Sunday, March 23, 2008

McCracken Offers Real Solutions for Veterans in the 5th District

This week I had the chance to participate in a candidate forum on veteran’s issues held in Franklin, Venango County. The forum offered a great opportunity to address several issues important to veterans in the 5th district. Several weeks ago I spoke with Ed Scurry, one of the veterans who set up the forum, and he mentioned to me the frustration that veterans in the north central region feel in trying to get regular attention from the current congressman.

Understanding their frustration, one of the ideas I offered during the forum is that I will employ a person on my district staff in the position of Veteran’s Liaison. The top priorities of the Veteran’s Liaison will be to meet on a regular basis with veterans and veterans groups on issues important to them on the local, regional and national levels. Additionally, I will utilize this person to keep me informed and up to date on all issues important to veterans. Perhaps the most important part of my idea, and a promise I will keep, is the person I hire as the Veterans Liaison will be a veteran from the 5th district.

I also continue to press my idea that the federal Veteran’s Administration should have the ability to subcontract with local health care providers so elderly and disabled veterans can get health care services closer to home. I’ve told the story several times during the campaign of Clearfield County veterans who have to travel to Pittsburgh to get cardiac care when we have a state of the art cardiac facility at the DuBois Regional Medical Center.

Another issue of great importance to veterans in the 5th district and across the nation is the issue of concurrent receipt. It is my firm belief that a veteran’s pension payment and military disability compensation should be kept separated – one should not have an affect on the other. A veteran has earned their pension and it should not have an amount deducted if they also receive disability compensation. Additionally, if a veteran has served their country and suffered a service related disability, our nation owes them their disability compensation. In Congress, I will support veterans receiving their full military pension and, for any disabled veterans, they should also receive their disability compensation in addition to their pension.

As a nation, we owe a tremendous debt to our veterans. My recently deceased father was a proud veteran of World War II and my father-in-law served in Vietnam. Also, as county commissioner, I work closely with our county VA Director to make sure he has the funding to adequately serve veterans in Clearfield County. It’s a sad day when we hear the stories coming out of Congress that they fail to adequately fund services for our nation’s veterans.

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