Former Marine and Indiana House District 22 candidate Michael Stinfer was recently selected to serve as an inaugural Veterans of Foreign Wars-Student Veterans of America Legislative Fellow (Related: Local Veteran Earns Fellowship) . As part of the his selection, Stinfer traveled to Washington D.C. with nine other selected Veterans from Feb. 28 until March 9.
Stinfer’s main order of business was listening to and proposing possible solutions to what he feels is currently a broken system in the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. According to Stinfer, “How you fix the V.A. is you place in accountability and a cultural change, and that is going to take some time. Customer service is going to be a big issue.”
Stinfer stated one of his main goals is to help in the improvement of medical care that is available to veterans. He explained most veterans health coverage extends only as far as veteran clinics and treats only “service related” ailments. “Veterans only get health care for free if it is service connected. Vietnam veterans were denied treatment for Agent Orange because it was believed up until very recently that it was not service related. They finally realized that it was causing cancer.” He also outlined how many soldiers who return home after their tours have sustained what are often uncommon injuries. “Clinics available to veterans aren’t made for specialty issues, and when you look at the variety of issues that veterans have, they have specialty issues that require specialty care”
Stinfer did say although there are many individuals in the V.A., Washington and beyond who are not doing right by veterans, he is optimistic about the future and believes that positive change is afoot: “The Secretary of V.A., Bob McDonald, is not just a figurehead, like a lot of these other guys. He is bringing some transparency that veterans are finally starting to have trust in. He coming after the corruption.”