"We must reverse the unacceptable actions of 2003 that locked so many Vets out of the VA medical system......" Congressman Joe Sestak
MEDIA, PA – As we approach Veterans Day and our newest Veterans return from Iraq and Afghanistan with increasing instances of brain injuries and stress disorders, Congressman Joe Sestak (PA-07) wrote to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, General Eric Shinseki, to address how our legal and medical systems can better collaborate to support those Veterans who may find themselves incarcerated as a result of service-related injuries and impairments.
“As someone who witnessed the injustice done to so many of our Vietnam Veterans, I am determined to see that our newest Veterans receive the full benefit of the overdue resources the 110th and 11th Congress have made available to them. Consider the fact that in 1998, an estimated 56,500 Vietnam War-era Veterans and 18,500 Persian Gulf War-era Veterans were held in State and Federal prisons and the need for action is long overdue,” said Congressman Sestak. “I commend The Honorable Seamus P. McCaffery, Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice, for the work he is doing to create ‘Veterans Courts’ in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. For too long our state and national jurists have been content to lock up Veterans rather than afford them the opportunity to have their conditions fully diagnosed and treated—possibly preventing their incarceration altogether. Unfortunately, as a result of inaction, we have had extraordinary numbers of Vietnam-era Vets incarcerated and following their incarceration they have often ended up homeless.
“I am advocating for a seamless transition in which VA doctors communicate with the physicians at the local, state, and federal level charged with providing medical care to prisoners and ensure Veterans receive the treatment they require. Failure is not an option. We will not leave our comrades behind on the battlefield. We cannot leave them alone in prison until we have made every effort to help them become well and whole again.”
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