Saturday, October 27, 2007

Open Letter to Congress and the Senate

I am an old disabled infantry sergeant, so I know who will tell the truth when it is asked of them, Command Sergeant Majors, First Sergeants, Staff Sergeants, Buck Sergeants, First Lieutenants, Captains and Majors. If you want to really know what is happening in Iraq and Afghanistan, call these men and women into a hearing, either in Washington D.C. or go to the bases where combat troops are at and hold some field hearings, ask the questions of them, that General Petraues couldn't answer, morale what is it really of the troops who have been there three and four times? How are the families of these troops dealing with the multiple deployments, what are the divorce rates of these men and women.

Tough questions that need real answers, not questions of is the Iraq War vital to National Security, that is up to you to decide, not the Generals or the troops. All wars are political, the Generals do not declare them, politicians do, yes the President is a politician and he decides matters of war, just ask him. So far all you have been able to do is fund it.

In todays Washington Post, "Not Another Life" should have all of you, the 435 members of the House and the 100 members of the Senate, asking yourselves, did we ask General Petraues the right questions in September? Of course you "didn't" otherwise we would not be reading continuing stories of this nature, month after month. There is an excellent diary about this article written by Skywalker1 20 09 that got very little attention earlier.

How come the reporters can ask the right people, the ranks I mentioned above and get the answers, and Department of Defense restricts lower ranks from testifying to Congress, exactly who is in charge of this nation, DOD or Congress?

How can Secretary Gates forbid hearings where you question combat troops on the questions that need to be asked of them, not their Commanders.

I hate to tell this to you, but Commanders are Politicians, just like you all are, if they want to keep their jobs, or get their next promotion, then they give the answers their bosses want to hear.Not the real truth, but the couched version of the truth their boss wants you to hear, and bottom line the boss is President Bush.

Remember what the Navy did to Commander Swift, the JAG Officer that beat the administration in Hamdan VS the US? The Navy refused to promote him to Commander, and he was released from the Navy because he was passed over for promotion, during a time of war? Why, he obviously is an excellent lawyer, so why was he denied promotion? Because he beat President Bush and VP Cheney's policies in the Supreme Court. It is detailed in this Cenk Uygur Huffington Post article.

There are many stories of how the "troops" are fed up with the Iraqi Policy and feel that their mission as explained by the White House is not attainable, given the Iraqi Government and the Iraqi Police and Military situation.

So how long are you willing to keep the purse strings open to fund this Bush/Cheney folly? Yes, we are in this mess, but how best to get out, it will take better minds than mine to figure it out, but after five years it is time to do something different, demand the President pull the troops out of Baghdad and put them near the borders of Turkey (to stop that invasion, that is quickly coming) the Iran border to stop their interference, the Syrian Border to stop incoming insurgents, and yes even the Saudi border to stop the money from coming into the Sunni's. Let the civil war work itself out, and support whatever government is in place when it is over. Then maybe we can pull our troops out, completely.

If you can't find it in your heart to redeploy them now, demand mission change, and keep sending the President the bills until he gets tired of vetoing them. The American public is behind you, we do support the troops, we want this war to end.

You are elected all of you, Republicans and Democratic office holders all, even the few Independents, to do the people's work, not the Bush Administrations, with a 70% support for ending the war, what more do you need to grow a backbone?

Any elected official Democratic or Republican that can't support mission change and get our troops out of the middle of this civil war, should be replaced in January 2009, just like President Bush and VP Cheney and friends.

The old adage throw the "bums out" should apply in November 2008, all incumbents that cannot support legislation to change the mission should be challenged and hopefully removed from office. You should NOT be continuing to fund this Presidents misguided policy of dumping another 200 billion into Iraq and Afghanistan without some sort of real accountability and change, the troops deserve your real support. Not lip service, Veterans Day is coming, show them you really do care. Take the fight to the White House with the checkbook.

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Bush Administration playing fast with tax dollars

Nope and it ain't Rudy, who remembers the short run of Tommy Thompson ex Governor of Wisconson and former Secretary of Health and Human Services? Well it seems as if the company he is now running Logistics Health of LaCrosse, Wis was just awarded a contract worth over the next five years a possible 790 million dollars. It also happened to hire another Bush Administration insider William Winkenwerder Jr., assistant secretary of Defense for health affairs from 2001 until April, joined Logistics Health Inc. as a director and consultant in June 2007.

