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Honoring Veterans the Republican Way

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Howey
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« on: May 26, 2012, 05:22:33 pm »



Every Memorial Day I post a picture of my father to honor his thirty years of service in the Army Air Corp and Air Force. A pilot, and one of the few Flying Sergeants of the day, he was in every sense of the term an American hero.

Throughout American history, the Veteran has been a revered member of our society. Veterans fought for our country, and when we weren't at war, they made sure we were continually safe.

Until the past few years. Beginning with President George Bush, funding for Veteran's programs have failed to meet demand.

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Back in 2005, President Bush underfunded the Department of Veterans Affairs by about a billion dollars, despite its need. The result? Secretary Jim Nicholson was forced to crawl before Congress and plead with it to pass emergency supplemental spending, just so it could keep the doors open.

Suddenly, our veterans have fallen out of favor with certain members of Congress and with the populace. Calling them leeches, protests of veteran's benefits and health care have met with applause by extremist right wing members of the Republican Party. Bill after bill has been introduced, not to honor our veterans, but to punish them by privatizing health care, decreasing monetary benefits, and delegitimizing our heroes. Even the Republican presidential candidate is recommending changing VA health benefits to a "voucher system".

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In contrast to President Obamaís plan for veterans, Romney said his plan would be to privatize veteransí benefits by ďcreating a voucher system.Ē Like the vouchers in his Medicare privatization plan, these vouchers, as the New York Timesí Paul Krugman points out, would ďbe inadequate, and become more so over time, so that veterans who donít make enough money to top them up would fail to receive essential care.Ē

As pointed out by Jon Soltz, an American hero of our current generation, the current budget of the Republican Party, approved last month, does not mention the word "veteran" once.

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Do Republicans care about keeping our promise to veterans? Looking at the recently released GOP budget, written by Rep. Paul Ryan, it's hard to see how they do. In fact, looking at the nearly 100 page document, the word "veteran" doesn't appear once. Not once.

What about veteran's benefits? Slashed under the budget.

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If enacted, the Ryan GOP budget would cut $11 billion from veterans spending, or 13 percent from what President Obama proposes in his own plan.

It's unconscionable that they'd do this at a time when so many Iraq veterans have just come home and rely on veterans care. Over 45,000 US troops were wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, and more will come who will rely on VA services, on top of veterans of other wars and eras who depend on the VA. But, this shortsightedness isn't new.

Additionally, after the backlash against ending Medicare the last time Paul Ryan released a budget, they're at it again. That, too, affects veterans. I was speaking with one veteran in Missouri, who lost both of his legs in Iraq. His entire primary care now relies on Medicare. It pays for all of his primary care, as it does for so many veterans with 100 percent disability. So, no, I couldn't believe that Paul Ryan and the GOP would again propose ending Medicare.

It's sad that our nation has fallen to the level where making sure the rich and the bankers are rewarded for destroying our country and our veterans are treated like vagrants.

Yes, everyone must sacrifice. Veterans too. The President's proposed budget increases TriCare premiums to levels commensurate with other federal employees.

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Military retirees would pay an annual fee for TRICARE-for-Life health insurance and TRICARE pharmacy co-payments would be restructured under the deficit reduction plan President Barack Obama released Sept. 19.

"If we're going to meet our responsibilities, we have to do it together," Obama said during a Rose Garden speech to announce the President's Plan for Economic Growth and Deficit Reduction. The plan reduces $4.4 trillion from the $14.7 trillion federal deficit over 10 years through a combination of spending cuts and increased tax revenue...

The plan includes savings of $6.7 billion over 10 years by establishing "modest annual fees" for members of TRICARE-for-Life, which becomes a second-payer insurance to military retirees who transition to the federal Medicare program upon turning age 65. The change would begin with a $200 annual fee in fiscal 2013.

