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Veterans & courts

| Friday, May 10, 2013, 8:57 p.m.

I salute the Trib for the editorial “The VA report: Failing our vets” (April 25 and TribLIVE.com). Its criticism of the Pittsburgh VA Healthcare System over its “total disregard for the health and welfare of veterans in its care” was on target. The VA's problems illustrate how the government's treatment of veterans differs from the lofty talk about honoring their service.

As a former Army major in the Judge Advocate General Corps and a civilian lawyer, I know the struggles faced by service members desperate to access benefits they earned while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Government is their faceless enemy. In our region, veterans are in dire straits waiting for benefits. Some are homeless; some battle prescription drug addiction and are self-medicating; many need mental-health support. Many end up in the criminal justice system.

Washington County Veterans Court was established to handle these cases; unfortunately, none of the county's judges are veterans. The voters I meet are shocked to hear that, and angry when they learn about the plight of returning soldiers. My campaign has given a voice to those men and women. It is a time to show our veterans that America really is a grateful nation.

Alan Benyak

Carroll Township

The writer is a candidate for Washington County Common Pleas Court judge.

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