Oklahoma Sen. Coburn Criticized for Blocking Veterans' Aid Bill

Tuesday, November 10th 2009, 7:03 pm
By: News 9

By Charles Bassett, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Disabled veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are giving Senator Tom Coburn an earful after he blocked legislation that would give new healthcare services to veterans.

Sen. Coburn said Senate Bill 1963 would cost taxpayers $3.7 billion over the next five years, but many veterans said the senator is putting politics over their health.

"Caregiver and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act" is designed to improve the healthcare of the nation's veterans.

"It would also ensure equal access for female veterans, address homelessness among veterans and give support to caregivers of wounded veterans," said Todd Goodman, Chairman of the Oklahoma Democratic Party.

And along with many veterans, state democrats said they are not happy with Sen. Tom Coburn's move to block the bill.

"Devoted families caring for seriously injured service men and women are losing their jobs, their health insurance, their savings, caring for their family members. They cannot and should not be made to wait," said Miguel Medrano, Iraq war veteran.

Retired physician and military veteran Katherine Scheirman saw firsthand the wounded veterans in the Iraq war.

"Its left people with a lot of medical needs when they do come back that they need rehabilitation. They're going to need a lot of help," Scheirman said.

But Sen. Coburn said he can't support the bill because it's mainly for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and not veterans of wars prior to that. He also said the $3.7 billion price tag is not funded and will have to be paid for by future generations.

Sen. Coburn released a statement stating, "If Senators would pay for this program and make a few changes it could pass the senate today."

Coburn's opponents said they are not satisfied with his reasoning.

"Sen. Coburn voted in favor of two wars that are sending more and more veterans home without proper funding ahead of time. We owe them everything so we'll find the funding," Goodman said.

Coburn said he's suggested several programs that can be cut to fund the bill, but no one has listened.

Thirteen veteran's organizations have come out to publicly support the bill.