accept anything but the best for our veterans!  I know you feel the same as I do!
 
Sincerely,
 

WILFRED F. MARKS
SFC, United States Army (Retired)

3 January 2008:

You are not going to believe this.  This is the experience I had with VA hospital in Lincoln, NE:

 

1.  A nurse swabbed my throat at 1330 yesterday (2 Jan 08).

 

2.  I took the swab upstairs to the lab.

 

3.  The Lab sends it to Omaha today (3 Jan 08).

 

4.  In three or four days, we get the results back.

 

Meanwhile...if I have strep, it has just gotten worse over a three or four day period. 

 

I am a 100 percent Service Connected, 21 year Veteran of the US Army.  Not that all that matters, but how do they treat the guy with just a few years of service?

 

And they wonder why I drink?  Hell...I don't need a script for Jim Beam!

 

No...I am not going to drink, but...I will call my Congressman and my Senators.  Barrack Obama needs to hear about this and the funny papers too!!!  Is that show: Believe it or Not, still running?

 

My civilian girlfriend and her kids went to a civilian ER, got swabbed, got the results back and had their medication all in about two hours.  Now...I have their illness...I served my Country and got injured in the process, but I have to wait four days?  I am sorry, but that is unacceptable! 

 

I don't think I am the only one that feels that way either!  I'll bet there are a lot of  Veterans that have stories to tell about their experiences with the VA Hospital in Lincoln and across this country.

 

 

 

 

WILFRED F. MARKS

 

 

20 December 2007:

Click here to read about one solution to the High Cost and Low Efficiency of VA Health Care!

Frequently asked Questions and Comments on a Government Veteran Health Card for Disabled American Veterans!

20 December 2007
 
Representative Jeff Fortenberry
U. S. House of Representatives
1517 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-0001

Dear Representative,

Please support the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) in the Energy Bill that includes vital environmental safeguards, and reject the version currently included in the Senate Food and Farm Bill.

The RFS included in the Energy Bill just signed into law includes vital standards for environmental protection and reductions in global warming pollution. It gives oversight to the Environmental Protection Agency, contains critical habitat and sustainability protections, and mandates that more than half of the new fuels produced release at least 50 percent less global warming pollution than gasoline. The Senate Food and Farm Bill version of the RFS contains none of these requirements.

If developed in a sustainable way, biofuels do have the potential to produce fuel with fewer risks than those associated with oil. But a rapid global expansion of biofuel production could have unwanted environmental and economic consequences. The RFS included in the Energy Bill is a first step toward ensuring a future for biofuels that we will not regret. This version, not the Senate Food and Farm Bill alternative, deserves your support.

Sincerely,

Wilfred F. Marks

Click here to read about a new Generation of Homeless Veterans!

Why does Johnny come Marching Home, Homeless?

Click here to read about the Surge in Homless Veterans, Bill !!!

There may be Hope yet for Homeless Veterans!

Issue: Homeless Veterans

Date: 20 November 2007

 

This is what the VA wants to do in Lincoln, Nebraska and across the country:

http://journalstar.com/articles/2007/11/15/news/local/doc473bc54e19d64555184896.txt

 

These are the problems and issues we are having in Lincoln:

http://journalstar.com/articles/2007/11/18/news/local/doc474088910f84c630535364.txt

 

 

Homeless veterans?  It seems to me that this just should not happen.  Nebraska is the only state in the Country that does not have a domiciliary where homeless veterans can go.  Jason is just the beginning.  There will be more before this war is over: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/08/us/08vets.html

 

Please read all of the above information and write to Senator Hagel, Senator Nelson and Congressman Fortenberry and ask them why there is no domiciliary in Lincoln when there are four empty buildings on the Lincoln, Nebraska VA Medical Center campus?  If they tell you that there is no money, ask them what happened to the money?  The President and Congress can afford to give everybody a tax rebate, but no money for our troops?  The President just authorized 3.7 billion dollars for the VA…was that not enough?  Everybody is for saving tax dollars and getting tax rebates, but our returning Veterans deserve the best!!!

 

Contact Senator Ben Nelson:    http://bennelson.senate.gov/contact/email.cfm

 

Contact Senator Chuck Hagel:  http://Hagel.senate.gov/index.cfm?FuseAction=Contact.Home

 

Contact Congressman Fortenberry:

http://fortenberry.house.gov/contactform_zipcheck.shtml

 

 

 

Click here to read about the Surge in Homeless Veterans!

Click here to read about a new Generation of Homeless Veterans!

Why does Johnny come Marching Home, Homeless?

There may be Hope yet for Homeless Veterans!

The Plight of the Homeless Veteran!

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