Saturday, November 10, 2007

Concord Monitor OPED on Veterans

In this great OPED the newspaper lays out what veterans deserve from this nation.

Throughout the history of our nation, brave men and women have answered the call to defend and protect our country. Veterans Day reminds us all of the great sacrifices made by our nation's veterans and their families. This fall, I attended welcome home ceremonies for the New Hampshire Guard's 3643rd Security Force. It was wonderful to see the reunion of the Guard members and their families. That day reminded me how much an entire family sacrifices when a soldier is deployed overseas.

In Congress, we must honor our veterans with action and not just words. How we take care of our veterans and their families is a reflection on the values of our nation. Support for our veterans is not a Republican issue or a Democratic issue; it is an American issue.

In this 110th Congress, we have provided historic increases in veterans' health care and benefits to meet the needs of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. We passed legislation to increase the VA budget with the largest single increase in the history of the Veterans Administration. This past week, we worked hard to provide the largest increase in VA health care in history, which will go to treat 5.8 million patients, including about 263,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.

The author of this OPED is Paul Hodes the Congressman from New Hampshire's Second Congressional District

We need more elected representatives like Mr Hode.....

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President Bush and Congress Spar over Veterans

In this Associated Press story it explains the problems with the FY2008 Veterans Budget and the name calling the White House and Congress are using, but when you get into the real facts, you see it is no more than politcs as usual.

President Bush said Saturday that Congress' Democratic leaders should celebrate Veterans Day by finally passing a spending bill covering programs for veterans.

"Congressional leaders let the fiscal year end without passing this bill they know our veterans need," Bush said in his weekly radio address. "The time to act is running out. ... The best way members of Congress can give thanks to our veterans is to send me a clean bill that I can sign into law."

Bush's dig at Democrats didn't tell the whole story.

Then the story goes on to tell the rest of the truth, the part the President ignored:
Congress has never delivered to Bush a veterans affairs spending bill by Veterans Day, even when Capitol Hill was run by Republicans. And even veterans' groups have been reluctant to criticize this year's Congress for the delay, because they are thankful for large budget increases already engineered by Democrats since they assumed the majority in January. They added $3.4 billion to the veterans' budget in February and $1.8 billion in May.

Congressman Joe Sestak D-Pennsylvania gave the democratic response to the Presidents radio address

The veterans bill has gotten caught up in a larger battle between the White House and Congress over Democratic efforts to add about $23 billion for domestic programs to Bush's $933 billion proposal for all agency budgets passed by Congress each year. Only late last week did Congress approve the first two of 12 spending bills for the budget year that began Oct. 1.

Democrats had sought to combine the veterans spending measure with ones for education, health and job training programs to force passage of increases for the other programs. But Bush has insisted that the veterans money come to him in a stand-alone bill, and the veterans portion was stripped from the larger legislation this week, leaving that funding in limbo.

The veterans' bill adds $3.7 billion over Bush's request for the Veterans Affairs Department's budget. The increase would ease waiting times to claim VA health benefits and add money to treat post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries.

In a joint letter to Bush on Saturday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told the president that the Democratic Congress wants to work with him.

"Key to this dialogue, however, is some willingness on your part to actually find common ground," they wrote. "Thus far, we have seen only a hard line drawn and a demand that we send only legislation that reflects your cuts to critical priorities of the American people."

So, the President ignores the fact that for the past 6 years the republican controlled Congress NEVER delivered a Veterans Budget before Veterans Day, and it is only a problem NOW because we have a democratic controlled Congress.

He is also mad that the Veterans Budget is about six billion more than he wanted and he knows he can NOT veto the budget, even the republicans running for re-election next year would not dare vote against benefits for veterans right now, not after the fiasco at Walter Reed, and Bob Woodruffs interview with Secretary James Nicholson where he looked like an idiot claiming all the Iraq war veterans were coming to the VA hospitals for dental work.

Bottom line is the Veterans will get the extra funds because of the democratic controlled Congress, not because of President Bush's temper tantrums not because of the "help" of the Republicans, bottom line is that next year is a Presidential election and many Senators and all the Congressmen have to run for re-election, President Bush doesn't, so it's every politician for themselves right now. I bet Joe Wilson even votes to pass this budget.

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National Cemetary to open next year at Fort Jackson

This article in the Charlotte Observer explains the progress and the plan for the opening of the new National Cemetary for veterans and their spouses on Fort Jackson. I for one plan on using the cemetary as my final resting place and am glad it is right here at "home".

