Thursday, July 31, 2008

VA Healthcare Funding

Dear Sean,

National Journal ran a piece this week, “Veterans Ask for an Advance,” that focuses on the need for Congress to make veterans’ health care funding sufficient, timely and predictable. We welcome your support by promoting this article and helping us ensure veterans have access to the best medical care anywhere.

A major problem is that for 13 of the last 14 fiscal years VA health care funding has not arrived until several months into the start of the new fiscal year, resulting in significant delays for too many sick and disabled veterans seeking medical services. Congress should not continue to treat funding health care as a political football, making it seem not of paramount importance.

The Partnership for Veterans Health Care Budget Reform, which includes the Disabled American Veterans and eight other veteran service organizations, supports a proposal to provide funding for veterans’ health care one year in advance, thereby guaranteeing its timeliness and predictability.

Thanks for any help you can provide in getting the word out about this important issue. For your reference, below is a copy of the article.


Dave Autry

Disabled American Veterans

Veterans Ask for an Advance

Veterans groups want the VA to get its health care money on day one of each fiscal year.

By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.

National Journal

Veterans benefits are one of the most popular causes in Congress. But Veterans Affairs hospitals and clinics are routinely buffeted by the annual uncertainties of the increasingly dysfunctional budget process on Capitol Hill. Now veterans advocates have proposed a controversial fix.

For years, veterans groups have argued, in vain, for making veterans health care funding automatic, as it is for Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare. In recent months, however, a coalition led by the 1.4 million-member Disabled American Veterans has switched tactics. Instead of seeking politically unpalatable mandatory funding, the group is proposing that VA health care be funded through an obscure legislative mechanism called "advance appropriations."

In contrast to mandatory or entitlement funding, the advance-appropriations process does let Congress vote on funding levels--but it does so a year in advance of the regular budget cycle. So while Congress debates most programs' appropriations for fiscal 2009, it is setting aside almost $30 billion worth of advance appropriations for 2010. This money funds an eclectic mix of programs ranging from Section 8 housing subsidies to education grants to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. No matter how delayed or disrupted funding may be for the rest of the federal government, these advance-appropriations programs are guaranteed to get their money on time, at the start of each fiscal year. "The VA has had a hideous problem for a decade" with tardy funding bills, said John M. Bradley, a longtime Hill staffer who is now with the Disabled American Veterans. "Advance appropriations are a very attractive potential vehicle."

To veterans groups, this work-around is legislative genius. To budget hawks, it's brazen gimmickry. "That is not how we should do budgeting," fumed Maya MacGuineas, president of the New America Foundation's Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. "The whole point about doing budgeting on a regular basis is to keep reassessing priorities," she said. "But you have a very large constituency for not coming to terms with the real cost of the budget, and there has been huge growth in advance appropriations."

Advance appropriations began in 1967 as a way to insulate the Corporation for Public Broadcasting from congressional criticism of its programming. Congress slowly added other appropriations in ensuing years; as late as 1996, however, the total sum was less than $3 billion. Then appropriators seized on the mechanism as a way to bypass budget caps. Over the next five years, advances increased 800 percent. For fiscal 2001, budgeteers stepped in to limit advances being slipped into the budget to $23.5 billion. That figure is expected to hit $28.9 billion in fiscal 2009. If the veterans groups manage to move most VA health care accounts into the advance-appropriations process, the total would more than double, to approximately $70 billion a year.

Such a large sum speaks to the central irony of the whole debate. Activists are generally happy with the amounts that Congress is voting for VA health care. The problem is with how long it takes Congress to vote. Congress last managed to enact veterans funding on time in 1996, when it passed the 1997 appropriation just four days before the beginning of the fiscal year, which begins on October 1. It has been late every year since, never by less than 19 days and, on average, by more than two months. The appropriation for fiscal 2008 was passed the day after Christmas, 86 days late.

To keep federal agencies operating in the no-man's months after one year's funding has expired and before the next year's is appropriated--and to avoid a politically costly government shutdown such as 1995's--Congress passes "continuing resolutions" that keep programs at last year's spending levels. (In an unprecedented departure, a fall 2007 continuing resolution did give the VA an increase.) This stopgap is awkward for any department or agency. It is especially problematic for the VA, which has to keep 153 hospitals and 732 clinics running day in, day out, for a patient population that continues to grow rapidly--from 4.2 million in 2001 to 5.7 million today.

The VA has come up with a host of stopgaps to keep the lights on and the patients cared for. "It's not like delaying the building of a highway," said Art Klein, former chief budgeteer for the VA's health care arm, the Veterans Health Administration. "Normally the federal budget is giving grants for something to happen; but in this case, it's a direct provision of health care: thousands of patients in beds, millions of outpatient visits."

To keep paychecks coming for nurses and doctors, VA administrators routinely put off buying equipment, doing maintenance, restocking inventories, and even hiring staff until later in the year. When appropriations finally do arrive, they often trigger a scramble to cover backed-up needs and to spend money that, thanks to congressional generosity, is well in excess of what the VA had planned for. Such a cycle of famine and feast encourages inefficiency, hampers planning, and can make hiring in certain medical specialties almost impossible.

Advocates have long argued that making veterans health care funding automatic--as veterans disability payments already are--would guarantee the VA the funds it needs, when it needs them. Veterans groups are still backing mandatory-funding bills by Democrats Tim Johnson of South Dakota in the Senate and Phil Hare of Illinois in the House. "We have to suck it up and keep the promise that we made," Hare told National Journal. "I put it up on par with Social Security and Medicare."

Most legislators, however, are loath to move any more programs from the discretionary side of the budget, where they can vote funding levels every year, to the entitlement side, where spending is set by statutory formulas and increasingly runs out of control. And veterans groups are giving up hope that Democratic control of Congress might soften this resistance. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., "herself has said positively that she wants mandatory spending for VA health care, but we can't get any traction," said Bradley of the Disabled American Veterans. "So our thinking for the past year has been directed to looking at an alternative approach, and we stumbled upon this advance-appropriations technique."

The idea originated with a June 2007 memo from a consultant to the Disabled American Veterans, Marsha Simon, who was a clerk on the Senate Appropriations subcommittee covering the departments of Labor and Health and Human Services when they dramatically expanded advance appropriations back in the 1990s. It took some effort to explain the arcana of advance appropriations to the veterans advocates, but as the prospects for mandatory funding grew increasingly dim, veterans groups seized on Simon's proposal. The Disabled American Veterans are now working with sympathetic lawmakers with an eye toward introducing legislation sometime this summer. "We will [still] take mandatory spending in a heartbeat if they enact it," Bradley said, "but we're trying to spread the word that this is the new direction."

The House and Senate Budget committees are likely to be the first line of resistance. "We appropriate annually for a reason," a staffer said. "We set priorities, and we make programs compete against each other annually. They would like not to have to compete."

Appropriators are skeptical as well. "There's 100 percent agreement with the veterans organizations that we must pass VA appropriations on a more timely basis," said Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Texas, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee panel that covers the Veterans Affairs Department. "There may be honest differences on the means of getting there. The easiest, simplest, cleanest way to solve the problem is for us to start passing VA appropriations bills on time. If that proves to be an impossible task, we'll just have to look at the other options."

Democrats like to blame tardy appropriations on President Bush's intransigence--but the delays began during the Clinton years. It is hard to ask veterans, or any constituency for that matter, to sit tight and have faith that Congress will get its act together soon.

"What this highlights is how dysfunctional the budget system has become," said Robert Bixby, executive director of the Concord Coalition, "and I don't blame them for looking for alternative ways." But the more that programs sidestep the annual logjam by getting mandatory or advance funding, the worse the problem becomes overall--which only increases the pressure on Congress to create more special cases for special interests. "Because there's a lot of attention on veterans these days, if anybody can do it, they might have the strongest case," Bixby said. "But I think you'd find a lot of other folks coming out of the woodwork saying, 'Hey, what about us?' "

Friday, July 25, 2008

From the South Dakota Air and Space Museum

Ellsworth — The South Dakota Air and Space Museum is in the beginning phases of planning a special display marking the U.S. military's role during, and subsequent victory of, the Cold War.