That's sacrifice without showing dishonor to our veterans.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2012, 06:36:34 pm by Howey » Report Spam   Logged

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ekg
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« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2012, 10:39:49 pm »

wow, great post!
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Facts are the center. We donít pretend that certain facts are in dispute to give the appearance of fairness to people who donít believe them.  Balance is irrelevant to me.  It doesnít have anything to do with truth, logic or reality. ~Charlie Skinner (the Newsroom)
Howey
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« Reply #2 on: May 27, 2012, 12:46:39 pm »

wow, great post!

Thanks. I'm honored to have it nationally published!

http://paper.li/AkSyrin/1320016765
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ekg
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« Reply #3 on: May 27, 2012, 12:54:24 pm »

Thanks. I'm honored to have it nationally published!

http://paper.li/AkSyrin/1320016765

Hey!!  That's great! Grin
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Howey
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« Reply #4 on: May 27, 2012, 04:41:28 pm »

My dad...

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ekg
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« Reply #5 on: May 28, 2012, 09:17:39 pm »

that's awesome Howie
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« Reply #6 on: May 29, 2012, 02:48:31 pm »

The GOP attempts to diddle with verteran's benefits hits me personally, being retired with 40% disability. It also undermines military morale and is a disincentive to voluntary military service. A soldier has to know when he takes his oath of enlistment that, should something go wrong, he and his family are going to be taken care of.

The chance of something going wrong is pretty high in that line of work.

Aside from the expected dangers of combat, there is a high risk of injury just in training and maintenance of equipment in less than ideal work environments.  Medical personnel who have served in the military get a real leg up on their civilian colleagues in the area of sports medicine and epidemiology. A soldier in a global army is going to be exposed to pathenogens and exotic chemicals that the normall American never encounters and cannot adapt to.

Until every doctor in every medical facility in the country has access to and is required to contribute to a data base on the kinds of illnesses and injuries they encounter, it may not even be possible to detect patterns peculiar to the military population.  Under a voucher plan, with veterans going mostly to isolated civilian care-givers, the extent of the harm done to Vietnam veterans by Agent Orange might not have been clear, one example of this being the extremely elevated incidence of Type II diabetes among Vietnam veterans. (It is now automaticly assumed that Type II is a service-connected disability in this group.)

Another draw-back that I see in a voucher system is that it is not going to be the most efficient use of available funds, especially if the verteran is forced into a for-profit hospital.  For-profit hospitals are incentivized to pass as much of the cost of care as possible on to the patient.  Their reason for being is not to make the veteran whole, but to make a profit for shareholders.  These are mutually conflicting goals.

Consider, too, that many of the complaints for which the VA will wind up treating an indigent veteran will lead to long-term care.  This is best done in a facilitiy in which the patient is going to be treated with due respect and understanding.  Many veterans may seem almost alien to hospital staff with no experience of the military lifestyle or ways of thinking.  My own son nearly freaks when I tell him about some of the things I went through, and I was never even in combat.  It is nice to be around people with whom you have something in common in times of emotional stress, and emotional stress is almost as serious a threat to recovery as secondary infections.

Then there is the fact that, if the program is not funded to an adequate level to meet demands, it is less noticeable when the veterans are isolated and out of communication with each other.  The corporatists want greater opacity in their dealing with veterans because transparency will lead to their having to raise more revenues to pasy for the programs.

They want to hide the veterans and the harm that the war effort has done to them because they do not want to have to fully fund the war effort.

I can see only one role for civilian health care facilities in the care of veterans, and that is to serve as triage center, and then only if they are required to do it on a real-cost schedule of payment, and under a requirement to submit all information on symptoms, test results and complaints of the specific veteran so that they may be checked against the veteran's service records in order to provide data to track clusters of problems that could be associated with previously un-recognized occupational hazards.

The GOP's view of veterans' care is geared to a business model, rather than a strategic one.  Bad thinking.  War should be totally a matter of politics, not of commerce.
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Howey
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« Reply #7 on: May 29, 2012, 04:55:08 pm »

The GOP attempts to diddle with verteran's benefits hits me personally, being retired with 40% disability. It also undermines military morale and is a disincentive to voluntary military service. A soldier has to know when he takes his oath of enlistment that, should something go wrong, he and his family are going to be taken care of.

