President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address is getting some mixed reaction from local veterans.
Towards the end of his speech, he spoke about supporting our veterans.
“We’ll keep slashing that backlog so our veterans receive the benefits they’ve earned, and our wounded warriors receive the health care – including the mental health care – that they need. We’ll keep working to help all our veterans translate their skills and leadership into jobs here at home. And we will all continue to join forces to honor and support our remarkable military families.”
The President then introduced the country to Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg, who was injured in a roadside bomb attack in Afghanistan. You can see his story and follow his recovery here.
“Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg never gives up, and he does not quit,” President Obama said.
The speech was interrupted by a two-minute long standing ovation from the entire room. One of our local veterans says it was a moving moment, but it’s not enough.
“I believe that there is an acknowledgement and we are far better than we have been in past eras… but I’m waiting for the execution. I’m waiting for the delivery,” says Retired Major Amy Hess.
Ret. Maj. Hess runs her own organization in Aledo, Illinois called Adonai Community Support Services. She helps area veterans with issues like benefits and employment, as well as provides advocacy.
“Everybody truly is supporting the soldier, there’s no doubt about that,” says Hess. “What’s not always known though is that return, six months later, 12 months later, 18 months post-deployment and the issues that are happening in the house.”
“We – veterans – have a tendency to feel like we get the run around… Every brick wall. Every hurdle. Every transfer to the next person and that came very clear to me that that was what we really needed to focus on.”
However, she says our country’s leaders need to move from ideas to laws that give resources to the wounded, the unemployed, the homeless, and more.
She refers to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2008, which she says puts some policy plans in place. Still, she says it needs to go one step further.
“To me, the answer is executive order, is policy, is law, is legislation and that says – ‘this is what we’re going to do.'”
Hess says she has been in touch with lawmakers like Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, who has invited her to participate in a veteran’s panel. The first teleconference takes place tonight – Wednesday, January 29th, 2014.
Hess is also involved in a new initiative taking place at UnityPoint Health – Trinity, which WQAD reported about in November 2013.
For more information on Adonai Community Support Services, click here.