BETTY CASTOR VISITS VA NURSING HOME-Andrew Stelzer05/24/04
As the field for FloridaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢sÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ open US senate seat narrows down, the remaining candidates are making more frequent campaign stops. Today, Betty castor, one of the 3 democratic candidates for Senate, took a tour of the Veterans AdministrationsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ Nursing home facility. WMNFÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Andrew Stelzer was there and filed this report. ----------------
SOUND Ã¢â‚¬Å“My name is betty castorÃ¢â‚¬Â¦how long have you been hereÃ¢â‚¬Â¦16 yearsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ so youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been in the system a long timeÃ¢â‚¬Â¦Ã¢â‚¬?
ACT Ã¢â‚¬Å“Disabled veterans have been telling me that their retirement has been cutÃ¢â‚¬Â¦.Ã¢â‚¬?
Betty Castor is running for the US senate spot that will be vacant when Senator Bob Graham retires this fall. Castor is facing competition form both parties, including 2 Democrats; U.S. Representative Peter Deutsch, and Miami-Dade County Mayor Alex Penelas. 8 republicans are still vying for their partiesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ nomination. Castors strength may be education; she served a president of the University of South Florida. She also served as a Hillsborough county commissioner. In her visit to the VA nursing home on Busch Boulevard, Castor spoke highly of the facility, which hasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t had the same computer problems as the Bay Pines center. But there still is a long waiting list for care.
ACT Ã¢â‚¬Å“Overall, I think we can be doing a much better job with our veterans..great burden..Bright spotsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦prescription drugÃ¢â‚¬Â¦.should have adopted itÃ¢â‚¬Â¦.IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been concerned about homeless veterans.Ã¢â‚¬?
Castor says the opening of a new VA center in Orlando, which is already being planned, will help solve the overcrowding problem. She said one of the veterans related issues sheÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s working on it trying to change a policy which doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t let vets on disability continue to receive retirement payments.
ACT Ã¢â‚¬Å“I think it is outrageous that someone who ha retirement pay has their other pay deductedÃ¢â‚¬Â¦if you have disability you cant get your retirement as well...Congress only took care of half of the problem.Ã¢â‚¬?
SOUND Ã¢â‚¬Å“Originally I was born in massachuettes..Were you in the army? I was in the airforce..Where were you in the airforce..In the states.Ã¢â‚¬?
Castor spoke with patientsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ doctors and administrators on her tour of the VA center, including Claudia Digae, the chief of geriatrics at the VA
ACT Ã¢â‚¬ËœBeing a physician IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m mostly concerned about healthcare..Vets are fortunate we get more than most in the communityÃ¢â‚¬Â¦VA is better than most but threes room for improvement, staffing is a big issuesÃ¢â‚¬Â¦Do you think most people who work here want nationalized healthcareÃ¢â‚¬Â¦I suspect that most do probably see the merits of a national systemÃ¢â‚¬Â¦VA gets a bad repÃ¢â‚¬Â¦there is one thing people are starting to realize we have a great medical recordÃ¢â‚¬Â¦.so what about the war thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s going on right now, are we going to have a surgeÃ¢â‚¬Â¦well if history continues the way it has..Many of us would hope that veterans wontÃ¢â‚¬?
ACT Ã¢â‚¬ËœOne of the nurses upstairs says that we need a nationalized healthcare program. I think we ought to provide insurance to all Americans in some wayÃ¢â‚¬Â¦.I helped found kidcare...healthy families.Ã¢â‚¬?
ACT Ã¢â‚¬Å“The other real challenge is reaching out to veterans that are homelessÃ¢â‚¬Â¦Ã¢â‚¬?
ACT Ã¢â‚¬ËœOn homeless..We need to reach out to homeless people. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not enough to simply transfer the problem to one or anotherÃ¢â‚¬Â¦Ã¢â‚¬?
ACT Ã¢â‚¬Å“Today the US is going to the UN, asking for exemptionÃ¢â‚¬Â¦. I would be very cautious about that provision at this time. We need to be reaching out to the UN and NATO to help build a multi national force..Ã¢â‚¬?
Chalmers Nickles, who fought in Vietnam, and Ed Turrett, who fought in the Second World War didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get a chance to speak to Betty Castor, but Nickels knows of her because he has two kids who attended USF, where Castor was the schools President. They both told WMNF that funding services for veterans of war should be a focus for any Senator.
ACT Ã¢â‚¬Å“The men and women in Iraq are getting wounded severelyÃ¢â‚¬Â¦the waiting time is already too long..It takes too long to get a claim inÃ¢â‚¬Â¦everyone thinks about how many are killed every dayÃ¢â‚¬Â¦but what about the woundedÃ¢â‚¬? Ã¢â‚¬Å“Ã¢â‚¬Â¦I agree with him..They say the governments going broke well thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a crock, the gov can find money when they need it, I hate Iraq..take care of the veterans..
For WMNF news, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m Andrew Stelzer