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Myths Debunked:
Republicans Are Good for the Military



I guess Bush will give them a hug when they need money to go to the grocery store.

Sunday, December 22, 2002

Troops decry budget office's plan to trim military pay hikes in 2004

Troops serving overseas reacted with heat, exasperation and occasional laissez-faire to the news that bureaucrats back home want to roll back their 2004 pay raises.

“I feel that capping pay raises at 2 percent would be a step back from the progress we’ve made,” said Tech Sgt. Michael Pena, who works in a clinic laboratory at Rhein-Main Air Base in Germany.

Pena said he believes that during the last three or four years, troops have made progress bridging the pay gap with civilians. “Lawmakers should realize the sacrifices we make, and taking care of military members should be a priority.”…

Boston Globe

Frustrated veterans accuse Bush of breaking promise

By Wayne Washington, Globe Staff, 12/22/2002

WASHINGTON - The leaders of America's most prominent veterans organizations say that President Bush is failing to honor past commitments to military men and women even as he prepares to send a new generation of soldiers and sailors into combat.

The administration's support for rescinding lifetime health benefits for World War II and Korean War veterans and continuing problems at veterans hospitals stand as proof, veteran leaders say, that America is more than willing to lean on its soldiers during times of war but tolerates them serving as political props in peacetime.

Coming after President Clinton, who avoided service in Vietnam and had a strained relationship with the military, veterans leaders say they had high expectations for Bush, who served in the National Guard and whose father was a fighter pilot during World War Two.

''I'm terribly frustrated and extremely angry,'' said retired Air Force Colonel George ''Bud'' Day, a Republican who won the Medal of Honor and was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam with Senator John McCain of Arizona.

Day said Bush is violating his oft-repeated campaign pledge to veterans: ''A promise made is a promise kept.''

''Obviously, he didn't know what that meant or he's too preoccupied to see that his word is kept,'' Day said.

Many veterans are particularly galled that the Bush administration has not backed away from a 1995 decision to rescind a promise of free lifetime health care benefits for soldiers, who from 1941 to 1956 had been told that if they signed up and served 20 years they and their dependents would get free care. The government stopped honoring that pledge in 1995, and many veterans 65 and older have been forced to pay for benefits through Medicare, which now costs about $60 a month and pays for 80 percent of medical care after a $100 deductible has been paid…


Court overturns ruling on vets' free lifetime health care

From Terry Frieden

Tuesday, November 19, 2002 Posted: 3:57 PM EST (2057 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A federal appeals court Tuesday ruled that the U.S. government does not owe free lifetime medical care to World War II and Korean War veterans who agreed to serve 20 years in exchange, despite promises made to them when they were in the armed forces.

The ruling represents a victory for the federal government, which had argued the veterans were not entitled to the benefits. The ruling will potentially save the government billions of dollars in health care costs.

The 9-4 ruling by the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., overturns a ruling by a three-judge appeals panel in February, 2001, which ruled that the veterans were entitled to the lifetime health care based on the military's promises…

U.S. Newswire

30 Oct 13:29

Shaw Pittman: Vietnam-Era DOD Secretary Robert Mcnamara, Current
VA and DOD Officials Allegedly Covered Up Medical Records

WASHINGTON, Oct. 30 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Former Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara is among 11 defendants named in two first-of-their-kind class action lawsuits for allegedly covering up medical records without which veterans of atomic, biological and chemical warfare testing cannot receive needed medical and other benefits. The plaintiffs include veterans, their families, and the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), who allege a deliberate and ongoing cover-up by U.S. government officials to conceal and ignore relevant records, many of which are personal medical records that would allow them to seek proper benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for the often devastating long-term health effects of the government's testing of weapons of mass destruction.

Brought by the law firm of Shaw Pittman, LLP, the complaints -- one for veterans exposed to atomic detonations and the other for veterans exposed to biological and chemical tests, as well as their survivors -- aim to hold the government officials personally responsible for their involvement in illegal and unethical activities and to obtain justice for aging veterans. The complaints tell disturbingly similar stories of government and military officials protecting the government and themselves from liability for the effects of cold war atomic, biological, and chemical experiments on their own troops, sailors, airmen, and marines.

