you notice there are more veterans to honor
this Veterans Day than there were last year,
thank the Bush administration and the Republican
you want more help for those veterans, better
ask the Democrats.
fighting President Bush, the Defense Department,
the Department of Veterans Affairs and the
GOP congressional leadership just to keep
a shamefully inadequate veterans support system
from getting worse.
Democrats tried to insert health insurance
and other personnel benefits into the $87
billion appropriation for Iraq and Afghanistan,
the White House shot them down.
Democrats tried to replace $1.3 billion of
the $1.8 billion shortfall in the pending
VA health care budget bill, the White House
threatened a veto.
and on it goes. Waits of six months to two
years for some seekers of health care, even
as the VA moves to close down facilities.
Multiple hikes in drug co-pays. Exclusion
of more than 160,000 "low-priority" vets from
the health care system because the money's
not there to cover them. Non-mandatory funding,
meaning the budget must be fought for anew
every year by those who care.
general public has no clue as to the shortfall
in the veterans' system nor the impact of
an additional 130,000 people (eventually returning
from Iraq) on that system," said U.S. Sen.
Patty Murray, D-Wash., a member of the Senate
Veterans Affairs Committee. "If the American
public fully understood how we are treating
our veterans, they'd be outraged."
for military families, such as those belonging
to the 1,600 surviving wounded in the current
war, the public generally doesn't know. The
news teleconference Murray held with several
colleagues Tuesday didn't make the wires,
and rarely is there news, in the land of Fox
and football, of the sacrifice that continues
when Johnny and Jane come marching home.
been very frustrated that we can't penetrate
the curtain that Bush has pulled down over
the country to justify this war," says Joseph
Farah, Indiana president of the antiwar group
Veterans for Peace. "There are long-term implications
that nobody's thought out yet, and we should
have thought them out before we committed
troops to battle."
addition to the time of day, this is an area
where Farah is in agreement with the American
Legion. In congressional testimony recently,
Legion National Commander John Brieden politely
but pointedly drew a comparison between the
figures $87 billion and $1.8 billion, and
the ever-present courage of our men and women
in the armed forces exists also in Congress
and in the White House, then our nation will
do the right thing for America's veterans."
courage seems to exist not among the politicians
who beat the drums for war but among those
who dared ask what we were getting into.
takes more than the bravado of 'bring it on,'
" Sen. Patrick Leahy, the Vermont liberal
Democrat, said at the press conference. "Unfortunately,
they did bring it on."
a wide-open spigot of American tax dollars
is paying Iraqi soldiers and American defense
entrepreneurs while American soldiers who
escape the mess find themselves to be a trimmable
deeply concerned," Sen. Murray said, "that
the wrong message is being sent to the next
generation that will be asked to serve our
the cheers, speeches and flyovers on Tuesday,
nobody will hear that message anyway.
is Star op-ed columnist. Contact him at 1-317-444-6172
or via e-mail at: email@example.com
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