Archive for veterans

96% Of Senate Republicans Vote To Damn And Punish U.S. Military Veterans

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up yours

We'll pay for you to go to war, but we won't take care of you when or if you come back. It's a one way ticket.

A whopping 96% of the Republicans in the Senate voted against legislation on Thursday that would have expanded federal healthcare and education programs for veterans, saying the $24 billion bill would bust the budget. 96 percent! I'd say that's almost unanimous as a party stance on the bill.

So you have to ask yourself, why? Is it really going to "bust the budget?"

Interestingly the same question was put before Senator Bernie Sanders (I - VT) by Chris Hayes last night on All In. Sanders response is heated, passionate and shows the real fallacies of the Republican thinking on this matter and just how much these GOP-ers are hypocrites when it comes to veterans. As a party they're always willing to start wars, just never prepared to fund them. Then afterwards, these same warmongers have a tendency to turn their backs on the lucky ones -- those that live through these atrocities. Our fighting men with real injuries and losses become just chess pieces, not real -- not flesh and blood. But to their families and friends they sure are real. Denying them dignity and aid is a total affront.

If Iraq and Afghanistan weren't bad enough in body count, those scarred, wounded, maimed, and mentally suffering from these battles deserve every bit as much attention upon their return as the unfunded battles that sent them overseas. But that's not the thinking of the GOP senators. They will only budge on the funding IF we tack on an unrelated sanctions bill that's sure to push us into war with Iran and raise the death count all even higher.

Sanders points out that Republicans have an 'open checkbook' policy when it comes to the costs of war.  Other costs always have to be offset by cuts. Not the case for wars: the sky's the limit for the neo-cons. But somehow it's nothing or next to nothing for our returning vets who fought their wars.

If you want to see the harm the Republicans are inflicting on our veterans, just catch this piece with Chris Hayes and Bernie Sanders. Then ask yourself how anyone who cares about this country can vote for a Republican incumbent senator the next time around?

If Democrats want to keep the Senate and retake the House, all they need to do is show this piece.

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Houston Police & DA's Office Break The Law - Toss 26 Year Military Veteran Into Street

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veteran   Aryeh Ohayon and his dog Bandit

A veteran who has a trained and licensed service dog was recently denied service in a Houston, TX restaurant. That could be just a bit of confusion on the part of the restaurant as to the law. So the disabled Army and Navy veteran, who served his country for 26 years, did what he thought he should do to rectify the situation. He called the police.

Sadly they came. Why sadly? Because they didn't know the law in their state. According to The Raw Story:

Last year, Texas Governor Rick Perry signed a bill that made it a misdemeanor to refuse entry to service dogs, irrespective of the disability of their owners.

So this seems quite clear. The vet, Aryeh Ohayon, was within his rights to be served and his being accompanied by a service dog should not have been cause for his embarrassing and unceremonious removal.

But the police officer wasn't the only one ignorant in Houston that day.

Houston Police claim that the officer who responded to the call contacted the Harris County District Attorney’s Office and was told that Thai Spice Buffet II was allowed to bar the door to Ohayon because it is a private establishment.

Ah, the old, "private establishment" excuse. That and the right to religious practices are the two catch phrases hate groups use to discriminate. Fortunately with Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's veto of a discriminatory bill yesterday, a signal went out loud and clear that being a private establishment doesn't exempt you from discrimination laws.

Kudos to Governor Brewer (R - Arizona). Also kudos to Gov. Rick Perry (R -  Texas) for signing the bill which would allow the military veteran or anyone else with a service dog to enter and be served in any establishment.

But a big "Boo," "hiss" and "up yours" to the Houston police and the Harris County DA's office for not knowing the law they're sworn to uphold. They should at the very least apologize to this brave man who served us all in the military for over a quarter of a century.

Oh, and if you think this is an isolated event, Raw Story adds this:

This is but the latest in a string of refusals to allow service dogs to accompany veterans with mental disabilities like depression or PTSD. Last August, police in New Jersey kicked Jared Goering and his service dog, Gator, off the boardwalk, mockingly asking him if “all veterans get service dogs.”

Later that month, a Massachusetts establishment kicked James Glaser and his dog, Jack, out, claiming that his reason for having him wasn’t “legitimate.”

More on the KHOU-TV website.

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GOP Hypocrites: What's Good For The Goose Ain't Good For The Gander : The Unemployed

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Republicans don't care about the unemployed

Each party has its identity. The Democrats are thought of for their social programs. The Republicans for budget and military. There are cross-overs and overlaps but these are simple generalizations that seem to be commonly accepted. Dems care about the unemployed.

So along comes long-term unemployment extensions. The Democrats want to pass it, the GOP demands it be paid for by government cuts. So the Democrats agree and come up with a pay-for to accommodate the opposition. Sadly, the Republicans don't like the proposed method whereby Congress would extend the Medicare cuts from the budget sequestration into 2024, ten years from now at a savings close to $6 billion.

