Saturday, March 28, 2015
Within six hours of Jon Stewart’s comedy news show airing a piece on the impact of the VA’s rule requiring veterans to live 40 miles “as-the-crow-flies” from a VA Medical facility to use the choice care plan, the VA changed its rules. The new rules allow a veteran to live 40 “driving miles” away from the facility. While this change makes imminent sense, is it a coincidence that Jon Stewart’s criticism came before a major VA policy change that doubled the number of veterans eligible for the choice care program? It wouldn’t be the first time Jon Stewart has criticized the VA and brought national attention to its problems. His Red Tape Diary series in 2013 brought national attention to the VA’s backlog of disability claims by breaking the issue down to a segment of society who otherwise would probably have no reason to know about this issue. He ridiculed the VA’s lack of technology and a year later the VA began implement major technological changes that had been talked about but slow to come around. His episode about the difficulties of Vietnam Veterans with PTSD and poor discharges brought major media attention for the first time to an issue that now has several media outlets interested and finally has a new Department of Defense policy in place to attempt to resolve the issue.
Perhaps all of these are coincidence, but Jon Stewart’s mockery of intransigent government policies keep veterans from benefits have been invaluable to those veterans who have received help after these pieces aired. With Jon Stewart leaving this arena shortly, let’s hope someone else in media picks up this mantle.
For Stewart’s most recent clips see here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/25/jon-stewart-veterans_n_6937380.html
For an article about his past Red Tape Diary episodes see here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/25/jon-stewart-veterans_n_6937380.html
To see a summation of some of his most popular veteran episodes see here: http://www.wearethemighty.com/jon-stewart-military-veterans-2015-02