Saturday, December 29, 2007

Cold War and Veterans Links


The news brief yesterday morning triggered some Cold War memories: ''Russia Successfully Tests New Nuclear Missile.'' Haven't we put the old nuclear tensions aside, the worries about Mutual Assured Destruction?

Tuesday Russia launched a new intercontinental missile capable of carrying multiple warheads. The RS-24 missile's three dummy warhead hit their targets 4,340 miles to the east on the Kamchatka Peninsula. What happened to the arms limitation treaties that had the former Soviet Union and the United States destroying their nuclear arsenals?

A resurgent Russia under outgoing President Vladimir Putin has begun to flex its military muscle once again. Besides restoring some economic luster to his nation, Mr. Putin is also trying to rebuild its eroded military might. Russians love him for it and in part, this is why editors at Time magazine named him their ''Man of the Year.''

U.S. and European foreign policy has allowed Mr. Putin and Russian military leaders to justify their actions as necessary to counter ''western imperialism.'' They don't believe the missile defense system President Bush wants to deploy on their western border in Poland and the Czech Republic is only intended for Iran and North Korea. They think it's aimed at them.

Although, Mr. Putin has used Russia's oil profits to dramatically increase military spending -- to $33.6 billion -- that's a fraction of the $582 billion the United States spent this year. Russia still has 875 missiles and bombers capable of delivering 4,237 warheads. But 60 percent of the missiles are past their service life and require extensive maintenance. (The U.S. nuclear arsenal is 5,914 warheads on 1,225 missiles and bombers.)

The threat isn't so much Russia's military buildup as much as what saber rattling can lead to: continued diplomatic misunderstandings and potent weapons for sale to rogue nations. A new ICBM in Russia's hands isn't as dangerous as in Iran or North Korea's. Smarter diplomacy can defuse this threat better than missile shields.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Bhutto Assassination: Video Last Moments of Benazir Bhutto

Go to ImageShack® to Create your own Slideshow

Benazir Bhutto has been assassinated in Pakistan. Her husband has confirmed her death. There is video being shown now that shows her last moments right before her death on all of the major cable news networks. She is shown leaving a rally in the last moments before her death.
Bhutto Assassination: Video Shows Last Moments of Benazir Bhutto (Image: Wenn)
Bhutto Assassination: Video Shows Last Moments of Benazir Bhutto (Image: Wenn)

Video from the scene also shows several people being loaded into ambulances. There were several cameras rolling, but no video has yet been shown of the actual shooting. It is not clear if the actual gunshots were caught on video.


She was shot in the neck and the chest, according to a report from Fox News. They have a video report here. At least twenty other were killed in a subsequent explosion. The assassin blew himself up, and detonated a suicide bomb that caused massage carnage after she was killed by bullets. Photos from that are here at Fox News but be warned they are very graphic.

The attack took place as Bhutto was leaving a political rally where she addressed thousands before the country's Jan. 8 parliamentary elections. Bhutto, who led Paksitan from 1988 to 1990 and was the country's first female prime minister.


In November, Bhutto had also planned a rally in the city, but President Pervez Musharraf forced her to cancel it, citing security fears. Political tension is at fever pitch in the country, and residents are being warned to stay off the street and stay home as now more violence is expected to break out, a CNN report details. More video is here of the aftermath of the attack.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007




We are grateful to those legislators who supported a Cold War Medal, especially Representative Robert Andrews of New Jersey, and Senators Clinton, Collins, and Lincoln. Ask Your senators to join them in co sponsorship of S.1763, the COLD WAR MEDAL ACT OF 2007 (the legislation is before the Senate Armed Services Committee).

Senator Listings

Friday, December 21, 2007

Reloading for 2008 CWSM Campaign



We are grateful to those legislators who supported a Cold War Medal, especially Representative Robert Andrews of New Jersey, and Senators Clinton, Collins, and Lincoln. Ask Your senators to join them in co sponsorship of S.1763, the COLD WAR MEDAL ACT OF 2007
Senator Listings

Senators who have sponsored the Cold War Medal Act include Senator Hillary Clinton, Senator Susan Collins and Senator Blanche Lincoln.

Presidential candidates who have supported the Cold War Medal Act include Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator John Edwards. Representative Ron Paul introduced the Cold War Service Medal legislation in a previous Congress.

US Air Force Cold War vets Scott L'Ecuyer and Chuck Norris meet in New Hampshire. They discussed the American Cold War Veterans organization and the campaign to get a Cold War Medal enacted. Chuck served at Osan Air Force Base in Korea, and Scott with the Strategic Air Command.

November 16, 2007 - ACWV Associate Membership Director Scott L'Ecuyer meets with Former President Bill Clinton during a presidential campaign event for Senator Hillary Clinton. Scott spoke to President Clinton about the Cold War Medal legislation, and asked his help in getting it passed.

ACWV Associate Director for Membership Scott L'Ecuyer with presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. Scott asked Governor Huckabee To pledge to create the Cold War Medal by Executive Order during his administration.

NORTH BALTIMORE, Ohio — The last World War I veteran in Ohio, and one of only three known remaining U.S. veterans of the conflict, has died.

J. Russell Coffey was the last WWI vet in the state, according to the Veterans Affairs Department. He died Thursday at the age of 109, said the Smith-Crates Funeral Home in North Baltimore, about 35 miles south of Toledo.

The funeral home did not say where Coffey died or the cause of death. He had been living in the Blakely Care Center, a nursing home.

Coffey, born Sept. 1, 1898, did not see action overseas. He enlisted in the Army while he was a student at Ohio State University in October 1918, a month before the Allied powers and Germany signed a cease-fire agreement.

Coffey played semipro baseball, earned a doctorate in education from New York University, taught high school and college and raised a family.

He drove his car until he was 104 and lived on his own until three years ago, according to the funeral home.

The other known surviving American soldiers are Frank Buckles, 106, of Charles Town, W.Va., and Harry Landis, of Sun City Center, Fla., according to the Veterans Affairs Department.
New VA Secretary Sworn In

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Secretary of Veterans Affairs James B. Peake. For biography, click here

James Peake Sworn-in as Secretary of Veterans AffairsPresident George W. Bush swore-in the Honorable James B. Peake, M.D., as the sixth Secretary of Veterans Affairs on Thursday, Dec. 20. Vice President Dick Cheney also participated in the ceremony, which took place at VA’s headquarters building in Washington, DC. (more)

President Bush’s Remarks Secretary Peake’s Remarks

Thursday, December 20, 2007


Website Developer/Programmer to develop a Message Board or Forum for an existing website for a Veterans Service organization. Candidate must know PHP and MYSQL. Interested Parties contact us at

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

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“It’s like two professional athletes looking for the edge,” says Colonel Ralph Wetterhahn, now retired from the U.S. Air Force. He’s describing how fighter pilot measure one another and their aircrafts and, as a former fighter pilot and crash site investigator, he should know. Standing outside, his eyes squinting against the sun, Wetterhahn brings a standard sort of authority to Nova’s Missing in MiG Alley: he’s been there, which makes his testimony unassailable.

