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Letter: Government has a duty to take care of veterans

Government has a duty to take care of veterans

Having been drafted after college, I joined the Air Force and served four years of active duty and two years of reserve during the Vietnam War and was honorably discharged in 1970. Like many others, I returned to Western New York to pursue my engineering career, retiring in 2015 after 45 years in the workplace. Like most, I now collect my Social Security and have Medicare for health coverage, both of which I contributed into during my career.

Now at age 71 I have hearing loss in one ear. With the high cost of hearing aids, I applied for veterans benefits hoping that they would cover the cost of a hearing aid. After a month of processing, I finally received a letter from the VA stating that I am not eligible for benefits. It seems that I exceed the income limit set by the VA health care system. I was informed that in 2003 the VA made the difficult decision to stop enrolling new Priority Group 8 (high income) Veterans so that all veterans are provided timely and quality medical care.

Upon speaking with the VA, any income over $43,000 a year is considered high. Out of my Social Security I pay federal tax, Medicare premiums and supplemental insurance. At the stated VA max income level, these costs would consume about 30 percent of one’s dollars, leaving about $30,000 in net income. Certainly not “high income” by any standard.

I can fully agree that the veterans who are not working or can’t work should receive top priority in receiving much deserved benefits, but what about the rest of us? We gave our time as many others did and will receive nothing for our time served. This is just another example of our government turning its back on those who served. We can waste funds on sending monies overseas and fund useless wars but we cannot take care of our own. By the VA rules, all veterans are not created equal.

Paul H. Kozlowski

Grand Island

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