The best part of it, they weren't even the low bidder for the contract, numerous other companies had under bid them, in the 50-100 million dollar range. Why did DOD then award the company to a high bidder? Is this the way the Bush Administration is watching our "tax dollars" that President Bush keeps harping about, the Democratic Congress wasting?

I was shocked to read the blatant account on the VA Watchdog tonite, it reads like a who's who of the Bush Administration, other familiar names

Records reviewed by The Times show that the Logistics Health bid also survived a major last-minute change when partner QTC Management abruptly withdrew days before the contract was awarded.

QTC Chairman Anthony J. Principi, another former Bush appointee, was secretary of Veterans Affairs.

The GAO has until early January to act on the protests.

Yes, Secretary Principi was head of the VA from 2001 until he was replaced by the VA Colonel James R Nicholson, the ex head of the RNC, who was rewarded with Principi's job after he tired of living in Rome as the Ambassador to the Holy See from 2001 until the ned of 2004, I guess he wanted a Cabinet Position to round out his official resume, not bad for a Colonel, who couldn't get promoted to General.

For those of you who are not aware Secretary Principi is the CEO of QTC, they have the contract with the Veterans Administration that provides doctors to do all the outsourced Compensation exams for disabled veterans. Another contract worth nearly a billion dollars for the next five years.

Isn't it wonderful how the Republicans keep saving us taxpayers all this money by giving contracts to their friends who are the high bidders?

In other letters of protest filed with the GAO, officials of rival firms also charged that Logistics won the pact despite questions raised about its performance under a previous agreement with the Department of Health and Human Services. That pact, originally awarded in 2001, only applied to the Army, while the new one includes the Navy, Air Force and Marines.

Kenneth Moskowitz, an attorney for the Pennsylvania-based United States Military Dental Corp., said in an Oct. 12 letter that Logistics' prior performance and practices under the Health and Human Services contract "put reservists and National Guardsmen at possible undue risks.

He told the GAO that "no one was assigned to specifically monitor the level of care" received by military personnel and that the company operated with "a built-in incentive to lower provider cost for added profit." The Pennsylvania company was a subcontractor for Comprehensive Health Services of Florida, one of the failed bidders.

Logistics' prior performance and practices under the Health and Human Services contract "put reservists and National Guardsmen at possible undue risk am I reading this right or are they saying a company run by a Republican is possibly putting the troops healthcare under possible undue risk, because of this companies past performances, is this how President Bush and the White House and DOD supports the troops? I am sure this HAS to be a mistake.

On the other hand in some good news for veterans there is this from Senator Harry Reid

The leader of the
nation's largest veterans organization met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid today and urge Congressional leadership to quickly pass the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2008 (HR-2642).

"Sen. Reid personally assured me that the MilCon-VA appropriations bill would be passed by Veterans Day," Marty Conatser, national commander of the 2.7 million-member American Legion, said.

Isn't that great news for our nations Veterans and President Bush, he demanded the budgets gets passed and on his desk so he can sign them, well George here comes one for you to "support the troops". Unlike your "friends" who are trying to fleece America's taxpayers and give shoddy healthcare and over price it to boot to "our troops".

President Bush I am sure you are disappointed in the fact they did this to our nation, aren't you? Or is it just the getting caught part that troubles you?

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Service Officer's pay attention we need more like this


ALL VETERANS -- "When veterans come to me for help,

they will get it. If you want to reprimand me, for helping

people, you can. I won't stop helping them."

York News Times has an interesting article about a "dedicated" veteran service officer

YORK -- The county commissioners are going to draft policy ending York County services to out-of-county veterans and limiting the hours of service officer, Don Sandman.
But Sandman says he will not comply, even if that means they call for his dismissal.
In a heated discussion yesterday morning, the commissioners said they are concerned with the amount of time and resources that Sandman is taking to help veterans who don't live in York County. He acknowledges that one-third of the claims he has processed during his tenure are for veterans who don't live here. But he also says that the time spent for those veterans are his own, that they are above and beyond the 40 hours for which he is paid by the county.

"We began this discussion several weeks ago," said Commissioner Ken Stuhr, "first, regarding the location of the service office. Now, I have concerns about the workload at that office, because of out-of-county veterans seeking services here."

