Lowell Sun: Blasting Congress as "completely out of touch" with the needs of veterans, Democratic 6th District Congressional candidate Seth Moulton on Tuesday said the only way to fix the veterans' health-care system is by electing people who understand it.
"Any health-care system needs oversight," said Moulton, who served four tours in Iraq with the Marines. "For the VA, Congress is charged with providing that oversight, and it has completely failed."
Speaking by the campus of the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital, Moulton called for improvements in care and oversight, as well as a greater investment in veterans' health care.
Salem Democrat Seth Moulton, front, running for Congress in the 6th District, joins fellow Marine veterans by the entrance to the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital in Bedford on Tuesday. With him, from left, are Lt. Jeff Phaneuf, Lt. Col. Buck Grader and Capt. Jake Grader. See a video at lowellsun.com. SUN / KATIE LANNAN
"It is outrageous that the wealthiest country on earth, with the most powerful military the world has ever seen, willingly sends its young men and women to the far reaches of the globe and then refuses to take care of them when they come home," Moulton said. "Our veterans' care is a travesty."
Moulton said he's had to wait two hours to get his blood drawn at a VA hospital. He said a member of his platoon repeatedly asked for a replacement knee after a grenade blew out his, but was instead given progressively stronger doses of painkillers.
Another man he'd served with, Moulton said, died of a heart attack at age 30 after taking medications to treat post-traumatic stress disorder.
"We as a society let him down when he came home," Moulton said.
Moulton is running against incumbent U.S. Rep. John Tierney for their party's nomination in a district that includes Bedford, Billerica, Burlington, Tewksbury and Wilmington.
The Democratic primary is rounded out by fellow challengers Marisa DeFranco of Middleton and John Devine of Rockport. Richard Tisei of Wakefield is the only Republican candidate.
Moulton took Tierney to task in particular, calling him "a do-nothing congressman who hasn't passed one bill in 18 years."
"While he was busy not passing so many bills, maybe he should have provided some oversight for the VA," Moulton said.
Tierney sits on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, the panel that in 2007 investigated the poor conditions at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
While Moulton said Tierney had since "turned a blind eye" and "done nothing to fix" the problems he saw seven years ago, a Tierney spokesman said his oversight work helped expose neglect in military hospitals and "led to passage of the Wounded Warrior Act which guaranteed wounded soldiers received improved medical care."
"It's ironic and particularly desperate that Mr. Moulton is criticizing Congressman Tierney on veterans issues in front of the Bedford VA Hospital, which Congressman Tierney saved from closure and consolidation multiple times over the past decade," said Ryan Matthews, Tierney's campaign manager. "Congressman Tierney has always been there for our veterans."
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