On November 11, 2001, President Obama honored our nation’s troops in many ways. Of particular note was his presidential ’wreath laying’ at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier and associated speech at Arlington Cemetery. After the morning service, Obama sat for the first presidential observance of an NCAA basketball game on a U.S. military aircraft carrier.
Reuters LilyKuo filed a report from Arlington Cemetery….
(Reuters) – President Barack Obama urged business owners on Friday to hire military personnel returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan, as he marked Veterans Day and declared that “the tide of war is receding.”
President Obama, speech highlights……..
“At a time when America needs all hands on deck, they have the skills and strength to help lead the way…….” .
“……..On this Veterans Day, I ask every American: recruit our veterans. If you’re a business owner, hire them. If you’re a community leader — a mayor, a pastor or a preacher — call on them to join your efforts…….”
“…….Because of their incredible efforts, we can stand here today and say with confidence the tide of war is receding. In just a few weeks, the long war in Iraq will finally come to an end. Our transition in Afghanistan is moving forward. And my fellow Americans, our troops are coming home,” Obama said
Sandwiched around the speech highlights, the president spoke about his jobs bill which is being deliberated in parts. He also spoke about U.S. efforts in the fight against “high level’ enemy combatants’ and he spoke about reducing U.S. presence in Middle East wars.
President Obama delivered his Veterans day remarks in front of a backdrop fitting the Commander-in-Chief. As he stood with huge U.S. Flags behind him, President Obama took advantage of the opportunity and celebrated the passage of a key part of his jobs bill: tax credits to employers for hiring returning veterans. The employer tax credits is part of the $447 billion jobs bill that was voted into law in the U.S. Senate this past Thursday. Senate Republicans voted for the bill with one notable exception.
Senator DeMint, (R) South Carolina, voted against passage. DeMint’s comments relating to his vote against the legislation, were unfathomable . The AtlanticWire…..
“I know what I am about to discuss won’t be very popular — I’ll probably be accused of not supporting veterans by the politicians pandering for their votes,” DeMint said Thursday, according to the Air Force Times‘ Rick Maze. “But I am not going to be intimidated to vote for something that may make sense politically but is inherently unfair and it isn’t going to work.”
It has also been reported that DeMint commented that veterans of the nation’s wars should not receive special treatment in the job market. The comments rise to the ridiculous when statistics show veterans returning to the job market after 9/11 are suffering 12.1 percent unemployment vs. the nation’s official 9. percent rate.
DeMint is a vocal and proud member of the Tea Party. One has to consider if many 2009/2010 Tea Party (ers) have not lost their zeal for the movement. Of those who still consider themselves part of the Tea Party, I believe most would disagree with DeMint. If I take the thought a step further, how much do we hear from the Tea Party these days? I hear so little, it makes me think, the movement was another political mastermind from ‘moneyed’ conservatives and GOP operatives, like Dick Armey.
DeMint stood alone in his irrational reasons for not supporting the president’s efforts to help veterans. By reducing the bill to impertinence, DeMint reminded of my experience with the Veteran’s Administration. The experience was eye-opening and disappointing. During a period of unemployment I became seriously ill.
Between jobs, I was not covered by any medical insurance for about nine months. After becoming ill, I went to the nearest Veterans Hospital. I promptly received a serious run-around and was denied opportunity for medical treatment. My first interaction with the Hospital staff was with an in-take administrator, in the early morning hours. I was advised to come back later that day to speak with the in-take person’s supervisor. I struggled back to the hospital that afternoon. In brief, I was again denied coverage by the supervisor, and given frank reasons for the denial. Apparently, I earned more than some dollar threshold within the last calendar year. Since, I was required to show any savings account information, including 401K and IRA investment figures, I assume those figures hurt my case also. The supervisor did not ’go there’ and I am glad that he did not as it would have raised by ire even more.
In summary, the Bush Administration in 2003 changed the guidelines for Veteran medical care. After the change, care was available to veterans injured while in the military, Grandfathered cases, or vets who fell below the earnings threshold. The Bush Administration never bothered to inform me of the change in guidelines. The change in eligibility was a departure from the policy in place when I voluntarily enlisted earlier in my life. My sitting with people who by policy turned me away, was personally embarrassing and denigrating.
The supervisor went on to tell me that the reason for the guideline change was to ‘save money‘. This coming from a president who wasted trillions on two wars, while cutting taxes, and enacted a medicare benefit that was never properly funded by Congress. The supervisor’s last comment to me, “Sir, I just cannot help you,” he said. I left the building feeling betrayed.
During the same period I sought veterans care for a hearing problem that I feel was attributable to the military job that I held for 4 years. I sought a hearing exam from a private physician, took the results to the VA and was ordered to take a hearing exam by a VA Audiologist. No problem!. The end story? I received a letter a few weeks later with clear statements (although craftily worded) that I was faking my hearing problem. Another door shut on a veteran.
The 2008 Election brought a different Commander-in-Chief to the Oval Office. I received a letter from the VA within months of President Obama’s inauguration. The letter stated VA records showed that I was recently denied veteran hospitalization and medical coverage, and the letter requested that I should re-apply.
The president also re-introduced other benefits taken away or reduced by the Bush Administration: ”….to save money“!
Now, we have the likes of DeMint the day before Veteran’s Day 2011, issuing his statement of a “no” vote and rejection of fair and equitable efforts to help people who fight our wars.
DeMint and most Republicans in Congress do not hesitate to support military interventions.
The extent to which Tea Party representatives of Congress have shaped the nation since 2009 seems against all that used to be America.