Toomey discusses state of VA at Vietnam veterans ceremony


Dozens of Midstate residents were honored at a Vietnam War Veterans Day at the Lebanon VA Medical Center on Thursday.

The event was about looking back at time spent in the service, as well as looking forward and being cared for by the Department of Veterans Affairs. 

Richard Isenberg was as a seargent in the Marines during the war.

“We were never honored,” Isenberg said. “We came back to a country that didn’t welcome us.”

That’s why the Lebanon VA Medical Center held a ceremony for Vietnam vets.

“Know that a grateful nation thanks you and honors you,” said Douglas Etter, an Army veteran with 33 years of service who works at the medical center.

ABC27 talked with U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey about promises made about the VA during President Donald Trump’s campaign.

“What would you say to the veterans or family members of veterans who say those promises have not yet been fulfilled?” we asked.

“Well, I’d like to hear about any specific cases where we can be doing better,” Toomey said. “I think a lot of progress has been made and there’s more to be done, so I’d welcome direct input to my office.”

Toomey wrote the legislation to make the day Vietnam War Veterans Day.

“What specifically do you think needs to be improved here in Pennsylvania and on the federal level?” ABC27 News asked.

“I think we’ve had some serious problems at the Pittsburgh VA, for instance, that I think were related to management problems there,” he said. “Those, I think, have been turned around, but we need to make sure.”

“We have a number of people in Pennsylvania because of our size that have to travel quite a bit of distance to get to a VA facility, so we are looking for more flexibility where some of those veterans can be seen closer to home,” Pennsylvania Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Tony Carrelli said.

While support from the government is important to many veterans, Isenberg points out that support from fellow Americans is vital, too.

“Just for people in the general community to be able to honor us and thank us and know what we went through,” he said.

Pennsylvania has almost one million veterans. About 280,000 of them served in the Vietnam War.

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