MARLIN WHO?

Our Third District Representative is pretty much a non-starter when it comes to helping our district and its residents.  Since he took office in 2010, Stutzman has spent a great deal of time raising money to ensure his hold on a lengthy political career as a Washington insider – one of those hated creatures of the night hanging out in the halls of Congress.  Mere weeks after his election, he brought a corporate lobbyist on as his Chief of Staff.

And, in no area are his lackluster efforts more apparent than in the area of helping our veteran population.  First, a little history.  In 2004, then Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Anthony Principi, announced that the inpatient beds at the local VA hospital would be closed.  That one announcement triggered a firestorm of opposition and a struggle lasting for years to rally support to save the inpatient beds.  Our small group, Veterans for Better Health Care, participated in dozens of parades, wrote letters to the editor, handed out thousands of flyers, attended town hall meetings, and argued our case to anyone who would listen every chance we got.

I was fortunate enough to be further included in two studies done by Booz Allen Hamilton, a Washington-based research company, addressing the future of the VA hospital, both as to outpatient care and inpatient care.  The final recommendations included a spacious new 220,000 square-foot Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC).  The inpatient issue was still somewhat up in the air, but at least we had been told our new CBOC would add a much-needed component to the care our veterans deserved.

Then, abruptly, in April 2011 we were told we had understood “incorrectly” and that, instead of a 220,000 square-foot, we would now get a 27,000 square-foot mental health and addictions clinic.  When pushed on the issue, Representative Stutzman simply rolled over, put on a happy face, and called the decision a great advancement for the care of veterans in our area.  While I agree we need a mental health and addictions facility for our veterans, Stutzman made no effort to find out what happened to the original plans.

He simply accepted the new decision and twisted the situation to match his inability to make a difference.  At the Republican Lincoln Day dinner in April 2011, Stutzman said “he was pushing for a new, 27,000 square foot expansion for a mental health annex.”  Pushing?  Pushing for something that we had already been told would be shoved down our throats?  He should have been outraged that the fight that had gone on for years had been totally disregarded sending us back to square one and that the promised 220,000 square-foot clinic had been sliced by almost 90%.

But, Stutzman has taken the path of least resistance not only as to veterans’ issues but also in other issues affecting our Third District.  With this approach, he is establishing his “modus operandi” of hovering under the radar, poking his head though when absolutely necessary – leading to the question of  “Marlin Who?”

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About Charlotte A. Weybright

I own a home in the historical West Central Neighborhood of Fort Wayne, Indiana. I have four grown sons and nine grandchildren - four grandsons and five granddaughters. I love to work on my home, and I enjoy crafts of all types. But, most of all, I enjoy being involved in political and community issues.
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6 Responses to MARLIN WHO?

  1. tim zank says:

    I enjoyed reading this, which I assume is the first half of your post on the subject. I’m looking forward to the second half where you explain to us in detail what it is he SHOULD have done.

    • He should have been proactive on the issue. It is an issue that has been festering in this area for eight year, and he should have had a complete understanding and background.

      I have never been a supporter of Souder, but, once Souder got on board to save the inpatient beds and get better services for our veterans, he fought hard to make sure the beds stayed.

      Mark and I are now FB friends, and we have what I would call a mutual respect for each other at this point in our lives. He is still very concerned about veterans’ issues, and we communicate on those.

      I was in D.C. last April right before this happened. At that time, I had a contact in Senator Coats’ office. He has since moved on. He told me VA Secretary Shinseki had stopped by to apprise Senator Coats of the decision to drop the plans for the 220,000 sf CBOC, and, instead, to scale back to a 27,000 sf CBOC.

      I tried immediately to get in to see Stutzman that afternoon after talking to my friend. I was told he was busy with hearings, so I got stuck talking to an assistant who had no history of what happened over the years. I tried to explain the issue, but when you are talking to someone who is not yet fully briefed on a topic, it is like talking to a brick wall. They listen, but they don’t comprehend. Shinseki sure didn’t go to see Stutzman.

