Guam – Senator Frank F. Blas, Jr. is seeking an update from Assistant Interior Secretary Tony Babauta on the status of Babauta’s promise to assist with some of the Senators concerns over veterans care on Guam.
In a letter, Senator Blas reminds Babuata that during his recent visit to Washington, the Assistant Interior Secretary had promised him that he would work with Blas on his veteran concerns and that there was a good chance that DOI could help.
In a release today [Wednesday], Blas says he sent the letter to inquire whether Babauta has had “any success in addressing the concerns.”
The release quotes Senator Blas as writing in his letter to Babauta:
“‘These concerns are of the utmost importance to our veteran community as they relate directly to the medical needs that many of them immediately need and rely on. It is heartwrenching to hear of veterans who forego medical attention for service-related ailments because of their frustration with dealing with a seemingly impersonal and distant bureaucracy or because of the financial challenge it presents to them.'”
Senator Blas’ news release is printed in full below:
BLAS INQUIRES FROM ASSISTANT SECRETARY BABAUTA ON STATUS OF EFFORTS CONCERNING VETERANS’ ISSUES
HAGATNA – Senator Frank F. Blas, Jr. fired off a letter today to Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Insular Affairs Tony Babauta to inquire on the status of efforts the two had previously discussed on veterans’ concerns.
Blas states, “During my visit to Washington DC earlier this year, I talked to the Assistant Secretary about some veterans’ issues that I believed could gain some assistance from the Interior Department. I was pleased that Mr. Babauta felt that there was a good chance that his agency could help and promised to work with us on them. The concerns we talked about were centered around the delivery of services for those veterans who live on Guam and elsewhere in our region. I sent a letter memorializing our conversation soon after my return from DC, and the letter I sent off today was to inquire if he’s had any success in addressing the concerns.”
In his letter to the Assistant Secretary, Blas wrote, “These concerns are of the utmost importance to our veteran community as they relate directly to the medical needs that many of them immediately need and rely on. It is heartwrenching to hear of veterans who forego medical attention for service-related ailments because of their frustration with dealing with a seemingly impersonal and distant bureaucracy or because of the financial challenge it presents to them.”
Blas further wrote, “I find it ironic that the Department of Defense finds value in their ability to operate on Guam because it addresses the “tyranny of distance” concern in the Pacific. Yet, when it comes to the health and welfare of those men and women who live in the Marianas and Micronesia and who served in defense of our nation, the time and distance factors that they have to contend with do not receive the same consideration. It is my hope that with our continued collaboration, the tyranny of distance for our veterans will be diminished.”
A copy of the Senator’s letter, which also includes a copy of his previous (March 8, 2011) letter, is included with this release. The Senator will be providing a courtesy copy of his letter to Guam’s Delegate to Congress, the Secretaries of the Interior and Veterans Affairs, and to the Director of the Veterans Affairs Pacific Island Health Care System.