Under the Fort Jackson plan, an initial 10-acre portion of the site "will be wrapped in, and it won't even be noticeable that one part was started earlier than the rest," Burko said.

Sweeping his arm across the horizon, Burko predicted an imposing entryway will lead to a park-like setting of wide grassy spaces, in time filled with the traditional small marble headstones.

Given the Colonial-era history of South Carolina and its conservative, red brick architecture, the formal entry buildings and other administrative buildings will probably take on a similar style, Burko said.

The other national cemeteries are planned for Sarasota and Jacksonville, Fla.; Birmingham, Ala.; Philadelphia; and Bakersfield, Calif., Burko said.

Most of Fort Jackson's sprawling 53,000 acres is used for basic training, firing ranges and military schools. The cemetery will be fenced and visitors won't be able to get onto the training areas, Burko said. A benefit for visitors is nearby Interstates 26 and 77, allowing easy access.

I applaud the rapid building of this national cemetary for this nations veterans and South Carolinians.

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Friday, November 9, 2007

Steve Young CA48

Today, the Orange County Register [Circ 302,110 Daily, 367,627 Sunday] published an Op-Ed piece I wrote entitled: ["Before the Belin Wall Fell."] My piece commemorates the 18th anniversary of the Berlin Wall's fall, and talks about what I learned when I toured East Berlin in 1970.

Also this afternoon, I am appearing on television -- Channel 50 -- on the "Inside OC" television program with Rick Rieff. Adam Probosky, the Republican pollster, and an officer of Republican Centeral Committee is coming to debate the issues surounding Mike Corona's indictment.
The broadcast times will be:
Sunday, November 11, at 11:30am,
Wednesday, November 14, 7:00pm and 11:30pm
Thursday, November 15, 8:30am.

Before the Berlin Wall Fell

see Americans with the same feelings. Now, seemingly every government act exasperates the people, and every refusal to act excites their contempt. Have you ever bit your tongue while standing in an airport security line, because you felt your patriotism demeaned, your dedication to America questioned, and your personal privacy trampled? Do you express your feelings, or do you stand mute lest the TSA screeners tap you for further search, or detention, Tasering, or worse, as happened to the woman who died in TSA custody after allegedly yelling at a baggage inspector?

Our leaders should instill courage – not trepidation, empower us to greatness – not tax us into submission, envision a bright future of freedom – rather than project the darkness of governmental tyranny. America is a nation of moderate, cautious people with a reform bent and a "can-do" spirit.

To break through the darkness, America must be a country of opportunity for all, responsibility from all, and a community of all. We all want a strong, free and secure America. In this there are no parties, for all Americans understand how important are our freedom and security.

Steve Young see's the opportunity we have as a nation, the same things I see and want for my grandchildren. Steve will make California and the nation a great representative, remember all votes cast by Congressional reps affect us all, not just their district, we need to work together to make the nation better, that includes helping to elect "leaders" across the nation.

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Thursday, November 8, 2007

A California Congressman claims veterans committ FRAUD

IN my opionion it is time for Congressman Campbell R of CA-48 here is a You tube response from the democratic candidate Steve Young and comments made by veterans that are endorsing Steven's bid to unseat the veteran hating Congressman from California

I want to reach every veteran in the country to let them know how John Campbell [R, Ca-48] feels about veterans. Three veterans heard Campbell’s “macaca” statement. I made a commercial to tell the truth, and to demand that Campbell apologize to veterans.

$25 buys 30 seconds on cable to show this commercial in the District. How many times would you like to see this commercial play? Fill in the box (at the top) in $25 increments and hit the “contribute” button to tell George Bush and John Campbell, “It’s time to stop posing in front of soldiers, and start standing behind our veterans.”

Look at my website at

Do you want to know why I am so committed to the veterans and their benefits? I took the time to put it on tape so you can hear it from the horse’s mouth:

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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Soldiers are cheating on TBI assessment tests why?

In a very disturbing story on the VA tonight I was shocked and saddened to read about soldiers and Marines that have apparently been cheating on tests that show damage from concussions and other Traumatic brain Injuries during explosions in Iraq, the motivation? So they won't be sent home for treatment, they figure the problems will resolve themselves in Iraq, the problem is if a second explosion happens the chance of more extreme damage is increased. This appears to be on the same level of concern as admitting to having PTSD, the soldiers see it as a stigma on their careers or somehow failing their battle buddies.