Veterans and their families who were a part of this unique era in military history are cordially invited to take an active part in this effort.

Historical artifacts, photographs, uniforms and pieces of military equipment, regardless of size, condition or significance will be more than welcome for consideration during this special commemoration.

“We really want to honor our Cold War veterans in the Black Hills,” said Tech. Sgt. Steven Wilson, SDASM director.

Remembering this period of history, base senior leadership agreed on the importance of the period and those involved.

“As we continue to wage today's fight, it's sometimes easy to forget we once lived under an extremely significant nuclear threat,” said Col. Peter Castor, 28th Bomb Wing vice commander. “I encourage our neighbors in the Black Hills to contact Sergeant Wilson and get involved. Our museum has dedicated space to honor our community veterans with this Cold War exhibit.”

The Cold War display is scheduled to begin in August and last until October.

For more information or to become involved with the display, contact Sergeant Wilson at 385-5188.


It was established four decades ago at the height of the Cold War when relations between the West and the former Soviet Union were on a knife-edge.

The Royal Navy took over a remote 1000-acre site on the shores of Loch Long in Argyll, amid some of Scotland's most beautiful countryside, for use as a base where Britain's nuclear submarines would be armed.

The Royal Naval Armaments Depot at Coulport, on the Rosneath peninsula, opened in 1966. Two years later Britain's first Polaris nuclear submarine patrol left from the base sparking a surge of protests that continue today.

RNAD Coulport is lesser known than its sister base HM Naval Base Clyde at Faslane, a short drive past the resort of Helensburgh, where Britain's most important submarine base has been located since the early 1950s.

The comparisons in terms of the numbers employed at each base contrast starkly.

Some 6500 military and civilian staff work at Faslane for the Royal Navy and defence company Babcock Naval Services making it the biggest single site employer in Scotland.

Only 540 military and civilian staff are employed at Coulport.

The most up-to-date independent review by Scottish Enterprise, which covered the financial year of 2001-20002, showed that 3000 people were indirectly employed because of the bases at Faslane and Coulport.

At the time the review said that the bases were spending £267m in Scotland in salaries and contracts and one in four people living in West Dunbartonshire was directly employed at the bases.

The explosives handling jetty at Coulport, where the Trident warheads are loaded and unloaded from the current class of Vanguard submarines, is described as the most dangerous job in the nuclear industry. It is the only facility in Britain used for this purpose.

While a lot of the protests over the years have been concentrated at Faslane many have also focused on Coulport where nuclear warheads are transported by road several times a year from the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston, near Reading, an hour's train ride west of London in rural Berkshire.

Moving the 540 jobs at Coulport from Ministry of Defence control would effectively bring the whole of the Trident servicing programme into the private sector. Babcock Marine already run the Faslane facility and Lockheed Martin effectively run the Aldermaston facility.

Moving the work at Coulport into the private sector will increase the pressure on the MoD to open up its Scottish sites to licensing and inspection by the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII).

Until now the MoD has maintained that Rosyth, Faslane and the Vulcan naval test reactor at Dounreay in Caithness are military facilities which are beyond the authority of the NII or liable to inspection by the Health and Safety Executive.

Submarines are serviced, maintained and repaired at Faslane and are stocked up before deployment.

The base is also used for training and accommodation for crews.

A £150m development is currently under way at the base to build Scotland's "biggest hotel" with almost 2000 en-suite cabins.

The MoD's intention, within the next 15 years, is that Faslane will be the only base in the UK from where submarines operate.

The Trident weapons system is expected to be in use until the mid-part of this century. However, the submarines that carry them will not last that long and will have to be replaced from about 2020-2025.

A plan to replace Trident over the next 20 years was agreed by former prime minister Tony Blair, and backed by MPs at Westminster last year, despite a major Labour revolt. The plan has been pursued by Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Last month about 500 demonstrators formed a 2000-metre long human chain alongside the fence of the Faslane base.

The event was timed to mark the 40th anniversary of the first Polaris nuclear submarine patrol from Faslane and the 26th birthday of the Faslane peace camp.

It marked one year since a vote in the Scottish Parliament against the replacement of Trident.

Last September new figures showed the cost of policing a year-long anti-nuclear protest was £5m.

Missile silo program looks at Cold War, current issues

Image if someone had told you during the Cold War that a Russian would be coming to Wall to discuss propaganda and nuclear weapons.

That will happen Thursday, July 31, in a free program offered by the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site. Summer intern Egor Prokofyev, a journalism student from Saratov, Russia, will discuss the how Russian and U.S. citizens portrayed each other during the Cold War and the current specter of potential nuclear conflict.

The program begins at the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands Visitor Center in Wall at 8 p.m. The group will caravan to the Minuteman silo site. Participants are advised to dress for cool weather and to bring a flashlight.
VA Announces New Nursing Academy Sites
Department Strengthens Partnerships with Seven Nursing Schools

WASHINGTON (July 31, 2008) -- To provide compassionate, highly-trained
nurses to serve the health care needs of the nation's veterans, the
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is establishing new partnerships
with seven of the country's finest nursing schools. The partnerships
will bring to 10 the number of collaborations between the Department and
nursing schools under the VA Nursing Academy.

"The expanded role of VA in the education of nurses will ensure the
Department has the nurses needed to continue our world-class health care
for veterans," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. James B. Peake.
"The VA Nursing Academy expands our teaching faculty, improves
recruitment and retention, and creates new educational and research

The VA Nursing Academy is a virtual organization with central
administration in Washington. It expands learning opportunities for
nursing students at VA facilities, funds additional faculty positions so
competitively selected nursing school partners will accept additional
baccalaureate-level students, and increases recruitment and retention of
VA nurses. The five-year, $40 million program began in 2007.

Seven nursing schools will form new partnerships with nine VA medical
centers and join the VA Nursing Academy this year. They are:

VA Facility School of Nursing
Charleston, S.C. Medical University of South

Hines, Ill. Loyola University of

Michigan Consortia University of Detroit
(Detroit, Saginaw, Mercy, and
Battle Creek, Ann Arbor) Saginaw Valley State

Oklahoma City, Okla. University of Oklahoma
Health Sciences Center

Providence, R.I. Rhode Island College

Tampa, Fla. University of South Florida

Partnerships already in the VA Nursing Academy include the VA medical
center in Gainesville, Fla., with the University of Florida; the VA
medical center in San Diego with San Diego State University; the VA
medical center in Salt Lake City with the University of Utah; and the VA
medical center in West Haven, Conn., with Fairfield University in

VA expects to add several more nursing-school partnerships.

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing has reported that in
2006 more than 38,000 qualified applicants were turned away from
entry-level baccalaureate degree programs in nursing schools because of
insufficient numbers of faculty, clinical sites, classroom space and
clinical mentors. VA currently provides clinical education for
approximately 100,000 health professional trainees annually, including
students from more than 600 schools of nursing.

VA's "Enhancing Academic Partnerships" pilot program enables
competitively selected VA-nursing school partnerships to expand the
number of nursing faculty, enhance the professional and scholarly
development of nurses, increase student enrollment by about 1,000
students and promote innovations in nursing education.

Further information about the pilot program can be obtained from VA's
Office of Academic Affiliations web site at

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Contact: Curt Harding, Thomas Nelson, 615-902-2246

MEDIA ADVISORY, July 29 /Christian Newswire/ -- Fifty years ago, with the U.S. having been beaten into space by the Soviet Union and questions raised about our nation's ability to prevail in the Cold War, America scored a major triumph under the seas, as the world's first nuclear powered submarine, the USS Nautilus, traveled beneath the North Pole towards Russian waters.