The chance of something going wrong is pretty high in that line of work.

Aside from the expected dangers of combat, there is a high risk of injury just in training and maintenance of equipment in less than ideal work environments.  Medical personnel who have served in the military get a real leg up on their civilian colleagues in the area of sports medicine and epidemiology. A soldier in a global army is going to be exposed to pathenogens and exotic chemicals that the normall American never encounters and cannot adapt to.

Until every doctor in every medical facility in the country has access to and is required to contribute to a data base on the kinds of illnesses and injuries they encounter, it may not even be possible to detect patterns peculiar to the military population.  Under a voucher plan, with veterans going mostly to isolated civilian care-givers, the extent of the harm done to Vietnam veterans by Agent Orange might not have been clear, one example of this being the extremely elevated incidence of Type II diabetes among Vietnam veterans. (It is now automaticly assumed that Type II is a service-connected disability in this group.)

Another draw-back that I see in a voucher system is that it is not going to be the most efficient use of available funds, especially if the verteran is forced into a for-profit hospital.  For-profit hospitals are incentivized to pass as much of the cost of care as possible on to the patient.  Their reason for being is not to make the veteran whole, but to make a profit for shareholders.  These are mutually conflicting goals.

Consider, too, that many of the complaints for which the VA will wind up treating an indigent veteran will lead to long-term care.  This is best done in a facilitiy in which the patient is going to be treated with due respect and understanding.  Many veterans may seem almost alien to hospital staff with no experience of the military lifestyle or ways of thinking.  My own son nearly freaks when I tell him about some of the things I went through, and I was never even in combat.  It is nice to be around people with whom you have something in common in times of emotional stress, and emotional stress is almost as serious a threat to recovery as secondary infections.

Then there is the fact that, if the program is not funded to an adequate level to meet demands, it is less noticeable when the veterans are isolated and out of communication with each other.  The corporatists want greater opacity in their dealing with veterans because transparency will lead to their having to raise more revenues to pasy for the programs.

They want to hide the veterans and the harm that the war effort has done to them because they do not want to have to fully fund the war effort.

I can see only one role for civilian health care facilities in the care of veterans, and that is to serve as triage center, and then only if they are required to do it on a real-cost schedule of payment, and under a requirement to submit all information on symptoms, test results and complaints of the specific veteran so that they may be checked against the veteran's service records in order to provide data to track clusters of problems that could be associated with previously un-recognized occupational hazards.

The GOP's view of veterans' care is geared to a business model, rather than a strategic one.  Bad thinking.  War should be totally a matter of politics, not of commerce.

Wow. I'm so glad you joined us, Lefty! As a recipient of VA health care, I can attest to the fact that it is, in fact, the best health care out there! What's bogging the system down now is the massive increase of new patients as a result of the drawdown from the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

We need more focused and funded efforts by the VA to explore additional venues for caring for patients. Right here in my area, Ormond Beach, there's a massive empty hospital about to be torn down. Why? Our VAOPC is burdened beyond capacity thanks to mismanagement by the administrators in Washington and Orlando. Why not have the government lease the building and treat veterans (and for that matter, the poor)?

Here's the story of a local vet, 93 years old, leading the charge to do exactly that!

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Thomas Wilhelm, 93, is on a mission to save the old Ormond Memorial Hospital complex from demolition.

The U.S. Navy veteran has launched a petition drive asking for the abandoned hospital to be converted into a medical center for veterans.

With a little "tender love and care," the former hospital complex could be transformed into a facility that would serve more than 60,000 veterans living in Volusia and Flagler counties, he said.

"This is important to us veterans," said Wilhelm, an Ormond Beach resident. "It's not a crime -- it's a sin to tear it down."

Call, write, phone your Congressman and ask that this hospital be saved for use by our veterans!
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