Rich Tucker

The irony is that our military won the Cold War, defeating the Soviet Union without even firing a shot. Yet our vets ended up with a Soviet-style medical system -- one run by the government with the same efficiency that makes the DMV infamous.

The solution: Introduce competition into the process.

One way to do that is to enroll vets in the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program, the same system that civilian employees enjoy. FEHBP offers dozens of plans, from fee-for-service and health savings accounts to preferred provider organizations and health maintenance organizations. Vets could choose a plan that worked for them and their families, and would gain control over their health care.

Failing that, Washington could agree to give each veteran a set amount of money to buy health insurance. This would create a market, motivating companies to put together attractive packages to win new customers. Meanwhile, vets would become engaged partners in their health care, instead of being forced to wait on bureaucrats to serve them.

Healthcare isn’t the only area where the government is letting some veterans down. A few years ago, Vietnam vet Fred Salanti discovered that the cremated remains of many veterans were sitting on shelves in funeral homes unburied. He founded the Missing in America Project to find these remains and give them a proper burial.

So far the project has visited 170 funeral homes and located the remains of 4,664 people, roughly 100 of whom have since been identified as veterans and buried properly. The American Legion is supporting MIAP in this mission. Together they’re bringing honor to many forgotten veterans, thereby accomplishing something that, if left to the government, would never happen.

Sadly, American veterans haven’t always been treated with the respect they deserve. Some have waited, unburied, for the honors they earned. Others wait for a creaky bureaucracy to deliver the health care they need.

If we start moving away from socialized medicine and start promoting individual control, we can help wounded vets live longer, better lives. They’ve more than earned that.

Rich Tucker

Rich Tucker is a communications professional and a columnist for