Earlier in the war, Jaffee says, military physicians noticed some cheating, particularly among Marines at Camp Pendleton in California, where testing started in 2004.By cheating, he says, troops risk being "exposed to a second concussion or mild traumatic brain injury. It could have more devastating effects not only on their health, but on the mission's success, or perhaps on the safety of the people on their patrol."

About one-third of war casualties brought to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., have some form of brain injury, Army records show.
The Pentagon lists 4,471 brain-injured casualties from Iraq and Afghanistan, but the actual number is likely higher because many cases go undetected.

The most common are mild brain injuries that come from being close to an explosion from a roadside bomb, mortar round or grenade. Eighty percent of wounds in Iraq are caused by explosions, Jaffee says. Even if there are no obvious wounds, there can be a brain injury, he says.

I hope for the soldiers and Marines sake they seek treatment early for PTSD and TBI, they are risking their futures and their families.

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Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Mental Health help for veterans spouses and other family members

A group of approximately 700 mental health professionals have started a group to do pro bono counseling (free) to the families who are not covered under DOD regulations, National Guard or discharged veterans Washington Post

Now a new nonprofit group called Give an Hour, launched by Washington area clinical psychologist Barbara V. Romberg, is providing free counseling for soldiers and their families, as well as their unmarried partners. More than 720 licensed psychologists, social workers and other counselors from 40 states and the District have volunteered to donate an hour a week of therapy time for a minimum of one year to those affected by the twin conflicts.

So far about 50 clients, including one soldier on active duty in Iraq, have contacted the program to find a therapist -- a trickle Romberg hopes will turn into a steady stream as word of the program spreads.

The pro bono effort is underwritten by several grants, including one from the Coalition to Salute America's Heroes, a nonprofit group based in Ossining, N.Y., that assists severely wounded soldiers. Romberg's group also has forged partnerships with several military family organizations, including the Silver Star Families of America and the Washington-based Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, or TAPS, which aids relatives of those who die while on duty.

Please spread the word thru the veteran community it may help someone you know

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Renee Syzbala she still lingers on

This person WAS the Director of Compensation and Pensions and it now appears she was at the middle of the criminal prosecution of Airman Roberts wire fraud case for supposedly filing a "false PTSD claim" the problem with it was the incident did happen, the man that died was Roberts friend and Roberts biggest problem was in making the VA mad, asking for an earlier effective date. Then rather wait for the case to work itself thru the CAVC the US Attorney prosecuted him for fraud, so now even if the CAVC rules in his favor, he won't be able to collect the checks as he is in federal prison for committing fraud on the same claim. Only in America.

From Michael Leon at malcontends >is this quote

Renee L. Szybala and VA Officials Plot to Take Down Roberts

“The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers,“ said the felonious Dick the Butcher in Shakespeare's Henry VI.

But at the VA, lawyers and regional counsels are the good guys, the professionals who adhere to the law and administrative regulations that on paper are supposed to protect veterans from arbitrary and capricious VA personnel, the yes-men who climb the ladder in the denial-of-claims culture of today’s politicized VA.

One yes-person, former VA General Counsel attorney and VA national Director of Compensation and Pension Services, Renee L. Szybala, authored the VA’s response to Robert's letter, and evidence suggests engineered the prosecution of Roberts by US Atty Biskupic.

As a former General Counsel attorney, Szybala knew perfectly well that Title 38 Code of Federal Regulations, section 3.905 (a) Jurisdiction statute reads: “At the regional office level … the Regional Counsel is authorized to determine whether the evidence warrants formal consideration as to forfeiture.”

As Roberts’ attorney Robert Walsh states in his CAVC Supplemental brief filed in July:

“Ms. Renee Szybala, who responded to the letter for the Secretary, then appears to have had a direct involvement in orchestrating the efforts to commence criminal proceedings against the appellant in Federal District Court when she knew his appeals were pending at either the BVA (Board of Veterans' Appeals) or this Court (the CAVC).”

Szybala, who since has moved on from her position as Director of Compensation and Pension Services, was responsible for managing the network of VA Regional Offices across the country.

In an e-mail of January 27, 2005 from Debi Bevins, Special Assistant to the (VA) Secretary Jim Nicholson, Bevins asked Szybala: “Is there any truth to what Keith Roberts alleges in this e-mail?” referring to Roberts’ allegations of fraud and violations of his due process rights, and Roberts declarations of his rightful entitlement pertaining to his experiencing what the VA calls “stressors.”

Plotting a Prosecution

In the same e-mail, Bevins asks: “Have we heard any news on the prosecution of Keith Roberts?”

