Wednesday, June 18, 2014


Been a lot of media attention given to the Veterans Administration lately for their handling of the VA system.  Matter of fact I have a buddy who is the victim of the VA's incompetence.

While his issue was not necessarily being on a long waiting list it was still a matter of incompetence.  Had his check up a year or so ago and the tests showed something, but the doctor said no problem nothing to worry about.  Today, according to the doctors he has less than a year to live.

Maybe the first set of doctors honestly missed the call, and maybe this set will miss again.  It is just a good thing that my bud has the opportunity to get out of the VA system. Maybe he just got caught up in the red tape which can be a real problem anywhere along the vet's path to earned benefits. All that being said we need to remember that there is more than one part of the Veterans Administration that assists our vets.

Our local Milam County Veterans Service Office is a resource that can be used by vets and their spouses to walk them through the system and all of its red tape and other pitfalls.  I speak from experience here.  No I am not a vet, but my Father-in-law was.  When my Mother-in-law wound up in the nursing home she became eligible for veterans benefits that her spouse had earned for his service in World War II.

Not sure how many readers out there have had any experience with nursing homes, or long term care facilities as they like to call them nowadays...more politically correct, but they are very expensive.  Not knocking them here, but 24 hour 7 day a week care is not cheap.  The reality is that it is cost prohibitive for most folks without some sort of assistance.

My Mother-in-law was by no means destitute, but right at 4,000 per month can go through cash pretty fast.  Without assistance from the VA she would have been on Medicare within a couple of years.  With the VA assistance she remained private pay until her passing.  Getting the VA assistance is a whole other ball game.

If any of you have ever had any experience with a Federal government agency you know the experience is not a joyful one.  The amount of red tape is horrendous.  It is sort of like they plan it that way to weed out the weak.  Ken Janicek was the key to my Mother-in-law getting the benefits she was entitled to.  Without his help we would still be filling out and submitting paperwork.

I have talked with a number of veterans and there are some that say we do not need the Veterans Service Officer in Milam County.  They relate that many other much larger counties do not have the office.  This is true and help is available in Waco or Temple.  However, not every veteran can afford the numerous trips to an out of county office that it might take to get the job done.

I look at it this way.  Veterans gave a lot, some their life, so that we could live as we do today.  Part of their investment in preserving our freedom was the benefits that were in the contract they signed with our country.  They did their part the least we can do is insure they get what they deserve.  Sure there are some vets out there that can probably wade through all the red tape without assistance.  My Mother-in-law was not one of them.

The cost for the office is minimal compared to the return.  Milam County spent 17,000 for security cameras to nowhere.  Someone felt that security cameras were the answer to courthouse security.  In my opinion our armed forces are our key to security and we should take care of them.   

The cost to bring the Veterans Office up to speed is minimal and less than the security cameras in the courthouse that no one monitors.  The decision here really is a no brainer.


Sunday, June 1, 2014


The runoff is over and I picked some winners for a change.  During the campaign some of the races got a little nasty.  Some folks even called it dirty politics and mudslinging.  One definition of dirty politics is unethical and illegal methods to gain political advantage.  Mudslinging can be defined as the use of insults and accusations, especially unjust ones, with the aim of damaging the reputation of an opponent.

What I see in the aforementioned definitions are adjectives that refer to using fiction to attack one's opponent.  Facts are facts and fiction is fiction.  In the Dewhurst Patrick race for Lieutenant Governor some accusations of mudslinging or dirty politics were made after the release of Patrick's medical records indicating he had suffered from depression some 30 years ago.

While it can be argued that something 30 years ago shouldn’t make a difference, and it didn’t in this race, facts are still facts.  There were some other issues brought up by both sides that could be considered mudslinging or dirty politics.  The real issue in my thinking is what is the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  Sometimes politicians can spin the truth into something unrecognizable from the reality it truly is.

I personally believe as voters we need to learn all that we can about the candidates in any race.  However, what do we really need to know about the candidates is how they will do their job.  How they have performed in office in the past, if they are incumbents, or how they will perform in the future if a newcomer.  I am not sure how many times a candidate got sent to the principal's office in high school is necessarily and indicator of how they will perform in office.

Some individuals might call the use of a candidate's record dirty politics if the information casts the candidate in a negative light.  A candidate's achievements in office are what they run on, so if there were some "burps" during their term in office shouldn’t those be fair game as well?  Perhaps there is an issue that was truly a volatile split decision.  Is it dirty politics if an opponent uses the other's real truthful stance on that volatile issue to campaign on?

Having been involved in political races since 1986 I can tell you that there are many out there that will say anything to get their candidate elected.  I say their candidate because while I have run in several races there were very few if any times my opponent actually slung the mud.  However, there were supporters that said lots of things that were outright lies.  Things like I beat my wife, was a drug dealer, had been arrested twice for dumping garbage on the road, and had at least one DWI were rampant during several races.

I guess the bottom line is that I believe that the fact that I got expelled from school during my junior year in high school for three days for insubordination could well be a campaign issue.  However, the wife beating, garbage dumping and DWI should not since they are all fiction.  That is why we should all do our best to learn as much as we can about every candidate and weed out the fiction and make our decision on the facts.  We as voters should follow Sergeant Friday's advice, "Just the facts ma'am, just the facts."