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Follow Through

I don’t know about you but my stomach is turning and it’s not from too many barbecues Memorial Day weekend.  No, my stomach is turning because we, as a nation, are hypocritical in the treatment of our veterans.    

 

That’s not easy to write and I’m sure it makes some of you uncomfortable, but someone owes it to these men and women to speak what’s truly on their minds.  I spent Memorial Day weekend at numerous observances and I had the honor of spending time with many veterans and their families.   In no uncertain terms, our veterans are unanimously disgusted by the recent Veterans Administration (VA) healthcare revelations that treatment delays and falsified records have led to the deaths of fellow veterans. 

 

 So while we shoot off fireworks, thank our veterans for their service, and universally commit to remember their sacrifice, we must somehow reconcile with the reality that other veterans are being systematically denied quality healthcare.  The veterans I spoke with had one overarching sentiment:  we could keep our parades, bands, pomp and circumstance if only we would treat their brother and sister veterans with the respect they deserve.   

 

They’re even more put off by all the debates, hair splitting, and finger-pointing on Capitol Hill.  The truth is these very VA scandals are as old as the hills and prior presidential administrations had the exact same, unanswered problems.  That’s the frustrating shame we shoulder together as a nation.  The health and well-being of the very people who served us, many of whom were maimed, has become a football used for political advantage.  Unfortunately, in Washington, while that football gets punted around, no one ever gets it down field.        

 

Here in New York, we’ve taken steps to get help for our veterans. We created a peer to peer veterans counseling program to help those struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury. We also set aside a percentage of state contracts for returning service disabled veterans and are working on a tax return checkoff to fund assistance for homeless veterans. But to build on these, we need a comprehensive federal policy to ensure that our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines are not forgotten and neglected by their own government. That’s even more crucial here on Long Island, which has one of the largest veteran populations in the country. 

 

I don’t purport to have the answers for this federal failure but I do know that they have just approved allowing more veterans to obtain treatment at private hospitals in order to improve care.  But that will still only be a small fraction of their healthcare needs which prompted a very good observation from these veterans:  while our nation fitfully embarks on the colossal undertaking of a National Healthcare plan, how do we rationalize that we haven’t yet extended similar private healthcare to those who have sacrificed for us? How do we justify that those that deserve our best instead sometimes receive slow and substandard care at overcrowded and underfunded VA hospitals and clinics?  The truth is there is no good reason.  Some will argue that the VA Healthcare system was designed to give veterans and their particular needs better, more personalized attention.  But clearly, that’s just not the case.  They wait weeks on end for appointments, see a different physician each time, and have no access to the world-class specialists our nation has to offer.  It was a well-intentioned plan that just didn’t work but like all things federal, it is now a sacred cow that can’t be touched.  That is unless everyday Americans create enough of an uproar to force change.       

 

That call to action should start right here on Long Island, home to nearly 140,000 veterans.  We are reminded that when they were called, there was no debate or hair-splitting.  They went and they went honorably.  They have every right to expect the same from us.  


News

James Sokol and Jake Leeds from Boy Scout Troop 298 recently completed their service projects.

 

Sokol and fellow Scouts replaced the backboards, rims and nets in the basketball court in Nuzzi Park. They also trimmed trees and repainted the court lines. 

The debate over New York State Common Core standards continues, with students from local school districts showing a mild resistance to the exams.

 

According to the New York State Allies for Public Education, 39 students in the Herricks School District opted out of the English exam, while 74 did not take the math test. For the New Hyde Park-Garden City Park School District, 17 students did not take the English test while 18 refused to take the math test.


Sports

The Sewanhaka Indians varsity football team hosted Elmont Spartans on Saturday, Oct. 18 in its final home game of the regular season. 

 

It certainly did not go as the Indians had hoped, falling 18-8, in a mistake filled game. Head coach George Kasimatis said the Indians had their chances, but kept digging themselves into a hole with mental mistakes on both sides of the ball. 

 

Playing from behind, senior running back Brenton Mighty was able to break free for a long touchdown run, to put the Indians on the board. 

Sewanhaka Indians Head football coach George Kasimatis told his team to expect a dogfight in this weeks game against the New Hyde Park Gladiators, and he was right after its 35-21 victory last week. 

 

“All the kids know each other really well, it’s always competitive when we play each other,” he said. 


Calendar

PTA Meeting - October 22

International Night - October 23

Halloween Dance - October 24


Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
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Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
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