Other interviewees similarly underscore the documentary’s focus on “the world’s first jet war.” Former U.S. F-86 Sabre pilots recall fighting MiG-15 pilots, alternately inexperienced Koreans and veteran Soviets. Their national affiliations were key to the way the Korean War stood in for the Cold War As the documentary reports, the U.S. pilots knew their opponents were Russian, but kept the secret—apparently under orders—in order that the American population would not know. Otherwise, citizens might rise up and “demand action” against the Russians, who by then had developed an atomic bomb. “To avoid WWIII,” the two sides agreed to lie about how they conducted the war.

The more precise benefits of this lie—and who enjoyed them—are questions left unasked in Missing in MiG Alley, which instead lays out an array of mostly superficial stories. Primarily, the documentary extols the pilots’ skills and dogfighty grit (the “better trained” Sabre pilots included some who “went on to be astronauts, like Buzz Aldrin,” who appears in scratchy, stalwart-young-Buzz footage remembering the mission when “I got my first MiG destroyed"), as well as their courage in the face of physical hardships. The program spends some time explaining how gravity affects humans in speeding cockpits, and the advantages of G-suits: since Sabre pilots were advised to dive fast in order to escape MiGs, they were at regular risk of “blacking out.”

The jets used different technologies (the MiGs had advanced Rolls-Royce engines, courtesy of the British, who cut deals with their new buddies the Russians following WWII; the Sabres were based on Nazi designs, with swept wings), and the documentary emphasizes the efforts of both sides to get hold of the other’s covert equipment. To this end, the Russians were especially eager to get actual jets. So they shot down as many as they could, hoping some would come to ground in legible form.

Read Review

Watch the Trailer

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Soviet Poster Art

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Come on people, you know good and well that Ronald Reagan and Charlie Wilson won the Cold War. They didn't need anyones help. LOL


HONOLULU — The Japanese military destroyed a mid-range ballistic missile in space with an interceptor fired from a ship off Hawaii in a test on Monday.

The U.S. military has conducted similar successful tests in the past, but it is the first time a U.S. ally has shot down a ballistic missile from a ship at sea.

The interceptor fired by the JS Kongo knocked out the target warhead about 100 miles above the Pacific Ocean, said the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, which carried out the test together with the Japanese and U.S. navies.

Tokyo has invested heavily in missile defense since North Korea test-fired a long-range missile over northern Japan in 1998. It has installed missile tracking technology on several navy ships and has plans to equip them with interceptors.

Japan is also developing an advanced nose cone for the Standard Missile-3 interceptor used Monday.

Experts say the test target resembled the Rodong missile owned by North Korea.

This missile has a shorter range than the Taepodong missile North Korea sent over Japan a decade ago. But North Korea is believed to have an arsenal of about 200 Rodongs, and Japanese defense experts say it represents the greatest threat to Japanese security.

The Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, run by the Navy, fired the target missile into the sky Monday morning Hawaii time. The Kongo tracked the missile, then fired its interceptor three minutes later, destroying the target, the Missile Defense Agency said in a news release.

The Pearl Harbor-based cruiser Lake Erie tracked the missile target and fed information on it to a command center.

The target’s payload separated from its booster rocket, requiring the Standard Missile-3 interceptor to distinguished between the two parts and seek out the warhead.

Experts say the test will likely strengthen the U.S.-Japan defense alliance. The Missile Defense Agency called the test “a major milestone in the growing cooperation between Japan and the U.S.”

But it may also deepen concerns in Beijing that Tokyo could use the technology to help the U.S. defend Taiwan if conflict erupted across the straits.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Message from Senator Mel Martinez

Casework Corner

*Mr. Dyson served in the military during the Cold War. He contacted the Office of Senator Martinez for assistance in requesting a medal from the U.S. Government for his service.

A caseworker contacted the Army's Human Resources Command and learned that a medal for Cold War Service has not been officially approved, but an official certificate of service is available. The caseworker submitted Mr. Dyson's paperwork to the Army, proving his Cold War Service. As a result, Mr. Dyson recently learned he would receive a Government-issued Cold War Recognition Certificate for his service.

If you have questions about a federal agency, please contact the Orlando Regional Office by calling (407) 254-2573 to speak with a member of the Casework Department. The toll-free number for Florida residents is (866) 630-7106. To find out more about how my Office can help you, go to or stop by one of our scheduled Community Office Hours in your area.

*Casework Corner is a real account of assistance provided to constituents. The names of those involved are changed to protect the privacy of the constituent.


Despite valiant efforts by veterans groups and their advocates, the National Defense Authorization Act for 2008 was reported out by the House-Senate Conference, without a provision for a Cold War Victory Medal. The stripping out of the Cold War Victory Medal was attributed to opposition from the Department of Defense on grounds of cost and duplication of recognition (two points we strongly dispute), and insufficient support in the conference to override these objections. Nonetheless, we are grateful to those legislators who supported a Cold War Medal, especially Representative Robert Andrews of New Jersey, and Senators Clinton, Collins, and Lincoln.
The text of DoD's objection to the medal will be posted on this web site and our discussion forum, along with our response to these objections (click on "Discussion Forum" to view these documents.)

We are prepared to fight this battle in the 2009 Authorization Act as it comes up for mark-up in the House and Senate Armed Services Committees next spring. Senator Clinton has already introduced S.1763, the Cold War Medal Act of 2007. Our next tasks are (1) to get cosponsors for S.1763, and (2) to continue to tell the story of the Cold War, its significance, and America's forgotten heroes from the MOST forgotten war.

Senator Listings

November 16, 2007 - ACWV Associate Membership Director Scott L'Ecuyer meets with Former President Bill Clinton during a presidential campaign event for Senator Hillary Clinton. Scott spoke to President Clinton about the Cold War Medal legislation, and asked his help in getting it passed.

