by Jerry Ashton,
RP Cofounder and EVP.
Memorial Day Needs to be Every Day Where Veteran Medical Debt is Concerned.
This blog post appears on that usual, anticipated and important point on the calendar where Americans are expected to pause, reflect on our liberties and show gratitude to the service men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure our freedoms.
I would like to say that Memorial Day should take place every day, but it does not.
Memorial Day was officially set aside by Congress in 1968 as the last Monday in May. There is even a specific hour, 3 o’clock local time, where Americans are asked to participate in a national moment of remembrance.
Once a year. One particular hour. And then life goes on. and the flags are put away.
When we launched RIP Medical Debt over a year ago, it was – and still is – our intention to turn the nation’s focus to veterans’ debt. The veterans alive today did not pay that ultimate one-time price, but they live with visible and invisible wounds. They carry a burden that should not be theirs to carry –the burden of unpaid and unpayable personal medical debt.
We know it comes as a surprise to many people that veteran medical debt even exists. We have been led to believe, or improperly assumed, that all of the medical costs of our armed forces and their families, both during and after enlistment, are covered by the general government in return for their unselfish service to our country. That’s not the reality.
I won’t go into all the details here (search the web for “veterans medical debt”). What I can do here is offer two useful links:
- How our government collects on vets owing for medical care: http://www.va.gov/finance/docs/va-financialpolicyvolumexiichapter05.pdf.
- For veterans’ financial assistance: http://www.needhelppayingbills.com/html/va_medical_care_hardship_progr.html.
I am compelled to draw your attention to the emotional and economic pain inflicted by the unpaid and unpayable medical bills. They pile up alongside other unpaid and unopened dunning notes on the kitchen table of way too many veterans and their families. We conjecture that financial stress is likely one more factor contributing to the scourge of veteran suicides.
We all know the horror stories of long waits for veterans to get medical help. The 2015 Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act was passed by Congress – unanimously – in response to securing mental health care and suicide prevention programs.
A good thing but it doesn’t cover the unexpected illness or accident that vexes us in life. What about the vets who do not live near VA hospitals, who must seek help from local hospitals and physicians with only a promise they will be reimbursed? Do you know how often that promise is kept, and under what onerous conditions?
Do you know how many veterans suffer from unpaid and unpayable medical debt? In our view, one is too many; the actual numbers aren’t to be found on government websites.
However, we know these people. hey contact us at RIP. We receive emails from them. They are referred to us by their friends and family and other concerned veterans. They are a major reason why RIP Medical Debt exists, and why in particular our military program directs contributions to them.
Contributions to abolish ventral medical debt need to come from you.
So, this memorial Day and every day, c0onsider showing your appreciation to our military members in a different fashion. Remember and honor the dead, certainly, yet also attend to the living, especially those with a burden we can remove.
It’s amazing what pennies and dollars can do. For every $1,400 RIP receives, we can purchase as much as $100,000 in unpaid veteran medical debt and abolish it. Futher, $14,500 will help us buy – and forgive – one million dollars in such debt. That abolished debt that will never reach the desk of a bill collector, or appear on another credit report.
That’s what you help us do: Abolish medical debt. For good.