Almost four months ago, retired Air Force Chief Master Sergeant John Stewart used an online submission tool to convey a message to members of the U.S. House of Representatives Veterans Affairs Committee in Washington, D.C. A veteran who retired after almost three decades of active-duty service in the world of Air Force Special Operations, Chief Stewart needed to share his observations about that committee’s work. The response he received today shows members of the committee appear to be ignoring veterans and “phoning it in” from the campaign trail.
On Monday, Feb. 27, at 9:05 p.m. Eastern, the chief clicked “send” on the following message, subject: “Reforming VA’s Flawed Fiduciary System”:
I read with interest notes from the recent The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations (O&I) of the U.S. House Committee on Veterans Affairs regarding the atrocious fiduciary system. I note there were none of us out here impacted by this flawed system appearing before the oversight hearing. Afterwards I could not even contact the Chairman because his website refuses anyone not within his political district of responsibility.
Trust me, if you had brought a few of us up there experiencing this system I believe the final decision would have been to completely overhaul, or replace, the current methods.
As an example I am currently a Member of the Board for our County Advisory Board, Member of the Board for Operation Welcome Home, Editor of two veterans newspapers, webmaster for 7 veterans websites, have performed hundreds if not thousands of funerals for veterans at national and private cemeteries, and more. Yet I have been declared incompetent and if I had been privileged to relate the story of that process and what has occurred since it would have clearly shown just how flawed this system is. And, I am only one of many. Google “veterans fiduciary problems” to prove my point.
I pray you do something to rectify this situation and if any further hearings are planned you bring we little guys up there to tell it like it is.
CMSgt, USAF (ret)
Today at 2:41 p.m. Eastern, Chief Stewart received the less-than-thoughtful reply below from “The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs”:
Dear Mr. Stewart,
Thank you for contacting the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. We depend upon hearing from veterans utilizing VA care and services to better serve your needs here in Congress. As the Committee with jurisdiction over the Department of Veterans Affairs, we thank you for taking the time to provide us with your experience. This information allows us to follow-up directly with VA regarding matters you bring to our attention.
The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
Apparently, no one on the committee was brave enough to have his name appear below such a weak response during an election year. No surprise there!
I’d say Chief Stewart was more than kind to describe the response as “Absolutely amazing.” After all of the hardship and sacrifice he and his wife, Renate, have made for this country during the past 30-plus years — including seeing their son, Kelly, wrongly convicted of crimes — one would think he might deserve just a bit more respect.
If you think Chief Stewart and other veterans deserve a little more respect than this reply demonstrates, CONTACT YOUR ELECTED OFFICIALS IN WASHINGTON, D.C., and demand they provide it!
UPDATE 6/30/12 at 6:24 p.m. Central: This New York Times article seems to corroborate how Chief Stewart has described his VA experience during conversations with me.
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Be sure to order a copy of my book about Stewart’s son, “Three Days In August: A U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier’s Fight For Military Justice.” It will make your blood boil just like the news above probably did.
In addition, I invite you check out the website for my upcoming second nonfiction book, “The CLAPPER MEMO,” set for release this fall. Thanks in advance!