Szybala replies in part in an e-mail dated January 27, 2005 that: “Of course not (there is no truth to Roberts’ allegations). But he (Roberts) may be confused and believe it. I have known of and been dealing with Mr. Roberts’ complaints for several years now, dating to my time at OGC (VA Office of the General Counsel) as explained in the message below. … In the interest of full disclosure, I also have a letter on this case from the American Legion, dated October 15, 2004 (asking for Vasil’s report), to which I have not yet responded. The fraud for which Mr. Roberts’ service connection was severed was uncovered, investigated, and reported by the OIG (Office of the Inspector General). To respond to the Legion’s letter, we need to confer with the OIG and have had trouble connecting. When we do we’ll ask them the question about the prosecution, too. My guess is, however, that this case would not interest a U.S. Attorney. …”

Several points made in this and subsequent e-mails obtained by the defense and not presented at the criminal trial (though successfully made part of the record of appeal at CAVC after efforts by atty Robert Walsh) are critical and raise questions about the legality and propriety of the prosecution instigated by the VA.

No testimony or evidence was presented at Roberts’ trial pertaining to Ms. Szybala’s statement that Szybala had been dealing with Roberts’ allegations and complaints for several years and that Szybala stated that “… he (Roberts) may be confused and believe it.”

This is significant because if Roberts believed the VA claim that he was pursuing and Szybala assumed Roberts’ believed his claim, this discredits the principal allegation of the government’s criminal case that Roberts devised a “scheme” to formulate misrepresentations with the intent of defrauding the VA, the alleged crime for which Roberts now sits behind bars.

In fact, the government in the person of Barbra Nehls of the Milwaukee VA Regional office wrongly claimed at trial that Roberts’ benefits were reduced based upon the VA’s determination that Roberts’ statements of facts from 1969 formed the basis of the VA decision to grant or deny benefits.

This is a material misrepresentation of VA procedure: The determination of PTSD-related benefits relies upon medical evidence (such as being diagnosed by five different medical professionals that a vet has PTSD) and the existence of an in-service stressor (such as the reality that a man was crushed to death by a C-54 aircraft while an Airman was on duty), per 38 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) 3.304(f). All a veteran has to achieve in first-person testimony is corroboration, not verification. The Code defines Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as Service connection for post-traumatic stress disorder; (PTSD) requires medical evidence diagnosing the condition in accordance with 38 CFR 4.125(a); a link, established by medical evidence, between current symptoms and an in-service stressor; and credible evidence that the claimed in-service stressor occurred (38 CFR 3.304(f)).

Officials from the Milwaukee Regional Office and Special Agent Raymond Vasil’s Inspector General’s (OIG) office were included in the series of e-mails including one e-mail from the OIG's Vasil dated January 27, 2005, stating: “The U.S. Attorney (Biskupic) is interested in prosecuting. He is not 100% yet and wanted me to interview any additional persons I could find that were present when the original accident happened in 1969. … “

The engineering of the prosecution evident from the e-mails and the rushed, extraordinary prosecution itself were challenged in Roberts’ supplemental brief filed at the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) in July.“

As detailed in the brief, the conduct of the (VA) Secretary has been contrary to law, in bad faith, highly adversarial. There is an inference of impropriety by any number of senior officials in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs,” reads the brief filed by attorney Robert Walsh.

And it bears repeating from the brief: “Ms. Renee Szybala, who responded to the letter for the Secretary, then appears to have had a direct involvement in orchestrating the efforts to commence criminal proceedings against the appellant in Federal District Court when she knew his appeals were pending at either the BVA (Board of Veterans' Appeals) or this Court (the CAVC).”

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Monday, November 5, 2007

Have some fun and see who is the Presidential Candidate

That comes closest to your views. I enjoyed it and the entire process took about 5 minutes and it ranked all of them Democratic and Republican, needless to say the cream rises to the top.Minnesota Public Radio

Spend a few minutes and have fun.

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Sunday, November 4, 2007

Jack Cafferty calls VA healthcare a "National Embarassment"

In this story in Raw Story it explains Jacks observations and at the bottom is an embedded play of the segment it has the questions and the answers, I need to toot my own horn here, I am Mike from South Carolina and I was happy to hear Jack state "that needs to be done" after he read my response.

