Nearly 1.7 Million Veterans Lack Healthcare, with Uninsured Rate Growing Fastest Since Bush Took Office

AP: "Nearly 1.7 million military veterans have no health insurance or access to government hospitals and clinics for veterans. The number of uninsured veterans jumped by 235,000 since 2000, meaning they are losing health insurance at a faster rate than the general population. "We're sending men and women off to war and yet the people who fought previous wars can't get the basic things they need to go on with their lives afterward," said Dr. David Himmelstein [of] Harvard Medical School." Many uninsured veterans reported serious health problems, the report said. Between 20% and 30% said that they delayed or could not afford care, medications and eyeglasses. More than 40% said they had no medical visits in the past year and two-thirds said they had no preventive care. Another 3.9 million people without health insurance live in veterans' households and also are ineligible for veterans' health care, the report said. "

Veterans Greet Kerry Upon His Arrival in the Tri-State Area

WCPO.com writes: "Senator Kerry, who is a Vietnam veteran, said that the day marked a tragic milestone in the war on Iraq as the United States casualties now add up to 1,000 or more since the war began. Kerry said that both he and America's veterans understand what that means. 'The first thing that every American wants to say,' said Kerry, 'is how deeply we each feel the loss -- how much this means to all of us Americans.' 'The sacrifice that we feel on a personal level,' Kerry continued, 'and our thoughts and our prayers are with the families that most recently learned about the loss of a loved one -- but, also with all of those others who are still working through their pain.' " If you want to thank a Veteran, or visit a VA Med Center go to www.va.gov for information.

Kerry's Proposal Will Open VA Healthcare to All Soldiers Who Served Two Years Active Duty

Stars and Stripes: "If John Kerry has his way, any veteran who served 2 years on active duty or, if mobilized, even less, would be rewarded with lifetime access to health care from the VA. That's the logical consequence of Kerry's call for 'full, mandatory funding' of veterans health care, if [he] is elected and Congress accepts his plan. 'What's critical is that people who served their country and want to go to a veterans' hospital will have the ability to choose to do so,' said Kerry. The Bush administration opposes mandatory funding of VA health care...in effect, would put teeth into the Veterans' Health Care Eligibility Reform Act of 1996 which first authorized the opening of VA health care to any veteran. But [the GOP] Congress did not fund open access. Instead it gave the VA secretary authority to control access in order to stay on budget."

Kerry's Example Helps Vietnam Veterans in Quest for Resolution and Validation

In what was perhaps "the most emotional scene of the convention: the gaunt presidential candidate from Massachusetts stooping to embrace the broad-faced triple amputee from Georgia -- fellow Vietnam vets and former Senate colleagues, both encircled by the aging warriors they call the band of brothers, including the Swift boat crewmates who served with young Lt. Kerry along the Mekong Delta 3 1/2 decades ago. The imagery is only a metaphor for something more profound, Cleland says, a culminating moment of personal and generational affirmation that sharply defines Kerry's rise and lends significance to the unresolved struggle of Cleland and many other Vietnam vets. Says Cleland: 'His success is like a validation of all this angst, storm and stress, and search for meaning, for people of his generation, not just for veterans, but especially for veterans because he personifies and embodies our own experience.' "

Veterans - Including Kerry's REAL Crewmates - Set to Play an Historic Role at Democratic Convention

US Newsire: "The Kerry-Edwards campaign announced today that next week's convention will be marked by a record level of involvement from veterans working hard to elect a 'brother in arms' as President of the United States. Starting Wednesday and continuing until the final gavel down, veterans will rally and organize around John Kerry and his pledge to build a stronger America by never breaking our country's commitment to those who wear our uniform. Leading the charge will be Kerry's Vietnam crewmates [putting to rest once and for all the Repug's bogus 'Swiftboat veterans' smear]. Over 500 veterans will attend the convention as delegates -- a Democratic party record. Thousands more veterans will attend pre- convention rallies, take part in a veterans motorcycle ride from California to Boston and join John Kerry and John Edwards as they blaze America's Freedom Trail to the convention and campaign for the White House in the following months."

Independent Investigation of Gulf War Syndrome to be Conducted in UK

Guardian: "An unprecedented independent inquiry into whether more than 5,000 veterans of the first Gulf war became ill as a result of their service will be announced today. Lord Lloyd of Berwick, the former law lord, will conduct hearings in central London in the next few months and pose a political dilemma for the [Blair] government, which has refused to authorise a public inquiry for the past six years. He is expected to invite current and former ministers, civil servants, health and scientific experts, as well as veterans and their families to establish the medical consequences of their service. It is understood that Lord Lloyd, a law lord until 1999 and a former attorney general to the Prince of Wales, is determined to begin with no preconceptions about the veterans' claims that they were made ill, but believes an inquiry will help settle the long-standing sores between former service personnel and the Ministry of Defence. "

VA's Shameful Duplicity

From a Tri-City Herald opinion: "As the older veterans go gray after their service to their country and the young ones come home from Iraq and Afghanistan, some bloodied, some sick, the Veterans Affairs bureaucracy in Washington, D.C., pushes ahead with its mad determination to cut medical services... Almost 3,500 American servicemen and women have been wounded in Iraq since the beginning of hostilities. The fatality count earlier this week stood at 686 for the same period. In just the past two weeks, 80 American service personnel were killed and 560 wounded. Does this seem like the time to be shutting veterans' hospitals? Of course not...But with the national debt climbing and staggering budget deficits, this is where the most severe cuts are being made: Closing hospitals for those who gave and are giving so much for their country."

Dems Turn GOP Faux-Patriotism Stunt into a Forum on Bush's Anti-Veteran Policies

"In a recent morning in early March, the Senate Judiciary Committee convened to protect the American flag from burning, stomping, shredding, etc... The Committee's Republican majority had carefully assembled the audience for this hearing. The room was filled with dozens of aging veterans, wearing medals and dark red VFW hats... In other words, the hearing had all the trappings of a perfect, election-year GOP stunt. But then things got a little more complicated. Committee Democrats, such as Richard Durbin of Illinois, noted that Republicans had voted down a Senate amendment increasing veterans' health spending the previous night... 'Giving a veteran a flag is not a substitute for giving our vets the quality health care they were promised,' Durbin said, causing brows to furrow under those VFW caps. Committee Republicans were furious... The cultural issue had become an economic one; Democrats had found a soft spot."

Veterans United for Kerry

"We are a group of military veterans and family members who are outraged that George Bush is cutting veterans' benefits and health care while recklessly deploying our military forces and placing them in harm's way without there being a legitimate threat to our nation's security. We embrace the reasonableness of John Kerry, his emphasis on international cooperation instead of unilateral arrogance, his iron-tight commitment to fully fund the Veterans Administration budget, his pledge to use our military force as a 'last option' and not the first. In this election, we believe the differences between the two candidates are vast, especially for veterans, and the choice is clear. Although in the past we have voted for different political parties and candidates, in this election we are voting for John Kerry." You go, vets!

Group Says Visits to Hospital Blocked

"Officials from Disabled American Veterans, a nonprofit service group that counsels wounded veterans and tells them what government benefits they are entitled to, say that since Iraq war veterans began returning to the United States last year, Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington has limited their access to patients, citing privacy and post-Sept. 11 security concerns. The group has challenged the Bush administration on its support for various veterans' benefits, including payments to retirees and the size of the Veterans Administration budget...DAV leaders stop short of accusing the administration of blocking their access to veterans for political purposes, but said both the hospital and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld have yet to explain the change to their satisfaction...A White House official yesterday dismissed the notion of any connection between limited access for DAV and the group's criticism of the administration."

Bush VA Budget Chronically Delayed, 'Woefully Inadequate' and Rife with 'Budgetary Gimmicks'

Joseph L. Fox, Sr, a paralyzed Vietnam veteran testified: "For the past two years, the VA has had to struggle under the already inadequate funding levels established for the prior year fully one-third of the way through the new fiscal year. These delays directly affect the health care received by veterans...This year we find ourselves in an even more perilous situation. The Administration's budget request for health care is a shocking one, providing once again a woefully inadequate funding level for sick and disabled veterans - This is the smallest health care appropriation request of any Administration in nearly a decade." In addition, the Bush request "relies too heavily on budgetary gimmicks and accounting sleight of hand rather than on real dollars that veterans need. We again find resurrected the enrollment fee and increased co-payment schemes, proposals that were soundly rejected by these Committees last year."