Stuhr said the county has long been asking other counties to financially compensate York County for those services, but they refuse to do so.

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Real Leadership from Senator Akaka, Lindsey and Jim where do you stand on this?


October 22, 2007


Dole-Shalala Proposals Similar to Existing Legislation, Say Committee's Majority Members

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI), Chairman of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, and the Committee's Majority members, sent a letter to President George W. Bush today regarding the Dole-Shalala Commission. The Senators praised the Commission's concern for veterans, and called attention to legislative solutions which are already underway to carry out many of the Commission's recommendations.

"The Committee has already recognized and taken action on many of the needs and initiatives outlined by the Dole-Shalala Commission, especially with regard to health care. We are asking for the President's support so that these changes can be made as expeditiously as possible to get returning servicemembers the health care they need and deserve," said Senator Akaka.

The Majority members expressed concerns about some of the Commission's recommendations that cannot be made overnight, citing the sheer magnitude of the changes being proposed to VA's disability compensation system in particular.

Senator Akaka and his colleagues also urged President Bush to expedite the nomination of a new VA Secretary, noting that any major change to the current system of administering veterans' benefits would be extremely difficult without a confirmed Secretary at the helm of the Department. Former Secretary Nicholson left VA on October 1, 2007, after announcing his resignation on June 17, 2007.

The Honorable George W. Bush
President of the United States
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We take this opportunity to address the proposed "America's Wounded Warriors Act." While we have not officially received the bill, we have seen what we understand is the final version, which is based on the work of the Commission on Care for America's Wounded Service Members (the Dole-Shalala Commission). We appreciate your work on this issue which is so important to veterans and their families.

As you have noted, we share the common goal of improving the lives of servicemembers and their families. Just last week, the Committee held a hearing at which the Dole-Shalala Commission's findings were examined, along with the work of other entities that have been working on these issues. Congress is already acting on the very same solutions as the Commission, particularly on matters of health care.

For example, the Committee on Veterans' Affairs has moved to improve both TBI and mental health care. Provisions comparable to the Commission's recommendations on health care have already been integrated into the National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 1585) through the Dignified Treatment of Wounded Warriors Act (H.R.1538), and are addressed in the proposed "Veterans Traumatic Brain Injury Rehabilitation Act of 2007" (S. 1233), and the proposed "Mental Health Improvements Act of 2007" (S. 2162).

We are pleased to note that your draft bill includes an expedited initial evaluation for PTSD to combat veterans. In section 204 of S. 1233 and section 1709 of H.R. 1585, the Committee has moved to require VA to provide a preliminary mental health evaluation to any recently discharged combat veteran not later than thirty days after a request for such an evaluation. While VA has made significant efforts to provide veterans with mental health evaluations in a timely manner, there is much room for improvement. VA has made progress in reaching out to servicemembers in need of mental health care services, and should continue to work diligently to provide those services in a timely way.

Similarly, your draft legislation seeks to ensure that evaluation for PTSD is afforded to veterans regardless of existing restrictions on enrollment. Section 201 of the Committee-reported bill, S. 1233, and section 1708 of H.R. 1585, extend the period during which veterans of combat have eligibility for VA health care, without regard to other criteria, from two to five years. We believe that this extension is necessary to ensure combat veterans receive health care during their transition to civilian life. With this extension, physical and mental health disorders which may take years to manifest and treat, including PTSD, will be better addressed. We are pleased that the Administration supports this change in law.

Finally, we are gratified that the Commission recognized the importance of services for veterans' family members. The Committee is presently considering a comprehensive mental health bill, S. 2162, which, among other things, would clarify and expand VA's existing authority to provide services to the family members of a veteran, when such services are deemed to be in the interest of the veteran. This legislation would establish authority to provide to families the full range of VA care, including mental health services. We share the Administration's interest in improving resources and services available to the families of America's veterans.

We have deep misgivings about the provisions of your bill that would provide a basis for drastic changes to VA's disability compensation system. As you know, these provisions would abrogate Congressional authority, and would give the Secretary of Veterans Affairs the authority to comprehensively rewrite VA's compensation system. Further, it would inappropriately require the Secretary to accomplish this monumental task over the span of mere months. Based on testimony at the Committee's recent hearing, especially from the Chairman of the Veterans' Disability Benefits Commission, we do not believe this time line is realistic.