The details behind this daring and historic mission have at last been declassified and are told in an important new book, The Ice Diaries: The Untold Story of the Cold War's Most Daring Mission ( Thomas Nelson, July, 29, 2008).

The book was written by Captain William R. Anderson, who commanded the fabled sub, and best-selling author Don Keith. Captain Anderson, later a U.S. Congressman, completed the telling of the dramatic story before he passed away in February 2007.

The idea of navigating below the North Pole was made possible by the longer missions available with nuclear power. But the ability to travel farther without resurfacing did not necessarily equate to smooth sailing. Anderson and Keith tell the stories of encounters with terrible storms, fires in the hold, collisions with ice, broken compasses and more. All of this plays against the backdrop of an Eisenhower Administration faced with mounting questions of America's ability to compete technologically with the Soviets.

The USS Nautilus was a magical name in 1958; its journey, one of the shining moments of International Geophysical Year. At the completion of its mission, Capt. Anderson and his crew were celebrated in a ticker tape parade down the Canyon of Heroes in lower Manhattan. A 1959 best-seller, Nautilus 90 North, written by Anderson with Clay Blair, met the public's immediate demand for the tale of the mission. But all of it can only be told now with the declassification of the secret files, and the fresh first person narration by Capt. Anderson himself.

The USS Nautilus is today a public museum, visited by more than 250,000 annually near the United States Naval Submarine Base New London, at Groton's Submarine Force Library and Museum in Groton, Connecticut, where it was originally constructed.

William Anderson graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1942 and served in the U.S. Navy until 1962. He participated in 11 submarine combat patrols in the Pacific and was awarded the Bronze Star and other combat awards. Anderson was the commanding officer of the USS Nautilus from 1957 to 1959. He also served as assistant to Vice Admiral H.G. Rickover; was a consultant to President Kennedy for the National Service Corps, 1963, and was elected to Congress from Tennessee, 1965-73. He passed away in 2007.

Don Keith is a 25-year broadcast veteran – a career that includes a number of awards as a journalist and media personality. He has published 15 books, including the national bestseller, Final Bearing.

Cold War Veterans Seek Recognition

Newsvine Article Please Vote and Comment here

America's longest war, even though it was undeclared, was the Cold War. It was a struggle between the United States and our allies against Russia and the Communist Bloc. It lasted from Sept. 1945 to Dec. 1991.

Some of you might remember air raid drills, duck and cover, backyard fallout shelters; and the constant threat offull nuclear war. As both sides continued to amass a large stockpile of nuclear weapons, each trying to be bigger and better than the other.

Time has a way of blunting memory, letting places and events fade into the dark forgotten part of history. Our Veterans Service Organization, The American Cold War Veterans, Inc. does not want that to happen.

We are dedicated to finding information about the Cold War, making the public aware of how and why it was fought.Our military forces were around the world, the Fulda Gap, the Congo, Cuban Blockade, Korea, Vietnam and other hot spots.24/7/365 armed and ready at all times.
On the ground, aboard ships at sea, and submarines under the surface, SAC airplanes flying to the point of no return, in missile silos, never knowing is this a drill or the real thing. The stress and hardship of possibly being theone to push the button in retaliation, knowing you could be destroying millions and bringing about "Nuclear Winter"was always on our minds.

Some people think of it as "peace time", or say "you were not shot at". Well, our ground forces were shot at, ourplanes were shot from the sky by Communists over Korea, China and other places while on patrols so secretthat the truth was not told for many years. Many of the families did not know, it was reported as "training accident",or "equipment malfunction". We did not want the enemy to know, what we were doing.

Even today, some of these veterans can not discuss where they were or what they were doing. Sworn to secrecyfor life. Just some of the hidden facts of the Cold War that the public never knew.

These brave and dedicated servicemen and women served their tours of duty, and never received an awardor medal of any kind. You had to be in the right spot and at the right time to be eligible. Many missed the cut-off dates by a few days, or the designated area by a few miles.
The American Cold War Veterans are attempting to right this wrong. To bring honor and recognition whereit is due.

For the last ten years we have been petitioning Congress to authorize and direct the Department of Defense toissue a "Cold War Victory (or Service) medal. Several times a provision for the medal was written into theNational Defense Authorization Act, but that was removed during Senate/House committee meetings.

This year marks the sixtieth anniversary of the Berlin Airlift, and the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.What would be a better and more significant time to recognize all those veterans who served honorably during the Cold War.

At the present time there is a bill in the Senate Armed Services Committee, S.1097 The Cold War Medal Act 2007.We ask that each of you contact both of your Senators, ask them to be a cosponsor for S.1097. This will be a wonderful way to honor our veterans. It would be especially special for the family's of those who gave their all,and sacrificed their lives to protect our freedom.

Senator McCain, Senator Obama, would you be willing to extend our country's thanks and gratitude? Wouldyou as President issue a medal by Executive Order?
Visit our website
"We Remember" do you?

Please vote on this article and comment here

Jerald Terwilliger

National Vice President

American Cold War Veterans

Monday, July 28, 2008

Wrongly convicted soldier dies after Army apology

After waiting 64 years for the Army to clear his name for a wrongful conviction in World War II, Samuel Snow died just hours after receiving his official apology Saturday in Seattle.

Snow was one of 28 innocent African-American soldiers who were sentenced in the largest court-martial of the war for a crime they did not commit at Seattle's Fort Lawton in 1944.

Their names were recently cleared after a new investigation determined that court-martial proceeding was grossly flawed and that the prosecutor had withheld critical evidence.

Snow was one of only two of the 28 who were still alive to hear the formal apology issued at a ceremony Saturday at Seattle's Discovery Park.

He had planned to attend the ceremony, and traveled to Seattle from his home in Leesburg, Fla., to be there with his family. But just before the ceremony, he was admitted to the hospital for treatment of an irregular heartbeat.

Although he had been expected to recover, he died at 12:43 a.m. Sunday. He was 83.

Samuel Snow’s son Ray had represented his father at the ceremony Saturday when his father was unable to attend.

U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Seattle, said that Saturday night at the hospital before he died, Ray Snow showed his father the honorable discharge plaque and read it to him.

Samuel Snow’s reaction was that he smiled broadly and was very pleased that his name had finally been cleared and justice done.

His son was at his side when Samuel Snow died. No official cause of death has been announced as yet.

The Army overturned the convictions of all 28 of the black soldiers who were court-martialed, which followed an August 1944 riot and lynching of an Italian prisoner of war at Fort Lawton.

The court-martial proceeding "was not fair or just," Assistant Army Secretary Ronald James said at Saturday's ceremony.

The prosecutor in charge of the 1944 proceeding assigned only two defense attorneys to represent all 28 of the soldiers, then gave them only a few days to prepare a defense and withheld critical evidence from them, the Army investigation determined.

"The Army is genuinely sorry. I'm sorry that your father, grandfather and loved ones lost years of their freedom," James said.

The Army brought as many family members as they could find to the ceremony.

"You know, there's nothing with forgiveness," Ray Snow says. "And that's where my dad stands. He stands in forgiveness. And he holds no animosity.

It's time for the American public to know about the prisoner of war/missing in action issue.

For years the National Alliance of Families of POWs/MIAs, Rolling Thunder Inc. and many other veteran organizations have been pressing our federal government for full disclosure about our POW/MIAs - not just those in Iraq but those from the Vietnam War, Operation Desert Storm, the Cold War/Korea Conflict and even World War II.

