Saturday, August 30, 2008
Governor General announces new Sacrifice Medal for wounded, killed in action
1 day ago
OTTAWA — The Governor General has announced the creation of a new medal, equivalent to the U.S. Purple Heart, as a way of acknowledging soldiers and civilians killed or wounded by hostile fire.
For the military, the Sacrifice Medal will replace the understated army tradition of awarding wound stripes - small strips of gold braid worn on the left sleeve - which dates back to the First World War.
Diplomatic and development staff, as well as civilian contractors, who are increasingly in the line of fire in Afghanistan, are also eligible for the award. However, journalists embedded with the Canadian military and Canadians working for international aid agencies don't qualify.
"Our soldiers deserve our utmost respect and deepest gratitude," Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean said in a statement.
"This medal recognizes the valued contribution of those who sacrificed their health or their lives while serving Canada."
The round, silver medal is 36 millimetres across, has a clasp at the top of it in the form of the Royal Crown and is attached to red, black and white ribbon.
There's a profile of the Queen on one side wearing a crown of maple leaves and snow flakes and an image from the Vimy Memorial on the other side with the word "Sacrifice."
Eligibility for the medal has been backdated to Oct. 7, 2001, meaning it will be posthumously awarded to the 93 soldiers and one diplomat killed in Afghanistan since the war began. Hundreds of wounded soldiers are also eligible.
Recognition for those who made the ultimate sacrifice was a major consideration when criteria were established, said Marie-Paule Thorn, a spokeswoman for the Governor General.
Limiting the medal to the Afghan conflict irks both the Royal Canadian Legion and individual veterans who have been fighting for years for a medal to replace the wound stripe.
"We're please for veterans," said Bob Butt, communications director for the Legion. "We were hoping it would go back beyond the date (the government) has made it retroactive to, but they haven't done that.
"Although we still support the medal. Anything that honours somebody who serves in the Canadian Forces is a good thing."
The notion of replacing the voluntary wound stripe, first introduced in 1916, was controversial within the rank and file of the army.
Soldiers don't like to talk about wounds. Many brush off injuries as something to be expected in their line of work and say medals only draw unwanted attention.
Thorn said the regulations allow a soldier to decide whether or not to wear the medal in public.
The steady stream of casualties coming out of Afghanistan in the fall of 2006 prompted many veterans to clamour for recognition of the wounded.
Murray Sinnott, an ex-soldier and retired city police officer from Windsor, Ont., started a grassroots campaign for a medal he called the Crimson Maple Leaf.
But Sinnott, a former member of the Canadian Guards regiment, doesn't like the idea of giving the medal to civilians.
"It should be for soldiers under hostile fire, not some civilian contractor hiding a bunker who happens to get shrapnel in his leg," he said in an interview.
Liberal Senator Colin Kenny, who also campaigned for wounded veterans, disagreed, saying all Canadians who put themselves in harm's way deserve the recognition.
The guidelines drawn up by the Directorate of Honours and Recognition at National Defence stipulate that only civilians employed by the federal government - either directly or on contract - qualify for the medal.
The definition covers diplomatic and development staff as well as civilian contractors in Afghanistan.
This is the second new medal introduced this year. A new, Canadian version of the Victoria Cross was unveiled in the spring as the highest honour that can be awarded for battlefield bravery.
Fallen, wounded soldiers in line for new medal
The Queen has approved an award for troops injured or killed in Afghanistan since October, 2001
August 30, 2008
HALIFAX -- Members of the Canadian military killed or injured in combat will be in line to receive a new Sacrifice Medal similar to the U.S. Purple Heart, the Governor-General announced yesterday.
Eligibility for the medal will be back-dated to October, 2001, meaning that it may be awarded to all those killed or wounded during the entire Afghan conflict. Recipients must have been injured seriously enough to require treatment and result in a medical report, said Marie-Paule Thorn, a spokeswoman for Rideau Hall.