In addition, as you have not yet sent a nomination to Congress for a successor to Secretary Nicholson, we are understandably concerned that a task of this magnitude and importance should not be undertaken during a time when there is no permanent leadership at VA. In that regard, we urge you to expedite the process of selecting a nominee, and send that nomination to Congress. When a nomination is received by our Committee, we will fulfill our Constitutional duty to provide advice and consent on the nomination.

Mr. President, in closing, we urge you to work with the Republican leadership in the Senate to ensure prompt passage of the health-related legislation discussed above which addresses matters recommended by the Dole-Shalala Commission.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

How do you fund a war, but not the Casualties?


CASUALTIES?" -- Some veterans advocates say the agency is

in such disarray that the White House has been unable to find

a top-notch candidate willing to take the job of VA Secretary.

This was asked by Annette Mcleod of South Carolina whoe husband was injured in Iraq you can read the rest of the story here at Newsweek

The secretary of Veterans Affairs presides over the U.S. government's second largest Cabinet department, after Defense. It is a politically sensitive job, especially of late, with new studies showing that the Bush administration has vastly underestimated the cost of providing health care to the more than 750,000 soldiers who have returned home from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But three months ago, former secretary James Nicholson resigned abruptly after a difficult tenure to "get back into the business world"—and tension among vets is rising because the White House still hasn't nominated a replacement. "I wish I could tell you what's going on," says David Gorman, executive director of Disabled American Veterans. "I think the administration thinks this is the least of their priorities."

Some veterans advocates say the VA is in such disarray that the White House has been unable to find a top-notch candidate willing to take the job, much less go through a confirmation hearing. "Who wants to come in for 15 months and take over a department that has been left in shambles?" asks Paul Sullivan, a former VA official who now heads Veterans for Common Sense. White House spokeswoman Emily Lawrimore declined to comment on particular candidates, but says, "We are working hard to nominate a highly qualified individual." She adds that the White House hopes to announce a nominee "soon."

MR President, doesn't this nations veteran deserve better? What happened to your 2004 campaign slogan "A Promise Made Is A Promise Kept"? Show us the beef!!!!!

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Chapel Hill NC veterans this is for you

Chapel Hill News of Chapel Hills North Carolina explains a veterans stand down on Thursday to help veterans in the North Carolina area obtain assistance and help filing claims for compensation and other benefits veterans might be entitled to.

The goal of Project Homeless Connect is to provide easy access to services that support the transition of the county's homeless off the streets and into housing. Organizers will provide individual assistance to participants in a variety of areas including medical, mental health, substance abuse, housing, dental, benefits (i.e. Veterans assistance, social security), legal, help with obtaining official identification cards, food, clothing, wheelchair repair and more. They also will provide internet access and assistance with contacting family members and friends.

To learn more about Project Homeless Connect, contact Jamie Rohe at the Chapel Hill Planning Department at 969-5059.

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Senator Dole wants to start "Vet wars" why?

I prematurely endorsed the Dole/Shalala Commission report before I fully understood what Senator Dole was proposing, as usual his verbal statements did not match the written facts. (Seems as if many republicans have this problem) the most famous is "We support the troops" until it comes to paying for them as veterans, then they vote against the majority of the bills offered as shown by their own voting records exposed in this article on VA watchdog.

I have learned after more reading and newspaper articles that Senator Dole is proposing to pit veterans against veterans in the fight for future benefits. The old vets against the "new vets". I got one thing for Senator Dole "Sir, please shove this idea in a place the sun don't shine". Disabled veterans are disabled veterans regardless of when they served or how they served, unless it was dishonorably.

For those of you who don't know, compensation payments are based on rating percentages of the disabled veterans service connected injuries or medical problems contracted while on active duty.

There are a lot of problems with the way the different states Regional Offices of the Department of Veteran Affairs awards the ratings. In one state a veteran with a severe case of PTSD may only get rated at 50% while in another state they may be rated at 70% or even at the 100% rate, it depends on the "rater". Mental issues are vague and hard to set to a percentage compared to a lost limb for example, a lost leg is 40% or an arm is 40%, tinnitus (ringing in the ears) is 10% those type of injuries are cut and dried.

Up to now, for the past 100 years give or take a few, the purpose of VA compensation is to replace loss of income caused by the service connected problems.