House Rejects Bush Scheme to 'Balance Budget on the Backs of Veterans'

The VFW stated Tuesday (3/2) that it was pleased that Bush's pathetically inadequate request of $1.8 billion for the VA was being rejected. Instead, $2.5 billion will be requested. "Aside from not balancing the budget on the backs of veterans, [the request] provides persuasive reasoning for rejecting the President's [sic] request to realign funding, charge enrollment fees for access and more than doubling the prescription drug co-payment... anything less than the House Veterans Affairs' Committee's recommendations would amount to a denial of care. It would also fail to fully acknowledge our duty to those service men and women returning from Afghanistan and Iraq."

While Bush Cuts VA Benefits, Kerry-Sponsored Legislation is Keeping Many Reservist Families Afloat

George Bush has slashed and delayed VA benefits, extended Reservist/National Guard tours in Iraq, and, in general done his damnedest to make life as hard and uncertain for our men and women in uniform as possible. Meanwhile, legislation sponsored by John Kerry is RIGHT NOW keeping many reservist families going. Like the Military Reservists Small Business Act introduced by Kerry in 1999, which helps out Reservists who own small businesses when they are called to active duty. The act even provides disaster aid should the business fail in the interim.

Bush Program Pays Lip Service to Hiring Vets, But Won't Actually Provide Them with JOBS!

Now here's a classic example of the Bush corporate modus operandi, we call "Much Ado About Doing Nothing," this "effort" directed at Vet employment. The Labor Dept. has formed a committee, appointed members from all sorts of companies and organizations, put out a press release, and touted the virtues of the Veterans' Employment and Training Service. But as you read this press release you will notice one detail conspicuous by its absence: Jobs. Nowhere is it stated that the committee will actually FIND jobs for vets, only that it will push the IDEA of hiring vets. Also, the Vet training service does not actually create vet jobs, anymore than the unemployment agency does! Yet another Bush promise that amounts to nothing but smoke and mirrors.

What Bush Doesn't Want Troops to Know: Comprehensive Resource Guide for Active Duty Soldiers/Guardsmen/Reservists

Cheryl Seal writes, "The number of casualties of Bush's 'war on terror' is rising daily. Some of the injuries are horrendous and immediate... other problems are less obvious and may take a long time to surface: So far, an estimated 23,000 veterans have been sent back to the states for health reasons, be it combat injury or illness of some sort. Meanwhile, Reservists and Guardsmen and their families are struggling, many unaware of the help that is out there or their rights. Shockingly, the Bush administration has made it a policy NOT to inform soldiers of their rights. If you know someone who could use this guide, pass it on!"

Corporations Use Bush Rules to Deny Overtime to Veterans

WashPost: "Some companies are interpreting language in new national overtime pay rules as possibly allowing them to exempt workers who have received military training... Under federal law, workers who are 'learned professionals' are presumed to have control of their own time and are exempt from receiving overtime pay. Historically, that category included workers such as doctors, lawyers, scientists, theologians and others with advanced degrees. In proposing changes in the rules last spring, the Labor Department said in the Federal Register that 'the exemption is also available to employees in such professions who have substantially the same knowledge as the degreed employees, but who have attained such knowledge through a combination of work experience, training in the armed forces, attending a technical school, attending a community college or other intellectual instruction.'"

DAV Urges Defense Secretary to Get the Facts to War Wounded

If you thought active military folk were being jerked around by Bush, it is nothing compared to the treatment received by wounded, returning vets. To "cut costs," Rumsfeld has instructed VA personnel not to inform vets of their rights. Walter Reed Hospital has even barred DAV reps from visiting any patients except those it has "prescreened." Here's a quote from the print edition of the Jan/Feb issue of "DAV": "Disabled vets from Iraq and Afghanistan are mostly unaware of their rights as veterans and, acting without representation, some have accepted less than their disabilities warranted. Few are aware of free DAV representation that will help them." When the VA does offer vets info, it is, says DAV chief David Gorman, "inadequate and fails to meet the needs of those who have been injured." So much for Bush's much touted "appreciation" of the troops.

Vet to Bush: If You Knew What War Really Was, You'd Never Say 'Bring It On'

Denver Post reports: "Chris Kuhner tries to choke back a sob as he talks about American troops in Iraq. 'If the president really knew what war's like, he wouldn't taunt our enemies with 'bring it on,"' the 55-year-old Vietnam veteran said. 'People die. People get hurt. They bleed. They break. And even if they come home in one piece, their lives are changed forever.' That's why Kuhner, a born and bred Republican, said he is going to vote for retired Gen. Wesley Clark in the state's primary Tuesday. 'It's outrageous what Bush has done by cutting veterans' benefits and going to war," Kuhner said. "He doesn't care about the people who serve.'" Veterans are turning out in force to cast votes for either Clark or Kerry - men who, unlike Bush, KNOW what war is.

Red State Alert! Bush Drug Proposal Enrages Veterans

Bush "is considering dramatic increases in the fees military retirees pay for prescription drugs, a step that would roll back a benefit extended 33 months ago and risk alienating an important Republican constituency at the dawn of the 2004 campaign... 'You're tampering with a benefit that was earned by people putting their lives on the line,' said James Lokovic... of the Air Force Sergeants Association. Lokovic's 136,000-member association already has sent Bush a letter warning of 'significant backlash from millions of retired military voters' if the plan is included in the 2005 defense budget. 'Somebody just isn't paying attention,' the Military Officers Association of America said in 'special alert' sent to its 390,000 members. 'The war on terrorism is reminding the nation of servicemembers' sacrifices every night on the evening news ... and yet the administration seems to continue going out of its way to penalize the military community.'"

Bush Pays Lipservice to Vets, Then Slashes Their Health Care

"Late last week Bush visited combat veterans at Walter Reed Medical Center... he said 'We have made a commitment to the troops, and we have made a commitment to their loved ones, and that commitment is that we will provide excellent health care - excellent care - to anybody who is injured on the battlefield.' His comments stand in stark contrast to the policies he has pushed - and the record he has amassed... Just this year alone, [Bush] 'announced his formal opposition to a proposal to give National Guard and Reserve members access to the Pentagon's health-insurance system'- a slap in the face to thousands of troops, especially considering 'a recent General Accounting Office report estimated that one of every five Guard members has no health insurance.' [Bush] also this year proposed to cut $1.5 billion (14%) out of funding for military family housing/medical facilities. This followed his 2002 budget which... 'fell $1.5 billion short' of adequately funding veterans care."

To Find Out Why Bush Will Lose in 2004, Visit a VA Hospital

If anyone thinks Bush will win in 2004, they really need to visit a Veterans Administration Hospital while Bush is speaking on TV. Disabled vet Terry Dobbelaere recently did, and he writes: "I'll clean up the language, but not long into Shrub's obvious photo op there were so many men and a few women veterans either yelling at each other or at the TV that staff members came in thinking someone had a serious health issue, or that perhaps an unstable patient had gone into a rage. Uniformly and, as best as I could decipher, almost all the men in that room were either angry, disgusted, frustrated or simply insulted."

Military Vets to Bush: 'You're Toast!'

Terry Dobbelaere, a disabled military veteran who was at a Veterans Administration facility when the waiting-room TV broadcast Bush's speech at Fort Carson, reports, "Uniformly and, as best as I could decipher, almost all the men in that room were either angry, disgusted, frustrated or simply insulted" by Bush's posturing and his exploitation of the military. Most of those who began by believing the pretext for invading Iraq and supporting the military action are now disgusted. As Mr. Dobbelaere concluded, "People that have 'been there, done that' or treat the injuries incurred by those that served aren't being fooled one bit."

British Soldiers to Sue Over New Gulf War Syndrome

In Britain, "Dozens of soldiers who served in Iraq are to sue the Government, claiming they are suffering from a new form of Gulf War syndrome. Multiple vaccinations given in the run-up to the conflict are being blamed for chronic pains, stomach problems, rashes, swelling, fever, depression and anxiety. Lawyers and medical experts say the symptoms are identical to those which affected thousands of veterans after the 1991 Gulf conflict. The Observer has learnt that 13 soldiers have launched legal actions against the Ministry of Defence over what is being called Gulf War II syndrome. A similar number of 'robust' cases are to be launched in weeks. In addition, a former MoD employee has obtained the medical records of another 40 Iraq veterans also suffering similar symptoms. Each case could cost the Government 1 million [english pounds] in damages."