      Am I going to tell you what he should have done? He should have been educated about the situation in the first place (which he wasn’t), he needs to be assertive in his actions instead of simply accepting that the CBOC promised had been sliced, and he should have demanded answers so that he could explain to us why eight years of work went down the tubes.

      Always blaming budget cuts is the easy way out. Rep. Donnelly was able to get a 65,000 sf CBOC for South Bend – you tell me what the difference is. We are the second largest city in the state, and our VA serves a large area.

      • John Kalb says:

        Charlotte:

        The Fort Wayne Campus of the VA Northern Indiana Health Care System still has a 26 bed medical center providing acute medical and surgical services, as well as primary care, medical and surgical specialty care and a mental health clinic. The campus also offers programs for the treatment of disorders such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and the Substance Abuse Treatment Program. It also has an Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqui Freedom case manager assigned to aid the returning vets from these operations.

        Now, in your opinion, just what is lacking? After all the local VA hospital still has in-patient beds which are being utilized and with the addition of the Mental Health and Addiction group with the professionals in these facilities, what else is missing? Oh, you want (but it may not be needed) a new facility as was being pushed by the “Spend, Spend, Spend” bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.? Well we sent Mr Stutzman there to quit that stuff! And he has shown that he is championing that approach.

        And we are VERY understanding as to your new relationship with our past (and disgraced) former 3rd District representative. Frankly, you can have him!

  2. John

    I am well aware of what the VA offers. I have remained in contact with various individuals at the VA, and I receive periodic updates.

    However, the plan is still to remove the inpatient units. Negotiations are still ongoing with Parkview Randallia campus. The information I received – personally – from the VA last year when the 220,000 sf clinic was slashed was that the “inpatient beds would remain FOR NOW.”

    If you cannot read between the lines on this, then I don’t know what to tell you. The larger CBOC was to consolidate many of the services from the old hospital into a new facility with ultimate demolition of the old building. One of two things would have happened with inpatient care.

    The veterans could be sent into the general population, which probably is not going to happen unless the private hospitals figure out how to deal with the red tape that goes with it. Or veterans could have their own wing at the Parkview Randallia campus now that it is being abandoned.

    What has now happened – and I understand the Republican obsession with slashing anything that gets in the way of their moral imperative to cut the budget – is that the 27,000 sf clinic is being thrown in to pacify the community and the veteran population.

    The old building is being kept for the time being simply as a band aid, but it will eventually go.

    As to your comment about Mark Souder, which appears to be condescending – I could be wrong – I thought forgiveness was in the nature of religious folks. And, frankly, I am surprised at the “tone” of your last statement as I thought you were a church-going person who believed in not judging.

    I do not agree with Mark politically, and he still retains his air of arrogance, but that is not for me to judge. He committed a “sin” as far as the Commandments go, but I was always taught that Christ came to take away the burden of the old laws that were often cruel and unforgiving.

    So, if you meant your comment in a negative tone of non forgiveness, then I suggest you attend a few more church meetings or open your Bible a little more frequently.

  3. John Kalb says:

    Charlotte: In re Mark Souder – His “sin” was against his wife and God – not agasinst me personally – so his forgiveness needs to come from her and God. Mark’s sin is forgiveable, but that does not put any of us in a position to trust him in the present or in the future – and that’s what was meant by my comment – nothing more.
    Jesus did not promise us a rose garden! His death on the cross was to re-open the door to Eternal Life, not to “take away the burden of the law” because it may have been “cruel and unforgiving”. Christ’s death did “complete” the Law, which human kind, because of sin, was unable to do.

    • Here are three things we no longer do because of the coming of Christ:

      1. Christians don’t sacrifice animals to atone for their sins (although a few denominations may do so, we don’t find it an acceptable practice).

      2. Christians aren’t required to keep a kosher diet.

      3. Christians do not kill an individual for working on Sunday.

      These were old laws – I am not talking about taking away the Ten Commandments – I am talking about the cruelty of some of the old laws contained in the Old Testament. Christ came to take those away, and, in the place of blind obedience, offer a way to salvation.

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