Monday, November 12, 2007

Veterans Day

Hanging at the brewery, I was repeatedly reminded how many veterans I know. Not a surprise by itself, but an interesting snapshot on America.

In honor of Veterans’ Day, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) and former Sen. Max
Cleland (D-Ga.) wrote a joint-post for Wired’s Danger Room on the thousands of U.S. troops who return home only to find that their jobs (and benefits) are gone. In 1994, Democrats in Congress and the Clinton White House successfully passed a law to protect veterans’ seniority, salary, and benefits when they return home, but today, the Bush administration is lax about forcing private businesses to follow the law.

Today, however, the federal government is failing in this responsibility. It’s not even adequately informing returning service members about their rights, and it’s not protecting them when their rights are violated. A study by the Government Accountability Office this year found that when the Department of Labor decided to refer federal cases for litigation, it took an average of 247 days.

The Government Accountability Office also found serious problems in collecting and reporting data on claims under the law. Four different agencies collect this data. But they collect it in inconsistent formats, making it impossible to understand the problems that veterans face — particularly disabled veterans.

Until the hearing, the public had little knowledge of the problem, because the Pentagon had been classifying the most accurate statistics. Now that we know the extent of the problem, Congress must act to protect the reemployment rights of our forces.

Damn straight. I know a few too many Republicans believe “supporting the troops” means “supporting their mission,” but protecting veterans when they return home seems to be the trickier part for the Bush administration.

I'll start by saying that I'm not a veteran. I'm in the "lucky years". When I came of military age, Vietnam was over and the military was downsizing. I had an athletic scholarship to pay for my next 2 years of college, so I had no reason to go into the military. I didn't need them, and they didn't need me.
But a lot of my friends did.
My Father served during the Korean war, but in a "non-combat" role (I know that it involved intelligence and computers, but Dad took some secrets to his grave).
But then there is my friend "ducky". He was a helicopter pilot in 'nam. Shot down 5 times, 3 purple hearts, bronze star, and also got PTSD as a throw in. Ducky is a genius, a madman, and a totally loyal friend. So when we discuss current issues, I can say almost anything. The issue of VA and treating PTSD came up. He explained how hard that he had to fight to get help. I worked the psych emergency ward during the same years. While PTSD was not my area of expertise, I got psychiatric emergencies that should have been VA treated. That was then.
This is now:
Study: 1 Out of 4 Homeless Are Veterans And we really appreciate their service.

I don't have a answer, but couple this with the number of TBI cases, and this is a new health care crisis.


Mauigirl said...

Good post. It's amazing these hypocrites send people to war and then don't want to give them benefits when they return.

Anonymous said...

And with cheap words and false piety and praise, those who would fight wars with the children of others and never lift a gun themselves win elections on a slogan of support the troops.

Jess Wundrun said...

So well said. I hear Phil Donahue has a documentary coming out about soldiers who return home injured and the difficulties they face. His comment on the ad for the show is that we need to start showing the real war. Yeah, after six years, that'd be nice.