Bush to Veterans: Drop Dead

Harvey Wasserman writes: "As another Veteran's Day passes by, George W. Bush has sent a clear and present message to the men and women of America's armed forces: Drop Dead. In an astonishing series of cynical attacks on veterans rights, benefits and sanctity, the administration has shortchanged our military personnel on their medical care, pensions, compensation for having been tortured, access to vital information about health dangers suffered in service, and even their body armor. After promising that the Iraqi people would be 'dancing in the streets' upon their arrival, US troops are being attacked up to three dozen times a day. In response, Bush has imposed an unprecedented media blackout on coverage of their corpses coming home. Bush himself has yet to attend the funeral of any soldier slain in Iraq. But he has attacked those within the military who would express a democratic opinion against his policies."

Bait-Switchey are Losing the Military Vote

Paul Krugman writes, "One might have expected the administration to treat the military differently, if only as a matter of sheer political calculation. After all, the military needs some mollifying: the Iraq war has turned increasingly nightmarish, and deference toward the administration is visibly eroding. Even Pfc. Jessica Lynch has, to her credit, balked at playing her scripted role. So what's going on? [I] suspect that a government of, by and for the economic elite is having trouble overcoming its basic lack of empathy with the working-class men and women who make up our armed forces... it's hard to deny the stunning insensitivity of President Bush's remarks back on July 2: 'There are some who feel like that, you know, the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is bring 'em on. We got the force necessary to deal with the security situation.' Those are the words of a man who can't imagine himself or anyone close to him actually being in the line of fire."

Kansas Military Families Are Sick of Bush*t

"They are angry and disillusioned, frustrated and full of doubt. This war is not going the way they hoped it would. They are wives and husbands of the 129th Army Reserves Combat Transportation Company, stationed in Kansas, and they are terrified for spouses who are conducting missions in Iraq. A month ago, these family members launched a 'bring our soldiers home' petition drive when the 129th Company's tour of duty was extended. Today, after a string of recent suicide bombings in Iraq, they stand with a growing number of military families who are convinced that the war is going awry and who think the American public isn't getting a straight story. Cherie Block, 29, could barely contain herself while watching Bush's news conference Tuesday from her home in Sac City, Iowa, especially when he insisted the vast majority of Iraqis are with Americans, not against them... 'Either he doesn't really understand what's going on, or he's not telling it the way it really is,' said Block."

Anti-Bush Voting by Active and Retired Soldiers Could Re-Defeat Bush in 2004

Benjamin Wallace-Wells writes that frustration among active duty and retired soldiers is growing over the Iraq debacle. "If these frustrations spill over into politics in the next election, they could profoundly shift the structural underpinnings of the current nearly 50-50 American split. This country has 1.4 million active duty soldiers, and 1.2 million reserves. It also has 26.4 million veterans, nearly 13% of the nation's adult population... A reassignment of less than .02% in the military vote to the Democrats from the Republicans in Florida in 2000 would have moved that state to the Democratic column, and a similar shift of less than 5% in the veteran vote alone would have given Arkansas, Nevada, and New Hampshire's electoral votes to Gore, not Bush. And Pennsylvania and Ohio, expected to be crucial swing states in the next presidential election, each have more than a million veteran voters."

Bush LIES About Our Troops

"The Center for American Progress released a new one-page backgrounder today on how U.S. troops have been repeatedly misled by the Bush Administration on everything from medical care to deployment times to salaries. A few highlights: While Bush said on 1/3/03, 'I want to make sure that our soldiers have the best possible pay,' the Army Times reported on 6/30/03, 'The Bush administration announced that on Oct. 1 it wants to roll back recent modest increases in monthly imminent-danger pay (from $225 to $150) and family-separation allowance (from $250 to $100) for troops getting shot at in combat zones.' Bush visited troops wounded in Afghanistan at Walter Reed Army hospital on 1/17/03 saying, 'We should and must provide the best care for anybody who is willing to put their life in harm's way.' He made these comments the same day his Administration announced it was cutting off access to its health care system for approximately 164,000 veterans (WP, 1/17/03).'" Impeach Bush Now!

America's Greatest Threat is the 'Clique of Powerful Rich Families'

Billy Kidwell writes, "Bush and his whole Republican Party United against America's Veterans on the Disabled Veterans Tax, they United against America's Veterans on adequate funding for the VA Medical System, they refused adequate medical care for our wounded returning from Iraq, they have NO programs to assist the military returning from the war, all because they say they don't have the money. They don't have money for the military and Veterans because they are STEALING it all! Not just Veterans, the Military, and those being screwed by those thieves, but every American needs to Unite and vote those thieves out of power... We need to go back to the original, great, basic ideas America was founded on before we wake up in a Nazi like country, with no rights, entrapped by the slick, powerful, rich clique that has STOLEN our country. The greatest threat to America today is no terrorist. It is a 'Clique' of powerful old rich families that control our government and get by with murder."

Shoshana Johnson's Disability Pay is Less than 1/2 of Jessica Lynch

"The father of former prisoner of war Shoshana Johnson accused the Army of shortchanging his daughter of disability benefits after she was offered a smaller paycheck than fellow POW Jessica Lynch. 'She is not getting what she deserves,' Claude Johnson said. Family members confirmed that Lynch, a private first class who was snatched from her Iraqi captors on April 1 in a rescue by Special Forces, is receiving an 80% disability. Johnson, a specialist who was released on April 13 with four other American POWs, has been offered 30%, Claude Johnson said. The Rev. Jesse Jackson, who consulted the Johnson family, said race was playing a part in Army's decision. Lynch is white; Johnson is black. 'There's a long history of blacks not receiving fair and adequate recognition in the military,' said Jackson. 'The first black female POW who survived is about to be discharged and suffers the trauma, the emotional injury and has a 3-year-old daughter to raise. She deserves more.'"

TVNewsLies Radio Interviews Veterans about VA Affairs

Upcoming on TVNewsLies Radio: "Wednesday, October 29th, CWO (Chief Warrant Officer) Hollis Stanford, Retired, US Army - CWO Hollis is one of approximately 700,000 Disabled Military Retiree's who are being c heated out of the ir Earned Retirement Pay, based upon a Law dated in 1890...which only pertained to the Civil War Veterans of that day! - The Disabled Military Retiree's are the only group of Federal Service Retiree's that suffer this shameful discrimination! All other Federal Service Retiree's are allowed to draw both full VA Disability Compensation and their full retirement pay. - Disabled Military Retiree's are not allowed to draw both full VA Disability Compensation and full retirement pay. Please help to inform the public about this great injustice. CWO Hollis is involved with groups that are in the process of implementing a new political party!" There will be more interviews of veterans on subsequent shows. Listen at the below link!

Fed-Up Veterans Start Their Own Political Party

"You've got be pretty fed up to start your own political party, and Vietnam Veteran Phillip Meskin of St. Petersburg is fed up. Tired of the broken promises from elected officials about care for Veterans, Meskin has started the Veterans Party of America. Since its start a month ago, more than 200,000 people have joined or signed petitions to have the party recognized in their states. If ever there was cause for such anger, this is it. Veterans continue to be shamefully shortchanged by Congress and the White House. What makes the situation even more insulting is this: Veterans' budgets continue to be cut and compensation denied while a new generation of soldiers is dying in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those who survive will fall into the same ignominious pipeline as their comrades from past conflicts."

BushFeld Treat Returning Soldiers 'Like Dogs', Breaking Laws Left and Right

"'They're being treated like dogs,' said one officer... Two separate congressional investigations by the GAO concluded the Army and Air Force largely ignored a 1997 law requiring all soldiers sent to war zones be given extensive pre- and post-deployment medical exams-to avoid the unexplained medical problems that arose after the 1991 Persian Gulf War that became known as 'Gulf War Syndrome.' The months-long delays in getting medical care faced by the soldiers at Ft. Stewart are nearly identical to the delays faced by veterans of other wars as they seek care in the VA health system. Fully funding the VA is a top priority of veterans' groups, who say the 2004 VA budget before Congress is under-funded by $1.8 billion... Sgt. Willie Buckles has a good idea why he hasn't gotten the care he needs. 'I don't believe they planned for it,' he said. 'They don't have enough doctors and facilities to take care of them.' Buckles believes the Pentagon didn't plan for extensive casualties in Iraq. "

BushFeld Lets Sick & Injured Iraq War Vets Rot in Squalor

"One month after Bush greeted soldiers at Fort Stewart -- home of the famed Third Infantry Division -- as heroes on their return from Iraq, approximately 600 sick or injured members of the Army Reserves and National Guard are warehoused in rows of spare, steamy and dark cement barracks in a sandy field, waiting for doctors to treat their wounds or illnesses... [Soldiers] described waiting weeks or months without getting a diagnosis or proper treatment. The soldiers said professional active duty personnel are getting better treatment while troops who serve in the National Guard or Army Reserve are left to wallow in medical hold. 'It is not an Army of One. It is the Army of two -- Army and Reserves,' said one soldier who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, during which she developed a serious heart condition and strange skin ailment. A half-dozen calls by UPI seeking comment from Fort Stewart public affairs officials and U.S. Forces Command in Atlanta were not returned."

