Letter-to-the-Editor: Montana Veterans Have Been Neglected by our Politicians


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My fellow Americans, I am a Veteran of one of our wars.  I am a citizen of our country.  I am what you need me to be when you need me to be it.  I am here for your service, as always.  But today, I require your assistance.

As government handouts and federal spending spreads like wildfire across our nation, we face an existential crisis of function over oligarchic power.  And our veterans are being left for dead as a result, again. 

Capitalism rewards function. The government has no such reward system.   

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In 2014, the private insurance contractor HealthNet, received a five-billion-dollar contract for Veterans Choice, to provide community healthcare across a handful of states.  By early 2016, HealthNet was acquired by the larger government contractor, Centene Corp.  They manage all sorts of government healthcare contracts.

When I went into my local VA for help in 2017, community healthcare services had all but shut off, due to the providers not getting paid. Not that I was told by the VA staff.  It took me a few years to realize that neither I nor my state were singled out. We were just caught in a larger problem.  

The VA OIG is holding HealthNet accountable for service rendered. The services they were rendering as they were allowing their contracts to collapse anyhow. The only other VA contractor at the time, TriWest, is being held accountable for the same things. Hundreds of millions of dollars are being reimbursed for mismanaged veteran healthcare.   

However, nobody is being held accountable for the veterans who were abandoned. That did not receive their needed care.  Nobody is accounting for the few years there was no community care despite the law.  

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Now, TriWest manages healthcare in Montana because stealing gets you more contracts apparently? HealthNet is HealthNet federal services because that checks out. And HealthNet’s parent company, Centene corps stock prices have more than doubled since their acquisition of HealthNet.  They have monopolized the government healthcare system on failed contracts and suffering veterans. 

As everything was breaking around me, they were profiting. I survived on $1,080 a month as a disabled veteran with a 60% rating, with no available care, for a year. I get to think back on that time as I read the CEO of Centene Corp earned 25 million last year.

Our government created a federal contracting monopoly on garbage healthcare with no accountability, on the deaths of my brothers and sisters in arms.

According to both Montana senators, that each took money from Centene Corp after leaving the veterans in my state for dead, both assured me that accountability was had. It seems to me the current chairman of the veteran’s oversight committee, Jon Tester, thought my life, and the lives of all the veterans in his state, was worth $3500. That’s what he took from Centene Corp Pac in 2018, after he watched them fail the veterans in his state.

And now he refuses to act.

I don’t accept it, and neither should you.  I need your help.  We need to demand better. 

Thank you,

Ben Thompson 

USMC Sgt.  0352. 3/5 wpns Co. 2002-2006. 


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