Ninnescah Electric hosted a well-attended meet and greet with Kansas Senator Jerry Moran on Thursday afternoon in Pratt.
Improving veterans access to necessary care was a chief topic for Sen. Jerry Moran when he stopped in Pratt on Sept. 5 at the Ninnescah Electric facility during his annual listening tour across Kansas.
Moran said although he is not a veteran, he grew up with Vietnam and saw how poorly his classmate veterans were treated when they returned from the war. Now, as a senator, he is in a position to help them navigate the bureaucracy of the Veterans Administration.
Moran said veterans were committing suicide at a rate of 20 per day and they need access to treatment that is best for the veteran. The bureaucracy was evident when a veteran who needed a colonoscopy called the VA and was told he would have drive to Hays to have the procedure. The veteran said he called the VA in Hays and found out they didn’t do colonoscopies but the VA insisted he go there for the procedure because it was within 40 miles of his home.
With the new Mission Act, the focus is on the veteran and the person providing assistance to determine what is best for the veteran.
In the case of the colonoscopy, it was in the best interest of the veteran to not drive to Hays.
In another case, a veteran needed a kidney transplant and wanted to have it done at a University of Kansas medical facility in Bonner Springs rather than travel halfway across the country as the VA suggested.
Moran wants to keep patients as local as possible. There are 126 hospitals in Kansas and the future is fragile for all of them. There are 250,000 veterans in Kansas. If a veteran can be treated locally, that helps keep hospitals financially safe.
There were too many steps between a request for a procedure that had to go through the doctor to the VA to the hospital and back again before something could be approved. Some of that bureaucracy has been removed, Moran said.
The status of agriculture is also a significant problem. Moran said there had been a 50 percent downsize in agriculture since 2013.
While some communities are showing growth through new businesses or upgrading businesses, if they are in a rural community, those businesses may not grow if the farming community is not solid.
Moran said a strong trade agreement with Mexico and Canada to help strengthen agriculture in Kansas. But one audience member pleaded to keep America safe from the criminals that are coming across the boarder. Moran said Mexico is a mess and there were drugs, sex trafficking, hostages and more coming across the boarder. The U.S. needs to know who is coming across the border because if there are criminals, America doesn’t want them.
Part of the problem lies in the U.S. itself that creates the demand for drugs because there is money to be made.
A retired school teacher was concerned about the fear students were developing because of all the shootings. Moran said gun violence comes up at every town hall meeting he attends. People want to know why the House and Senate can’t find a way to get something done.
Moran said he didn’t know how to solve the problem with gun control. It’s a constitutional issue and even if guns were banned, the guns would still be out there. There is a mental health issue to consider in the gun issue.
Moran said morals have deteriorated in families where people learn right from wrong. For example, a guy pulled out a gun at a Popeyes because they ran out of chicken.
Eddie Petrowsky agreed morals have declined and said God didn’t abandon the schools, the schools kicked God out.
John Cochran suggested the House and Senate could pass legislation to get a national movement started to recognize the values of being respectful of people and life. If this could get support at the national level, the public might not be so angry and hostile. People don’t have to clinch their fist every time they disagree with others.
“I’d like for all America to find a way to make a more peaceful America,” Cochran said.
Moran said he didn’t think some people understood how the things they say can get out on social media. A teacher in Hays had sent him a scathing email and when he confronted her about it, she said she never had an idea that Moran would ever see it.
About 40 area residents attended the event.