They're very big on Tele-Town Halls.
And somehow, I got on the list of people who will actually drop anything for them and listen in which means that in the past two months I've ended up in two Tele-Town Halls — it would've been more except that I hadn't been home to answer the phone.
Anyway, it's no secret that there's a bruising fight going on here to replace the late Sen. Kennedy.
Lucky me, the candidates are calling me. And what do you know? A call tonight from candidate and Congressman Mike Capuano for a Tele-Town Hall complete with Q&A for voters.
Most of the people on the phone are asking questions I would ask, so I was just going to listen to the answers, when a question popped into my head:
Female veterans. Namely, lack of services for female veterans within the VA system itself.
I have a relative that runs a homeless veterans shelter and he's felt that he lacks the resources to help female veterans. THis, with Iraq and Afghanistan bringing in a lot more female veterans than past conflicts. Also, ginmar, herself a veteran of Iraq has mentioned this issue in her journal.
So, yeah. I hit him with the question: There are a lack of services for female veterans. I know people experiencing this first hand. Can you do anything about this?
There was a little bit of a "Humina, humina, humina" when I asked. *evil smile*
But, and this is the important bit here, I'm the first person to bring up the issue of female veterans to him. Period. Amen.
He acknowledged that the VA is under stress across the board. I also definitely got the sense that the idea that female veterans might require different services from their male counterparts was not an idea that actually crossed his mind. To be fair, the female moderator seemed to be taken aback by the question when I put my question into the queue as well, so I suspect that this simply isn't an issue too many people even think about, male or female.
According to Congressman Capuano is that a big part of the problem is simply that there doesn't appear to be a whole lot of information out there. (Keep in mind, this is the first time Congressman Capuano had even been asked about services for female veterans.)
Although he was very receptive to getting more information about the issue, the problem is getting the information to him (or to any congressman/senator who might be willing to do something about it, really) from a reliable source with hard data.
The other issue is that the VA tends to try out reforms in large urban centers before rippling out to smaller centers (which the congressman pointed out is SOP). So, the issue, based on the Congressman's answer seems to be this:
- Getting veterans' organizations to actually raise this as an issue
- Getting Congress-critters attention about the issue
- Getting a local large VA medical center to collect data and try something to address the issue
He was definitely intrigued by the question, though. And that's something
In short, noise needs to be made if attention is to be paid. A lot of noise.
My brain officially hurts. A lot.
And I can't even figure out where to begin. Also in my way: not a veteran, not a member of any veterans' organization. My family was mostly an Air Force family (the odd Army and Navy person aside), and the last conflict where any of them actually needed to fire a gun was in World War II.
My Air Force vet dad, for example, spent most of the Vietnam war decoding coded signals from Russian fishing trawlers in Japan. He was more at the military intelligence/geek end of military service, and not so much at the actual carrying of guns end of military service. Other post-World War II people in my family fell very much into that same category of "geeks" (although, it could be because they were more the geeky Air Force-type people as opposed to the front-line boo-yah people).
So, no juice there, either.
Of course, let me add that I feel like I've been run over by a Mac truck (I've been under the weather since yesterday morning) and I'm not firing on all cylinders mental-wise.
Well, at least I raised the issue. Lord knows what good it'll do. Maybe someone out there has ideas and can run with it with their own Congress critters.
ETA: To be fair to Congressman Capuano, he gave an honest answer to my question. Even if you had the hard data in hand, it's not an issue that would be resolved easily or soon. I also give him credit for taking it and trying to answer it without resorting to a pat answer and without fluffing me off.
I had been leaning towards him for the election anyway. His answer didn't really change that.