"I would imagine they'd better start minting them pretty fast, because I think we've probably got a backlog of about 1,000," said retired major-general Lewis MacKenzie. "When people talk about the few hundred we've had wounded, seriously wounded, they don't include the people hit in a roadside bomb and then back at work the next day."
The new medal is similar in intent to the Purple Heart, which is awarded to U.S armed forces personnel who sustain wounds serious enough to require medical attention, among other criteria. While Purple Hearts are often awarded soon after hostile action, with active units sometimes keeping a supply on hand, the Sacrifice Medal will come only after an application through military channels by a commanding officer.
The medal is a silver circle 36 millimetres across, with a claw at the top of it in the form of the royal crown and attached to a straight slotted bar. One side depicts the Queen, whose headgear includes a maple leaf motif, and the other side bears the statue from the Vimy Memorial in France and the single word "Sacrifice."
No date has been set for the first presentation of the new medal. Governor-General Michaëlle Jean will preside over the inaugural ceremony and thereafter they will be presented on her behalf.
This is the latest of a burst of awards created in recent years and the country has now filled the obvious gaps in its lineup of military decorations, an expert on the honours system said yesterday.
"We're finally becoming more attuned to the need to recognize those who serve," said Christopher McCreery, the author of five books on the honours system. "The system of creating honours is catching up to the reality."
Injured members of the Canadian military have traditionally received a "wound stripe" to wear on the sleeve of their uniforms or civilian clothing. This is a practice going back, with some interruptions, to the First World War.
"It's something sons wore and their fathers wore before them," Dr. McCreery said of the wound stripe. "I think people will be a bit torn. But this is a much more tangible symbol. I think the vast majority of the [Canadian Forces] will be pleased."
Mr. Mackenzie praised the new award as being "more visible" and involving "more ceremony" than the old system.
"It's overdue and the only thing that'll be controversial is those people wounded since the end of the Cold War who won't get it," he said.
According to Ms. Thorn, the Rideau Hall spokeswoman, there is a five-year retroactive eligibility for awards, counting from the time an honour is initially proposed. That allows the Sacrifice Medal to be backdated to the start of the Afghan conflict, but doesn't allow it to apply to casualties from Bosnia, Rwanda, Somalia and the Gulf War.
Friday, August 29, 2008
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Pictured are men from the Army 41st Tank Battalion reunion. The (front row l-r), Jim Thompson, Cates Rowlf, Bob “Frenchy” Fontaine and Adrian J. Morchinek; (second row l-r), Jesse Ledbetter, James Eads, Mel Earnest, Ed Biza, Charles W. Scheetz, Robert Yablonsky; (back row l-r), Denton Schultz, Bob Johnston, Bill Zimblich, Lee Herl.
BDN photo by Donna Clevenger
By Donna Clevenger
BDN Staff Writer
The men who served during the Cold War may not have seen the drama from World War II, but they still have valid stories to tell.
A tight-knit group of soldiers of the Army’s 41st Tank Battalion who served in Germany from 1956-1958 have been coming to Branson since 2001 for an annual reunion.
There was a lot of tension between the Soviets and the U.S. according to the men from the 41st.
Operation Gyroscope was a plan to encourage draftees to re-enlist. However, most of the men who attended the reunion this year only served their 18-month-long tour. As young 18-21 year olds, they were stationed in Germany just 11 years after the end of World War II.
“It was frightening,” Ed Biza, Company A cook, said. “I had celebrated my 21st birthday. During the Hungarian Revolt, we were just a few minutes away from the Russian military — everything was in a high state of alert. When we thought about it — it was quite frightening.”
Biza said the Russians were formidable.
“Here we were, a bunch of kids, just fresh out of high school,” he said.
While the men did not see active combat, they were in an area where both sides remained on high alert and were fully armed at all times.
Others in the group wanted to also talk about the good times. They admitted to going out to check out the German girls. So what do they do each year?
“We talk about the good times,” Bob “Frenchy” Fontaine said.
Drinking German beer for the first time was quite different. Most all of the beer was brewed in a small brewery where there wasn’t much quality control. The men laughed together recalling the shots they had to take after most of them drank contaminated beer and suffered the consequences. After laughter and camaraderie, they turned to more serious talk as they spoke of a visit to Dachau, the first Nazi German concentration camp opened.
