Veterans meet with Rep. Newhouse IP: 220.127.116.11 Posted on April 1, 2016 at 10:59:29 AM by John Ratomski
Veterans meet with Rep. Newhouse
Thursday, March 31, 2016 9:00 am
By RODNEY HARWOOD, Staff Writer | 0 comments
MOSES LAKE — A small gathering of veterans sat scattered throughout the Moses Lake Civic Auditorium waiting their turn to discuss important issues United States military personnel are facing with Fourth Congressional District Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside.
It seemed only fitting the discussions were taking place on a day commemorating the 50th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War.
The vets in attendance seemed happy to have a voice in the process that they fought so hard to defend.
“There’s a lot of information that needs to be brought up, that needs to be looked at. There’s a lot of things wrong with systems and most people tend to work around them without fixing them,” VFW Post 24 quartermaster Mark Owens said. “What we’re hoping for today is that we might be able to light a fire under somebody. You never know what, if anything, will be done. All you can do is put the information out there and bring it to light and hope somebody sees it.”
The issues discussed ranged from lack of Veterans Administration doctors available, to injured veterans wading through the red tape surrounding treatment to dementia issues. Owens (1969-70), who served his tour in the Duc Trong District in the Central Highlands, said all anybody can do is keep the channels open and push for reform.
Chief Herb Reynolds, Ephrata, was a member of the U.S. Navy Seabees. Reynolds was wounded while serving with the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 40 when a Viet Cong rocket attack struck the base March 9, 1969. When the first rocket hit, Reynolds and his fellow soldiers scrambled for cover.
“We were able to get to a metal bunker we built the week before. Had we not built that bunker, I wouldn’t be here today,” said Reynolds, who received a Purple Heart for action during his second tour. “Today is about enlightening the congressman about the problems we’re all facing as veterans. Today is the 50th year of the ending of the war in Vietnam and (veterans) aren’t any better off than they were five decades ago. It took me 13 years to get the VA to approve my disabilities. I’m here fighting for the guys that are coming out of Afghanistan and Iraq.”
Newhouse listened to discussion, asking an occasional question or two. The task of reforming veteran’s benefits is overwhelming to say the least, but change starts with the first step.
“It was a complaint session in a way, but what I’m hearing is that there’s probably thousands of people with very similar issues,” Newhouse said. “You hear common themes. I brought my staff with me who are working very closely with veterans. I wanted to make sure we were able to connect with people and were a little more personal that way.”
Newhouse said veterans can connect with his office for a way to resolve ongoing issues.
“You can’t fix it if you don’t know what the issues are,” he said.