Rank and Bile: Will Military Voters Choose Democrats?

Eric Boehlert writes, "The GOP and the Bush White House have suddenly faced a new, increasingly chilly reception from men and women in uniform. There are the growing ranks of retired generals who have turned Bush critics, like Gen. Anthony Zinni [who] endorsed Bush in 2000, but recently during a particularly scathing public critique compared Iraq war strategy to a 'brain fart' emitted from a Bush 'policy wonk.'... More troubling for Bush is the increasing frustration and anger being voiced by officers and enlisted personnel alike... Could 2004 be the year when the military vote swings to the Democrats? That might seem too farfetched a hope for Democrats, who have watched the military become a solidly Republican bloc over the past 30 years, to the point where a recent study found Republicans outnumber Democrats 8-to-1 among today's officers. But that trend could very well come to an end -- and the entry of four-star Gen. Wesley Clark into the presidential race... surely helps."

Newest Injustice to Disabled Vets: Robbing Sgt. Peter to Pay Sgt. Paul

"Under a so-called compromise plan to placate the men and women who've fought their country's wars, the Republicans propose a rolling five-year correction of one injustice and the imposition of another to pay the cost of fixing the first injustice. Robbing Sgt. Peter to pay Sgt. Paul. The cost of satisfying the demands of the old veterans - estimated at $58bn over 10 years...would be borne by those now serving in uniform. The so-called compromise would redefine 'service-related injury' for those now on duty in our military so that 2/3 of future retirees could not qualify for disability pay - and this would be done by legislative fiat without any public hearing.... The White House's definition of fiscal responsibility mirrors its philosophy toward tax cuts: The next generation of military retirees can pay for it. No one has yet suggested that the cost could be borne by a tax on defense contractors who have no-bid, cost-plus contracts in Iraq or Bosnia and grow fat on the wages of war."

Democrats Call Republican Plan a War on Vets

From Reuters: "A Republican proposal on Capitol Hill amounts to 'a declaration of war' against disabled military veterans, U.S. Senate Democratic leaders charged in a letter to Resident Bush on Friday. The measure, still under review, would limit disability benefits in the future to those who suffer injuries while in the performance of official military duties, aides said. Under current law, veterans get compensation and health care for all injuries and illnesses sustained while in uniform, regardless if they occurred while on duty. Some put in claims after leaving the military, saying they were service-related... Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota and Senate Democratic Whip Harry Reid of Nevada, in their letter to Bush, noted that a number of veterans groups, in a joint statement this week, said the plan amounts to 'a declaration of war against veterans.' 'We couldn't agree more,' Daschle and Reid wrote."

First Homeless Veteran from Iraq War is a Single Mom

The Boston Globe reports: "Three months ago, Vannessa Turner was in charge of a small unit, drove a 5-ton truck through ambushes, and wherever she went in Iraq, the Army sergeant held her M-16 at the ready. The single mom's war ended in May, when she collapsed in 130-degree heat, fell into a coma, and nearly died of heart failure. Now, after more than a month recovering in Germany and Washington, D.C., the muscular Roxbury native spends her days riding city buses to ward off boredom, roaming area malls looking at things she can't afford, and brooding over how she and her 15-year-old daughter are suddenly homeless, sleeping on friends' couches and considering moving into a shelter. 'I almost lost my life in Iraq - and I can't get a place to live?' said Turner, 41, who Army officials say is the first known homeless veteran of the war in Iraq. 'Yeah, I'm a little angry. Right now, not having a home for my daughter is the greatest burden in my life.'"

Veterans Condemn Republican Betrayal and Promise Revenge at the Polls

"Veterans are condemning House Republicans' failure to deliver a $3.2 billion boost for the Veterans Affairs Department that would have shrunk the agency's waiting list for medical care. 'A shameless betrayal' is how AMVETS sums it up. 'A moral outrage,' the American Legion said. 'Abominable' is the word from the Non Commissioned Officers Association. 'Veterans have been pushed to the limits,' said Joe Violante, national legislative director for Disabled American Veterans. 'They're being lied to, and they're not tolerating it.' The broken promise -- the second time in a year Congress has reneged on a pledge to veterans -- has veterans vowing to remember at the ballot box. 'They're saying there has got to be a change made because if there isn't, we're never going to get what we're due,' said Richard DeLong, a Vietnam veteran in Lafayette, La." AWOL Bush has betrayed Veterans - just like he's betrayed ALL Americans.

'A Shameless Betrayal': Veterans Enraged at House Republicans

Gannett News Service reports: "Veterans are condemning House Republicans' failure to deliver a $3.2 billion boost for the Veterans Affairs Department that would have shrunk the agency's waiting list for medical care. 'A shameless betrayal' is how AMVETS sums it up. 'A moral outrage,' the American Legion said. 'Abominable' is the word from the Non Commissioned Officers Association. 'Veterans have been pushed to the limits,' said Joe Violante, national legislative director for Disabled American Veterans. 'They're being lied to, and they're not tolerating it.' The broken promise -- the second time in a year Congress has reneged on a pledge to veterans -- has veterans vowing to remember at the ballot box... Bush may hear more on the issue Aug. 26 when he is to speak to 13,000 delegates at the American Legion's national convention in St. Louis."

Bush Says 'Bring 'em On,' But Veterans Says 'Bring Them Home Now'

"BRING THEM HOME NOW! is a coordinating committee of military families, veterans, active duty personnel, reservists and others opposed to the ongoing war in Iraq and galvanized to action by George W. Bush's inane and reckless challenge to armed Iraqis resisting occupation to 'Bring 'em on.' Our mission is to mobilize military families, veterans, and GIs themselves to demand: an end to the occupation of Iraq and other misguided military adventures; and an immediate return of all US troops to their home duty stations. The truth is coming out. The American public was deceived by the Bush administration about the motivation for and intent of the invasion of Iraq. It is equally apparent that the administration is stubbornly and incompetently adhering to a destructive course. Many Americans do not want our troops there. Many military families do not want our troops there. Many troops themselves do not want to be there. The overwhelming majority of Iraqis do not want US troops there."

Veterans Organize To Bring Troops Home!

Stewart Nusbaumer writes, "At the Veterans for Peace annual convention this weekend in San Francisco, the most pressing issue was not veterans' affairs or government benefits or even homeless veterans... What fired up these aging veterans was the threat to our civil rights, and even more, the continuing war in Iraq. Veterans For Peace is not your traditional veterans' group. The largest antiwar veterans group in the US, Veterans For Peace has 103 chapters from Maine to California to Florida. With the war in Iraq, membership has grown substantially. The New Mexico chapter had 11 members when it formed last year, this year it has 130. Overall membership has climbed to more than 3,500, doubling in a single year... Among the resolutions passed by the Veterans For Peace Board of Directors, one demands an end to the U.S. occupation of Iraq and another the withdrawal of U.S. troops. Still another supports a United Nation's takeover of the security and reconstruction effort in Iraq."

GOP = Greed Over Patriotism

David Podvin writes, "'My Republican opponent voted to cut medical benefits for our war heroes in order to give a tax cut to himself.' This should be the mantra of Democratic candidates in 2004. It should be vigilantly repeated until Republicans howl in protest. It should be endlessly repeated until conservatives wail about the class warfare of it all. It should be relentlessly repeated until every right wing pundit across America is foaming at the mouth -- even more than usual. And then it should be repeated again. What George W. Bush and company did was unpatriotic -- they sent young Americans off to fight for this country while stabbing them in the backs. Those soldiers who do not return in body bags will come home to a dangerous future of severely reduced medical care, courtesy of the flag waving phonies of the Grand Old Party. The Republicans must be made to pay for this act of treachery... It is the only moral thing to do."

