Mailroom: In Politics, Who Supports Veterans Affairs?

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130618 Mailroom

Last week, a veteran wrote in about politics. He wanted to know which political party supports veterans, and I thought I’d take a moment to respond here on the blog below.

Here’s the drill: I include this for all newcomers. Each week, I take an email from a veteran that would have broad appeal to many veterans. Questions are usually about the GI Bill, VA Voc Rehab, or Disability Compensation.

I then analyze the veterans benefits issue for a bit and post my input here in our weekly segment: Mailroom.

Basically, I take out all of the veteran’s identifying information from the best email and post it here with my answer.

If you have a burning question about your veterans benefits, sent me an email by selecting the contact tab at the top of this page. If I think your situation will be helpful for other veterans, I will re-post it here.

* If you do not want me to write about your veterans benefits situation, please feel free to let me know within the email. I have no problem keeping a lid on the situation, too.

 

Letter from the Veteran:

I would like to be advised as to both sides of the isle (Republicans and Democrats) vote on Vet issues… An unbiased source, if that does exist in the news arena… Can u better inform (us) via your website regarding this?

 

Letter from Benjamin Krause (me):

Great question. As of late, I have been wondering the same thing. As for current news, I search the web for information and generally compare sources if two news outlets cover the same issue.

Here are my two cents on politicians in general in light of a recent experience.

I have been working to help a Vietnam Veteran named Ron Nesler for some time. More than anything, I have been mainly a friend to bounce ideas off of. I have also contacted Congress to get feedback directly from lawmakers about how VA is screwing children with spina bifida caused by Agent Orange.

Regardless of political party, both sides across the aisle basically told us to fuck off. Spina bifida is not a popular issue. VA claimed it was treating Ron’s daughter fairly. Game over.

Meanwhile, VA was violating the constitutional rights of Ron’s daughter. Just yesterday, Ron contacted me to let me know some startling news. VA General Counsel just rendered an opinion that, in fact, Ron was correct. All the rights he said VA was violating were in fact being violated.

Here is my point. When it comes to politicians, they will tend to spend their energy in areas that give them sound bytes or are easily resolvable within s short while – it’s an election thing.

So, few politicians are truly pro-veteran, including politicians who are veterans themselves.

To your comment about developing a platform where veterans can find out which politicians are pro-veteran; my plan is to develop such a platform, like a Drudge Report or Huffington Post of veterans issues.

Let me know if you have any feedback on how best to get the information to vets about politicians.

 

 

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9 Comments

  1. I had always found the democratic party to be more considerate of veterans issues than the republicans. I always found the republicans waving the flag and sending them into harm’s way for seemingly unnecessary causes. After the democrats went along with sending our children to Iraq to steal oil for Exxon I immediately wrote them off and joined the Socialist Party USA who were the only ones complaining about it then and they are still for veterans because they are against all wars that are not for our defense which none have been since WWII.

  2. Veterans, IMO, like senior citizens and money for children’s “welfare,” are useful to politicians only as they help them achieve a political agenda or election/re-election.

  3. After YEARS of battling with the VA, I note that Republicans outright oppose veteran compensation and blow you off right to your face, while Democrats will pretend to take an interest in your problem, if it fits their major agenda, which is gaining votes and money. Politicians couldn’t care less about war vets, they view us as tools, not as people.

  4. I agree with your conclusion Ben – there are heroes and scoundrels on both sides of the aisle. Here’s my quick take on a few. Oh wait. Hmmmm. Better not put my real name here. [Paranoia begins to kick in. He remembers the saying, “if you’re not paranoid, you’re not paying attention” and decides to proceed with name change].Ok, back.

    Jeff Miller (R-FL), Chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee – Seems to genuinely care about veterans. I hear he promotes more bipartisan cooperation than many GOP Reps these days–if that’s true, I see that as a big plus. He grandstands some, but about average for politicians. He really hammered VA for paying high bonuses to administrators who had f-ed up in all sorts of different ways. VA took back a lot of the bonuses, but Rep. Miller kept criticizing them, which maybe was unfair but VA kinda deserved it too.

    Patti Murray (D-Washington) – She stepped down at the end of 212th Congress as Chair of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs to take over some other Committee (I can’t remember which one). This lady knows how to work the media! OMG, she battered the Madigan shrinks big time and repeatedly. She needed to stir up some publicity and she did get the Army to review hundreds of cases, some overturned, some not. But that was the right thing to do. So I give her some slack for loving the spotlights.