“It had been 11 years, but you could still smell it,” Denton Schultz said.
Most agreed that the German people were tense and somewhat resentful of their presence.
“They wanted peace too,” Schultz said.
“They wanted what we could give them too,” Robert Yablonsky said.
WASHINGTON (Aug. 28, 2008) – The new national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is saying "thank you" to the American airline industry for allowing military personnel traveling on orders to now check a third piece of luggage without paying an additional fee.
"I am extremely grateful to the airlines for agreeing with the VFW that dropping the fee was the right decision to make for our troops," said Glen Gardner, a Vietnam veteran from Round Rock, Texas, just north of Austin. Gardner was elected to lead the nation's largest organization of combat veterans on Aug. 21 at the VFW's 109th national convention in Orlando, Fla.
The baggage fee issue surfaced last month in a Texas newspaper article about a young soldier being charged $100 for a third piece of checked luggage. The soldier was headed for additional training before deploying to Iraq.
All major U.S. carriers were allowing military to check two bags for free, but the $100 industry norm for the third checked bag was hitting young troops directly in their wallets, despite some assurances from the Defense Department that the fee might be reimbursable at a later date. The VFW weighed in by asking the Air Transport Association to work with its member airlines to exempt military personnel traveling on orders from paying baggage fees on a third piece of checked luggage.
"A $100 is a huge out-of-pocket expense to someone who doesn't earn very much," said Gardner, "and that's why this luggage fee waiver is so important. Our troops can now properly focus on their mission instead of remembering to complete a travel voucher in a war zone."
In a letter of appreciation sent Wednesday to ATA president James C. May, the VFW national commander expressed his thanks to the association for facilitating the fee waiver with its member airlines.
"Waiving the third checked bag fee was a decision that needed to be made," wrote Gardner. "The VFW is very appreciative of ATA's understanding of our call to action, and very grateful for the subsequent actions taken by your member airlines. U.S. air carriers have always been huge supporters of our troops; their decisions to waive the third checked bag fee now amplifies that strong support."
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Lou Sapienza of the George 1 Antarctic Recovery Project Executive Director sent this info to me today ACWV supports this project whole heartedly please check out their website and support The George 1 Recovery Project.
The George 1 Recovery Project is committed to the recovery of the remains of three U.S. Navy aviators who died when their flying boat — a Martin PBM-5 Mariner codenamed "George 1" — crashed in Antarctica on December 30, 1946. The George 1 was participating in Admiral Richard Byrd's "Operation Highjump" expedition.
The three Navy aviators — the first American servicemen to die in Antarctica — were buried under one of George 1's engines:
* Ensign Max Lopez, 20, of Newport, Rhode Island
* Petty Officer Bud Hendersin, 25, of Sparta, Wisconsin
* Petty Officer Fred Williams, 26, of Huntingdon, Tennessee
The plane and the men's remains are now about 150 feet below the surface of the ice on Antarctica's infamous Phantom Coast.
An experienced polar recovery team is preparing to retrieve the George 1 — and to carefully and respectfully return the remains of Max Lopez, Bud Hendersin, and Fred Williams to their families.
Service Coming to 24 Counties in Six States
WASHINGTON (Aug. 27, 2008) -- The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is
rolling out four new mobile health clinics outfitted to bring primary
care and mental health services closer to veterans in 24 predominately
rural counties, where patients must travel long distances to visit their
nearest VA medical center or outpatient clinic.
"VA is committed to providing primary care and mental health care for
veterans in rural areas," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. James
B. Peake. "Health care should be based upon the needs of patients, not
their ability to travel to a clinic or medical center."
The pilot project is called Rural Mobile Health Care Clinics. It
features a recreational-type vehicle equipped to be a rolling primary
care and mental health clinic.
VA is currently in the process of procuring and outfitting the vehicles,
and officials expect the mobile clinics to be operational by early 2009.
