Local Veterans Dump Fry to Support Richardson

By Paul Gable

A group of local disabled veterans who initially supported Russell Fry for the 7th Congressional District Republican nomination because of the Trump endorsement, have decided to switch candidates and now say they will vote for Ken Richardson.

Several of these veterans were included in the veterans’ coalition helping the Fry campaign.

The reason for the switch, simply put, is Fry wouldn’t listen to concerns of the veterans. Richardson did listen.

“The veterans coalition was a way for Fry to get vets together to give him talking points,” said former coalition member Keith Brooks. “Russell never gave us more than a minute or two to hear our story. You can’t tell Russell anything,”

“Russell is trying to be just another career politician,” said Brooks. “The last thing we need is another self-absorbed ladder climber.”

The story the veterans wanted to tell was the personal difficulties they have experienced in trying to obtain medical care at the Myrtle Beach VA Outpatient Clinic at Market Common.

Brooks lives by a few simple rules, “Don’t dismiss me, don’t ignore me, don’t disrespect me.” Fry failed on all three counts.

Another veteran chimed in with similar comments. “In all the commercials I have heard, Russell had nothing to say about veterans,” said veteran James Hood. “He and Rice just spend their time bashing each other. They have no agenda for what they will do for the people.”

Hood said he attempted to explain difficulties experienced in obtaining care at the Myrtle Beach VA Outpatient Clinic to both Tom Rice’s Congressional staff and Lindsey’s Graham’s Senate staff. In both offices, the staffers he was talking to hung up on him without listening to his concerns.

“Veterans run into blockade after blockade from the VA,” said Hood. “One way to fix the problems would be to require all 535 members of Congress to get their healthcare from the VA or pay for it themselves.”

Two of the major complaints expressed by the veterans were lack of a pharmacy in the Myrtle Beach clinic and lack of a centralized records data base.

Many of the local veterans require prescriptions to treat service-related injuries for which they are receiving service-connected disability benefits. All prescriptions have to be filled at the VA hospital in Charleston and then be mailed to veterans in Horry County, a process that can take 5-10 days, according to the veterans, or they have to pay out of pocket at local pharmacies.

Another major difficulty veterans using VA medical facilities face is the regionalization of the record keeping. One veteran spoke of moving to Horry County from Wilmington, NC. He was treated at the VA clinic in Shallotte and in Wilmington for congestive heart failure. When he went to the Myrtle Beach clinic, there was no record of the treatment he had received in North Carolina.

“North Carolina and South Carolina are two different VA regions and it isn’t a simple process to get records transferred,” the veteran said. “If I go on vacation to, say, Florida and have a problem where I go to a VA hospital there, that’s another region and they will not have access to my records. In today’s computer age, it would seem a Patient database should be available throughout the VA system to any VA medical facility in the country with the press of a couple of keys.”

Richardson said he agreed with the veterans that there should immediately be a pharmacy included in the Myrtle Beach clinic. He said he was appalled at the stories he heard about the difficulties the veterans faced in using VA medical care.

“If I get elected, the first thing I will do in Washington is push for a pharmacy in the Myrtle Beach clinic,” Richardson said. “Then I can start attacking the other problems after I get my foot in the door.”

“These veterans protected the freedoms we enjoy,” said Richardson. “They deserve our respect and to get the medical care and benefits they were promised.”

“Ken is the only candidate who was willing to sit down with us and hear about our problems,” said Mickey Reese.

The group of approximately 13 veterans who met with Richardson said they would be working daily, until the election is over, soliciting other veterans to vote for Richardson.

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