Alan O. Dann

The vets who aren’t getting treatment

Recent comments by veteran Bob Miller of Brattleboro [“The real scandal: Congress refuses to fully fund the VA at a time when the number of veterans needing care has skyrocketed,” Editorial Observer, June 4] and by Deborah Amdur [“A big responsibility: Head of White River Junction VA hospital visits Brattleboro clinic, reassures veterans,” News, July 9], for two years the Medical Center Director in White River Junction, praise the care of VA patients under treatment but do not shed as much light on those who are not.

In a recent issue of the Harvard Gazette, Linda Bilmes of the Harvard Kennedy School called the resignation of the secretary of veterans affairs, retired Army Gen. Eric Shinseki, inappropriate. When “the fundamental system at the VA is simply broken,” she said, what's needed “is to overhaul the system itself.”

The system currently serves eight million people. Today, nearly half of returning veterans file disability claims, with eight to 10 disabling conditions per claim, as opposed to three from claims filed after World War II. At least 90 percent of the claims are approved, but only after lengthy medical evaluations.

In addition to volume and complexity, a root problem is the gulf between a veteran's service-connected medical history and subsequent treatment at VA medical facilities. There needs to be more cooperation between the Department of Defense and the VA.

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Time to cut the size of the armed forces

Recently, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and the joint chiefs of staff announced a plan to reduce the size of the U.S. Army and to eliminate all Air Force A-10 attack aircraft. This proposal would shave the 2015 military budget to just a bit under half a trillion dollars, still...

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The non-native, urban Vermont flavor

First, Joyce Marcel [“Visions, values, and tragedy,” Special Focus, July 17], and now MacLean Gander [“Two worlds colliding,” Viewpoint, July 24]. The Commons is giving our local Brattleboro Food Co-op quite a going-over. I'd like to comment on Gander's piece. Journalism is certainly relevant and praiseworthy. I doubt a...

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Four more old white guys have work to do

In this land of the rich, the corporates, the bullies, the disempowered, and the ultra-regional, here's a not-so-hearty welcome to Messrs. Kerry, Lew, Brennan, and Hagel, the four old white guys who've been summoned to state, treasury, intelligence, and “defense” posts in Washington, D.C. You know, it's a pity we also don't have a new (old) Harry Reid yet, to replace the Senate majority leader in recognition of his shabby work on filibuster “reform,” the Amgen theft of $500 million...

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Everlasting joy flowed from a superb choir performance

Ninety musicians presented a double requiem chorus this past weekend which brought joy and light to listeners in packed pews at the First Baptist Church in Brattleboro. It was yet another superb production by the well-trained and well-rehearsed Brattleboro Concert Choir, aided by vocal soloists and instrumentalists all under the baton of Conductor Susan Dedell. This was the work of two contemporary composers, Bob Chilcott and Morten Lauridsen. Chilcott's Requiem text comes from both the Missa pro defunctis and the...

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Vermonters, moving forward

Thank you, President Obama. Your accomplishments in health care have been huge. With federal agreement, Vermonters want to go even further. Your opponent wanted to decimate the new law and to reduce Medicaid as well. That's moving backward. Society and the states simply cannot handle that. The stimulus was huge around here; the busy highway repair activity felt especially good. Dodd-Frank finance improvements, an easily implemented change in “don't ask, don't tell,” fair pay for women, student loan attention and...

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A magnificent musical afternoon

On Oct. 7, musicians performing an “Afternoon at the Opera” graced the sanctuary of First Baptist Church in an early-20th-century Estey organ and mezzo-soprano concert that was absolutely heaven on earth! Local virtuosi Clark Anderson and Jenna Rae filled the air with Verdi, Wagner, Handel, Massenet, and Mozart. All stops sounded in the “March” from Aida as well as Wagner's “Ride of the Valkyries.” The opening waltzes from Richard Strauss set the tone, and even Johann Strauss II and Jacques...

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Hoffer is an authority on economic development

The position of state auditor has to do with dollars and numbers. CPA Doug Hoffer, a Democrat/Progressive, has the credentials and the track record to do a superb job. Hoffer's Republican opponent, a maverick from up north, has been a 32-year state assemblyman and sometime lawyer. When he approached me at the Vermont Expo this summer, I assumed that he would run to succeed the incumbent attorney general. That turned out not to be the case. Already, there are complaints...

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