Rural areas in Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming will share a single mobile
van, while Maine, Washington state and West Virginia will each have a VA
The clinics are planned to serve:
* Colorado: Larimer, Jackson, Logan, and Weld counties;
* Maine: Franklin, Somerset and Piscataquis counties;
* Nebraska: Cheyenne, Kimball, and Scottsbluff counties;
* Washington state: Greys Harbor, Mason, and Lewis;
* West Virginia: Preston, Randolph, Upshur, Wetzel, Roane, and
Taylor counties; and,
* Wyoming: Albany, Carbon, Goshen, and Platte counties.
Factors considered in the selection of the participating sites included
a need for improved access in the area, the degree to which clinics will
expand services and collaborations with communities the clinics serve.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
By Bruce Coulter
Tue Aug 26, 2008, 04:26 PM EDT
Hours after Russian troops responded to Georgia’s attempt to repatriate – by force – the breakaway republic of South Ossetia, political observers pondered the possibility of a second Cold War.
In fact, even after a truce – brokered by France – was signed, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has shown little interest in pulling back troops beyond a snail’s pace.
Adding fuel to the Cold War fires was Poland’s agreement allowing the United States to stage a missile interceptor base to protect U.S. allies from rogue states. The agreement prompted a warning from Russian Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn, who said Poland was opening itself to attack.
If Russia’s actions and words sound familiar, they should – at least to anyone over the age of 40.
The first Cold War began Sept. 2, 1945, almost as soon as the final curtain closed on World War II. For the next 46 years, the former Soviet Union and the United States eyed each other cautiously, all the while playing a game of cat and mouse. The Cold War era officially ended Dec. 26, 1991.
Sean Eagan, the recently elected chairman of the American Cold War Veterans (ACWV), said in the four-plus decades of the Cold War, approximately 382 American service members lost their lives in hostile actions.
He believes that number is much higher. It does not, he said, include the 31 Americans killed during the Berlin Airlift, or the losses aboard the USS Liberty, when 34 servicemen were killed and 173 wounded during an attack by Israeli forces, as well as numerous other incidents that took place during Cold War.
“We had a lot of people serve in a lot of dangerous places other than Korea and Vietnam,” he said. “There were 40 aircraft shot down and 116 soldiers missing in action from the Cold War.”
The ACWV was organized a year ago this month and membership, Eagan said, is increasing as more veterans become aware of the group.
“We’re new and we’re growing,” he said.
Despite being in its infancy, ACWV wasted little time approaching members of Congress to act on its behalf.
The group is urging Congress to honor the men and women who served during the Cold War with the issuance of a Cold War Service Medal.
Last year, U. S. Sen. Hillary Clinton introduced Senate Bill S. 1097, the Cold War Medal Act of 2007, which, if passed, would be awarded to servicemen and women who served between Sept. 2, 1945 and Dec. 26, 1991, and received an honorable discharge from the military.
Sens. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. and Mary Landrieu, D-La., Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., and Maine Republican Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins have signed on as cosponsors.
A previous bill was passed in the Senate and House in 2001, but lawmakers left issuance of the medal up to the Department of Defense, which has steadfastly refused to issue such a medal. Rather, DOD opted to issue a Cold War Certificate, which will no longer be issued at the end of the year.
U. S. Rep. Nick Rahall of West Virginia last year introduced H.R. 1900 – a bill to expand the retirement and disability pension benefits of people who have received an expeditionary medal in operations that weren’t covered in a VA-recognized wartime period. It’s a bill supported by ACWV.
“Too often, when these young men and women return home from service, we do not honor their bravery with the full measure of respect and gratitude that it deserves,” said Rahall in a statement. “I believe we should take this opportunity to help ensure that our veterans, regardless of the timeframe of their service, receive appropriate recognition and benefits.”
A second bill by Rahall, H.R. 1901, would extend pension benefits to veterans who have served in Korea, Lebanon, Grenada, and Panama.
As the law is written now, said Eagan, some veterans aren’t considered as having served during a wartime period.
The bill, which is attached to H.R. 5658, The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), said Eagan, has a good chance to pass.