As late as 1979, U.S. officials became convinced that there still were live POWs in Southeast Asia. In his book "An Enormous Crime" published in 2007, former Rep. Bill Hendon, R-N.C., chronicled the fact that when the U.S. withdrew from Vietnam, it knowingly left behind hundreds of POWs. Hendon used thousands of pages of public and previously classified documents to make his case.

There is enough evidence to warrant further investigation. Almost 18 months ago, Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., introduced House Resolution 111 to establish a House select committee on POW/MIA affairs. The committee would "conduct a full investigation of all unresolved matters relating to any United States personnel unaccounted for from the Vietnam era, the Korean conflict, World War II, Cold War missions, or Gulf War, including MIAs and POWs."

In June 2007 the resolution had more than 60 co-sponsors. Rolling Thunder decided to aggressively pursue the remaining co-sponsors needed to move the resolution out of the House Rules Committee and onto the floor for debate and a vote. By last month we had 279 co-sponsors representing more than 60 percent of the House membership who, in turn, represent more than 200 million Americans. Almost 50 percent of the 50 states have 100 percent co-sponsorship. Yet the measure is stalled in the Rules Committee. Why? Because of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's reluctance to allow any additional select committees.

We would like to know, along with the American public, for whom does Pelosi work? We believe it's the American people and all veterans who serve this country.

Despite her public rhetoric about restoring accountability to the Congress, Pelosi has ignored the obvious will of more than 60 percent of her peers in Congress. It is unheard of for a measure to have this many co-sponsors and be stuck in the Rules Committee.

If this resolution is not enacted within two years after its initiation, which would be March 14, 2009, it will die. So, please, I ask you, the American people who vote, to stand up and voice your concerns to Congress about this issue.

Our POW/MIAs and the families left behind deserve nothing less.

Ron Havens

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Russia said it has no plan to send nuclear-armed bombers to Cuba

Moscow denied reports that it was considering basing nuclear-armed bombers in Cuba in reply to US plans for a missile defense shield in eastern Europe, but said it would take measures to counter the US system.

Moscow denied reports that it was considering basing nuclear-armed bombers in Cuba in reply to US plans for a missile defense shield in eastern Europe, but said it would take measures to counter the US system.

Russia's defense ministry on Thursday, July 24, denied reports that it was considering basing nuclear-armed bombers in Cuba to warn against US plans to base a missile defense shield in Europe, Russian news agencies reported.

"We regard these kinds of anonymous allegations as disinformation," defense ministry spokesman Ilshat Baichurin was quoted by RIA-Novosti as saying.

The report in state newspaper Izvestia on Monday cited an unidentified high-ranking air force official as saying such bombers were sent to Cuba to counter US shield plans.

The United States had refused to comment on the anonymous report but welcomed Moscow's denial of the intentions to resume bomber flights to Cuba.

"That's a very good thing," said Gonzalo Gallegos, the State Department's acting deputy spokesman.

Baichurin, however, suggested the allegations could have been planted by foreign countries as a cover for building up military elements along Russia's border in an apparent reference to US plans. Moscow, he said, has no intentions to threaten other states.

"Russia pursues peace-loving policies and does not build military bases along the borders of other states," RIA Novosti quoted Baichurin as saying.

Other measures being considered

A three-stage booster built by Lockheed Martin Corp. is launched at Vandenberg Air Force Base Bildunterschrift: Gro├čansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: US plans to build a missile defense shield in eastern Europe have raised Russia ire

Another Russian military expert, however, said the country could take other steps to counteract what it sees as a strategic threat from the United States.

"Russia's military responses to the deployment of a US missile defense system in Europe may include improving the Russian strategic Topol-M missiles with hypersonic maneuvering warheads and a large number of jamming stations that would reduce the effectiveness of missile defense elements tenfold," Viktor Yesin, a former chief of general staff of the Russian Strategic Missile Troops, said on Thursday.

Yesin said the Russian military was considering a full range of measures to respond adequately to the perceived threat from the US system.

The United States has failed to convince Russia that plans to site parts of a missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic are intended only to guard against rogue states such as Iran. Russia views the shield as a threat to its Cold War nuclear deterrent.

Russian steps could include reactivating Soviet military plans to place ballistic missiles in orbit from where they would be able to bypass the planned US shield via the South Pole.

"Russia can already now carry out such technical measures and is partially doing so," Yesin was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying.

He listed among other possible military counter measures the deployment of a missile system in Russia's European enclave of Kaliningrad and readying long-range Tu-22 M3 bombers for missions.

Yesin also suggested that Russia was considering pulling out of the Russian-American Strategic Offensive Reduction Treaty, which commits both countries to reduce nuclear warheads by nearly two-thirds by 2012.

In December, Russia withdrew from key Cold War-era arms restraint treaty in what analysts say was partly military anger at US missile defense plans. But Yesin advised restraint Thursday, saying it was not a time to scare European allies.

DPA news agency (sms)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Obama Gives a Response Regarding the Cold War Medal Act S.1097

Dear Stan:

Thank you for taking the time to share your support for the authorization of a Cold War Victory Medal for veterans of the military during the Cold War period. I appreciate hearing from you and apologize for the delay in my response.

As you may know, in April of last year Senators Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced the Cold War Medal Act of 2007 (S. 1097). This legislation would have mandated that the Department of Defense issue a medal to all veterans who served honorably during the Cold War period of our history, approximately between 1945 and 1991. A provision similar to S. 1097 was included in the House version of the fiscal year 2008 Defense Authorization bill. Unfortunately, the Senate sponsors of this legislation were unable to maintain this provision during the Senate consideration of the Defense Authorization bill. As a result, this proposal was not included in the final version of the bill signed by the President.

You may be interested to know that the Senate is expected to take up consideration of the fiscal year 2009 Defense Authorization sometime in July. While the contents of the bill are still unclear, please be assured I will keep your comments in mind should this issue be considered by the full Senate.

Finally, I would like to apologize for the delay in my response. Each week I receive on average 10,000 pieces of correspondence from inviduals like yourself from across Illinois. While I value the insight and opinions of each person I do not always get a chance to respond as quickly as I would like. That being said, please feel free to keep in touch on any matter of importance to you.


Barack Obama
United States Senator

DURHAM, NC -- Researchers from Duke University, the University of Cincinnati ( UC ) and the Durham Veterans Administration Medical Center are hoping to find a geographical pattern to help explain why 1991 Gulf War veterans contracted the fatal neurological disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis ( ALS ) at twice the normal rate during the decade after the conflict.

By layering military records of troop locations onto Gulf-area maps, "we've found there were some areas of service where there appears to be an elevated risk," said Marie Lynn Miranda, an associate professor at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment whose group uses geographic information systems ( GIS ) to study environmental health problems.

Also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease because it crippled and ultimately killed that baseball great in 1941, ALS causes cellular degeneration in the central nervous system. Its cause is unknown.

“There are no reports on the occurrence of ALS among veterans of other conflicts," the researchers wrote. "There is only a single report that suggests ALS may arise from environmental exposures associated with military service, per se." The cases assessed by Miranda and her colleagues occurred within a group of people who are expected to be at low risk for ALS, because they're mostly under the age of 45.

Miranda is the first author of a report on an initial analysis now published online in the research journal NeuroToxicology. The work was funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs Cooperative Studies Program.

The report’s senior author is Ronnie Horner, professor and director of the department of public health at Cincinnati, who led research that first documented twice-normal ALS rates among vets of the first Persian Gulf War in an article published in the September 2003 issue of the journal Neurology.

Horner's group is now assessing possible exposures vets might have had in the Gulf region that could explain the higher ALS rates its 2003 study found.

"As one of the largest contemporary set of cases, it presents a real opportunity to identify clues as to the cause of ALS not only for veterans of the first Gulf War but, perhaps, for ALS generally," Horner said. UC researchers are coordinating their investigations with those of researchers at the Durham, N.C. Veterans Medical Center and nearby Duke Medical Center.

