Op-Ed: Federal government needs to right the wrong on veterans’ health care
Many of our families on Guam as well as in the Northern Marianas and American Samoa have family members who serve in the military or have served in the military for a big part of their adult lives.
When the service to country is over, and they’ve returned home, and age catches up and they get ill, they realize the health care for veterans on Guam, in the Northern Marianas and American Samoa falls short of what is available to veterans in Hawaii and the U.S. mainland.
Veterans on Guam have to travel to a veterans hospital in Hawaii or stateside for certain services that aren’t available at home, away from family. In the Northern Marianas, there’s no full-time clinic for veterans at all.
These issues have been a problem for years, but the passage of time doesn’t make the issue stale. The longer it takes to address it; the Veterans Administration becomes an even more responsible party in the neglect of veterans' health care on the islands.
A few days ago, Guam Del. Madeleine Bordallo, Northern Marianas Del. Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan and American Samoa Del. Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen issued a joint letter calling for the U.S. House of Representatives’ committee on military veterans affairs to hold an oversight hearing on the failures of health care for veterans on the islands. Our islands not only fly the American flag, we also have some of the highest enlistment rates in the nation, the delegates point out.
It’s good that the three delegates have united because their unified voice has a greater chance of being heard.
People in the local and federal government who are in charge of veterans issues on the island should keep beating the drum on this problem until the federal government finally gives this the urgent attention it deserves.