Furious Veterans Feel Betrayed by Bush and the Republicans

Knight Ridder reports, "Bush and his Republican Party are facing a political backlash from an unlikely group - retired veterans. Normally Republican, many retired veterans are mad that Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress are blocking remedies to two problems with health and pension benefits. They say they feel particularly betrayed by Bush, who appealed to them in his 2000 campaign, and who vowed on the eve of his inauguration that 'promises made to our veterans will be promises kept.' 'He pats us on the back with his speeches and stabs us in the back with his actions,' said Charles A. Carter of Shawnee, Okla., a retired Navy senior chief petty officer. 'I will vote non-Republican in a heart beat if it continues as is.' 'I feel betrayed,' said Raymond C. Oden Jr., a retired Air Force Chief Master Sergeant now living in Abilene, Texas."

Veterans Outraged by $2 Billion Cut in Health Care

"Officials of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. today expressed dismay at yesterday's approval of the VA-HUD Independent Agencies Subcommittee appropriations bill claiming the measure will seriously jeopardize veterans' health care. The VA-HUD Subcommittee bill, which funds the Department of Veterans Affairs and other federal agencies, provides only a $1.4 billion increase over last year's funding level for veterans' health care. VFW officials point out that inflation alone will absorb that meager amount. According to the VFW, the House and Senate passed budget resolution-the official congressional spending road map--provides a $3.4 billion increase as necessary for timely veterans health care. For the Congress not to appropriate this amount is a clear betrayal of the assurances made to America's veterans by the House Republican leadership. "

So-Called 'Patriotic', 'Anti-Tax' Republicans Fight against Elimination of the Disability Tax on Veterans

From VetsForJustice.com: "Many Congressmen signed on as Co-Sponsors of H.R. 303 which is a bill to do away with the appalling Disability Tax on Veterans. The tax is a 100% tax that makes Retired Military pay 100% of their own disability. For every dollar in disability they get a dollar is taken from the military retirement they spent 20 to 30 years, or more, earning. It is shocking that the political party that 'Claims' to be patriotic, and for America's Military. The political party that 'Claims' to be against taxes. Is the same political party fighting against getting rid of this enormous tax on disabled Veterans." It isn't just taxes for veterans that the Feudalists (a.k.a. Republicans) are loath to fight -- look at how they resisted giving child tax credits to low-income families. But the Feudalists practically stampeded to sign on for cutting dividend taxes for the wealthy! Talk about "targeting people in and targeting people out", as Bush likes to sniff about.

On the Behalf of Veterans, Democrats Fight Republicans to Make Concurrent Receipt a Reality

VetsforJustice.com writes: "While Republicans continue to fight the effort to move concurrent receipt to reality the Democrats continue to fight for our Veterans, and Military Retirees! The fight for the Concurrent Receipt we EARNED is being spearheaded by Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, a Congresswoman from California. This has turned into a political battle between the Republican Party, that while 'Pretending' to be patriotic, is dead against Concurrent Receipt, and dealing honestly with America's Military Retirees, and the Democratic Party, which is intent on passing FULL CONCURRENT RECEIPT. The Republicans want massive entitlement programs for millionaires, while the Democrats want America to keep her word to her Military, Retired Military, and Veterans. According to Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, 'Tax Cuts for Millionaires Should NOT Come Before Keeping Our Commitments to Those Who have Defended Our Nation -- Our Veterans and Military Retirees."

Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Military Retiree's Case

DailyPress.com reports: "A seven-year court challenge by elderly military retirees, who say the government reneged on promises of free lifetime health care, came to an end Monday, when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear their appeal. 'In refusing to accept the case for review, the justices let stand a Nov. 18 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington D.C. that recruiter promises of free lifetime care were not backed by statute and therefore not binding contracts on the government. Retired Air Force Col. George 'Bud' Day, the lawyer for the retirees, said he was 'extremely disappointed' that the high court declined review 'at a time when we have young people committed to war in the Middle East and when the honor of the country, in terms of doing what we say we're going to do, is at stake.'"

Supreme Court: No Help for World War II, Korean Vets

AP reports: "The Supreme Court on Monday dodged a case that sought billions of dollars for the free lifetime health care promised to some World War II and Korean War veterans. Young recruits were told the benefits would be covered if they stayed in the service 20 years. Those promises, made by military recruiters, were not backed up by law, a lower court ruled late last year. The high court refused to consider overturning that decision, which would have helped up to 1.5 million people, but could have cost the government as much as $15 billion."

Pelosi and Dems Introduce Substantial Veterans Package

VetsforJustice.com reports: "Leadership arrived in the form of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and a substantial Democratic Veterans Package. Although the package does not deal with all the injustices Veterans face it is very substantial, and addresses MOST of the issues. It is a very bold act, and shows the kind of leadership that has long been missing in Washington. Leadership that actually CARES about our military, and our Veterans. Leadership that is more then just lip service, and the broken promises, we have been receiving for years. (Such as p-Resident 'W' Bush's blatant lie that 'A promise made is a promise kept.') We take our hats off to Congresswoman Pelosi."

Disabled Vets Shouldn't Bear the Costs of W-ar

Mike Ervin writes: "The last group of people the American public would have expected to bear the cost of Resident Bush's war are the soldiers he sent to fight it. But as soon as the war began, the House Budget Committee unveiled a budget proposal that would have cut $25 billion over the next decade in spending on disability benefits and health care for veterans. Joseph L. Fox Sr., president of Paralyzed Veterans of America, said, 'It is a dark day when Congress takes the budget knife to the hard-earned benefits and health-care services earned by the veterans of this nation to support an ill-conceived tax cut.'" AWOL Bush and the GOP chickenhawks say, Support Our Troops -- until they return -- then cut 'em loose!

How Dare We Reduce Veterans' Benefits?

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) writes, "Late into the night of March 20, the U.S. House heard speech after passionate speech in favor of a resolution proclaiming support for U.S. troops in Iraq, but offering them nothing substantive. Minutes after passing that symbolic resolution, Republicans passed their budget calling for a $28 billion cut in veterans' benefits and health care, with Republicans providing all but one vote. This huge cut was reduced on Friday to $6.2 billion, the amount originally proposed for veterans' cuts by President [sic] Bush in his 2004 budget. Is this good news for Illinois veterans? Not unless they want their already eroded benefits cut even further. I find it incomprehensible that a plan to reduce benefits for veterans in Illinois and across the country would even be contemplated at a time when hundreds of thousands of active-duty soldiers are risking their lives in Iraq."

Restore Bush's Cuts to Veterans Benefits!

The right-wing American Family Association is collecting signatures for "the world's biggest thank-you card" to be delivered to Jessica Lynch in Palestine, WV. But is that what Jessica and the rest of America's brave soldiers really want? We believe the way to REALLY thank our brave soldiers is to restore the cuts in Veterans benefits that Bush and the Republicans pushed through Congress. Sign the petition!

The Life and Death of Joe Hooper, America's Most Decorated Vietnam War Hero

Rick Anderson writes, "War was his best moment and his worst. Visions of whistling bullets, airborne body parts, screams of the wounded-and that was a good day for Joe Hooper. The Medal of Honor winner and most decorated soldier in Vietnam would bolt upward in his Seattle bed, sweating booze from the night before. Those earlier appearances on national TV, the possibility of a Hollywood biopic, hanging out with Bob Hope and several presidents-that just churned him up more inside... Staff Sgt. Joe Hooper, 29, of the 501st Airborne Infantry, killed at least 115 of the enemy-24 of them in a six-hour firefight, lobbing grenades into Viet Cong bunkers and wading through withering machine-gun fire to repeatedly rescue wounded American soldiers... [But] In the end, it was Joe Hooper who needed to be rescued. From the day he left the service in 1974 with a $12,000 retirement check carried around in his shoe, his war was with himself and the bottle."

The Future of a Hero: The Benefits Stolen from Jessica Lynch

Vets for Justice writes, "Jessica Lynch was near death and severely injured, when rescued, suffering from an injured back, a broken arm, two broken legs, a head laceration, and fractures in both her right ankle, and foot. It is beyond doubt that Jessica will need medical care for a very long time. But what kind of medical care will this hero get from the country she gave so very much for? At the same time Jessica, and thousands, upon thousands, of America's finest were being sent in harms way, Congress was cutting the budget of the VA's Medical Programs for Veterans by 844 million for the next year. To pay for Bush's massive tax cuts for the super rich. Yes as America's Finest were carrying rifles into combat, our very own government was betraying them, and stabbing them in the back with ink pens, stealing their future Veterans Benefits. To provide Tax Cuts for Corporate America and the super rich."