Attention American Cold War Veterans. I pleased to Announce we are in the process of developing a independent Message board . Third party providers like Aimoo have proven to be too unreliable. The development of such a website is a little more involved than a regular webpage will host our new board with 20 Gigs of storage and a contracted developer/programmer is going to be hired to write required code with functionality we need.

> will be the address for the new message board. We are going to leave up while the new site is being constructed.

If the Aimoo site still gives you trouble feel free to post at a alternate temporary board I I set up at Thank you for your patients during this process.
CWSM Article

I want my Cold War Service Medal, and I want it now!!

A interesting article by

Karl Leuba

Back to Senator Martinez, and what he found important this week. At least the top two things he reports doing. Wait, Number one on his list is not what he has done for us, but what we can do for the troops overseas. Number two was a story of how he helped one of my fellow cold war vets. If you, like me, don't think the government is doing any where near enough for the men and women who serve in the Armed forces during these turbulent, war torn times, here is the list of organizations Senator Martinez recommends.

Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society

Army Emergency Relief

Air Force Aid Society

Coast Guard Mutual Relief

Wounded Warrior Project

Remember this is the Senator's list, not mine, so please, if you have comments about any of the organizations, send them to his office. His Washington office address is:

United States Senate
356 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

The Phone Number for Senator Martinez is:

(202) 224-3041.

The Senators second story follows, in "cut and paste" form.

Casework Corner*

Mr. Dyson served in the military during the Cold War. He contacted the Office of Senator Martinez for assistance in requesting a medal from the U.S. Government for his service.

A caseworker contacted the Army's Human Resources Command and learned that a medal for Cold War Service has not been officially approved, but an official certificate of service is available. The caseworker submitted Mr. Dyson's paperwork to the Army, proving his Cold War Service. As a result, Mr. Dyson recently learned he would receive a Government-issued Cold War Recognition Certificate for his service.

If you have questions about a federal agency, please contact the Orlando Regional Office by calling (407) 254-2573 to speak with a member of the Casework Department. The toll-free number for Florida residents is (866) 630-7106. To find out more about how my Office can help you, go to or stop by one of our scheduled Community Office Hours in your area.

*Casework Corner is a real account of assistance provided to constituents. The names of those involved are changed to protect the privacy of the constituent.

Right below that is the option to cancel subscriptions to the Senator Mel Martinez newsletter.
I am not going to do that. I am hoping, since I am a cold war veteran, and while we did not do a lot of murder and mayhem, we did play a very large role in containing Communist North Korea, Communist Cuba, Communist China, and the Super Power, the Communist Soviet Union, home of Lenin and Stalin that I can get a medal approved.

This might be appropriate for that medal, just replace the Tsar and the Russian writing with a portrait of Dwight David Eisenhower, and a motto in English, or latin, saying In Service of World Peace.

Karl Marx, the "Father of Communism" lived and died in non Communist London, England, and did not think highly of the Soviet Union, China, North Korea, or Cuba. He was a philosopher, and a humanist, and really was not involved in Communist politics much.

I started out on this unabashed and unashamed bash with the idea of lobbying all of you to ask your Senators and Representatives to legislate a medal for all of us cold warriors, but until today I had not thought of asking for one. I had not even thought of asking if the fact that I was never awarded the good conduct medal might have been a bureaucratic bungle, like the fact that I got three of the four Polio vaccines seven times, and never was stuck with the fourth one. Cold Warriors, except for the ones who served after 1958, when the Vietnam War Started did not even have GI bill benefits until into the 1970's. And that was only because the Vietnam war became ours when the French Gave up on Indo China. Those people wanted to be independent. They fought contiuously from 1945 to the 1970's. They won, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam are all free of occupation. They should be thanking the Americans for keeping the Chinese out of their countries. But, I don't think they much care for the way we did it, carpet bombing is not a very good way to make friends.

I hope you enjoyed this dispatch from Mel Martinez, and the rest of the BS that I sent out.

Monday, December 10, 2007


Please Repost this video or it's link

NBC will not give this video air time. Someone please tell me what is going on in this country, has NBC gone mad?

Please sign the VFW giant Christmas card 4 Wounded Troops

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Thank you again for signing the VFW's giant Christmas card for our wounded troops at the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital in Tampa, Florida.

A VFW volunteer will deliver the giant Christmas card to these brave men and women to let them know that we have not forgotten them and we are deeply grateful for their sacrifices.

Every signature means so much. Last year, we had more than 20,000 patriotic Americans sign our Christmas card for the wounded heroes at Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas. This year we are hoping for 25,000 signatures.

So please forward this email to your friends and family so we can deliver the biggest Christmas card ever and show our heroes that we haven't forgotten them.

Thank you for all your help.

And Merry Christmas!

Click here to sign the card:

X-mas Card for the Troops

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Ny Metro Vets Newsletter

This Newsletter Includes the Following Articles:

· Gordon Mansfield Becomes Acting VA Secretary
· GAO Report: VA Still Far Off Care Goals
· VA IG Report: VA Distorts Record on Wait Times
· Sen. Burr Replaces Craig on VA Committee
· House Vet Committee Comes to Hudson Valley
· Former POW’s Not Getting Earned Benefits
· Purple Heart Hall of Honor Seeks Recipients
· Veterans Upward Bound Helps Students
· VA Increases the GI Bill Rates
· Rebuilding Together NYC
· Columbia University Master’s Project
· Artist Looking for Cold War Veterans
· Veterans Day Info for Teachers and Students
· New Tax Break for Vets in New York State
· NYS Health Dept Vet Clearing House
· NYC Veterans Day Parade
· Veteran Events in NYC
· My Final Thoughts

GORDON MANSFIELD TO BECOME ACTING SECRETARY OF VETERANS AFFAIRS: Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs Gordon H. Mansfield will become the Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs following the resignation of Secretary Jim Nicholson. Secretary Nicholson tendered his resignation to President Bush on July 17, 2007.

Mansfield assumes the role on October 1 under the terms of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, where a Deputy Secretary begins to serve as the acting officer immediately and automatically upon the occurrence of the vacancy. Mansfield will serve as Acting Secretary until the Senate confirms the nominee of the President.

Appointed by President Bush in November 2003, Deputy Secretary Mansfield served as the chief operating officer for the federal government’s second largest department, responsible for a nationwide system of health care services, benefits programs and national cemeteries for America’s veterans and their dependents.

He previously served as VA Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Legislative Affairs since August 1, 2001, serving as the legislative advisor to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. He was responsible for VA’s Congressional relations and representing VA programs, policies, investigations and legislative agenda to Congress.