All that is left is for the Senate to pass its version of the NDAA. However, the Senate is not expected to act on the legislation until after the November election, when Democrats hope to increase their margins in the Senate and House and hopefully, have a Democrat in the White House.
ACWV is also asking Congress to grandfather the award of the Army’s Combat Action Badge to World War II, noting that many Army veterans have served in combat, but were not eligible for the Combat Infantry or Combat Medic badges.
Ultimately, Eagan and the ACWV hope to educate people on what the cold war was.
“There were a lot of sacrifices made and people served a lot of hazardous duty during that time,” he said. “I think it’s overlooked.”
For more information, visit www.americancoldwarvets.org.
Bruce Coulter is the editor of the Burlington Union and a retired, disabled veteran. He may be reached at 978-371-5775, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Over the past decade, the Cold War Museum has made great strides in honoring Cold War Veterans and preserving Cold War history. I am writing to provide you with a brief update on the Museum's activities.
I am pleased to announce that earlier this year we submitted our proposed draft of a lease for use of the former Lorton Nike Missile base to Fairfax County Park Authority for their review and comment. I am grateful to Mr. Christopher Barker from the law firm of Walsh, Colucci, Lubeley, Emrich, & Walsh (www.thelandlawyers.com) who contributed countless hours of in-kind work in preparing our proposed lease for submission to Fairfax County.
The Cold War Museum continues to work with the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC and the Atomic Bunker in Harnekop near Berlin, Germany to display temporarily some of its artifacts. The Cold War Museum is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution and has pledges of support for artifact loans from Smithsonian Air and Space, American History, National Portrait, and US Postal Museums. The Museum has chapters in Berlin, Germany and Milwaukee, Wisconsin staffed by volunteers.
The mobile exhibit on the U-2 Incident, the "Spies of Washington Tour," and related educational activities continue to generate interest and support. The mobile exhibit is currently on display at the ITOW Veterans Museum (www.itowmuseum.org) in Perham, Minnesota through October 2008. If you know of a museum that would have an interest in the exhibit, please send me an email. The educational Spy Tour of Washington (www.spytour.com) is now booking group tours online.
Initial planning has begun for Cold War Conversations III about the Prague Spring of 1968 scheduled for October 11, 2008 at South County Secondary School in Lorton, VA. The Museum is working with the Embassy of the Czech Republic to commemorate this important anniversary. Our Berlin Chapter worked with the British Berlin Airlift Association to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Berlin Airlift in May 2008. There is a variety of sponsorship opportunities available in conjunction with these anniversary events as well as other Cold War Museum educational events and activities. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information.
If you know of friends or family members that would be interested in our efforts, share this update with them or encourage them to visit www.coldwar.org. Please consider a tax-deductible contribution and/or artifact donation. Your gift will help ensure future generations remember Cold War events and personalities that forever altered our understanding of national security, international relations, and personal sacrifice for one's country. Together we can make this vision a reality.
For more information, or to subscribe to our Cold War Times email newsletter list, please contact:
Francis Gary Powers, Jr.
The Cold War Museum
P.O. Box 178
Fairfax, VA 22038
Friday, August 22, 2008
MCCAIN: Thank you all very much. National Commander George Lisicki, thank you for the kind introduction. Ladies Auxiliary President Virginia Carmen, Incoming National Commander Glen Gardner, Incoming Ladies Auxiliary President Dixie Hild, Adjutant General Gunner Kent, Executive Director Bob Wallace: I thank you all for the warm welcome. I am honored to be in the company of all my fellow members of the VFW, and especially anyone here who might hail from Post 7401 in Chandler, Arizona.
I'm proud to count many of you in this room as personal friends, including my good friend retired Marine Corps Sergeant Major Paul Chevalier of New Hampshire. And there's another gentleman here I know you'll want to welcome. He's as fine a friend as a man could have in a tough spot, Lieutenant Colonel Orson Swindle of the United States Marine Corps.
