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The Mayor and the veterans

I didn’t get around to yesterday’s front page story about Mayor White and his plan to help wounded veterans in the Houston area.

One in 11 soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan is Texan, according to the Department of Defense. A quarter of the state’s population comes from the Houston-Galveston area.

“You do the math,” Mayor Bill White said Monday.

He has. To help returning wounded veterans, White pulled together about 200 community and military leaders Monday to announce plans for a bureaucracy-busting, problem-solving coalition similar to the one organized for Hurricane Katrina evacuees. Harris County Judge Ed Emmett will co-lead the effort.

”Though the issues facing our wounded vets may not get the 24-hour media coverage that Katrina did, there are storms occurring in individual lives and individual families when people come back,” White said.

He did not pledge any government money but said the city could assist by building a database to connect veterans to local nonprofits, veteran organizations, faith-based charities, corporate recruiters and other members of the coalition.

White also urged citizens to become mentors to returning veterans, to help them find resources and navigate bureaucratic red tape. A goal of the public-private coalition, he said, should be to respond to veteran requests in 24 hours, if possible.

“One by one with mentors and hope, (we can) take them under our wings and express our gratitude as a nation,” White said.

[…]

Dr. S. Ward Casscells, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, defended the quality of care at VA hospitals.

But he conceded the bureaucracy could be “frustrating” for disabled veterans. He said Houston’s model, if successful, could work in other cities.

“We have something to learn here in Houston,” Casscells said.

So, does this count as a new idea for Mayor White, or is he still fresh out of them? Because, I have to say, this sounds like a new idea to me. And a pretty darned good one, too.

(If you want more discussion of that particular column of Kristin Mack’s, go read Greg. It’s worth it.)

Anyway. I applaud this initiative, and I look forward to seeing what becomes of it. Well done, Mayor White.

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