Candidate Courage calls
for better health care for vets

by Paul Heidelberg

During a tour of the hill country on Monday, U.S. congressional candidate John Courage said one of his biggest campaign issues is the poor medical treatment that awaits many injured Iraqi and Afghanistan veterans.

“The reservists don’t get the same benefits as regular military personnel,” Courage said, “but they need the same benefits. That’s something I will work to change if elected.”

A veteran of the U.S. Air Force, Courage is the Democratic challenger to Republican incumbent Lamar Smith in Congressional District 21.

It has been almost two years since The USA TODAY newspaper reported on the inferior medical treatment returning reservists were receiving – the story was posted on the Internet in February, 2005.

“National Guardsmen and reservists who are injured on active duty face daunting and sometimes insurmountable hurdles to get medical care, soldiers and military officials told a congressional panel Thursday,” USA TODAY reported.

“The troops described an Army bureaucracy that loses track of wounded reservists, drops medical coverage before some are healed and often inflicts hardships on families.”

The USA TODAY story continued: “Unlike active-duty soldiers and Marines, Guardsmen and reservists typically get access to military bases and hospitals only when they are called to active duty. Once they are injured, Guard and reserve troops frequently need approval to have their active-duty service extended so they can continue medical treatment.

“The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have prompted the largest call-up of Guard and reserve troops since World War II and flooded the health care system with casualties. More than 185,000 Guardsmen and reservists are currently mobilized for active-duty missions in the USA and overseas.”

A schoolteacher in San Antonio for 16 years before he left to campaign for congress, Courage said other issues important in his campaign are Heath Care and the War in Iraq. “My opponent has not supported health care at all for senior citizens,” Courage said. “We need better benefits for a lot of older people in our district.

“With Iraq, we don’t need to stay the course, we need to change the course. It’s time the Iraqi people came up with their own plan for an American withdrawal.”

Courage said he does not feel daunted with his opponent’s 19 years in office in the 21st Congressional District.

“I don’t feel daunted at all,” he said. “I just think that like most people who have served for 20 years, it’s time for him to retire.

“At times like this, Congress needs Courage.”

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