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|Hare Calls on VA, Government to Step Up for Vets
|An area congressman who last month received the endorsements of the VFW and the Illinois Farm Bureau says there's still a lot of work to do to ensure veterans have access to benefits they deserve.
US Representative Phil Hare, during a recent appearance in Galesburg, said after years of neglect, Congress is making progress to do more for the nation's returning soldiers. The Rock Island Democrat says he's proud that the House Veterans' Affairs Committee---which he serves on---crafted a budget that included the largest increase for veterans' health care in the history of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
But Hare says there are many more improvements that need to be made, like reducing a backlog of more than a half-million V-A disability claims and addressing the high rate of veteran suicides. Hare says Minnesota has a "veterans to veterans" program that works well, and he'd like to see it here in Illinois.
"In Minnesota, you have a veteran talking to a veteran right away. When that veteran is suicidal or has thoughts of harming his or herself or their family, they call a number and a veteran is on the other end of that phone. It may not be a clinical psychologist-trained veteran, but it's a veteran, somebody that veteran can relate to, build up a rapport with, talk to, somebody that's kind of been there and done that---what they've done."
Hare says there are currently 1,000 attempted suicides by veterans every month in the United States. He says the rate in Minnesota fell by nearly 80 percent after the "veterans to veterans" program was implemented.
Hare, who cruised to victory in last Tuesday's election, has seen other initiatives he supported signed into law. They include an Expanded G-I Bill, a pilot program to allow rural veterans to seek care at the hospital closest to them and a bill to provide mental health counseling to the families of wounded soldiers.
|11 08 08 by Newsroom
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