Veterans are Growing Angrier at Bush by the Day

Bush the AWOL coward surrounded by chickenhawks, finds it easy to ignore veterans, while sending a new batch of young people off to be killed or scarred by war. He preaches to a tiny choir of well-heeled rightwing vets not dependent on the VA, while sending reps like Duncan Hunter onto C-SPAN to lie about how well the administration is treating vets who are dependent on benefits. But the vast majority of vets aren't deceived and know the truth - Bush doesn't give a damn. Last week, his GOP minions pushed through a $25 billion cut in vet benefits - including disability benefits - over the next 10 years. Meanwhile the same folks are lobbying for massive tax cuts to the wealthy and billions in aid to W-ar allies.

Vets Can't Eat Yellow Ribbons - Help a Vet Today

"Travel benefit cuts left many vets with no way to get to Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical facilities for needed treatment. They're men and women who answered our country's call in times of war. Many lost limbs, sight, hearing, or good health. They may live a great distance from a VA hospital. And so many exist on small fixed incomes, finding the cost of transportation to a VA hospital is just too high. They're left with two choices. They could go without the treatment they need, or skimp on food or other necessities to pay for transportation. Vets disabled in our nation's service should never face such dire options." Veterans can't eat yellow ribbons. Show your support for our military in a MEANINGFUL WAY - volunteer to help those who have already given their all.

Republicans 'Support Our Troops' by Slashing $1.3 Billion from Veterans' Programs

Kate McLaughlin of Veterans Against the Iraq War writes, "The House of Representatives will vote on a resolution that if passed will devastate the Veterans Administration's budget and severely reduce its medical, disability, and benefit programs. On the verge of war in Iraq, the Republican Party has placed in its cross-hairs American veterans from earlier wars. The Republican majority of the House Budget Committee is reducing Bush's proposed budget by about $844 million in health care and an additional $463 million in benefit programs including disability compensation, vocational rehabilitation, education survivor's benefits, and pension programs from next year's budget. In addition to these cuts, the GOP is planning to cut $15 billion from the veteran programs over the next 10 years. The soldiers and sailors that are currently in harms way in the Middle East, are about to have their future veterans' benefits and health care slashed. If, that is, the Republicans get their way."

Decorated Gulf War Veteran Asks, 'What Do I Tell my Children?'

Charles Sheehan-Miles, a decorated Gulf War combat veteran, writes: "I'll never forget the morning of February 27, 1991. As a young U.S. Army tanker, near the banks of the Euphrates River, two trucks raced through our position at roughly 2 a.m. We opened fire. One truck carried fuel and splashed its burning cargo on the other, and burning men ran everywhere, only to be met by our machine gun fire. This was the clean, precise Gulf War, for me, and those images never left me. One day my growing son or daughter will ask me what I did in the war, and I'll tell him. And they'll have other questions, questions that haunt me, questions we should all be asking. Where were we, when our country allowed 1.2 million Iraqis to die of preventable diseases related to sanctions? Where were we, when 130,000 disabled Gulf War fought for help from the government, and for years got lies and bureaucratic misdirection? Where were we, when Congress legislated away our rights to privacy and due process?"

February 12 is 'Veterans Betrayal Day'

VetsForJustice.Com writes, "On February 12, 2003 Veterans across the Nation will PROTEST the betrayal of many World War II and Korean Veterans who were firmly promised by the United States Government that if they served 20 or more years in the military that they, and their dependants, would get free health care benefits for life. Both the United States Government, and the Federal Courts, admit the promise was made, however the Federal Courts have ruled that the government may make false promises, and commit fraud, to America's Veterans and not be held accountable... All Veterans of conscience should protest this grave injustice against our brothers. We STRONGLY URGE all of our new members to be active in some way on February 12, 2003 either protesting, or passing the word to as many other people as you can, exposing that this is the future of today's military now going into harms way, if we all don't UNITE together in this great cause."

Gulf War Veterans Suffer in Silence

WashPost repots, "Before he retired [as a phyisician], Lt. Col. Stutts commanded medical staffs on military bases... He is 54 and disabled by dementia. He is a casualty of the Persian Gulf War -- one of the tens of thousands of men and women who left feeling healthy but fell sick after coming home. They filed disability claims at a rate far higher than veterans of other wars. As the United States deploys troops in anticipation of another battle with Iraq, the Pentagon says it still has no answer for an enigma: What caused all those Gulf veterans' symptoms? The memory lapses, fatigue, joint pains, rashes, headaches, dizzy spells... not to mention the cancer, Lou Gehrig's disease and birth defects. Many vets speculated that they were poisoned by a combination of vaccines, pesticides, oil fire pollution and other battlefield toxins, including chemical and biological weapons stockpiled by Saddam Hussein" - sold to him by US companies with approval from the Reagan-Bush administration."

Pro-War Media Refuses to Report on Suffering of Veterans of Gulf War I

David Hackworth writes, "The 'insidious enemy' McMahon refers to is in part the Iraqi battlefield itself, a death pit of spent radiation and bio/chem weaponry served up with a lethal cocktail of local bugs, deadly fumes and poisons that still haven't been fully identified after a decade of medical research. And then there's the enemy within, the far-from-adequate bio/chem protection and detection gear earmarked for our grunts. According to one Pentagon report, about 130,000 troops who were downwind when U.S. Army engineers destroyed a weapons depot were exposed to low levels of sarin. Now epidemiologist Dr. Robert Haley has published a footlocker full of studies suggesting there might actually be 200,000 Gulf War vets with illnesses linked to brain damage resulting from exposure to sarin-like toxins. And many vets and scientists believe other sarin exposures occurred in January 1991 when allied bombs destroyed Iraqi ammo dumps."

Court Ruling Reneges on Promise to Veterans for Lifetime Health Care

CNN.com reports: "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....In the opinion issued Tuesday the Court said that action taken this year allows for free care in the future, but that the government is not obligated to pick up the medical expenses incurred from 1995 to 2001. 'Because [the law] at most authorizes space available treatment and not free health insurance for life, we hold that the Air Force Secretary lacked the authority in the 1950s when plaintiffs joined to promise free and full medical care,' the Court majority said."

National Guard Deserter Bush Threatens Veto of Concurrent Receipt Even As He Prepares to Send Military into Preemptive W-ar

Stars & Stripes reports: "Prospects continue to dim for disabled military retirees seeking to ease or end the ban on 'concurrent receipt' of both full retired pay and VA disability compensation...The authorization bill is hung up over the issue of concurrent receipt in a House-Senate conference committee. The Bush administration threatens a veto if conferees approve even the more modest House plan to phase in full retired pay over five years and only for those 60 percent disabled or higher. Before Congress recessed for elections, Republican-led conferees in the House refused to negotiate with Senate colleagues. They didn't want Bush to have to veto a bill over benefits for disabled retirees, particularly as U.S. forces prepare for war in Iraq and with many key elections at stake." Is it any wonder that a man who is chargeable under UCMJ for desertion fails to understand "duty" and "honor," preferring to play politics at the expense of our most valiant?

Billions for Baghdad, Nothing for Vets

Bush is blocking a bill to allow disabled veterans to collect their retirement, rather than take it from them if they get disability. These are the only people with government retirement who are treated this way. This is the hypocritical Administration that waves the flag about veterans, and wants to create thousands of basket cases in Iraq, but leaves them high and dry so it can fund massive tax breaks for the super-rich. American Legion National Commander Ronald F. Conley said, "What signal does this send our brave young men and women who are now going to war? Is it, 'Don't get wounded, don't get shot, and don't get ill, because we didn't budget for that?' If we didn't budget for concurrent receipt, then perhaps we should rebuild the Baghdads of this world tomorrow and take care of our veterans today."

400,000 Veterans Sue Robert S. McNamara over Weapons Testing Coverup

"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," announces the Shaw Pittman law firm. "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." A win for vets would make it suddenly much more difficult for creeps like Cheney, Bush, et al. to profit from their evil.

An Outraged American Legion Demands to Know: 'Why Billions for Baghdad and Nothing for Vets?!'

