By Amy Kent
Herald Staff Writer
CLINTON — Congressman Dave Loebsack hosted a veterans' roundtable discussion Wednesday in Clinton to speak with area veterans about concerns and issues they have with the veterans' association and other federal agencies.
Loebsack serves on the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee and is an advocate for the fair and rightful treatment of United States veterans.
"At a time when the word entitlement has received so many negative connotations, these veterans are very much entitled to the benefits they receive," Loebsack said.
Ed Gaudet, of Clinton County Veterans Affairs, began the discussion by saying he is dissatisfied with the way the U.S. government treats its Marines.
Gaudet told the Congressman a story of a man he has been working with, who served at Camp Lejeune between 1954 and 1955. During that time the camp suffered from contaminated water that military personnel and families were forced to use and drink every day.
The man Gaudet referred to eventually suffered from breast cancer, lost his wife to cancer and watched his daughter battle the disease.
"He has health insurance to help pay for medical bills, but there is no compensation for the suffering he and his family have been through. We need some from the VA," Gaudet said.
The Clinton County Veteran Affairs Commission works with all types of mental and physical health issues veterans suffer from, but want a stronger education system to refer to.
"I love helping the vets and my heart goes out to them. We need more education so we can help these older vets become more in tune to receiving their benefits," Chuck Morel, a U.S. Army veteran and Veteran Affairs volunteer, said.
Loebsack agreed with the issues the group presented to him and assured them that there is work being done in Washington.
"This is really an area where there's bipartisan support, there's just not enough of it," Loebsack said.
A major concern brought up from the roundtable is the possibility of cuts to the VA because of sequestration, but Loebsack assured the group it would not be affected.
However he did add, "if the budget does not go up, there will still be a loss because of the amount of new people (from Afghanistan and Iraq) that will be coming into the system."