Prior to joining VA, Mr. Mansfield served as executive director of the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) since April 1993. In that position, the highly decorated Vietnam veteran oversaw daily operation of PVA’s national office in Washington, D.C. Mr. Mansfield held a number of positions at PVA from 1981 to 1989, and served as the organization’s first associate executive director of Government Relations.

Mr. Mansfield served as Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at the Department of Housing and Urban Development from 1989 to 1993 under President George H. W. Bush’s Administration. Prior to 1981, he practiced law in Ocala, Fla.

Mr. Mansfield received his undergraduate degree from Villanova University and law degree from the University of Miami. Following his 1964 enlistment in the Army, Mr. Mansfield served two tours of duty in Vietnam. While serving as company commander with the 101st Airborne Division during his second tour, he was wounded during the Tet Offensive of 1968 sustaining a spinal cord injury. For his actions while his unit was under fire, he was decorated with the Distinguished Service Cross, the second highest personal decoration for valor in combat. He was medically retired by the U.S. Army at the grade of Captain. His other combat decorations include the Bronze Star, two Purple Hearts, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge and the Presidential Unit Citation.

Mr. Mansfield is a recipient of the Presidential Distinguished Service Award and the Villanova University Alumni Human Relations Medal. He was inducted into the U.S. Army Officer Candidate School Hall of Fame in 1997. [Source: VA PR, 28 Sep 07]

GAO REPORT: VA STILL FAR OFF CARE GOALS: Months after pledging to improve veterans care, the Bush administration has yet to find clear answers to some of the worst problems afflicting wounded warriors, such as delays in disability payments and providing personalized care, investigators said.

A report by the Government Accountability Office, released on September 26, offers the first preliminary assessment of improvement efforts initiated by the Pentagon and Veterans Affairs Department after revelations in February of shoddy outpatient treatment at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

The report found that even though the Army has touted creation of more personalized medical care units so that wounded veterans don’t slip through the cracks, nearly half — or 46 percent — of returning service members who were eligible did not get the service due to staffing shortages.

The report said the Pentagon and VA still remain far away from having a comprehensive system for sharing medical records as injured veterans move from facility to facility.

And despite months of review by no less than eight congressional committees, a presidential task force, a presidential commission and the Pentagon and VA itself, the government has no apparent solution for reducing severe delays of 177 days, on average, in providing disability payments.

“Many challenges remain, and critical questions remain unanswered,” GAO investigators John H. Pendleton and Daniel Bertoni wrote in calling for urgent action. “Success will ultimately depend on sustained attention, systematic oversight by DoD and VA, and sufficient resources.”

Spokesmen for the Army and VA did not immediately return requests for comment. The Army has said it hopes to have full staffing of its medical care units by January 2008; the VA has said it was hiring 1,100 new processors to reduce delays.

Rep. John Tierney, D-Mass., chairman of the House Oversight subcommittee on national security, said he was troubled by the lingering problems. “Taking care of our wounded heroes is too important to not demand that we strive for the highest levels of care and respect,” he said.

Following the disclosures of patient neglect at Walter Reed, three high-level Pentagon officials stepped down. The Army quickly pledged to improve care by hiring more mental health counselors and creating new “warrior transition units” — comprising a doctor, nurse case manager and squad leader — who could help coordinate care.

The VA, which operates separate facilities for 5.8 million veterans, also said it would boost efforts, with VA Secretary Jim Nicholson vowing to work to improve data-sharing of medical records and to reduce backlogs.

As of mid-September, 17 of the 32 warrior transition units had less than 50 percent of the critical staff in place. And in many cases, the Army had filled slots by borrowing staff from other positions, thus providing only a temporary solution as thousands of veterans return from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Regarding disability benefits, the GAO said the government was currently in limbo amid competing proposals to fix the disability ratings system. The Dole-Shalala commission, for example, urged that only the VA — and not the Pentagon — provide disability payments, while other proposals gave the Pentagon a limited role.

But in all the proposals, no consideration was given as to how the additional duties would affect the VA, which is straining to reduce backlogs for disability benefits, the report said. Nicholson in recent days has acknowledged that the VA was nowhere close to reducing months-long delays and cited that as a top challenge for his successor.

“Delayed decisions, confusing policies and the perception that DoD and VA disability ratings result in inequitable outcomes have eroded the credibility of the system,” the GAO investigators said. “It is imperative that DoD and VA take prompt steps to address fundamental system weaknesses.” The GAO Report can be found here: [Source: AP, 26 Sep 07]

VA IG REPORT: VA DISTORTS RECORD ON WAIT TIMES: The Department of Veterans Affairs repeatedly understated wait times for injured veterans seeking medical care and in many serious cases forced them to wait more than 30 days, counter to department policy, an internal investigation shows.

The review by the VA inspector general's office examined 700 outpatient appointments for primary and specialty care scheduled in October 2006 at 10 VA medical centers.

It found that the Veterans Health Administration in recent months falsely reported to Congress that nearly all of its appointments – about 95 percent - were scheduled within 30 days of a patient's requested date. In fact, only three in four veterans - 75 percent - received such timely appointments.

Of the veterans kept waiting more than 30 days, 27 percent of them had more serious service-connected disabilities, such as amputees and those with chronic problems including frequent panic attacks. Under VHA policy, such veterans must be scheduled for care within 30 days of their desired appointment date.

In addition, despite warnings by the IG in 2005 to more accurately report wait times, department officials last year also may have understated the number of veterans on their electronic waiting lists by more than 53,000.

"While waiting time inaccuracies and omissions from electronic waiting lists can be caused by a lack of training and data entry errors, we also found that schedulers at some facilities were interpreting the guidance from their managers to reduce waiting times as instruction to never put patients on the electronic waiting list," VA investigators wrote.

"This seems to have resulted in some 'gaming' of the scheduling process," the 34-page report said.

Responding, VA undersecretary for health Michael Kussman partly agreed that the agency should take additional steps to improve scheduling with better training, procedures and better accounting of records. But he insisted the VA in most cases was doing the best it can and challenged the IG report's methodology, citing patient satisfaction surveys showing roughly 85 percent of veterans getting appointments when they needed them.

In April, Kussman testified to Congress that 95 percent of veterans were receiving the timely appointments. The VA's 2006 annual report, issued last November, makes similar claims.