"I just don't get it!" American Legion National Commander Ronald F. Conley said, referring to the failure of congressional conferees to ignore the specter of a presidential veto and to approve concurrent-receipt legislation before Election Day. "George W. Bush said we have billions of dollars to rebuild Baghdad, not to mention Afghanistan," said Conley, whose 2.8-million member Legion is the nation's largest veterans organization. "At the same time, his non-veteran advisors are saying they will encourage him to veto any legislation that corrects the inequity of concurrent receipt, because it is a budget buster. Well, 402 House members and 82 Senators did not think so when they voted for correcting a 100-year-old travesty. The travesty is that service-disabled military retirees, by law, are the only group of Americans who have to give up their retirement pay dollar-for-dollar to collect their disability pay."

Bush Threatens to Veto Defense Appropriation So He Can Screw Veterans out of their Benefits

George Bush will screw ANYONE to help out Fat Cat Republicans. This time, it's military Veterans. Tom Oliphant writes that Bush's cockeyed budget priorities "put tax cuts for a tiny sliver of upper-crust American society ahead of the daily needs of ordinary people, including those who served in the armed services and became disabled in the process. [Senator John] Kerry made public a ridiculous new Veterans Administration policy to halt efforts to inform veterans of the health benefits they are due under the law... Bush is making a rare, explicit threat to veto the entire military authorization bill for this year. Incredibly, his direct threat is based on implacable opposition to an effort to finally end a 111-year-old injustice in retirement and disability pay."

American Legion is the Latest Victim of GOP Campaign Tricks

The American Legion wants to make a small change to its charter so Gulf War veterans can become members. The House of Representatives has passed a bill approving the revision. Republicans, however, are holding up the Senate bill. By coincidence, the Senate bill's sponsor is Tim Johnson, a Democrat who just happens to be running a close race for re-election in South Dakota. Would the Republicans really take the risk of offending millions of military veterans just to deny a Democratic candidate one small legislative achievement? We report, you decide.

Jeb Bush Courts Veterans' Votes While Foiling Concurrent Receipt Legislation

Keith Epstein and David Wasson write: "Even as he courts Florida's veterans, Gov. Jeb Bush is lobbying Washington against immediately expanding benefits for 655,000 disabled military retirees, saying the plan is not 'fiscally responsible.' Compensation for disabled retirees is a key issue among American veterans who have been fighting for an end to a 19th century law that precludes them from collecting both retirement and disability pay. Veterans are the only class of federal employee for which such a prohibition exists. But Bush, in a Sept. 18 letter to the chairman of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, urged a much lesser benefit that would help just 168,000 disabled retirees, and only after a five-year phase-in. The issue, known to veterans as concurrent receipt, is politically sensitive. Republicans in Congress are stalling so Bush, expected to veto any new benefit, won't have to act before next month's elections." More Greed Over People (GOP)!

American Legion Blasts Bushfeld for Flagrant Disregard of Retired Vets

The American Legion is furious with Bush & Co. because military retirees with service-connected disabilities continue to have their military retired pay reduced by the amount of disability compensation that they receive from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Although "Concurrent Receipt" legislation that would allow disabled military retirees to receive every penny they earned has been presented by a bipartisan senate committeee, the Bush regime wants to veto it. Worse, says the American Legion, are the unethical tactics they are using to justify the move. "Pentagon officials pit patriots - past and present - against each other, arguing that the quality of life and the warfighting capability of active-duty troops will suffer if service-connected military retirees receive the payments Uncle Sam owes them. Don't they realize that many active-duty troops plan to retire from military service and would not support Uncle Sam robbing disabled military retirees?"

Why Aren't Gulf War Vets Rallying Round the Iraqi Invasion?

Have you asked yourself what happened to our Gulf War vets? Why isn't Bush surrounding himself with vets from Desert Storm in photo-ops designed to make his case for the invasion of Iraq? Perhaps because close to 10,000 Gulf War vets have died, not on the battlefield but here at home, from a syndrome the US government (Pentagon and VA) refuses to fully recognize. By report, experts have said hundreds of thousands of American troops were exposed to biological and chemical weapons on the battlefield in Iraq. These vets have been shamelessly treated AND forgotten, coming home after war only to face a projected illness or even death, most in VA hospitals. I seem to recall Bush touting the fact after the war that there was minimal loss of life. That's simply not the case is it? Colonel David Hackworth, U.S. Army, Retired, exposes their plight and the political implications of the VA stonewalling so that the casualty statistics don't undermine Bush and his "noisy platoon of war hawks."

As Bush Seeks to Create New Generation of Disabled Vets, He Withdraws Desperately Needed Aid from Past Veterans

Any soldier who marches blindly to war behind G.W. Bush is, to put it lightly, a little nuts. While starting to ship active duty guys and gals off into position for his new war, Bush has been steadily withdrawing aid from those who already sacrificed their health and security for their country. In the past few weeks, he has instructed VA reps not even to TELL eligible vets what their benefits are, while making it almost impossible for those who do apply to actually get help (waiting time from application to receipt of aid may be up to four years now). Now Bush is threatening to veto a Congressional move that would overturn a 19th century law that, astoundingly, penalizes vets for being disabled by reducing their retirement benefits by the amount of their disability payments. When the thousands of Iraq vets return, sans arms, legs, eyes, or chronically ill from undisclosed chemical exposures, they can forget looking to their incompassionate AWOL commander in chief for any support.

U.S. Veterans from Four Wars Officially Oppose Bush's War on Iraq and Assault on Civil Liberties

Korean War veteran Wilson Powell, National Administrator of the St. Louis-based Veterans For Peace spoke undoubtedly for hundreds of thousands of veterans and active duty soldiers across the nation when he said, "Wrapping myself in the flag and blindly following the lead of a man who has never served into the morass of an endless war is not my way of loving and serving my country." Powell was one of 200 veterans representing four past wars who attended a conference in Duluth recently to (referring to a VFP press release) "reaffirm their commitment to apply their collective experience, energy and diverse resources to turning the U.S. away from the prospect of endless cycles of violence promised by the current administration's policies." The VFP also passed resolutions opposing the Bush regime's assault on civil liberties, its 'unsigning' of the International Criminal Court, and a long list of other concerns about the current dictatorship.

Scion of a Traitorous Nazi-Financing, Hussein and Noriega Backing Iran-Contra Family, National Guard Deserter Bush Refuses to Allow the VA to Inform Vets and their Families of Benefits They Have Honestly Earned

Around the country, tens of thousands of veterans from past wars are trying to get much needed benefits - as the vet population ages, the need is growing commensurately. Since Bush took office, the plight of vets has gone from marginal to atrocious. Bush (who deserted his National Guard post for up to a year, see awolbush.com) made a show of putting more money into vet benefits early in his term - then cut back on the personnel required to administer that money, a slick old corporate trick. Now he's perpetrating more corporate sleaze on vets by instructing the VA to withhold information on benefits from vets and their families. Could this guy get any more odious? While he seeks to create a whole new generation of vets from his "war on terrorism," he is refusing to take care of those most in need who have - unlike him - already faithfully served their nation in uniform. Now John Kerry (D-Mass) is demanding that Bush reverse this despicable policy.

Bush Breaks Promise to Veterans

You know Bush has gone too far when he starts ticking off the conservative American Legion. After his stubborn refusal to release the $5.1 billion spending package that was already approved by Congress -- $275 million of which was allocated for veterans' health care -- the Legion pointed out Bush's empty campaign promise to work with Congress to reform the VA health system and urged him to release the funds: "We, in the American Legion, believe that it is just as imperative to treat the scars of battle as it is to recruit, train, and send the service member into harm's way. The VA health care system simply needs the funding - and needs the funding now - to provide the quality health care for which it is known." $275 mil is a drop in the bucket compared to Bush's multi-trillion dollar tax cut for the wealthy. Shame on Bush for lying to and robbing our veterans to pay back his wealthy supporters!

Veterans for Peace Holds National Convention Aug. 15-18 in Duluth, MN

Veterans for Peace has assembled a diverse group of speakers for its upcoming conference in Duluth who share one core principle: peace. Keynote speakers include Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, professor and author of "School of Assassins" and soon to be released "Is Religion Killing Us?"; Dr. Robert Kosuth, who contends that the way to peace is to focus first on participatory democracy and economic justice; Amber Amundson of Peaceful Tomorrows, widow of Craig Scott Amundson who died 911 at the Pentagon; and Diane Carlson Evans of the Vietnam Women's Memorial Project, to name only a few. It's great to see veterans taking on the military-industrial complex and the culture of war!