Now, the new commissions are talking about compensating for loss of quality of life, earning ability, how it effects the vetrans life with his wife/husband, the children, the types of outdoor activities they did before service, skiing, skating, bowling, golf etc, and what can they do now after they are injured. In other words they are looking past just a loss of income. Like any other type of disability award in on the job injuries or accidents the victims are paid awards for pain and suffering, and this is what the Dole/Shalala Commission is proposing, although they are saying it will only apply to "new veterans" from 2001 thru the future, now we even have pre 911 veterans benefits and post 911 veteran benefits.
HELL NO not in any way shape or form should Congress allow this to happen.

I have heard that the Dole/Shalala Commission has recommended up to immediate 25% pay raises for disabled veterans, excuse me why does it cost post 911 veterans 25% more to live than it does us Vietnam, Gulf War, Korean War, WW2 and disabled peacetime (Cold War) veterans to live?

It doesn't we all pay the same for gas, food, light's, phones, housing costs, normal life is the same for all of us, if disabled veterans deserve a raise then all disabled veterans deserve a raise, not just the "terror warriors".

In this article in the New York Daily News the writer explains part of this mess

It's the fight nobody wanted - older vets competing with wounded troops from Iraq for scarce funding and hospital beds, with Bob Dole as referee.

The battle lines began forming last week at a Senate Veteran Affairs Committee hearing on revamping the overloaded military and Veterans Administration health care and disability payment systems.

"There's been some pushback," Dole said, from World War II, Korea and Vietnam vets to the reforms touted by the presidential commission he headed with former Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala.

"We front-loaded the recommendations" to focus on troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, said Dole, the former Senate Republican leader and presidential nominee

One of the regular members of the daily Kos community is also quoted in the article:

Younger vets are also upset at the possibility of facing off against vets of wars past for money and hospital space.

"We shouldn't be fighting each other for priority," said Paul Rieckhoff, head of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

Rieckhoff called for boosting the proposed VA budget, now about $80 billion, to accommodate all the generations.

But the 84-year-old Dole suggested that older vets might have to settle for less.

Senator Dole we don't have to settle for less, we will be demanding the exact same treatment from our Congressmen and Senators, your attempt to help the Bush Administration to make a 2 tier veterans system is wrong, just on face value and the harm it will do in the future.

We all served this nation and we believe in equality for all, and here you are a former Presidential candidate, a Senator, and a respected politician, until now, you Sir, have sullied your reputation by even proposing this BS piece of work that will divide the veterans communities.

HOW DARE YOU, Sir? Did Dick Cheney or President Bush ask you to help destroy the Veterans Administrations and groups by proposing this insane idea?

I ask all readers to please contact your Congressmen and Senators to push back against the Dole/Shalala Commission on a 2 tier system fix the VA system so all veterans and their families benefits that apply equitably across the nation and the veterans of all wars are treated the same.

This is America isn't it?

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"Veterans Village"

A mother of a fallen combat medic Patrick McCaffrey has started a foundation to get help to veterans and their families who are dealing with PTSD as an ever lasting tribute to her son. It is an ambitious plan but then again there is a tremendous need for help, there are literally tens of thousands veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan who will or are dealing with symptoms of PTSD.

We will start it with a board of Veterans who very much want to help others and themselves
and their families in this process. They are very highly motivated. I have met them. The
support is coming from across the country right now because I’ve been speaking of the
project nationally. It’s a good time to show everyone in this country how serious this is.
Our streets are already filled with homeless (percent?) Veterans from Vietnam and this is
not acceptable.

We need to do something. We are their family. We are responsible for them and we need
recognize this and do something about it right now. Each community in this country should
be able to donate time and money to help them rebuild their lives.

We accepted this war. It’s time to bring closure to it as best we can or we know the rest.
So let’s do it. These Veterans will decide after speaking in depth with Veteran’s in need
how long and what sort of support, care, rehabilitation that this person will need. This will
be based on many things from being able to work or not, the degree of trauma and
suffering, the severity of injuries and ability to function as a civilian, i.e. can this Veteran
normally sit a restaurant table without having a flashback or physical pain? This type of
discovery will enable us to determine the length of time each Veteran will stay.

If you can send a donation, if you need help with PTSD contact them this is the good part of America working

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