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Veteran challenges elected officials on health care


The Register-Herald

FAIRLEA, W.Va.  — A ribbon-cutting may have been scheduled, but a sort of mini-Town Hall quiz broke out, interrupting the scheduled remarks at the grand opening of the VA’s new outpatient clinic in Fairlea on Monday.

U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins talks to Vietnam veteran Chally Erb at the open hour for the new VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic in Fairlea Monday.
(Photo by Jenny Harnish)

Three members of Congress who took turns at the podium with prepared speeches were each put on the spot by an impromptu question or comment from well-known local Vietnam veteran Chally Erb, speaking from his wheelchair not far from the podium.

“You voted to take away our health care,” Erb accused Rep. Evan Jenkins.

 “I appreciate your service,” Jenkins responded with a smile.

“Do you appreciate my comment?” Erb asked.

“Yes, I appreciate your comment,” the congressman said.

“Are you listening?” Erb persisted.

“Yes, I’m listening,” Jenkins said.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito likewise acknowledged Erb briefly when he implored, “Please don’t vote … to take away our Affordable Care Act.”

His exchange with Sen. Joe Manchin involved a similar message.

“Don’t vote for it, Joe,” Erb said.

“We’re not going to,” Manchin said. “We’re all trying to make it better.”

Asked by The Register-Herald following the ceremonies why he had chosen that particular venue to ask his questions, Erb responded simply, “They’re here. You have to get’em when they least expect it.”

He noted that all three know him, saying, “I’m respectful of them.”

Besides, he said with a grin, “Nothing gets their attention like a Marine in a wheelchair.”

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