"To obtain a more objective, professional analysis of all components of
VHA's scheduling process, including electronic wait lists and waiting times reporting, I plan to obtain the services of a contractor who will thoroughly assess the factors," Kussman wrote the IG report.

The report comes amid intense political and public scrutiny of the VA and Pentagon following reports of shoddy outpatient care of injured troops and veterans at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and elsewhere.

In recent weeks, injured Iraq war veterans have filed a lawsuit against the VA alleging undue delays in health care. The department also is struggling to reduce a severe backlog of disability payments, with delays of up to 177 days to process an initial claim.
The VA medical facilities reviewed in the IG report were for both primary and specialty care in the following cities: Birmingham, Ala.; Atlanta; Columbia, S.C.; San Antonio, Temple and Dallas in Texas; Cincinnati; Detroit; Indianapolis; Chillicothe, Ohio.

Other findings:

- The VA facilities with the worst record of scheduling appointments within 30 days were Columbia (64 percent), Chillicothe (64 percent) and San Antonio (67 percent). The best performance was seen in Detroit (84 percent), Temple (83 percent), Birmingham and Cincinnati (both 80 percent).

- VA monitoring of scheduling procedures was spotty and incomplete. In one case, a veteran with eye problems visited a VA clinic in December
2005 and was told by his doctor to return in six weeks. However, it wasn't until many months later, in September 2006, that the VA scheduler set an appointment - for October of that year.

The scheduler then reported the veteran had requested an October date, when in fact he had waited 259 days from the six-week target date appointment in January, the report said.

"We saw no documentation to explain the delay and medical facility personnel said it 'fell through the cracks,'" investigators said. The VA OIG report can be found at: [Source: AP, 10 Sep 07]

SENATOR RICHARD BURR REPLACES CRAIG ON VETERANS COMMITTEE: Republican members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs announced they have chosen Senator Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) as the temporary ranking member of the committee. Burr will temporarily replace Senator Larry Craig (R-Idaho).

The North Carolina Republican has placed special focus this year on improving life for the nation's estimated 200,000 homeless veterans. In June his Services to Prevent Veterans Homelessness Act of 2007 (S. 874), was approved by the Committee on Veterans' Affairs as part of the Veterans Traumatic Brain Injury and Programs Improvement Act of 2007 (S. 1233). Burr's legislation will increase veterans' access to assistance for housing, physical and mental health services, health insurance, as well as vocational and financial counseling.

Burr is also active on veterans' health issues. A health care policymaker for over a decade, Burr has most recently been vocal on traumatic brain injury, Department of Defense and VA sharing of electronic medical records and the efficiency of the VA health system, especially for veterans in rural areas.

Burr has served on the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs since he was sworn in as a U.S. Senator on January 3, 2005. He was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1994 and served five terms before be elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004.

In addition to his new leadership position on the Veterans' Affairs Committee, Burr serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee; the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee; the Energy and Natural Resources Committee; and the Indian Affairs Committee. [Source: US Senate - 11 Sept 07]

REP.HALL TO BRING VETERANS AFFAIRS COMMITTEE TO HUDSON VALLEY: U.S. Rep. John Hall (D-NY19), Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Sub-committee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs, announced that he will be bringing his House Subcommittee to the Hudson Valley for a special Field Hearing entitled "The Personal Costs of the Claims Backlog," on Tuesday, October 9, 2007 at 9:30 a.m. at the New Windsor Town Hall. The New Windsor Town Hall is located at 555 Union Avenue in New Windsor.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has a backlog of nearly 600,000 cases and it currently takes an average of 177 days for a veteran to receive a decision on his or her case.

"The VA claims backlog is flat out unacceptable," said Hall. "The long wait times have caused my office to intervene for a number of veterans in my district to get their cases heard by the VA. I'm bringing members of the Veterans Affairs Committee here to the Hudson Valley so they can see and hear firsthand the personal effects that this claims backlog has had on Hudson Valley veterans."

New York's veterans face significant claims backlog even higher than the national average. Hall is hosting this Field Hearing to provide Congress with an important opportunity to take notice of the needs and concerns of Hudson Valley veterans.

House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Bob Filner (CA-51) and U.S. Rep. Tim Walz (MN-1), a member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee and the highest ranking enlisted soldier ever to serve in Congress, are among the Members of Congress who will be participating in Hall's Field Hearing. [Source: US Fed News, 21 Sep 07]

FORMER POWs NOT GETTING EARNED BENEFITS: The Department of Veterans Affairs is searching for prisoners of war — not in the jungles of Vietnam or the villages of Iraq, but in U.S. cities, where they may not be getting the benefits they deserve. VA officials estimate that about 25,000 former prisoners of war are still alive today, about 600 from the Vietnam War, 2,100 from the Korean War and the rest from World War II. VA officials believe about one-third are receiving any VA benefits or health care.

VA officials are trying to contact veterans who are not receiving any benefits or health care but who might be eligible. They are also trying to locate the surviving spouses and children of former POWs who might be unaware of the help VA could provide. VA officials said they have the most difficulty tracking down former POWs from World War II because the military used service numbers, not Social Security numbers, for identification. Tracking down a veteran by service number is extremely difficult if they have not had any contact with the VA in years, officials said.

Some former POWs may be unaware that available help has expanded over the years. For example, VA provides disability pay for former POWs who suffer strokes or some common heart diseases. To try to contact former POWs, VA officials have been reaching out to veterans’ groups and civic organizations in search of leads. They are also encouraging people who know of former POWs to ask them to contact a VA toll-free number to learn about help that may be available. The number is (800) 827-1000.

A similar effort several years ago resulted in about 1,000 former POWs or their survivors qualifying for VA assistance or increasing their existing benefits, VA officials said. Every VA regional office also has a POW coordinator to help former POWs and their families receive benefits and health care.

Details on benefits and health care for former POWs and their families are available online at: [Source:, 27 Sep 07]

PURPLE HEART HALL OF HONOR SEEKS RECIPIENTS: The National Purple Heart Hall of Honor is conducting a nationwide effort to register Purple Heart recipients in the museum’s database. So far, 70,000 recipients have been registered since the Hall of Honor opened in New Windsor, N.Y., in November, but organizers hope to enroll as many as 1.5 million, said Sergio Morales, a member of the museum’s board of directors.

Hall visitors can access the list of Purple Heart recipients on the museum’s 15 computers that chronicle photos and stories about those who have earned the medal. The Defense Department does not keep an official database of Purple Heart recipients. Hall of Honor organizers hope their efforts will create as complete a list as possible of those who have earned the medal to ensure they are not forgotten.

