By April Avison
Stockbridge resident Joanne Consalvo-Mulvaney promised her 87-year-old father that the country he served wouldn't let him down. And while her father was rushed to Southern Regional Medical Center on Monday, Mulvaney spent two hours trying to convince U.S. Rep. David Scott, D-Ga., to help people like her father, veterans who can't afford proper health care.
Mulvaney and a group of Henry County residents met Monday afternoon in Scott's Jonesboro office.
"This little group here is not going to break this issue wide open but we're relying on our elected officials to take it back to the Hill," said Jim Lee, senior vice commander of the local chapter of Veterans of Foreign Wars. "The bottom line is this country has to take care of its veterans n past, present and future n or we're not going to have any."
Scott discussed several proposed bills that, if passed, could help veterans.
"The way we get the veterans more is by digging in the holes we already have planted for them," he said.
Scott noted particular interest in the Concurrent Receipt Bill, which he said "best dramatizes the plight of our veterans."
"Military folks have a retirement pay that they should get but if they're injured, they get their injured pay subtracted," Scott said. "This bill would allow veterans to get the retirement pay as well as the disability pay ? Until this bill is passed, it's the most glaring example of maltreatment of veterans, to make them choose when you should be rewarding them."
The bill has 354 cosponsors, Scott included, and requires only 218 votes to pass the House. The bill is now in committee and "stymied in Washington," according to Scott.
"This is a live wire," he said. "Somebody needs to shine a light on it. This issue needs to be exposed."
Scott encouraged the group that met with him Monday to push for passage of the Concurrent Receipt Bill.
Mulvaney presented a notebook of research and discussed problems with how veterans are treated, particularly the rising costs of nursing home care. Mulvaney said her family spends about $4,500 per month in nursing home care for her father, World War II veteran Joseph Consalvo.
"I have not found one politician yet who really, really cares," Mulvaney said. "I hope, Congressman Scott, that you are that one. How much more critical could an issue be than what's going on right here?"
Scott pledged to initiate a working relationship with Mulvaney and the others interested in veterans affairs.
"We're not doing enough for our veterans and we will continue to push very hard for them. We'll continue to listen, to learn and to see what else we can do to help even more," he said.
Scott assigned David Johnson, constituent services representative for military affairs, to handle an ongoing dialogue with the group, to meet regularly and keep them informed of bills that affect veterans.
"I can tell you that you have a friend in David Scott," he told the group gathered in his office on Monday. "Hopefully you will be able to leave this meeting more hopeful and more positive than when you came."