Another UC-led study, published in the July 2008 issue of the journal Neuroepidemiology, found that the risk for developing ALS has now decreased among 1991 Gulf War vets. That suggests that the cause or causes of the ALS had something to do with their deployment in the region between August 1990 and July 1991.

Of the 135 cases diagnosed among the vets within 11 years after the war, only three had a family history of the disease. The small numbers might indicate that there is an environmental cause for ALS, the authors added.

“In the one-year period of military operations, some deployed military personnel experienced numerous exposures to multiple, potentially neurotoxic agents,” Miranda and coauthors wrote in the new report. “If the array of possible candidate environmental exposures could be reduced, it may be possible to identify or at least focus inquiry on specific potential causative agents.”

To narrow down the possibilities, Miranda and fellow investigators used GIS analysis, which allows researchers to layer different kinds of information onto maps to deduce potential risks.

They began by searching Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense records as well as other sources to identify military personnel diagnosed with ALS after 1991. Department of Defense data also allowed the researchers to identify the military units these veterans with ALS served in during their deployment to the Persian Gulf region.

In a separate analysis, the researchers identified troop units known to have been exposed to emissions from a munitions storage area at Khamisiyah, Iraq. Those munitions were destroyed by U.S. forces in March 1991, and a United Nations commission later found many rockets there had been loaded for chemical warfare.

A previous Defense Department modeling study deduced that "some 90,000 veterans may have been exposed to low levels of nerve agent" at Khamisiyah, the new report said.

The GIS mapping revealed that “there were some areas where there appeared to be an elevated risk,” Miranda said. To narrow down the possibilities, she and co-investigators then used statistical methods that assess the “best guess about the likelihood that space matters” for each grid of Gulf territory, she added.

Applying those statistics, the likelihood of a spatial connection with ALS development “climbed as high as 91 percent” in some grid cells, she said, most notably in a region southeast of Khamisiyah. But Miranda cautioned that she will need to do additional analyses that add “time” to “place” before she can be more specific.

For instance, the researchers will want to know whether the ALS victim’s units were in the path of emissions from Khamisiyah on a specific day. Miranda and her colleagues are also interested in examining environmental exposures that may be associated with smoke plumes from oil well fires.

Other authors of the new NeuroToxicology report include Miranda’s Nicholas School colleagues M. Alicia Overstreet Galeano and Eric Tassone as well as Kelli Allen, a research health scientist at the Durham VA Medical Center and a Duke assistant research professor of medicine.

Monte Basgall

T: ( 919 ) 681-8057


Friday, July 25, 2008

Senator Obama We Did Our Duty Now is The Time to Honor Cold War Veterans

Yet another politician has held up victory in the Cold War with heavy references to the Berlin Airlift and victory. International cooperation, duty, and common security, victory over tyranny were evoked time and again as virtues which helped us prevail in the war against communist expansion.

Senator Obama is it not time to honor the men and women who made that happen. If elected President will you sign a executive order authorizing a Cold War Service or Victory Medal?

Obama Berlin Speech: See Video, Photos, Full Speech Transcript


Remarks of Senator Barack Obama (as prepared for delivery)

"A World that Stands as One"

July 24th, 2008

Berlin, Germany

Thank you to the citizens of Berlin and to the people of Germany. Let me thank Chancellor Merkel and Foreign Minister Steinmeier for welcoming me earlier today. Thank you Mayor Wowereit, the Berlin Senate, the police, and most of all thank you for this welcome.

I come to Berlin as so many of my countrymen have come before. Tonight, I speak to you not as a candidate for President, but as a citizen - a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world.

I know that I don't look like the Americans who've previously spoken in this great city. The journey that led me here is improbable. My mother was born in the heartland of America, but my father grew up herding goats in Kenya. His father - my grandfather - was a cook, a domestic servant to the British.

At the height of the Cold War, my father decided, like so many others in the forgotten corners of the world, that his yearning - his dream - required the freedom and opportunity promised by the West. And so he wrote letter after letter to universities all across America until somebody, somewhere answered his prayer for a better life.

That is why I'm here. And you are here because you too know that yearning. This city, of all cities, knows the dream of freedom. And you know that the only reason we stand here tonight is because men and women from both of our nations came together to work, and struggle, and sacrifice for that better life.

Ours is a partnership that truly began sixty years ago this summer, on the day when the first American plane touched down at Templehof.

On that day, much of this continent still lay in ruin. The rubble of this city had yet to be built into a wall. The Soviet shadow had swept across Eastern Europe, while in the West, America, Britain, and France took stock of their losses, and pondered how the world might be remade.

This is where the two sides met. And on the twenty-fourth of June, 1948, the Communists chose to blockade the western part of the city. They cut off food and supplies to more than two million Germans in an effort to extinguish the last flame of freedom in Berlin.

The size of our forces was no match for the much larger Soviet Army. And yet retreat would have allowed Communism to march across Europe. Where the last war had ended, another World War could have easily begun. All that stood in the way was Berlin.

And that's when the airlift began - when the largest and most unlikely rescue in history brought food and hope to the people of this city.

The odds were stacked against success. In the winter, a heavy fog filled the sky above, and many planes were forced to turn back without dropping off the needed supplies. The streets where we stand were filled with hungry families who had no comfort from the cold.

But in the darkest hours, the people of Berlin kept the flame of hope burning. The people of Berlin refused to give up. And on one fall day, hundreds of thousands of Berliners came here, to the Tiergarten, and heard the city's mayor implore the world not to give up on freedom. "There is only one possibility," he said. "For us to stand together united until this battle is won...The people of Berlin have spoken. We have done our duty, and we will keep on doing our duty. People of the world: now do your duty...People of the world, look at Berlin!"

People of the world - look at Berlin!

Look at Berlin, where Germans and Americans learned to work together and trust each other less than three years after facing each other on the field of battle.

Look at Berlin, where the determination of a people met the generosity of the Marshall Plan and created a German miracle; where a victory over tyranny gave rise to NATO, the greatest alliance ever formed to defend our common security.

Look at Berlin, where the bullet holes in the buildings and the somber stones and pillars near the Brandenburg Gate insist that we never forget our common humanity.

People of the world - look at Berlin, where a wall came down, a continent came together, and history proved that there is no challenge too great for a world that stands as one.

Sixty years after the airlift, we are called upon again. History has led us to a new crossroad, with new promise and new peril. When you, the German people, tore down that wall - a wall that divided East and West; freedom and tyranny; fear and hope - walls came tumbling down around the world. From Kiev to Cape Town, prison camps were closed, and the doors of democracy were opened. Markets opened too, and the spread of information and technology reduced barriers to opportunity and prosperity. While the 20th century taught us that we share a common destiny, the 21st has revealed a world more intertwined than at any time in human history.

The fall of the Berlin Wall brought new hope. But that very closeness has given rise to new dangers - dangers that cannot be contained within the borders of a country or by the distance of an ocean.

The terrorists of September 11th plotted in Hamburg and trained in Kandahar and Karachi before killing thousands from all over the globe on American soil.

As we speak, cars in Boston and factories in Beijing are melting the ice caps in the Arctic, shrinking coastlines in the Atlantic, and bringing drought to farms from Kansas to Kenya.

Poorly secured nuclear material in the former Soviet Union, or secrets from a scientist in Pakistan could help build a bomb that detonates in Paris. The poppies in Afghanistan become the heroin in Berlin. The poverty and violence in Somalia breeds the terror of tomorrow. The genocide in Darfur shames the conscience of us all.

In this new world, such dangerous currents have swept along faster than our efforts to contain them. That is why we cannot afford to be divided. No one nation, no matter how large or powerful, can defeat such challenges alone. None of us can deny these threats, or escape responsibility in meeting them. Yet, in the absence of Soviet tanks and a terrible wall, it has become easy to forget this truth. And if we're honest with each other, we know that sometimes, on both sides of the Atlantic, we have drifted apart, and forgotten our shared destiny.

