Several years ago Mark Souder threw up his hands in disgust and told veterans that if they pushed too much they would lose everything in Fort Wayne. Souder offered no support, no encouragement – all recorded on an a DVD for posterity.
Cowardice comes to mind. His position at that time was to just accept the Capital Asset and Realignment for Enhanced Services (CARES) commission decision and not challenge the wisdom of the government agency, which intended to eliminate the inpatient beds at the Fort Wayne, Indiana, VA facility.
But, thanks to a number of dedicated and concerned individuals, among them Dr.Tom Hayhurst, the issue was not allowed to retreat to the back burner much to Souder’s dismay. Dr. Hayhurst and his fellow veterans decided that enough was enough – veterans in this area deserved to keep their inpatient beds.
Dr. Hayhurst and about 10 other outraged and dedicated veterans founded a group – Veterans for Better Health Care – and demanded that the inpatient beds stay in Fort Wayne and that our veterans not be shipped to Ann Arbor or Indianapolis for care – a ridiculous process for the second largest city in Indiana and the VA Hospital which serves thousands of our area veterans.
I became Director of Veterans for Better Health Care in October 2005. We fought long and hard for our veterans – to make sure the promises that had been made to them when they enlisted were not thrown aside and forgotten. Souder is like a slipperly eel when it comes to veterans issues. He told the Elkhart Truth newspaper that “if it had not been for the veterans, he and his office would not paid as much attention.”
Souder was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War. How does he even have any concept of what veterans go through? While I acknowledge his decision to take a stand and opt out of the Vietnam War, I have to ask how he has any inkling of what our veterans went through and today still go through. The answer is simple – he doesn’t.
Thus, we have the current resolution to the issue – no inpatient beds at the existing VA Hospital and a new Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) in roughly 2011. But where will the veterans go for inpatient treatment? Well, it appears they will go to area hospitals – just like everyone else. I have to wonder if those hospitals will have special treatment facilities for those who suffer with PTSD.
A veteran understands veterans. Tom Hayhurst, who ran against Souder in 2006, understands veterans issues. He was a veteran. Let’s hope that Dr. Hayhurst decides to run again – this time maybe all voters – not just veterans – will understand that it “truly takes one to know one.”