But that wasn't good enough for the Republicans. Their complaint? As told to HuffPo:

"I'm tired of these supposed pay-fors where you spend money the first year, and you don't pay for it, what, until 10 years later. It's literally a joke," said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.). "If you think this emergency, temporary, 14th unemployment extension of benefits ... if you think that's so important, find a real pay-for."

"The reason we didn't agree to it is we actually have principles," Johnson added.

So the Red Party (not to be confused with the Communist Party) has principles. Well bully for them. I wish they'd show some a bit more often instead of their anti-women, anti-education, anti-immigration, anti-climate change, anti-gay, and anti-worker stands on every social issue. But let's take them at their word. They have principles and those include not spending money the first year, and you don't pay for it, what, until 10 years later. Got it.

Then comes the military pension cuts that were the result of the bi-partisan senate vote to approve their sweeping budget agreement (Patty Murray - D, Paul Ryan - R). This reduction in veterans' benefits didn't sit well with either party after the fact. So they had a vote to restore those benefits. But the Republicans again said, this program has to be paid for without tacking on additional deficits. But this time, the GOP had a way to do it.

How? The same method that they refused to use in paying for the long-term unemployment benefits extension that would affect two million out of work people and their families.

What? The same Democratic plan is now okay because it's military benefits and not the worker's benefits? Which side of their face are these hypocrites talking out of?

All but three other senators who were present Wednesday voted that day to repeal the military retiree cut -- and pay for it with the same extension of Medicare cuts at which they scoffed to cover unemployment benefits.

So, it comes down to issues, not principles. Don't worry about the 2 million unemployed and their families. Just take care of the retired military. This shouldn't be an either/or. It should be looking out for both. The Democrats would do it in a heartbeat. The Republicans don't have a pulse - only a mechanical brain in the shell of Ted Cruz. Can someone please tell me where have all the true Republicans gone?

And if you say, "To hell," you might be right.

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Chris Hayes: "Who's The Village Idiot Now?"

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Chris hayes

Well, Chris Hayes didn't actually inquire this publicly, but he had to be thinking it internally.

During a Veteran's Day visit this week on Morning Joe, Chris Hayes responded satirically or snarkalicously (my own word meaning snarkily delicious) to Joe Scarborough's comments on the Veteran's Day holiday celebrations. Joe's diatribe defending the holiday, not that anyone was challenging him, was (DAILY CURRENT) :

"I mean these people are heroes," he scolded. "These men and women go out there and risk their lives so that you and I can breathe freedom. They go to the ends of the Earth to fight our enemies while you're sleeping comfortably at home.

"The deployments puts strain on their personal lives, on their marriages, on their health ... And they do it all for you. All so you can sleep soundly at night. How can you be against a holiday that honors their sacrifices? I mean really."

Seeing an opening for a little bit of playful fun, Chris didn't lose a beat in "confronting" the host in his playful, boyish indignance, as he's wont to do:

"Joe, soldiers aren't heroes," Hayes retorted. "You want to know who the real heroes are? The real heroes are people like my friend Chaz. Chaz owns a vegan bakery in Williamsburg. Before he opened his small business there were only 11 other vegan bakeries in the area, and only 4 were 100 percent gluten free. But none were non-GMO.

"Chaz's bakery has finally brought non-GMO vegan baked goods to people who need them. He's bringing little morsels of happiness and light into people's lives. What soldier has ever done anything like that? You don't need bullets to make a difference."

Well, this interchange, including laughs by both men after the mini-rant were seemingly not lost, nor found, on Rep. Tom Latham (R-Iowa). He immediately took the All In With Chris Hayes host to task calling him "America's village idiot" in a Facebook post.

Chris Hayes veterans aren't heroes

Finally someone on the congressman's staff explained what sarcasm and snarky responses are, and Tom Latham took the Facebook post down, and issued this:

When satire attacks! My apologies TO @MSNBC host Chris Hayes 1:59 pm 12 Nov 2013

Hey, at least Congressman Latham finally got it. And congrats to Chris on pulling the wool over the eyes of an elected official, not that it's so hard to do these day. But kudos anyway.

Don't forget to follow me on Twitter: @Linzack

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Can Time(lapse) Heal Every Wound?

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military

The military serve us 24/7/365 all across the world. Their's is a thankless task. When things are going well, we hardly know they are there. And when things go badly anywhere in the world, they're called upon to make sure that we as a nation are kept safe.

For doing such a life-threatening task, we should, at the very least lavish them with praise and thanks. Not that they're looking for it. But it's deserved.

Way too often we hear of the results of this constant stress that these brave souls endure and in many too many cases, the aftermath of those who crack. The human soul is fragile, and sometimes individuals crack or break. Whether this ends up being reported as an on base shooting, a suicide, a sexual attack or most commonly substance abuse, we can't desert them. We can't just turn our backs. They need support. Our support.

Returning vets are promised and need medical care, mental health counselling, reintegration therapy and understanding. Sadly our government hasn't kept up with that. Imagine we're the country with drones and satellite technology, but we still have a bulk of our returning vets records on hand prepared forms. The computerization of veterans benefits and payments lags an estimated 18 months behind. A vet returns and it's a year and a half before they are up to speed on their post release care, therapy, and promised benefits.

