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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

In a typical Long Island community packed with houses and backyards, there are a couple of acres of open land of community gardens where people are growing basil and dahlias and roses and cabbages—people like Terry Dunckey of Westbury and Peg Woerner of Great Neck, tending their small plots and helping to promote sustainable and organic practices.

East Meadow Farm, off Merrick Avenue, is owned by Nassau County and operated by Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) of Nassau County. Previously it was a family-owned farm that was purchased by the county through the Environment Bond Act Program, a $150 million program that called for, among several mandates, the preservation of 400 acres of open space. In 2009, CCE of Nassau was awarded the lease to the land and in January 2012 took possession of the property. East Meadow Farm is a place where we can get the best advice on how to make our gardens grow without harming the earth. Part of the CCE’s original proposal was the establishment of a farmer’s market and, now, the market is open two days a week, a place to purchase organic vegetables and flowers during the growing season.

Drivers—get ready to slow down. Nassau County is currently in the process of installing school zone speed cameras in an effort to enhance safety by encouraging drivers to travel with caution, as well as support law enforcement efforts to crack down on violators and prevent accidents caused by speeding.

Nassau County officials say they’re still investigating locations in the Mineola School District, while leaning towards installing cameras near the North Side or Willets Road schools in the East Williston School District. Cameras could begin operation in September.


Sports

Nobody wants to make excuses, but sometimes when the injury bug hits, it’s impossible to overcome. Mineola Mustangs football head coach Dan Guido, entering his 28th season at helm, knows the injuries were the cause for their first-round defeat at the hands of the West Hempstead Rams last November.

“There was too many injuries on the offensive line last season,” said Guido. “It was supposed to be our strength and it ended up being a weak link by the end of the season.”

Even with those injuries, the Mustangs went 4-4 during the regular season.

The BU15 Mineola Revolution were crowned champions of the Roar at the Shore Tournament 2014 in West Islip on Aug. 10. After dropping the opener 2-0 against North Valley Stream, Mineola bounced back to beat Freeport Premiere 2-1.

The Revolution’s offense exploded in the third game as they beat West Islip 7-0. Mineola’s final game pitted them against Quickstrike FC, which entered the contest without a loss and within a point of winning the tournament.


Calendar

Zoning Meeting

Thursday, Aug. 28

Mineola Village Meeting

Wednesday, Sept. 3

School Board Meeting

Thursday, Sept. 4



Columns

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

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com