To register with the Hall of Honor, recipients must prove they received the medal by submitting the appropriate official documentation, including a DD-214, DD-215, WD AGO-53-55, General Orders or a Letter of Transmittal, Morales said. Hall officials also requested recipients send a written narrative of how they earned their medal, any newspaper articles written about them receiving the medal, and any photographs of them while in the service.

Although it’s not required, recipients can also tape an interview at the Hall of Honor chronicling their service and the events that led to their Purple Heart. An unedited copy of the DVD is given to the recipient, while an edited version is kept at the Hall and stored with that individual’s record, Morales said. Recipients can contact the Hall of Honor at (845) 561-1765 and 1-877-28HONOR, or on it’s website: [Source: Navy Times, 28 Aug 07]

VETERANS UPWARD BOUND AIDS STUDENTS: The Veterans Upward Bound program has helped numerous veterans to enter and succeed in college, vocational school or technical school. Currently recruiting participants, the program offers free educational services to qualified veterans. The program at LaGuardia Community College (CUNY) in Long Island City, Queens will serve military veterans who wish to prepare to enter postsecondary school. For additional information on LaGuardia’s Veterans Upward Bound program, please call:(718) 482-5386. Also, visit ( to learn more about Veterans Upward Bound programs nationwide. [Source:, 24 Sep 07]

VA INCREASES THE GI BILL RATES: The Department of Veterans Affairs has announced that the GI Bill will soon be worth $39,636 - a total increase of nearly $1,000 over last year's rate. This total is based on the new monthly full-time student payment rate ( of $1,101 multiplied by the 36-month limit. If you are GI Bill eligible and have benefits remaining, you get this increase no matter when you became eligible or begin using it. The new rate is effective October 1, 2007. Note: National Public Radio (NPR) did a two-day story (September 26 & 27) on the GI Bill entitled: Today's GI Bill Falls Short of College Costs. You can listen to it here: [Source:, 18 Sep 07 & Paul Rieckhoff, 27 Sep 07]

REBUILDING TOGETHER NYC: Rebuilding Together NYC, with a grant from the national organization, Rebuilding Together Inc., seeks to rehabilitate the home of a low-income veteran that lives within the five boroughs through the use of skilled and/or unskilled labor. Funding for the project would come from a grant from the national organization through the sponsorship of Sears and Kmart. These projects are taking place in affiliates of Rebuilding Together
throughout the nation. Following are the criteria for the program:

The recipient must (1) be a homeowner or if disabled, living with a
care giver who is the homeowner (2) must be a U.S. veteran or active
military (3) must meet the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban
Development low-income threshold or if disabled, the recipient must
demonstrate significant future financial hardship.

You can visit our website at to learn more about Rebuilding Together NYC, or the website of the national organization at: If you are interested in more detailed information or know someone who can benefit from this program, please contact Matt Lang at (631) 804-6479. [Source: Bobby Tamburri –]

COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY MASTER’S PROJECT: From Susan Sipprelle: I am writing my master's project for the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism on NYC veterans: What happens to them when they return home? I am hoping that someone will help me get in touch with some recent veterans who are willing to be interviewed about their experiences.

I have done a multimedia project on a NYC doctor who served in Iraq.
Here's the link, if you have time to take a look at it: If you are interested, please reach out to me at: rimanj@... or (201) 227-1948. Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you. [Source: Susan Sipprelle, Sep 07]

ARTIST LOOKING FOR COLD WAR VETERANS: Yevgeniy Fiks, an artist and college professor living in New York City is preparing an art exhibition dedicated to the Cold War history. As part of this exhibition, he is painting several portraits of American Cold War Veterans. These portraits will help articulate a link between past and present in his art exhibition. The exhibition will be on view at an art gallery or museum in New York City. Mr. Fiks is looking for American Cold War Veterans who are interested to pose for a portrait. A portrait will be painted from life and it will take 2 hours. Painting can be done in his artist's studio in New York, or he can travel to where you are (up to 3 hours away from New York). Each participant will be compensated according to $25 in hour (normal painting session will take 2 hours). The artist will retain the finished portraits, but each participant will receive a high-quality framed reproduction of the finished portrait. Yevgeniy Fiks can be contacted at email: kunst11@... or call (212) 581-3676. [Source: Sean P. Eagan, NYS Director, Cold War Veterans Association]

VETERANS DAY INFORMATION FOR TEACHERS AND STUDENTS: Veterans Day is the day America sets aside to thank and honor all those who served honorably in our nation's military. It is our day to thank veterans for their service, to acknowledge that their contributions to our national security are appreciated, and to underscore the fact that all those who served have sacrificed and done their duty. Veterans Day posters, information for teachers and students, the history of Veterans Day, and much more can be found on VA's Veterans Day web page at: [Source:, 9 Oct 06]

NEW TAX BREAK FOR VETS IN NEW YORK STATE: On Tuesday, August 28, Governor Eliot Spitzer signed the Cold War Veterans Real Property Tax Exemption bill (A5893A/S46970) into law. Beginning January 3, 2008, thousands of Cold War veterans in the State of New York who served between Sept. 2, 1945, and Dec. 26, 1991 might be able to claim a property tax exemption for their service. The new law amends current state law by giving cities, counties, towns and villages [but not school districts] the option to grant all honorably discharged veterans who served between 1945 and 1991 a real property tax exemption. The exemption can be either 10 percent or 15 percent. Current law extends that option to municipal governments only for those Cold War veterans who served honorably during World War II [1941-1945], the Korean War [1950-1953] and the Vietnam War [1961-1975]. The option begins Jan. 3, 2008, but the paperwork has to be completed by March 1, 2008 to get the tax break for the year's taxes. Anyone with at least one year's service and an honorable discharge is eligible. For more information, call your local county, city, or town tax assessor's office in New York State.

