The VA Hospital, Memorial Day and More

John lenotte, American LegionBy: John Lenotte

There has been some shocking news recently about the treatment of veterans in some VA medical centers.

It appears that 40 veterans died because of lack of care at the Phoenix Arizona VA Medical Center. There was a secret list of appointments that administrators were maintaining which delayed medical appointments. This comes after reports from other VA facilities across the country over the last several months that delayed treatment and appointments have resulted in unnecessary deaths of veterans.

These are men and women who answered our nation’ call to arms, did their job in the military and came home expecting to be taken care of by our government. This is beyond disgraceful.

If you agree with me, I hope you will contact our Congressional Delegation to voice your opinion.

An easy way to get their contact information is to go to If these allegations are true, there needs to be a shake-up in the VA and some of these folks need to be held accountable and some may need to lose their jobs.

I am not a lawyer but this seems to border on being outright criminal.

How would you feel if this happened to one of your family? As a veteran, they are all part of my extended family and I will be sending emails to my US Senators Markey and Warren and to Congresswoman Tsongas.

Perhaps the warm weather will finally get here this month, at least by Memorial Day.

As the holiday approaches, I know we will all be getting ready for the traditional cookout. Part of my holiday tradition is to help put out flags on the graves of our veterans. Here in Haverhill, we do get a lot of assistance from the Boy Scouts in putting out over 6,000 flags each year. And there will be the parade on Memorial Day.

I hope you will come out in your local city or town to view the parade and ceremonies.

It only takes a little bit out of your time to do so. And while at the cemetery, think about those who made the sacrifice for our nation.

Some died in battle, others came home with physical and mental scars. Others served during peacetime. All of these men and women served to keep us free. The least we can do is give up some of our time to recognize them and their families.

Not a big price for us considering this great nation that we live in and all the freedoms we enjoy.

I will ask all veterans to also turn out, and if you cannot march or ride in the parade, at least be on the sidelines for your comrades. And if you do not belong to the American Legion or any other veterans’ organization that you are eligible for, this is a good time to join.

Our country and your comrades still need you.

The image continues to persist that the Legion and others are about the “bar”. The Legion charters posts, not bars. Many posts do not have a members lounge/bar area. It is about the many programs that the Legion runs: Baseball, Boys State, Oratorical Contests and Scholarships; support for National Security; care of veterans in need.

One little known program is the Child Welfare Foundation, founded in 1953. This year they awarded over $600,000 in grants. Two Massachusetts organizations received money: National Braille Press of Boston, was awarded $18,500 for their project, “Just Enough to Know Better: A Braille Primer.” This grant will produce a Braille primer for sighted parents to teach their blind children to read; and the National Autism Center of Randolph, MA, was awarded $50,000 for their project, “Evidence-Based Educational Interventions in Public School Settings for Children with ASD.” This grant will produce and disseminate information to support an intervention program targeted toward schools and special education administrators. These are the types of programs that demonstrate what the American Legion is all about and why I am proud to be a life member. Again, veterans, come join us!

May God Bless America, the troops who defend us, and their families.

John Lenotte, Commander American Legion Post 4 Haverhill, Past Department Commander.