In Europe, the view that America is part of what has gone wrong in our world, rather than a force to help make it right, has become all too common. In America, there are voices that deride and deny the importance of Europe's role in our security and our future. Both views miss the truth - that Europeans today are bearing new burdens and taking more responsibility in critical parts of the world; and that just as American bases built in the last century still help to defend the security of this continent, so does our country still sacrifice greatly for freedom around the globe.

Yes, there have been differences between America and Europe. No doubt, there will be differences in the future. But the burdens of global citizenship continue to bind us together. A change of leadership in Washington will not lift this burden. In this new century, Americans and Europeans alike will be required to do more - not less. Partnership and cooperation among nations is not a choice; it is the one way, the only way, to protect our common security and advance our common humanity.

That is why the greatest danger of all is to allow new walls to divide us from one another.

The walls between old allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand. The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand. The walls between races and tribes; natives and immigrants; Christian and Muslim and Jew cannot stand. These now are the walls we must tear down.

We know they have fallen before. After centuries of strife, the people of Europe have formed a Union of promise and prosperity. Here, at the base of a column built to mark victory in war, we meet in the center of a Europe at peace. Not only have walls come down in Berlin, but they have come down in Belfast, where Protestant and Catholic found a way to live together; in the Balkans, where our Atlantic alliance ended wars and brought savage war criminals to justice; and in South Africa, where the struggle of a courageous people defeated apartheid.

So history reminds us that walls can be torn down. But the task is never easy. True partnership and true progress requires constant work and sustained sacrifice. They require sharing the burdens of development and diplomacy; of progress and peace. They require allies who will listen to each other, learn from each other and, most of all, trust each other.

That is why America cannot turn inward. That is why Europe cannot turn inward. America has no better partner than Europe. Now is the time to build new bridges across the globe as strong as the one that bound us across the Atlantic. Now is the time to join together, through constant cooperation, strong institutions, shared sacrifice, and a global commitment to progress, to meet the challenges of the 21st century. It was this spirit that led airlift planes to appear in the sky above our heads, and people to assemble where we stand today. And this is the moment when our nations - and all nations - must summon that spirit anew.

This is the moment when we must defeat terror and dry up the well of extremism that supports it. This threat is real and we cannot shrink from our responsibility to combat it. If we could create NATO to face down the Soviet Union, we can join in a new and global partnership to dismantle the networks that have struck in Madrid and Amman; in London and Bali; in Washington and New York. If we could win a battle of ideas against the communists, we can stand with the vast majority of Muslims who reject the extremism that leads to hate instead of hope.

This is the moment when we must renew our resolve to rout the terrorists who threaten our security in Afghanistan, and the traffickers who sell drugs on your streets. No one welcomes war. I recognize the enormous difficulties in Afghanistan. But my country and yours have a stake in seeing that NATO's first mission beyond Europe's borders is a success. For the people of Afghanistan, and for our shared security, the work must be done. America cannot do this alone. The Afghan people need our troops and your troops; our support and your support to defeat the Taliban and al Qaeda, to develop their economy, and to help them rebuild their nation. We have too much at stake to turn back now.

This is the moment when we must renew the goal of a world without nuclear weapons. The two superpowers that faced each other across the wall of this city came too close too often to destroying all we have built and all that we love. With that wall gone, we need not stand idly by and watch the further spread of the deadly atom. It is time to secure all loose nuclear materials; to stop the spread of nuclear weapons; and to reduce the arsenals from another era. This is the moment to begin the work of seeking the peace of a world without nuclear weapons.

This is the moment when every nation in Europe must have the chance to choose its own tomorrow free from the shadows of yesterday. In this century, we need a strong European Union that deepens the security and prosperity of this continent, while extending a hand abroad. In this century - in this city of all cities - we must reject the Cold War mind-set of the past, and resolve to work with Russia when we can, to stand up for our values when we must, and to seek a partnership that extends across this entire continent.

This is the moment when we must build on the wealth that open markets have created, and share its benefits more equitably. Trade has been a cornerstone of our growth and global development. But we will not be able to sustain this growth if it favors the few, and not the many. Together, we must forge trade that truly rewards the work that creates wealth, with meaningful protections for our people and our planet. This is the moment for trade that is free and fair for all.

This is the moment we must help answer the call for a new dawn in the Middle East. My country must stand with yours and with Europe in sending a direct message to Iran that it must abandon its nuclear ambitions. We must support the Lebanese who have marched and bled for democracy, and the Israelis and Palestinians who seek a secure and lasting peace. And despite past differences, this is the moment when the world should support the millions of Iraqis who seek to rebuild their lives, even as we pass responsibility to the Iraqi government and finally bring this war to a close.

This is the moment when we must come together to save this planet. Let us resolve that we will not leave our children a world where the oceans rise and famine spreads and terrible storms devastate our lands. Let us resolve that all nations - including my own - will act with the same seriousness of purpose as has your nation, and reduce the carbon we send into our atmosphere. This is the moment to give our children back their future. This is the moment to stand as one.

And this is the moment when we must give hope to those left behind in a globalized world. We must remember that the Cold War born in this city was not a battle for land or treasure. Sixty years ago, the planes that flew over Berlin did not drop bombs; instead they delivered food, and coal, and candy to grateful children. And in that show of solidarity, those pilots won more than a military victory. They won hearts and minds; love and loyalty and trust - not just from the people in this city, but from all those who heard the story of what they did here.

Now the world will watch and remember what we do here - what we do with this moment. Will we extend our hand to the people in the forgotten corners of this world who yearn for lives marked by dignity and opportunity; by security and justice? Will we lift the child in Bangladesh from poverty, shelter the refugee in Chad, and banish the scourge of AIDS in our time?

Will we stand for the human rights of the dissident in Burma, the blogger in Iran, or the voter in Zimbabwe? Will we give meaning to the words "never again" in Darfur?

Will we acknowledge that there is no more powerful example than the one each of our nations projects to the world? Will we reject torture and stand for the rule of law? Will we welcome immigrants from different lands, and shun discrimination against those who don't look like us or worship like we do, and keep the promise of equality and opportunity for all of our people?

People of Berlin - people of the world - this is our moment. This is our time.

I know my country has not perfected itself. At times, we've struggled to keep the promise of liberty and equality for all of our people. We've made our share of mistakes, and there are times when our actions around the world have not lived up to our best intentions.

But I also know how much I love America. I know that for more than two centuries, we have strived - at great cost and great sacrifice - to form a more perfect union; to seek, with other nations, a more hopeful world. Our allegiance has never been to any particular tribe or kingdom - indeed, every language is spoken in our country; every culture has left its imprint on ours; every point of view is expressed in our public squares. What has always united us - what has always driven our people; what drew my father to America's shores - is a set of ideals that speak to aspirations shared by all people: that we can live free from fear and free from want; that we can speak our minds and assemble with whomever we choose and worship as we please.

These are the aspirations that joined the fates of all nations in this city. These aspirations are bigger than anything that drives us apart. It is because of these aspirations that the airlift began. It is because of these aspirations that all free people - everywhere - became citizens of Berlin. It is in pursuit of these aspirations that a new generation - our generation - must make our mark on the world.

People of Berlin - and people of the world - the scale of our challenge is great. The road ahead will be long. But I come before you to say that we are heirs to a struggle for freedom. We are a people of improbable hope. With an eye toward the future, with resolve in our hearts, let us remember this history, and answer our destiny, and remake the world once again.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

New Coin Law Passed Commemorate Disabled Vets
July 24th, 2008 · No Comments

H.R. 634: The American Veterans Disabled for Life Commemorative Coin Act has pass all legislative branches and the Bill became law on July 17, 2008.
American Veterans Disabled for Life Commemorative Coin Act.
To require the Secretary of the Treasury to mint coins in commemoration of veterans who became disabled for life while serving in the Armed Forces of the United States.

