To: Veterans' Voting Bloc
 
From: Charles Heckman
Washington State Coordinator
 
   Senator Cantwell has been sending these letters out to veterans in Washington.  This state has the 12th largest veteran population in the country.  It is a fact that the bulk of the veteran population is approaching the age at which medical care is most necessary and travelling is most difficult.  Closing veterans' hospitals and creating delays for appointment is equivalent to a government-sponsored euthanasia to trim down the number of veterans needing government benefits.  A splinter in the finger can result in death  if the infection is not promptly treated.
   In past letters, I have pointed out examples of theft and fraud by government employees, which have been ignored and not even subjected to an investigation.  They are continuing.  More than 20 years ago, the Department of Justice estimated that theft and fraud were already consuming about 10% of the entire Federal budget.  Thanks to the merciless persecution of whistleblowers, this amount has substantially increased.  On top of this, we see about $20 billion being spent on pork barrel projects.  Maybe it is time to take some action and phone or write our representatives and senators to demand answers to our questions.  Senator Cantwell has now requested that we do this so that our concerns can be heard in Washington D.C.
   We know that closing down the Veterans' Employment and Training Service would save the government about $179,000,000 per year without causing inconvenience to any veteran.  This agency, through its inactivity, has been responsible for hundreds of thousands of veterans becoming homeless.  It could be effectively replaced by a law with provisions permitting veterans to bring their employment discrimination complaints to a Federal District court and denying the judge the privilege of granting summary judgement.  This would force the judge to permit a jury to hear the veteran's complaints, giving him a fair chance of prevailing.  The $179,000,000 would buy adequate medical treatment for a great many veterans.  Disbandment of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, Merit System Protection Board, and similar agencies that have also proven themselves useless in protecting veterans' rights would save even more money.
   We know that the money is there, and it is being stolen or misappropriated with impunity by unworthy people.  It is time that Congress corrected the government's priorities.  Let us write to Senator Cantwell telling her what inconveniences we would face if these medical facilities are closed.
 
Charles Heckman
 
 
     July 28, 2003
 
 
 
Mr. Charles Heckman
315 93rd Avenue Southwest
Olympia, Washington  98512
 
 
Dear Mr. Heckman:
 
Over the past two years, I have very much appreciated
the time that you have taken to share with me your
strong commitment to protecting and improving the lives 
of veterans throughout our state and country.  I am now
writing to ask for your assistance in a matter that is
of grave concern to me, the potential closing of three
Veterans hospitals: American Lake, Vancouver, and the 
Walla Walla VA Medical Center.  
 
As you know, in December 2002, Anthony Principi, the 
Secretary of Veterans Affairs, established the Capital 
Asset Realignment for Enhanced Services (CARES) 
Commission. The goal of the Commission is to provide 
recommendations to the Secretary of the VA regarding 
allocation of capital assets to meet the demand for 
veteran's health care services over the next several 
decades.  While I agree that it is essential that we 
devote the appropriate resources to care for our 
veteran's community, I am extremely concerned with a 
recent proposal to close three of our Veterans hospitals.  
 
I have heard from veterans across the state of the many 
problems in the current VA health care system, including 
delays in obtaining medical care, and the long distances 
that many veterans must travel to obtain such care.  I 
am concerned that closing three facilities in our state 
will only exacerbate these problems.  
 
It is my goal to guarantee that Washington state 
veterans receive quality and affordable medical care 
in an appropriate facility, as well as protecting the 
jobs of those working in these facilities.  
 
To help me in addressing these problems and assist in 
opposing current proposals to close three of our VA 
facilities, I am asking you to contact me with your
experiences at veterans' facilities throughout the 
state, specifically American Lake, Vancouver and the 
Walla Walla VA Medical Center.  As I have seen from 
letters sent to me over the years, it is veterans and 
the loved ones of veterans who are best able to 
articulate the need for these hospitals.  My goal is to 
use these letters as evidence when I approach the VA 
about the need to retain these facilities.  I also will 
be working with the Washington State Department of 
Veterans Affairs which will be testifying on September 
29, 2003 at the CARES Commission Public Field Hearing.  
I hope that you will work with me to protect these 
important facilities for the veterans' community.  If 
you would not like me to share your response with the 
VA or the CARES Commission, please let me know that as 
well.  
 
I am profoundly grateful for the service of America's 
military personnel and for the sacrifices they have made 
to defend and preserve our great nation.  As such, we 
have an important responsibility to ensure that military 
personnel and their families are provided benefits and 
assistance that they have earned and so greatly deserve.  
Please be assured that I will continue to work with my 
colleagues on behalf of the many veterans in the State 
of Washington.
 
I look forward to working with you on this important 
issue.
 
Sincerely,
 
Maria Cantwell
United States Senator