Last year, Vietnam veteran Rayford Hill was denied clinically proven treatment for his chronic pain from his local Department of Veterans Affairs facility.
The pain for too much for Rayford to bear, so a few weeks after he was denied the treatment he sought, he planned his own funeral and took his own life.
Rep. Greg Steube and CVA Grassroots Engagement Director David Huston reacted to this story in a recent piece in the Sarasota Herald-Times:
We were disturbed to hear of how Rayford was treated by the VA and immensely saddened to hear of the result. Unfortunately, Rayford is not the only veteran we know of who has taken his own life due to a seemingly hopeless path. We both utilize the VA ourselves and have seen the dysfunction and lack of choice with our own eyes.
As advocates for veterans and reforms at the VA, we fight for more health care options so veterans aren’t stuck in the VA’s system. Having more options may have saved Rayford’s life.
No veteran should be left believing there is no hope for them at the VA, the very department meant to serve them. And no veteran should be reading this column in fear of what they might hear at their VA appointments.
Those reforms include Congress protecting and expanding legislation that gives veterans greater choice over where they use their VA health benefits and providing more oversight of VA’s management of veteran’s care.
Rep Steube has taken a further step by introducing legislation that would allow veterans with service-connected injuries to continue using TRICARE Select health coverage.
The Veterans True Choice Act would allow veterans under certain criteria – such as service-connected disabilities, discharge due to disability or eligibility for disability compensation – to receive health care coverage under TRICARE Select. This would both give veterans an option to use a trusted and known entity for their benefits, while alleviating pressure on the VA so it can see veterans in a timely manner.
We hope members from both parties will sign on to this legislation and help get it across the finish line into law.
No veteran should ever feel the VA is so hopeless they have no other options. Vets need access to quality, timely care.
Read the rest of Rep. Steube and David’s piece in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.