Monday, November 07, 2005

Elderly Veterans Begin 225-mile Protest Walk

These men gave their all for their country, Now, their country needs to give it's all to them. They deserve the very best that the American people can give them.

The Story:

Gray hair and weathered skin offsetting his green fatigues and black POW beret, Vietnam veteran Jose Maria Vasquez began a six-day, 225-mile trek Saturday to protest the distance he must travel to reach the nearest veterans hospital.

Vasquez was joined by about 100 others, a few trailing on horseback, others driving vehicles laden with plastic bottles of water and other supplies for the trip from the Rio Grande Valley in deep South Texas to Audie L. Murphy Memorial Veterans Hospital in San Antonio.

The protesters planned to spend nights at Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion halls along the way, ending with their arrival in San Antonio on Veterans Day.

Some state and local officials donned sneakers and pledged to walk at least part of the way.

The lack of a veterans hospital in the four-county region along the Mexican border has long been a point of local contention. With the Rio Grande Valley population now pushing one million and the region continuing to send young people to fight wars, veterans say situation is even more dire now.

Largely poor and overwhelmingly Hispanic, the part of Texas south of San Antonio counts more combat veterans than anywhere else in the nation, Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia said.

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