    Richard Burr (R-NC) – Senator Burr is a pretty darn conservative Republication, and I lean left, but you know what? I really like this dude. He seems to really care about veterans. He has introduced a bill for like 5 years in a row that would require a judicial hearing before a vet’s 2nd Amendment rights can be taken away when VA finds the veteran financially incompetent. Right now it’s pretty much automatic: Financially Incompetent = You Cannot Possess, Use, Carry, or Purchase Any Firearm. Totally stupid law. Sen. Burr has tried to change it–and he’s not giving up! He also introduced a bill called the Mental Health Treatment First Act, which would provide OEF/OIF veterans who have mental health and/or substance abuse problems with a one-year intensive, integrated, state-of-the-art mental health and rehabilitation program at their local VAMC (maybe at CBOCs too? I can’t remember). The vet would also receive a ‘wellness stipend’ spread out over the year, as long as they actively participate in the program. It’s several thousand dollars. The vets receive vocational rehabilitation! I realize voc rehab is a quagmire in some (many?) areas, and 30% SC is usually required at a minimum. The guys in this program would not have to be SC. In fact, the deal is that they would postpone applying for disability compensation for one year. If they complete the program, and got a lot better but still have some problems, they can still apply for comp after the year is up. This bill seemed to be very well thought out and is designed to prevent the ‘disability trap’ that LTC Gade talked about in the articles that Ben slammed. ;^] — Actually, I learned a lot from what Ben wrote and it helped me see how reform efforts can go way too far sometimes. And the officers vs. enlisted distinction is an important one, since, among a few dozen other factors, in general, enlisted guys and gals have much fewer resources (e.g., financial, paid help, education) than officers-turned-veterans, therefore disability compensation has a differentially more positive impact on the enlisted guys than the officers.

    Those are the politicians that come to mind. Oh, the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee seems to work fairly well together, which is awesome. Sure there’s some b.s. that goes on but most of the time they seem more focused on veterans than on winning points for their party. What a concept! 😉 No, it really is good. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) seems to off to a good start as Chairman.

  5. I don’t think that any of them care about anything except being re-elected. That’s all they do is run for re-election from the moment they are elected. The word “Bipartisan” is a bunch of BS. None of those sorry politicians are bipartisan. If they keep using that word, it will take on a whole new meaning for America as it has for me, it just means they are going to get screwed by both parties. They all need to be voted out. Every last one of them. We could put people in off the street and get a better run government than what we have now. It has to be made painful for them and the news unpleasant for them to do anything. If they are not shamed or made to help us, they could care less. They tell me about the way the things work in Congress – So what? Someone needs to stop the games they play and actually get things done. All they do is lie to us to get elected then blow us off. I for one am tired of it. They all need to go. Can’t get any worse can it? I asked one of my senators for help and all he got from the Army was paperwork for me to fill out and submit. They basically blew him off. Haven’t heard back yet about the VA issues, but I guess they figure that a sitting senator isn’t a big deal. Well, I have news for them and the Army. I am thinking about standing out in front the senator’s office and holding a sign that says he can’t help Disabled Veterans. Since I live in Atlanta, I am sure that someone will want to interview me from CNN. Failing that, I am going to put all my files into my red wagon and haul them to CNN and see if someone there can help. I am sure that someone there will put me on tv and make a fuss about it. I am to the point where not much else is going to work. I thought about having the VA Officials taken to jail for “theft by taking” which is what they are doing to us. Something has to be done and it has to be dramatic or we will get what we always got. If they get forced to do the right thing in my case and give me my retroactive disability retirement and my retroactive upgraded VA disability rating, then I will have sufficient money to make their lives miserable. Trust me, I can and will do it. All I want is for them to do the right thing and do right by us and if they can’t do that, well, then it’s time to take them to school….. You would think that the DAV, the VFW, the AL, MOAA, and other Veterans Groups would demand they do the right thing, but they are weak and impotent. None of them would help me except for the IAVA. Those guys are ok and those are the ones that will get my five-figure donation if they help get what I was and have always been entitled to. Shameful, just shameful. More people care about who wins survivor than about our Country’s Veterans. I would run for office, but I have too many skeletons in my closet. Funny how they don’t seem to keep people from becoming a Congressional or other elected politician, but it is not my goal to have it be about me. If I thought I could be as dirty and dishonest as most politicians, maybe, but I would have to keep taking showers to all that scum off of me. Why can’t all these Veteran’s Organizations make these things happen for Veterans? They have enough people, then just won’t do it, even for life members like me. Veteran Service Organizations should be called Veteran Disservice Organizations for all the good they did for me! So much for the money I paid them to represent me. I asked for my money back from the DAV, but they said no, even though they aren’t holding up their end of the bargain. Go figure!!! Just thought I would get even a little representation, but all for naught. Vote them all out!!!!

  6. I went looking for data, not anecdotes, but hard data on which party has the better record of supporting veterans. It’s not out there! Are you kidding me? Benjamin Krause says above that he intends to publish such data…TWO AND A HALF YEARS AGO!!! Where is the data?

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