It's shameful.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, a count on a January night in 2012, there were 62,619 Veterans who were homeless. This is just plain wrong.

Numbers of those returning with mental, emotional or substance dependency issues dwarf those numbers. From the National Institute of Health (NIH)

Alcohol abuse is the most prevalent problem and one which poses a significant health risk. A study of Army soldiers screened 3 to 4 months after returning from deployment to Iraq showed that 27 percent met criteria for alcohol abuse and were at increased risk for related harmful behaviors (e.g., drinking and driving, using illicit drugs).

Mental illness among military personnel is also a major concern. In another study of returning soldiers, clinicians identified 20 percent of active and 42 percent of reserve component soldiers as requiring mental health treatment.

So while Paul Ryan and his GOP budget cutters try to pare back the aid given to the military, think about how much we rely on our soldiers, and how little we really give them after we've taken four years from them in life altering stress. They serve for us. They volunteer. Let's volunteer back and help them out. Support more money for returning troops. Support Veterans programs.

Here's a feel good sample of what can happen when you truly do support our returning heroes:

Tell  me he doesn't resemble Mark Walberg!

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Who Put The Pearl In Pearl Harbor

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USS Arizona

When I first visited Hawaii years ago, I had to go to Pearl Harbor. There was something special about coming from Massachusetts and just being on the island. But out of respect for my father, a veteran of both WWII and Korea, I was drawn to the military historical site. This was where the sneak attack launched the 'great war'. There was something special about the camaraderie and bonds that WWII forged. I can remember as a kid how my father got together every other week with his Army buddies. It was informal at best, but it was a must. Nothing but Christmas or Easter could change this friendly rendezvous. They talked about their escapades and their exploits. Never the death. Never the destruction. Never with regrets. They were proud veterans.

As I have become older and more understanding of strong bonds and friendships, I can fully appreciate a military service that was unknown to me until recently. It's a private interment service available to those who survived the sinking of the Arizona. Survivors of that attack went on, though many of their brothers in arms never basked again in the sun. But their absence was never a full void. They were remembered long after they were gone.

With a h/t to Andrew Meyers, I became aware of a rather under-the-radar memorial commemoration that takes place above and in the submerged carcass of the Arizona.  Here's a private look into a rarely spoken of privilege for those who survived the Pearl Harbor attack, but like all of us will, ultimately succumb to time. How considerate and thoughtful of the armed forces-- not generally known for it's sensitivity -- to provide a touching and fitting farewell to the more recently passed. Those who wish to be reunited with their buddies who didn't make it out.

I'm really proud of our military for their warm and generous option they've provided our brave heroes. Bravo.

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Have Republicans Gone 'Big Government?'

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Who Are You

Let's play "Who Are You?"

Who's currently pushing for immediate funding in big government? The programs in question-- Military, Veterans, national parks, Head Start, Women and Children in Poverty (WHIP), National Institute for Health (NIH), SNAP, Air Travel Safety, food safety?

That's such and easy-peasy question. The answer is the Democrats.

Well, we'll give you part credit for that answer. The real answer is currently, it's the Republicans. Now that the government shutdown, which they caused is having frightful repercussions, the results of their reckless and perilous game is causing huge backlash.

NBC claims to be "SHOCKED" by the horrible numbers in a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll. And that hasn't been lost on the GOP and even the Tea Party (yes, they really are two parties but that's a different discussion). What should be shocking NBC more is the list of what this desperate, out of touch, old white man's party are now backing. It's as if Professor Backwards was delivering the new Republican platform.

Professor Backwards

Everything the GOP has fought against, they're now for -- and when do they want it? Now!

Ted Cruz turning over in his grave with this bevy of spending bills hasn't been lost on MSNBC's Chris Matthews. Last night's segment of HARDBALL featured this clip:

The Republicans, in the light of public outcry are both being shown to be selfish elitists and big government. They shut down the government. You'd have to be living in a hole underground not to know that. And there's still some who live down there, but most have come to the surface. After years of being lied to and sold a bill of goods, cut down the government, they don't do anything for you as a mantra, the truth is being realized. While they were in their subterranean bunkers, the Democrats and Independents were above ground working for everyone's benefit.

The Republicans and Tea Partiers, not so much, as the clip above shows.

When this shut-down and debt ceiling fiascoes subside and our short memories return, the battles will rage once again. But hopefully there will be some who remember how they were effected by this shutdown. Whether it was parks, military funerals, food for the poor, business, medical clinics or whatever, the sting might last long enough and snap public opinion around a bit, so we can reinstate and improve both the efficiency of the government as well as respect and acknowledge what part it really plays in our lives.

The only one's who won't forget are sadly those who return to a live in a vacuum life, a bubble, or the Tea Party. They'll resurface another day, armed with wackadoo thinking and plotting to bring down our government. Hopefully intelligence and this current experience will defeat them and their representatives.

Doesn't this shutdown make you wish there was an election right now where you could shout out with your vote how displeased you are with the current crop of Republican elected officials?

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