Complete details of the bill can be read at

My opinion on this:
So the law is passed and now we just have to wait until these coins become available.
Since these are Commemorative Coins, I don’t think that they will be in circulation to the public.
More then likely, they will be offered on TV and retail markets that specialize in coins.

There are certain groups and organizations that have been trying to get the recognition for Congress to issue a Official Medal for those who served during the Cold War. And repeatedly, it has always failed. Why? Because of the estimated costs that it will be to produce and distribute the Medal to the individual’s who are entitled to them.

Wasn’t there a recent new story saying that it costs more to make a single penny then the actual value of the penny itself?

A Bill to Commemorate Veterans who are Disabled for Life????

I think the time and money should have went for something other for veterans besides a coin.
Perhaps… Issue an Official Cold War Medal. Funding to aid veterans and their families that are going through a difficult time. I’m sure that there are more, I just can’t think of them all.

Hey!, I just had a thought. “Will all the veterans that are disabled for life receive a FREE coin?
If so, then I’ll get one too.

I would be really surprised if that happened but, I really doubt it

Obama scraps visit to wounded US troops in Germany

BERLIN (AP) — Sen. Barack Obama scrapped plans to visit wounded members of the armed forces in Germany as part of his overseas trip, a decision his campaign said was made because the Democratic presidential candidate thought it would be inappropriate on a campaign-funded journey.

A campaign adviser said the U.S. military saw the visit as a campaign stop.

"We learned from the Pentagon last night that the visit would be viewed instead as a campaign event," the adviser, retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Scott Gration, said in a statement. "Senator Obama did not want to have a trip to see our wounded warriors perveived as a campaign event when his visit was to show his appreciation for our troops and decided instead not to go."

Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign immediately criticized the move.

"Barack Obama is wrong. It is never inappropriate to visit our men and women in the military," said Brian Rogers, a spokesman for the Republican contender.

Obama's decision raised a number of questions because the visit, which had been scheduled for Friday, never appeared on the schedule of events distributed to reporters who are accompanying him on his travels.

The first word from the campaign about its existence was a statement from Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs.

Obama had been planning to go to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany before a flight to Paris. Gibbs said the stop was canceled because Obama decided "it would be inappropriate to make a stop to visit troops at a U.S. military facility as part of a trip funded by the campaign."

Bradford County Fla.

Before he spoke at the July 4 Veteran's Memorial Pathway service, Col. Mike Duren said the U.S. has three holidays where many citizens pause for a moment and consider the sacrifices of the nation's veterans. Those holidays, he said, were Memorial Day, Veteran's Day and the Fourth of July. But perhaps U.S. citizens should consider its veterans on some other the other days in the year as well, Duren said.

But what more would such consideration call for? What form should that consideration take? What do the vets themselves have to say?

"I don't think that we can do any more other than to respect our veterans and honor them by flying our flag," said Keystone Heights American Legion Post 202 Commander Joe Haire. "That's the only way that we can honor our veterans as a people."

Perhaps not the only way. A good veterans benefits plan can also help. The new post-9/11 GI bill, which congree recently passed, allows education benefits to cover the cost of an education at a vet's state university, complete with a housing allowance and $1,000 a year for books.
Keystone Heights resident Fred Pitts was in the Army from 1966 to1969. He is now a life member of AMVETS, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Vietnam Veterans of America and a current member of the American Legion.

Pitts said other than a veterans job training program at AT&T, he didn't use any veteran's benefits that were available at the time.

"Most veterans that I've talked to, this era of veterans, I think they feel respected." Pitts said. "Whether people like or dislike the war they respect the guy fighting the war. There's definitely been a change since the Viet Nam era. I can see it by the different places that I go to. Some of the airports have veteran's lounges, or welcome centers. It's not like World War II, when you saw signs that said "Dogs and Sailors keep off the grass."Still, Pitts added it's always nice to hear someone say "I really appreciate the work that you're doing."

Veteran's benefits are a good indicator of the level of social respect, Haire said. He was happy to learn recently that a new tower facility will be added to Gainesville's Veteran's Administration hospital, for example. This will increase the facility's capacity by 231 new beds and drastically cut down on the waiting time for veterans in need of hospital care.

"Veteran's now have a variety of benefits," Haire said and started to name them off., including eyeglasses, VA hospital and out-patient medical care, and prescription medications, provided on a sliding scale.

"I don't think I personally have any complaints at all," Haire said. "Others might not think so. There may be problems in some cases, but once they get into the system, they are treated very well."

Still, there may be room for improvement, in either benefits or social concern. Opinions differ, for example, on media coverage of recent deficiencies at the Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C. Wounded Iraqi vets were discovered to be living in shabby conditions when some buildings at the the once-revered medical center were discovered to be in ill repair. Christy Mach, Co-Director at Lake Area Ministries, said there was no clear consensus on how many veterans and veterans' families the local food pantry sees, but everyone who works at the pantry, she said, agrees that they see them.

Mach said LAM does not get donations or grants to feed veterans per se, though they often get contributions from both AMVETS and the American Legion who assume that food supplements will be provided to their constituencies.

Keystone resident Troy Merrett is in the National Guard and has served two stints aboard, both in Iraq.

These days, he's working as a drywall contractor in Keystone Heights, but he's going overseas again soon. This time, though, he's going to Hungary and he'll only be gone for a month.
"I'm proud to serve my country, I'm glad to be in the guard and I enjoy it," Merrett said.
Merrett is trying to decide whether to stay in the guard for six more years, or " the Florida 30." If so, he will have 16 more years to go before retirement.
Merrett is elegible for veteran's benefits and takes advantage of medical care, which are extended to him but not to his family. He goes to the Gainesville facility, he said and felt that the doctors there were taking excellent care of him.
Merrett had heard about the post-9/11 GI Bill passed about a month ago and said that he would be interested in the revisions to the GI Education benefits. Merrett said that he and fellow guardsmen talk about their benefits packact and everyone seems pretty content.
"The only problem I see that they are having is completing school in a timely manner, but the government is paying for it while they're there." Guardsmen get called to active duty frequently, he said, and it's hard for them to finish college.
Merrett said his experience with public attitudes was very good.

"Several times, I've been in restaurants and someone came up to me and asked if they could buy my lunch. Even here in town. I've had a lot of thank yous."
He said it has also happened to some of his friends in Orange Park as well.
Douglas Rudd was a career officer in the Air Force, "I don't think there needs to be any more holidays for veterans," he said. But he has one or two complaints. "People need to remember that it's not just World War I, World War II and Viet Nam Vets who need attention. There were important things done in peace time, too."

Rudd would like to see more emphasis on the military role in Twentieth Century cold war history.

"There were people pulling constant alerts in tanks and submarines and in the air. There were missiles in silos where there were always soldiers on watch.
Rudd flew in the Looking Glass missions, with the Strategic Air Command out of Offit Air Force Base.

"The command was airborne for over thirty years," Rudd said. "From the 1960s to the 90s, there was always someone flying protective missions in the skies over the U.S. I missed many a Christmas, and many a birthday," Rudd said. "That, too, took its toll."
Rudd also flew for Operation Nightwatch, which was a presidential post. "If there had been a nuclear attack, the President would have controlled what he needed to control, from our aircraft," he explained.

It was these military operations, Rudd believes, that drove the Soviet Union bankrupt as it tried to keep up militarily.

"Americans don't realize just what went on quietly during the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s while they slept. But it was because of that Western-Soviet conflict of checks and balances that the Soviet Union fell."

Rudd also said he had heard that the GI education benefit wasn't as good now as it was for Viet Nam era vets.

