veterans issues

Kay Hagan working to restore cuts to veterans' pensions

Once again having to fix something that never should have been broken:

"I'm pleased we've restored COLA cuts for the most severely wounded veterans, but we need to restore pension cuts for all of our military retirees," Hagan said. "We've made a commitment to these brave men and women, many of whom have deployed overseas for combat missions multiple times, and we must keep the promises we've made to them. I will continue working to ensure our veterans receive the benefits they have earned."

If you'll flip your channel over to News14 now, you'll see a recurring story about five hundred soldiers from the 18th Airborne Corps deploying to Afghanistan for a 12 month tour. Whenever you see something like this, pay particular attention to whether they have a military unit patch on their right arms. This denotes (at least one) previous deployment into a combat zone, and every single soldier I saw in this video had one, from various units. That's all I'm going to say about that.

Questioning the wisdom of Ilario Pantano's appointment

DAG McCrory hits another foul ball in his staffing decisions:

I did not serve in the military. I don't know what it's like to be in combat, let alone in an environment where people who look like civilians may be shooting at you the next moment, or planting a roadside bomb or planning an ambush. He was responsible for the lives of his men, not for the lives of suspected Iraqi insurgents.

But unarmed prisoners? Wasn't there also a duty to deliver them, still alive, to the appropriate place?

Not only a duty as delineated by rules of engagement and UCMJ articles, but a duty under Geneva and Hague Convention requirements:

McCrory makes overtures to veterans

But the proof will be in the pudding:

The new governor pledged to be attentive to the needs of veterans and said he would use returning veterans as a recruitment tool to lure industries to locate or expand in North Carolina. "I hope to have veterans be part of our economic recovery," he told more than 400 people who gathered Saturday night at the Mid-town Hilton.

Considering that your Republican pals in the General Assembly ignored the pleas of the Ft. Bragg Garrison Commander and went forward with a bill helping loan sharks take advantage of our troops, you may have a little difficulty backing up that promise. And so far, they've completely ignored this problem:

Veteran's Day: a tribute and an entreaty

We'll start with a message from the Commander-in-Chief:

"No ceremony or parade, no hug or handshake is enough to truly honor that service," the president said, adding that the country must commit every day "to serving you as well as you've served us."

Tomorrow is a very important day for those of us who've served. It seems like forever since I wore a uniform, but I still get a few "thank you's" every year about this time, which is very cool. But to be honest, it's what you do for those other 364 days that really matters. And for the next fews years anyway, it will matter even more:

Closing Argument: The Choice for Veterans and Military Families

BlueNC Friends,

After dozens of events across North Carolina since the DNC, our Veterans for Obama group has written a concluding piece about why we think the choice on election day is clear: President Obama has been a strong Commander-in-Chief, who believes that responsibly ending war means honoring those who have been called upon to serve in it.

We wanted to share, posted here:

Focal Points Blog

Senate Republicans Kill Veterans’ Jobs Bill

Rachel Maddow just called out four GOP Senators including NC's own Richard Burr. Seems he voted against the veterans' jobs bill today in the US Senate. Burr previously worked with the bill's sponsors to get his ideas included in the bill. Then he voted against the bill.

From Think Progess online:

Senate Republicans prevented a veterans’ jobs bill from coming to a vote today by forcing a budget point of order vote. Democrats came up 2 votes short of the 60 needed to defeat the GOP’s budget measure.

NC GOP fails veterans, faces lawsuit

Apparently the phrase "supporting the troops" is just a political sham:

The legislature's failure this summer to give a tuition break to veterans at North Carolina's colleges and universities may result in a federal lawsuit, the leader of a student veterans organization said Wednesday. "It's really inexcusable," Thigpen said. Lawmakers say they support veterans, he said, but "what really defines our character and who we are is not just what we talk about doing, but what we do."

Semper Fidelis, De Oppresso Liber, and Esse Quam Videri. One of those three Latin mottos is no longer worth the effort to type it.

Legislature needs to act quickly on veterans tuition

This not only costs veterans money they can't afford to spend, it could cost them (and their families) their future:

The GI Bill last year quit paying the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition for veterans attending public colleges and universities. The veterans were told to pay the difference.

That's an extra $19,826 per year (UNC-CH) out of some pretty shallow pockets. In other words, they either won't be able to attend, or they'll have to take on crushing debt to do so. If the General Assembly fails to act, it's the same thing as saying "Your service and sacrifice mean nothing to us." And while we're on the subject of sacrifice:

Veterans and their families facing health care cuts

Because apparently they haven't sacrificed enough yet:

Republicans and Democrats alike are signaling a willingness — unheard of at the height of two post-Sept. 11 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — to make military retirees pay more for coverage. It's a reflection of Washington's newfound embrace of fiscal austerity and the Pentagon's push to cut health care costs that have skyrocketed from $19 billion in 2001 to $53 billion.

We had no problem sending suitcases filled with cash to Iraq, signing billion-dollar contracts for mercenaries who earn 3-4 times as much as those troops, having families scrape up the money for body armor for their loved ones, and sending those troops back into the war zone for a 2nd (and sometimes 3rd) tour. But now honoring our promises to them costs too much to sustain? Bullshit.

Richard Burr misleads veterans...again

The wisdom (or lack of) surrounding the combined wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is one of the most debated issues of our time, but what is not debatable is the terrible impact those wars have had on the men and women in uniform who have served in those theaters. And, for many, coming home presents a whole new set of obstacles to overcome, not the least of which is navigating the labyrinthine maze to access benefits that can help them find their way. But for people like Senator Burr, this issue is merely an opportunity for posturing.

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