The complaints point to several smoking guns, including a White House memo that describes the classification of records as a tactic to minimize public relations risks and ultimately limit the government's legal liability. The veterans and their families also cite original test documents and reports that record large-scale radiation overexposures and medical test procedures that directly contradict government and military official statements that veterans were not used as test subjects and were not exposed to unsafe levels of radiation…

The New York Times

The Real Thing

By PAUL KRUGMAN                         August 20, 2002 

Don't tell, maybe they won't ask. That was the message of a July memo from an official at the Department of Veterans Affairs, posted by Joshua Marshall at Citing "conservative OMB budget guidance" for spending on veterans' health care, the memo instructed subordinates to "ensure that no marketing activities to enroll new veterans occur within your networks." Veterans are entitled to medical care; but the administration hopes that some of them don't know that, and that it can save money by leaving them ignorant.

It's not the sort of thing you'd expect from an administration that wraps itself so tightly in the flag — not, that is, unless you've been paying attention. For stories like this are popping up more and more often.

Take George W. Bush's decision last week to demonstrate his resolve by blocking $5.1 billion in homeland security spending. This turned out to be a major gaffe, because the rejected bill allocated money both to improve veterans' health care and to provide firefighters with new equipment, including communication systems that could have saved lives on Sept. 11. Recalling those scenes at ground zero that did so much to raise Mr. Bush's poll numbers, the president of the International Association of Firefighters warned, "Don't lionize our fallen brothers in one breath, then stab us in the back."...

Intervention Magazine

Bush's War Against U.S. Military Veterans

As President Bush pours money into the military, he also reduces money to military veterans.
By Frederick Sweet

Senator John F. Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, a Navy veteran and winner of the Silver Star in the Vietnam War, sent a letter July 30 [2002] to President George W. Bush requesting a reversal of his new policy of withholding information of Veteran Administration benefits from veterans and their families. Bush ordered VA centers around the country to cease informing veterans and their families about government health care services and to stop recruiting new veterans to use them.

The VA is obliged to provide medical services to all veterans who have service-connected disabilities and then to all veterans that are indigent -- first those with combat injuries and then those who are destitute. The Secretary of Veterans Affairs has the discretion, however, to offer eligibility to more veterans. In 1996 during the Presidency of Bill Clinton, Congress instructed the VA to expand its eligibility to include all veterans, not just those who are combat disabled or indigent. These additional veterans, including those with civilian injuries, are given a lower priority…

According to Tom Materazzo, an Army veteran of World War II and commissioner of Veteran Services for Boston, "If you said publicly to America that we're trying to ration veterans’ services -- and what else is it? -- no one would like how that sounds. The cure is to provide the money."

In an earlier address to the Disabled American Veterans, National Adjutant Arthur H. Wilson, referred to the more than one-third of America’s homeless people who are veterans: “On any given night in America, more than 275,000 homeless men and women are veterans. That’s the equivalent of 18 infantry divisions on the streets of this great nation with no place to call home -- quite literally, an army of homeless veterans. And that is simply intolerable."

Wilson concluded, "Just as we don't leave our wounded behind on the battlefield, we must not leave our homeless veterans behind abandoned on the streets of our cities."

Associated Press

Veterans Fault Bush on Medical Care

Wed Aug 14, 7:03 PM ET

WASHINGTON (AP) - The top official of the American Legion, which represents nearly 3 million wartime veterans, said Wednesday that President Bush let down all men and women who served in the Armed Forces when he canceled funds for their medical care.

Bush announced Wednesday that he would not release a $5.1 billion bundle in emergency spending because Congress, attaching an all-or-nothing condition, lumped in millions of dollars in programs that Bush did not request and that were unrelated to the bill's homeland security mission.

Included in the package that Bush rejected was $275 million for the Department of Veterans Affairs to reduce backlogs at the nation's VA medical centers.