Note: The only opposition to this law came from Mayor Bloomberg's representative, therefore there is still a lot of work to be done by the veterans community before New York City's veterans would be able to reap the benefits of the amended State law. [Source: Jerry Alperstein, Navy Times, Sep 07]

NYS HEALTH DEPT. VET CLEARING HOUSE: The New York State Department of Health has established a Veterans Health Information Clearing House to provide a list of resources for veterans and their families seeking health care information. The Clearing House also provides resources for health care providers. This Clearing House provides links and phone numbers for a wide variety of federal, state and other health care resources that may be of assistance to veterans and providers seeking information on illnesses that may be service connected and facilities that may be able to provide health care services. There are also resources listed that can assist veterans seeking information about their eligibility for veteran's benefits. The sites web address is: [Source: NY State Health Department]

NYC VETERANS DAY PARADE: Plans are in full swing for this year's Veterans Day Parade. The United War Veterans Council, producers of the parade, urge all veterans from all eras and current members of the armed forces to participate in this year's parade. Veteran’s Day events are expected to start with the Eternal Light Monument Ceremony in Madison Square Park. After the bells toll at 11 AM, the parade will commence up 5th Avenue. For more information and to register for the parade, call the Veteran's Day Parade Hotline at: (877) PARADE3 ((877) 727-2333). [Source: Pat Gualtieri, UWVC]

VETERAN EVENTS IN NYC: The following is a list of events that are taking place during the month of October. This list is not all inclusive and other events may be taking place throughout the city. Please share with others.

October 5, 2007 – New York Military Affairs presents “Friday Evening Talk – Failures and Facades in Iraq: A Soldier’s Perspective” with Paul Rieckhoff, Executive Director, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. Paul Rieckhoff is the author of: Chasing Ghosts: A Soldiers Fight for America from Baghdad to America. This event will take place at the CUNY Graduate Center, 5th Avenue at 34th Street, Room 6-495 from 7 – 9 PM. All are invited to attend.

October 7, 2007Nam-Knights of America M/C Tri-Boro Chapter Five Boro Run - NYC Salute of Veterans: We invite you to join us in NYC's largest police escorted Tri-borough motorcade honoring American Veterans of all wars. The Assembly Area will at Midland Beach in Staten Island starting at 9 AM. Departure time is 11 AM. There will intermediate stops at the Borden Avenue Veterans Residence (BAVR) and the Bronx VAMC. The concluding ceremony honoring all Veterans and to show support for our troops will be at Manhattan's Vietnam Veterans Memorial Plaza at 55 Water Street in Manhattan. Donations are gratefully accepted! Helmets required by law! For more information contact: Joe "T" (917) 440-2468; e-mail: Tmannkmc@... (Brooklyn & Staten Island); Tommy (917) 577-0292; e-mail: Tlove6869@... (Queens & Long Island); Phil (718) 830-0733; e-mail: Sqd26@... (Bronx and Manhattan).

October 13, 2007Combat Veteran Information Day at the Manhattan VA. You served your country, now let us serve you. Join us at the Manhattan VA Medical Center, 423 East 23rd Street (23rd and 1st Ave) from 10 AM to 2 PM in the Atrium Conference Center (First Floor) for Job Assistance, VA Benefits/Claims, Educational Counseling, Relaxation Workshops and much more! For more information and to register, please call 1-888-762-0132. Families’ welcome!

October 19, 2007The NYPD U.S. Navy Association Remembrance Day Ceremony will take place on Thursday, October 19, 2007 at 11 AM at One Police Plaza’s Auditorium. We will celebrate the 232nd Birthday of the U.S. Navy and also pay tribute to our Veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars. The guest speaker will be (Three Star) Vice Admiral Joseph Maguire. We encourage you to bring along your family and friends.

October 22, 2007 - The City Council's Veteran’s Committee is having a hearing at 1 PM in the Committee Room at City Hall. The meeting agenda is not set at this time.

October 28, 2007 - Bronx Chapter Post 253, American Legion Riders Association is hosting its 5th annual “Support Our Troops” Motorcycle Run. Registration is from 9 AM to 10:45 AM and the kickstands come up at 11 AM at the Veterans Memorial Park in Throggs Neck, Bronx. The ride passes Ground Zero, Wreath placing at the Vietnam Plaza Memorial at 55 Water Street. Red Rock West Saloon, 457 West 17th Street in Manhattan, sponsors an after run party. The Association is asking for a $20 donation for each rider and a $10 dollar donation for each passenger. All monies collected go to gifts for Veterans at the VA Hospitals and packages for troops overseas. For more information, please call Joe at (718) 822-4242 or e-mail him at: legionriders@....

October 31, 2007 - The City University of New York (CUNY) is having a Veteran’s College Fair at Baruch College (151 East 25th Street) Newman Conference Center, 7th floor in Manhattan. Attend this college fair tailored specifically for veterans to learn how CUNY can help you transition from military life to academic life. Speak with admission professionals from the 11 Senior Colleges and 6 Community Colleges regarding undergraduate, graduate, honors and online programs. College veteran liaisons and current vet students will also be on hand and there will be several workshops. Register and enter to win a video ipod at:

November 6, 2007 - NY TIMES SALUTE OUR HEROES VETERANS JOB FAIR & CAREER EXPO™: Presented by The New York Times Job Market in partnership with leading veteran’s organizations and government agencies, Salute Our Heroes™ job fair and career expo will once again provide former servicemen and women and spouses of active-duty military personnel with unprecedented job opportunities and informative career seminars.

More than 200 local and national employers will have exhibits to recruit veterans and showcase employment opportunities. This event will take place from 11 AM – 4 PM at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. Pre-registration, a resume and proof of military service is required for admission. Make sure to attend this event with copies of your resume. Pre-register at:

November 11, 2007 - The Grand Street Boys Association will be hosting a luncheon and dance in honor of Iraq and Afghanistan Vets at El Caribe in Brooklyn. Starting at 12 Noon, this is a first come-first served event. The Grand Street Boys Association is extending this invitation to say "thank you" to service members who served in Iraq and/or Afghanistan. If you are interested in attending, please contact Amy Maniscalco and give her your name (and name of your significant other if you would like to bring a guest) so she can add you to the list and get the tickets out to you. Amy can be reached by phone:(718) 302-7204 or e-mail: Amy.Maniscalco@....

MY FINAL THOUGHTS: First off, I hope that everyone has had a happy and safe summer. I apologize for not being able to put out a September newsletter. September was a horrible month that started with my getting a bad sinus infection and then as I was recovering, my asthma acting up. Then as I was recovering from my asthma, two dear friends (Dave Cline and Ricky Singh) passed away within a week of each other. I will miss them both dearly and as I have said, there deaths are a big loss to the community.

Moving on, next month brings us Veteran’s Day. If you have an event coming up and would like it posted in the next newsletter, please get it to me ASAP. Also, for those who didn’t know, today is my 41st birthday. Thank you to all who sent me birthday wishes.

