Vets deserve the increase

Published 10:29 am Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Outside the Mower County Courthouse Monday, Congressman Tim Walz spoke on the legislation he has introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. His Veterans Travel Program Reform Act of 2008 (H.R. 6695) would increase mileage reimbursement to veterans traveling to and from Veterans Affairs medical facilities and would also remove any current deductibles.

For 29 years, veterans were paid 11 cents a mile while the cost of gas steadily increased and then skyrocketed.

This year, mileage for veterans was finally increased to 28.5 cents, while the Walz bill would increase it 30 cents more to 58.5 cents.

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This is a tough time in our nation to propose an increase on anything, let alone an increase that’s more than 100 percent.

But it’s an increase that’s rightfully deserved, and we wouldn’t be in this situation if the mileage rate would have gradually increased instead of staying at a standstill for nearly three decades.

This legislation will help veterans both nationwide and in our local communities, including Ken Delano, who lives in Albert Lea and who said he made 19 trips to the VA hospital in 2007 alone and was paid 11 cents a mile with a $15 deductible.

Delano was an Army policeman from 1979 to 1990 and was injured in an on-duty traffic accident in 1981.

H.R. 6695 certainly won’t make our veterans rich, but it will go a long way in showing them we appreciate what they did for our country, and it will help pave the way for our newer veterans to be well compensated too.

With the legislation in place, we hope it not only goes through, but inspires our representatives to approve gradual increases in the future instead of one every three decades.