More than 300,000 veterans new to the VA system are on waiting lists — some more than one year long — for the initial medical exams they need in order to qualify for prescription drug benefits, said Richard Santos, national commander of the American Legion…

Washington Post

Dirty-Bomb Politics

By Mary McGrory
Thursday, June 20, 2002; Page A23

If the mugging of Sen. Max Cleland of Georgia is a fair indicator of what is to come, the fall elections will be ugly. Cleland, a decorated veteran and triple amputee, was attacked by his Republican opponent, Rep. Saxby Chambliss, "for breaking his oath to protect and defend the Constitution."

Shades of Lee Atwater, the fabled Republican cutthroat politico who helped pilot the first President Bush to victory. But even Atwater might have hesitated before going after a man who lost both legs and an arm in the service of his country. Chambliss did not participate in Vietnam. He had a bad knee, he told columnist Mark Shields, who was the first to call national attention to Cleland's bizarre situation -- veterans whose war wounds confine them to wheelchairs are often given a pass on patriotism, especially by those who never wore the uniform.

But Chambliss was not deterred…

Chambliss may have been under the influence of Bush's top adviser, Karl Rove, a disciple of Lee Atwater, who has said from the first that the war on terrorism is a good issue for his party and can help close gaps such as Chambliss's 22-point deficit.

Throughout the country, patriotism, under Rove's coaching, has become the sub-theme of the campaign. The message is sometimes coded, sometimes not…

It's too soon to say whether Rove will succeed in making the November vote into a referendum on the wartime leadership of George W. Bush. But the meanness has begun early and can only be expected to get worse.

Experts Say Cuts Overwhelming VA

Associated Press
May 14, 2002

WASHINGTON (AP) - Thousands of veterans are being turned away from Veterans Affairs hospitals and clinics because of shortages in money and staff, a congressional panel was told Tuesday.

"People are literally waiting until someone else dies before they can be taken care of," said Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., chairman of the House Government subcommittee on national security, veterans affairs and international relations.

In Connecticut, beds in the VA's acute care psychiatric unit were slashed from over 200 to 30, forcing patients to wait for days for emergency treatment, said Edmund J. Burke, coordinator of veterans' services for the state's Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. A VA day program for the mentally ill has a 51 percent staff shortage, Burke said.

In Florida, more than 42,000 veterans are on waiting lists to see a primary care doctor, said Republican Rep. Dave Weldon…

Associated Press

Wednesday March 6 7:58 PM ET

Veterans Argue To Protect Benefits

WASHINGTON (AP)- Lawyers for the government argued in court Wednesday that military recruiters never were authorized to promise a lifetime of free medical care to enlistees who agreed to sign up for a 20-year hitch.

Veterans led by retired Air Force Col. George ``Bud'' Day told the appellate panel they're determined to protect benefits they assumed they had earned.

``A promise is a promise,'' said Day, who served in World War II as a Marine and Korea and Vietnam with the Air Force. In Vietnam he was a prisoner-of-war, escaped and was recaptured.

Day said legislation and recruiting manuals from as early as 1799 set out lifetime health care as a military recruiting tool for the military…


The Bush Veterans’ Budget Breaks the Campaign Promises Bush Made to Veterans

“The Bush Administration’s Fiscal Year 2002 budget for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs is not good enough. ... Frankly, this budget is insufficient to fulfill the campaign promises George W. Bush made September 6 at The American Legion 82 nd National Convention in Milwaukee.” 

American Legion Press Release, 2/28/01

Throughout the 2000 Presidential campaign, then-Governor Bush spoke frequently about the need to honor America’s veterans. However, the Bush Administration’s FY 2002 budget for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs falls far short of providing essential resources needed to keep the nation’s commitment to honor the men and women who have served in uniform.

Observers of the country’s veterans’ programs have noted the increased strains on the system – from growing demands being placed on the veterans’ health care system to growing backlogs in processing veterans benefits.

And yet, despite the overwhelming evidence of veterans needs going unmet, the Bush Administration proposed $23.4 billion in discretionary spending for veteran’s programs – only $1 billion over FY 2001. This funding level has been universally seen as inadequate.

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Last changed: December 13, 2009