Looking back, the past several months have been very interesting. On the federal level, former VA Secretary Nicholson resigned while here in New York City, Mayor Bloomberg elevated the Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs (MOVA) to a Commissioner level agency and install Mr. Roger Newman as the first ever Commissioner with Clarice Joynes as the Deputy Commissioner. I wrote Mr. Newman an Open letter: ( but received no reply (not that I expected one anyway.)

The major problem (as I stated on the radio last Friday) is that the Bloomberg administration (along with most locally elected officials) believes that veteran issues are a “federal issue.” As I have consistently stated – all politics are local and a returning veteran cannot look to the federal government (VA) for all its needs. When a veteran returns to our communities we cannot just say, “look at our website or call 311.” That is not going to get it done for those who are looking for help and services now! To believe that veteran issues are only a federal issue will bring nothing but trouble to future mayoral administrations as issues/services become more needed.

It also doesn’t help that the Bloomberg community continues to fool the veteran’s community with “smoke and mirrors.” The veteran’s community (as well as the general public and the media) is being shown and told one thing but quite the opposite is actually taking place. This can be seen in what is happening with our homeless vets, our city employee vets, our disabled veteran vendors and even the recent changes at MOVA.

As I had said at the very beginning of this year, I believe that the time has come (shit – its long overdue) for veterans to be more vocal to the Bloomberg administration and to our local elected official in what we want and expect from them. We have many issues and we are not seeing the leadership that is urgently needed to address these issues. We can no longer tolerate “We Support the Troops” but when you come home its call 311 - no services - refer to the VA!

So, as a reminder, if you have an event that you would like posted in the November newsletter, please get it to me ASAP. My e-mail address (as always) is: bjoe7@.... As always, please pass this newsletter on to others and let me know what you think. Take care and until next month....

Joseph Bello, NYC Veterans Advocate

Saturday, December 08, 2007

How To Preserve your Valuable Military Documents

Your DD-214 is as important as your birth certificate. You should make
copies of both and preserve them in multiple locations.

The following recommendations are provided to ensure that any natural,
marital, familial or accidental disruption does not result in the total
loss of your precious military documents.

1. You should photocopy your Report of Separation, certificates,
promotion/medal orders and medical documents and distribute copies to
various members of your family who are living in different locations.

2. If you are a member of a veterans organization you should ensure that
your Post or Chapter Commander is properly placing copies of Reports of
Separation that are collected upon membership in a safe location.

3. If your military record file (201 Jacket) was fully or partially
destroyed in the 1973 fire at the National Records Center in St Louis MO
you should use form SF-180 (link below) to provide The Center with copies
of any military-issued documents in your possession to create a new,
official file on you.

4. Along with mailing a package of your military document copies to members
of your family, here are some other locations where you might consider
storing copies of your military documents:

> Ask your local library to establish a permanent public repository for
the military records of local veterans

> Your city or county Hall of Records (where birth and death certificates
are stored) usually includes copies of military documents

> The American War Library preserves DD-214's

> Your local veteran's or civic organization( s) preserve DD-214's

> Ask your local (House of) Representative is he or she will accept your
documents for storage in their common holding area

This document is on the web here: http://www.amervets .com/saved214. htm

Questions/Recommend ations/Feedback on this matter should be sent to:

Contact Person for this posting: Roger Simpson, PIO
Public Information Office: http://www.amervets .com/13105320634
The American War Library: http://www.amervets .com/
16907 Brighton Avenue
Gardena CA 90247-5420
Phone / Fax: 1-310-532-0634

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty in the Cold War

Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty were, along with other Western broadcasters, effective instruments of Western policy during the Cold War. Many East European and Russian democrats have seconded the words of Vaclav Havel that "our society owes Radio Free Europe gratitude for the role that it has played." Western studies have examined the history and organization of RFE/RL and its place in American national security strategy.

Altmire Legislation Would Prevent Unfair Punishment of Nation's Wounded Warriors
Bill guarantees wounded soldiers receive full payment of bonuses

(Washington, DC) — U.S. Representative Jason Altmire (PA-4) introduced legislation to ensure that members of the armed services who are discharged as a result of combat-related wounds receive the full compensation to which they are entitled by the Department of Defense. Congressman Altmire introduced the Veterans Guaranteed Bonus Act after the Commission on Care for America’s Returning Wounded Warrior, co-chaired by former Senator Bob Dole and former Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala, uncovered a Department of Defense rule that unfairly penalized wounded soldiers and prohibited them from receiving their full enlistment bonuses.

“Early discharge from the military due to a combat-related injury should not result in the loss of an enlistee’s bonus,” stated Congressman Altmire. “These brave men and women fight for us, so we should fight for them and guarantee that they receive the bonuses that they have earned and to which they are entitled.”

According to Department of Defense rules, enlistees cannot receive their full enlistment bonus unless they fulfill their entire military obligation. Unfortunately, members of the armed services who are wounded while on active duty are not receiving their full bonuses because their service was prematurely cut short. The Veterans Guaranteed Bonus Act, H.R. 3793, would correct this problem by requiring the Department of Defense to provide veterans who have been discharged due to combat-related wounds with full payment of remaining bonuses within 30 days of discharge. This will ensure that America’s wounded warriors receive the full compensation promised to them. Lead co-sponsors of the bill are Reps. Walter B. Jones (R-NC) and Patrick Murphy (D-PA), members of the House Armed Service Committee and Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL), a member of the House Veterans Committee.

“The Non Commissioned Officers Association (NCOA) believes that [Rep. Altmire’s] legislation corrects a gross inequity in military career bonus programs,” wrote Richard C. Schneider, NCOA’s Executive Director for Government Affairs, in an October 9 letter. “It simply is absurd under current law to terminate such bonuses for those retired or separated due to a combat-related injury.”

Paul Rieckhoff, Executive Director of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, added, “The bottom line is that these wounded veterans have earned their bonuses by answering the call of our nation. It is critical that the Department of Defense stop penalizing wounded troops for their injuries. This gap in the current system was highlighted by the Dole-Shalala Commission, and the Veterans Guaranteed Bonus Act is the appropriate fix to this problem.”

The Veterans Guaranteed Bonus Act is also supported by the Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) and Disabled American Veterans (DAV).

The Veterans Guaranteed Bonus Act takes another step toward implementation of Dole-Shalala Commission’s July report recommendations which already echoed two bills previously sponsored by Congressman Altmire: ensuring the proper screening and treatment of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and amending the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to allow spouses and parents of seriously wounded veterans to take leave. Both measures passed the House earlier this year.