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Mississippi Veterans Worried About Access to Health Care

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 01 Jul 2011 11:53am | comments
Wardell Wince

Veterans around Mississippi are celebrating Fourth of July and remembering their service.  MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that many Mississippi veterans are concerned about the country's commitment to service members.


At a crowded American Legion post in Vicksburg, dozens of Mississippi veterans gather to meet the commander of the American Legion Jimmy Foster.

Foster says for many Mississippi Veterans, access to health care is an over riding concern.

"Worried about their VA care. They are trying to keep the cost share of using the VA and if they are retired military, Congress wants to raise a proportion amount of money to pay for their care. For guys and gals years ago, if you read the old campaign posters, 'if you serve us, we will serve you for life', so...."Foster said.

Foster says his members also express concern about the number of deployments active duty soldiers are sent on to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

After service tours in two wars, 78-year Wardell Wince is an active advocate for veterans....however, he says it is difficult to get younger veterans to join the group or access health services.

"We got a lot of veterans out there that need help and we try to get them to join the American Legion. That is one of the problems we have, they have got physical problems, alcohol and drugs and stuff like that and there is a lot of help out there for them. But we first got to get them off the streets if they are out there," Wince said.

Women have played an increasingly large role in the American Military......and Vietnam Veteran Elva Smith-Tolliver worries that there are not enough services for their male partners and family members.

"There is no auxiliary or anything for them because the auxiliary is only for the women of men who have served. BUt then you have got women now that are a catalyst in our armed forces but what do they do with their spouses,?" Smith-Tolliver said.

Smith-Tolliver says a soldier's commitment to the armed forces doesn't end just because their service is over, seeing it as her responsibility to make sure the more than 200-thousand Mississippi veterans enjoy the best services available.

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Wardell Wince


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