For the sixth year in a row, U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows hosted an event to help Haywood County veterans get their cases with the VA on the right track.
The event was held at the Senior Resource Center in Waynesville Wednesday morning, and although Meadows only made a brief appearance, his staff, as well as representatives from the VA, were on-hand to assist veterans with whatever they may have needed.
Meadows began by joking about how Vietnam veterans are getting a few more gray hairs each year, as was he.
“Somebody the other day asked me about this rap singer that got arrested in Switzerland or something. A$AP Rock or something like that,” he said. “They said, ‘do you have an opinion on A$AP Rock?’ I said, ‘I’ve got too much gray hair to even know who he is.’”
Once the laughter died down, he had words specifically for Vietnam veterans, many of whom returned from combat to hostility in their own country.
“I say this on a regular basis, but you came home during a time when, candidly, we didn’t treat our veterans the way we should … you didn’t get the proper welcome home, so on behalf of a grateful nation, I want to officially say, welcome home,” he said.
Meadows also spoke about how beneficial he believes such events can be for veterans.
“Some of the stories where we’ve actually been able to cut through some of the red tape and get benefits going where they should are really just stories that should be chronicled in books,” he said. “We had a homeless veteran near Waynesville a few years ago that went from homeless to actually having a warm place to live with benefits because of this. That credit doesn’t come to me or even my staff. It goes to all of the folks that are around here.”
“The bureaucracy they have to deal with, they didn’t set that up,” he said regarding the VA staffers and other veterans advocates present. “They’re the ones who have to work through what Congress has messed up. I can tell you we’re working really hard to try to streamline this, but in the meantime, they’re the ones that are actually trying to do work within the system to get you the answers, and I just ask you show them respect and they will show you respect.”
He also had some kind words for Beverly Elliott, his staffer who works out of the Haywood County Courthouse.
“We affectionately call her the bulldog, because if it’s for a vet, she will not let go,” he said. “She has called me morning noon and night to make sure we get it. Sometimes if you can’t make them see the light you have to make them feel the heat. I’m the one that gets to make some people feel the heat when they don’t do right by our vets.”