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Senator Akaka stands up for ALL veterans

In todays VA is a link to the Washington Post editorial written by the Senator. He expands on my feelins that the Dole/Shalala Commission is not the full answer to the problems of the veterans, that more attention needs to be paid to LTG Scott's Veterans Disability Benefits Commission (VDBC) which released 113 recommendations which were investigated over a two and half year period and not the 4 months put into the Dole/Shalala Committee. The men and women of the VDBC held 28 public hearings across the nation, got input from the IOM, the VA and veterans groups, this report was not a rush to judgement, it is a well thought out response to over 50 years of problems that have plagued America's Veterans and their families. I encourage all to write their elected officials and push for them to at least read the 113 recommendationa, see which report makes the best solutions for the veterans, and not the think tanks, I am sorry anything that the AEI is encouraging has to make me say NO, oh hell no, they tink with tax dollars and the bottom line, not what is owed to this nations veterans. They could care less about the "Promise" and for us disabled vets, the "Promise" is all we have.

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John Autry for Congress NC

I met John on Daily Kos and he introduced himself as a veteran running for Congress, as a disabled vet myself, I don't think we have enough veterans in Congress that truly understand the needs of veterans and disabled veterans and their families. I am adding the link to his website here and on my blogroll if you have some time to help please volunteer and if you have a few dollars to invest in our futures, I am sure John's campaign can find a good use for them. Help a vet help us.John Autry

I see a nation that is more inclined to be a model of intimidation and aggression than a model of morality and fairness. I see a nation abandoning its ideals and sacrificing its civil liberties out of fear for its security. I see a nation isolating itself from its foreign allies even as it launches into foreign wars without end. I see a nation that expects other nations to abide by standards of justice that it refuses to apply to itself. And I see a nation becoming what it formerly professed to abhor.

I see a nation that is unable to provide its veterans with all the help and support they need, either on or off the battlefield. I see a nation that is wasting its resources and polluting its environment with little thought for the future. I see a nation that spends less per child on education than any other modern industrialized nation. I see a nation that ranks 37th in the world in medical care and spends more than twice as much as other industrialized nations trying to meet its citizen's needs. I see a nation with rising debt and diminishing job opportunities, as businesses outsource their jobs to other countries.

I traveled my roots from Fayetteville to Concord, and it's hard to ignore the resulting burden of recent legislation on the 8th District. Unfair trade policies have turned once vibrant, productive, and charming communities into ghost towns of despair. Soaring unemployment, reduction of social services, rising drug abuse, and a pervading sense of helplessness and loss of dignity are what I see, and I can't stand it anymore.

This is not my idea of the promise of America, but the creation of conservative politicians with limited vision; politicians with a larger desire to please lobbyists and cronies than to uphold America's values, politicians with a bigger interest in party ideology than protecting America's ideals, politicians with a greater regard for personal power than providing for the welfare of the people.

It doesn't have to be this way. It is time to find our moral compass, to turn away from this growing darkness and to turn into the light of a brighter future.

I believe in the promise of America. It is a promise of hope and opportunity that has inspired millions of people from all over the world for over two hundred years, and it is a promise that generations of Americans have fought and died to preserve and protect for future generations. I believe that today the challenge of preserving and protecting this promise has been passed on to us, and we must rise to meet that challenge.

I believe in the promise of America, and I believe it is every American patriot's right and duty to defend this promise from threats both foreign and domestic. I believe this is the very definition of American patriotism. Blind and unquestioning obedience to authority is not patriotism, most especially when that authority becomes a threat to America's promise. I speak in defense of America's promise because it is my patriotic and moral duty to do so.

We can change the direction we are headed, we can make a difference, and, together, we can bring about a better world.

I believe that we must endorse fair trade policies, better public education, and universal healthcare. We must commit to supporting our troops and upholding our Constitutional values. We must recognize that protecting our environment and our food supply is just as important to our security as having a strong military. We must create job opportunities that provide a living wage and treat every human being fairly, regardless of race, religion, sex, or creed. These are the foundations for a better future.

Unless we are willing to invest in our own ideals of equality, liberty, and justice for all, America will never fulfill its promise.

I am a Democrat because I believe in these ideals.

I am running because I believe there are those today who are undermining America's promise and her ideals.

I am running because I still believe this is a government by and for the People, and because I trust the People to govern themselves when they are armed with the truth.

I am running because I believe that it is up to each one of us to be the power for change we hope to see in the world as we work towards fulfilling the promise of America.

I invite you to join me and support my campaign. Bring your solutions and become a voice for change in the 8th District.

We’re building a coalition around your ideas so the 8th can proudly say "Yes We Can" to a better future for all.

Elect someone to represent you. Elect John Autry. The Progressive Democrat for the US House of Representatives, District Eight in North Carolina.

as a veteran from South Carolina I encourage you to support John Autry

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