A few years ago, vets began to point out that the education benefit hadn't kept up with the cost of a college education. Even with the benefit, vets were struggling to get a college degree. The new post-9/11 GI bill is designed to fix that.
Rudd also said that since he didn't use the full sum of his own education benefits, he would have loved to transfer the remainder of his allotment to his wife or kids or wife. The new bill fixes that too, GIs are now allowed to make that transfer Still, Rudd's education benefit hit an end-date sometime in the 90s and is no longer available to him or members of his family.

Now, the GI benefits are also available to Reserve and Guard members who have been activated for more than 90 days since Sept. 11, 2001.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Our brothers in arms from the UK continue their fight for proper recognition from British goverment.

The following is a update from Tony Morland at

Dear Sean,

We've added a couple of fantastic letters, particularly from Andre Rosindell MP a very patriotic individual. Also a couple of information updates, please leave comments.

We also have 3 new pages looking at General Service, Cyprus Veteran issues and the Cold War era.

A gentle reminder to any of our supporters who haven’t written to the Chief of Defence Staff, could I urge you to do so, he needs to see volume of support in his in tray.

Have a look and as ever forward the website link to others who may be interested. Feel free to send in any news, updates etc.

Thanks for your ongoing support.

All the best,


Romford MP Pledges Clear Support For NDM

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Thank you for your recent email regarding your proposals for a National Defence Medal for all Her Majesty’s Forces who serve a reasonable engagement, which I read with interest.

I am a fervent supporter of our Armed Forces and their families. The Military Covenant states that Soldiers, by putting the needs of the army and the Nation before their own, forego some of the rights they would otherwise expect to receive. In return they expect fair treatment and sustenance, provided for accordingly by the Nation. I believe that to award a medal to those who put their lives at risk, would be a message of support from the public to the work of our military.

It is shameful that this practice already exists in Australia, a nation which whom we share such close ties, yet our Government has not saw fit to follow their example. I have already discussed this matter with a number of my colleagues and my support towards the Armed Forces is known by a great number of people. I will certainly seek to lobby the Government on this issue.

With every good wish,

Yours Sincerely,

Andrew Rosindell MP

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

American Cold War Veterans would like to thank Sen. Landrieu for supporting S.1097. In keeping with Louisana's progressive stance toward honoring Cold War Veterans. La. is only one of two states LA and AL both have also passed state awards; NY state has had legislation pass both Houses and was recently vetoed by Gov. Paterson on July 8th. Please contact your Senator and encourage them to cosponsor S.1097 the Cold War Medal Act.

Sponsor/Cosponsor(s) 5:
Clinton, Hillary (D-NY) Collins, Susan (R-ME) Landrieu, Mary (D-LA) Schumer, Charles (D-NY) Snowe, Olympia (R-ME)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Military medals, decorations, etc.The following is a list of current pending legislation in Congress

These bills and resolutions have been proposed by Members of Congress but may not have had any action taken on them on their path to becoming law. In fact, the vast majority of proposed legislation never becomes law.

H.R. 5658: Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009
Passed House
May 22, 2008 9:59 PM
S. 743: A bill to amend title 36, United States Code, to modify the individuals eligible for associate membership in the Military Order of the Purple Heart of the United States of America, Incorporated.
Passed Senate
Mar 1, 2007
S. 1548: Department of Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008
Scheduled for Debate
Jun 5, 2007
S. 1547: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008
Scheduled for Debate
Jun 5, 2007
S.Con.Res. 26: A concurrent resolution recognizing the 75th anniversary of the Military Order of the Purple Heart and commending recipients of the Purple Heart for their courageous demonstrations of gallantry and heroism on behalf of the United States.
Passed Senate
Jul 31, 2007
H.Con.Res. 49: Concurrent resolution recognizing the 75th anniversary of the Military Order of the Purple Heart and commending recipients of the Purple Heart for their courage and sacrifice on behalf of the United States.
Passed House
Jul 30, 2007 8:28 PM
S.Con.Res. 27: A concurrent resolution supporting the goals and ideals of "National Purple Heart Recognition Day".
Passed Senate, Passed House
Jul 30, 2007 8:19 PM
H.R. 4986: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008
Jan 28, 2008
H.R. 1585: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008
Vetoed by President
Dec 28, 2007
H.R. 1119: Purple Heart Family Equity Act of 2007
Apr 30, 2008
S. 2027: Veterans' Pride Initiative Act
Sep 6, 2007
H.R. 3471: Atomic Veterans Medal Act of 2007
Sep 4, 2007
H.R. 3769: Military Valor Roll of Honor Act of 2007
Oct 4, 2007
S. 2218: Atomic Veterans Medal Act of 2007
Oct 23, 2007
S. 1480: Gold Star Parents Annuity Act of 2007
May 24, 2007
S. 1390: Perpetual Purple Heart Stamp Act
May 15, 2007
H.R. 2303: Perpetual Purple Heart Stamp Act
May 14, 2007
H.R. 2267: To expand retroactive eligibility of the Army Combat Action Badge to include members of the Army who participated in combat during which they personally engaged, or were personally engaged by, the enemy at any time on or after December 7, 1941.
May 10, 2007
H.R. 1354: Lane Evans Veterans Health and Benefits Improvement Act of 2007
Mar 6, 2007
S. 1044: Effective Care for the Armed Forces and Veterans Act of 2007
Mar 29, 2007
H.Con.Res. 191: Supporting the goals and ideals of "National Purple Heart Recognition Day".
Jul 24, 2007
S. 1763: Cold War Medal Act of 2007
Jul 11, 2007
H.R. 243: Combat Military Medically Retired Veteran's Fairness Act
Jan 5, 2007
S. 117: Lane Evans Veterans Health and Benefits Improvement Act of 2007
Jan 4, 2007
H.R. 796: To authorize and request the President to award the Medal of Honor to Richard D. Winters, of Hershey, Pennsylvania, for acts of valor on June 6, 1944, in Normandy, France, while an officer in the 101st Airborne Division.
Jan 31, 2007
H.R. 795: To authorize and request the President to award the Medal of Honor to James Megellas, formerly of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, and currently of Colleyville, Texas, for acts of valor on January 28, 1945, during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II.
Jan 31, 2007
H.R. 447: To amend title 38, United States Code, to provide that World War II merchant mariners who were awarded the Mariners Medal shall be provided eligibility for Department of Veterans Affairs health care on the same basis as veterans who have been awarded the Purple Heart.
Jan 12, 2007
H.R. 974: To authorize and request the President to award the Medal of Honor to Joseph T. Getherall, of Hacienda Heights, California, for acts of valor in the Republic of Vietnam on December 22, 1966, while serving in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War.
Feb 8, 2007
S. 2610: Military Valor Roll of Honor Act of 2008
Feb 7, 2008
H.R. 841: To amend the Federal charter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart of the United States of America, Incorporated, to authorize the corporation to extend eligibility for associate membership in the corporation to the spouse and siblings of a recipient of the Purple Heart.
Feb 6, 2007
H.R. 1027: To amend title 36, United States Code, to authorize the spouse and siblings of a recipient of the Purple Heart medal to become associate members in the Military Order of the Purple Heart of the United States of America, Incorporated.
Feb 13, 2007
H.R. 4274: Gold Star Parents Annuity Act of 2007
Dec 4, 2007
H.R. 2072: To authorize and request the President to award the Medal of Honor to Richard Gresko, of Newtown, Pennsylvania, for acts of valor in the Republic of Vietnam on March 11 and 12, 1970, while serving as a lance corporal in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War.
Apr 26, 2007
H.R. 1900: To amend title 38, United States Code, to extend eligibility for pension benefits under laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to veterans who received an expeditionary medal during a period of military service other than a period of war.
Apr 17, 2007
S. 1097: Cold War Medal Act of 2007