Coming Home, Over the Years

"After WW1, Hemingway wrote a story about a young soldier's turmoil at not wanting to join the other returning veterans in telling lies about how glorious war had been. WW2 gave us a body of anti-war literature uniformly written by veterans of hard combat - Kurt Vonnegut, Norman Mailer, Paul Fussell, and Joseph Heller. Inexplicably, since these writers's heydays, we've had a couple of decades worth of popular culture fond of the lies Hemingway and the rest of the real veterans sought to expose; lies that have been the political currency in trade of the conservative movement and its many draft-dodging stalwarts." What will our newest veterans be like? Some thoughts, theories and experiences from one of our columnists, Kent Southard...

Disabled Veterans Are Enraged over Bush Stonewalling on Provision to Aid Disabled Military Retirees

Bush is dragging his feet over the defense authorization bill because he doesn't like a provision that has strong bipartisan support in the House and Senate. This would overturn the outrageous requirement that military retirees forfeit one dollar of retired pay for each dollar of VA disability compensation. "It is unconscionable that President [sic] Bush appears to care so little about retired members of the armed forces who were disabled as a result of their service to our nation," said DAV commander George H. Steese, Jr. "We must put an end to this long-standing injustice against some of America's most deserving disabled veterans." Meanwhile, AWOL Bush seems more interested in cranking out new veterans, indifferent to their future.

Republican 'Compassion': Wellstone's Bill For Homeless Veterans Blocked By An Anonymous Republican Weasel

"Less than three weeks after Senate Republicans dropped an anonymous hold on Sen. Paul Wellstone's homeless veterans bill, an anonymous Republican has reinstated the hold. 'I can't believe it' a red-faced, finger-pointing Wellstone shouted on the Senate floor Tuesday. Wellstone, D-Minn., said that he, in turn, would block all non-emergency GOP legislation…On Nov. 15, the Republicans reached an agreement with Wellstone in which they dropped their hold, and he dropped his hold on GOP legislation extending a moratorium on Internet-related taxes. The Senate then approved Wellstone's bill on a voice vote. A House-Senate conference committee reconciled slightly different versions of the homeless veterans legislation, which would add just under $1 billion in homeless services over the next six years." In all likelihood, the Republican culprit is also a chickenhawk. For the GOP, large Corporations deserve help, but Veterans can pound sand.

Paralyzed Veterans of America are Upset by 'Wholly Inadequate' Funding for Sick and Disabled Vets

Bush scooped up photo ops in Bosnia, extorting a brief burst of good will from real soldiers (unlike his AWOL self) by signing a pay increase bill on a makeshift stage in front of them. But he was short-changing veterans back home who have already given their all for their country. According to the Paralyzed Veterans of America, Bush's budget fails miserably to address the needs of sick and disabled veterans. The aging VA hospital infrastructure is crumbling, while the number of veterans requiring care is burgeoning with the aging of our WW II, Korea, and Vietnam vets. At the same time, health care costs are skyrocketing. A PVA statement says: "There are not enough resources to reduce the unconscionable waiting times currently faced by veterans or to address the chronic nursing shortage, to meet staffing and bed levels, and to address rising pharmaceutical costs."

Remembering Vietnam

"In 1968 I went to Vietnam as a proud, young Marine who trusted his country to tell the truth and believed Americans had the duty as free men to help others fight for freedom," writes Suel Jones in the Anchorage Press. "After thirty years of research and soul searching, I now know that my only fault was in trusting my country, which placed my fellow warriors and me in grave danger and ordered the killing of more than three million people. We dropped more tonnage of bombs on a country about the size of California than were used by all sides in WWII; one thousand pounds of high explosives for every man, woman and child. We sprayed some twenty million gallons of defoliant, more than fifteen million gallons being the highly toxic Agent Orange, on their forest and crops leaving a legacy of birth defects that still cripples thousands today." Today. with an administration peppered with the same hawks who helped engineer Vietnam, it would do well to remember history and resist repeating it.

Troubling Questions About The Kerrey Raid

We recommended skepticism in the midst of the Media feeding frenzy over the Kerrey story. Nevertheless, the villagers' testimony should not be discounted, nor should questions about possible criminality be quelled. As Robert Parry writes: "the revelation that former Sen. Bob Kerrey, D-Neb., led a 1969 raid against the Vietnamese village of Thanh Phong, an operation that all participants agree went terribly wrong, killing about 20 civilians. Though there is heated dispute about whether most of those killings were deliberate, what's not in dispute about the raid is troubling enough…It was not a search-and-destroy mission seeking out a military force for combat. The raid's goal was the assassination of Thanh Phong's village leader – roughly the equivalent of mayor – who was suspected of Viet Cong activity. It was a 'takeout' in the military euphemism of the time, much like the thousands of assassinations carried out by U.S. Special Forces teams under CIA direction in the Phoenix program."

John McCain Writes On Behalf Of Bob Kerrey

"My friend Bob Kerrey made a mistake in Vietnam. He was sent into a free-fire zone to kill for his country, and he helped kill the wrong people. Those who now judge him must follow the dictates of their conscience. But unless you too have been to war, please be careful not to form your judgment of him on your understanding of what constitutes a war hero. They are not the Hollywood copy you might expect." According to Kerrey and five of his Navy Seals, the incident was a case of confusion under fire, which was not uncommon in the guerilla war atmosphere of Vietnam. In "Born on the Fourth of July", Veteran and anti-war activist Ron Kovac recounted a similar experience in which Vietnamese civilians were mistakenly killed as a result of a chaotic exchange of gunfire. We owe any veteran the benefit of the doubt, until there is convincing evidence otherwise. Unfortunately, the Media does not adhere to the principle of innocent until proven guilty.

Coming Out Of The Woodwork After Kerrey - This Happened To Bush Sr. Too

The timing of the story about Bob Kerrey's tragic Vietnam incident is in question, especially since it has broke right when several stories embarrassing to the Bushes were also breaking (Bush's terrible record in Texas; the Bush Daddy CIA blunder in the missionary plane shoot down; the release of documents about the CIA's coddling of Nazis and the Boston Globe article about Prescott Bush's traitorous financing of Nazi industrialists). At "american-politics.com", Tamara Baker questions if the Kerrey story is payback for his demanding that Bush come clean about being AWOL from the National Guard. A similar case of a lone person coming out of the woodwork happened to Bush Sr. in 1988. Chester Mierzejewski, Bush's squadron mate from WWII, charged that pilot "Bush could have saved the lives of the crew members had he not decided to bail out." While the right-wing Media Research Center dismissed this story -- will MRC and the "liberal" Media give Bob Kerrey at least the benefit of the doubt?

Bob Kerrey's Bronze Star Could be Revoked - How About Shrub's 'Honorable' Discharge?

Pentagon officials are discussing the possibility of reviewing Bob Kerrey's Bronze Star, which was awarded for a combat mission that turned into a slaughter of women and children. Since Kerrey's war record is being examined in detail, why doesn't the Pentagon - and the press - examine Shrub's war record? Why was he grounded with two years left to fly? Was he using too much alcohol - or drugs - to pass his annual physical? And has he lied about reporting for duty during his last two years, when no witnesses ever saw him? Should Bush's "honorable" discharge be revoked?

Bob Kerrey Comes to Grips with Vietnam Massacre

Former Senator Bob Kerrey (D-NE), who won the Medal of Honor for his military service in Vietnam, has acknowledged that a combat mission he led there three decades ago caused the deaths of 13 to 20 unarmed civilians, most of them women and children. He first spoke publicly about the incident, which occurred Feb. 25, 1969, in the Mekong Delta, in a speech last week at the Virginia Military Institute. "I have been haunted by it for 32 years," he said in the V.M.I. speech on April 18. Kerrey ran for President in 1992, and considered running in 2000. Now that Kerrey's Vietnam record is under scrutiny, it's time for the media to examine the records of others who served - like Colin Powell, who helped cover up the My Lai massacre, and Shrub, who went AWOL for the last two years of his Air National Guard service. Not to mention all of the "chicken hawks" who didn't serve, including Dick Cheney.

Disabled Veterans' Impassioned Plea to GOP Falls On Deaf Ears

The most action that AWOL Air National Guard Lt. George W. Bush ever saw was probably a drunken off-base brawl. Thus it is little wonder that disabled veterans who have sacrificed legs, sight, arms, and peace of mind for their country are bitterly disappointed by their treatment at the hands of the current leadership. Bush promised to make life easier for vets. Is that accomplished by attaching new strings to benefits or extending the time to process a disability claim by an extra 100 days? Worse, though Bush refuses to adequately care for existing veterans, with his bantam-weight posturing before China and the rest of the world, we may soon be adding new casualties to the rolls.