All of us take pride in being members of this great organization. After its founding in 1914, the VFW served many of the more than four million American veterans of the First World War. Today just one of those veterans survives, a man of 107 named Frank Buckles. Frank lives in West Virginia. And I have a feeling that word will reach him if we all join in a round of applause for the last doughboy.
In all the years since, the men and women of the VFW have stayed faithful to their mission of serving those who have served their country. In Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and elsewhere, America's veterans have faced different enemies, but they have always found the same friend and ally in the VFW. All of us returned from war with a few experiences we'd gladly forget, but the friendships and camaraderie we brought home are forever. For keeping us all together, and helping those most in need, we're all in the debt of the VFW.
The men and women of the VFW know the value of freedom, because you have been its protectors. You were there when your country needed you. You shouldered heavy burdens and accepted great risks. I'm sure many of you will also recall from your experiences in war, as I do from mine, that when you're somewhere on the other side of the world in the service of America you pay attention to the news from back home. It affects morale. And even during this election season, with sharp differences on the wisdom and success of the surge in Iraq, Americans need to speak as one in praise of the men and women who fight our battles. They are the best among us, as you were before them, and I know you will join me in applauding the courage and skill that will see America through to victory.
Though victory in Iraq is finally in sight, a great deal still depends on the decisions and good judgment of the next president. The hard-won gains of our troops hang in the balance. The lasting advantage of a peaceful and democratic ally in the heart of the Middle East could still be squandered by hasty withdrawal and arbitrary timelines. And this is one of many problems in the shifting positions of my opponent, Senator Obama.
With less than three months to go before the election, a lot of people are still trying to square Senator Obama's varying positions on the surge in Iraq. First, he opposed the surge and confidently predicted that it would fail. Then he tried to prevent funding for the troops who carried out the surge. Not content to merely predict failure in Iraq, my opponent tried to legislate failure. This was back when supporting America's efforts in Iraq entailed serious political risk. It was a clarifying moment. It was a moment when political self- interest and the national interest parted ways. For my part, with so much in the balance, it was an easy call. As I said at the time, I would rather lose an election than lose a war.
Thanks to the courage and sacrifice of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines and to brave Iraqi fighters the surge has succeeded. And yet Senator Obama still cannot quite bring himself to admit his own failure in judgment. Nor has he been willing to heed the guidance of General Petraeus, or to listen to our troops on the ground when they say -- as they have said to me on my trips to Iraq: "Let us win, just let us win." Instead, Senator Obama commits the greater error of insisting that even in hindsight, he would oppose the surge. Even in retrospect, he would choose the path of retreat and failure for America over the path of success and victory. In short, both candidates in this election pledge to end this war and bring our troops home. The great difference is that I intend to win it first.
Behind all of these claims and positions by Senator Obama lies the ambition to be president. What's less apparent is the judgment to be commander in chief. And in matters of national security, good judgment will be at a premium in the term of the next president -- as we were all reminded ten days ago by events in the nation of Georgia.
It's been a while since most Americans -- including most of our leaders and diplomats -- have viewed Russia as a threat to the peace. But the Russian government's assault on a small democratic neighbor shows why this needs revising. As I have long warned, Russia under the rule of Vladimir Putin is becoming more aggressive toward the now democratic nations that broke free of the old Soviet empire.
Russia also holds vast energy wealth. And this heavy influence in the oil and gas market has become a political weapon that Russia is clearly prepared to use. Georgia stands at a strategic crossroads in the Caucasus. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, which brings oil from the Caspian to points west, traverses Georgia. And if that pipeline were destroyed or controlled by Russia, global energy supplies would be even more vulnerable to Russian influence with serious consequences on the world energy market.
For some time now, I have been making the case for a dramatic acceleration of domestic energy production. With high prices and growing demand for oil and gas, Americans cannot remain dependent upon others for the most vital of commodities. Now we are reminded that energy policy is also a matter of the highest priority not only for our economy, but for our nation's security. Disruptions of supply abroad can suddenly raise energy prices, inflicting great harm on our economy and on America workers. And in the term of the next president, skillful handling of such a crisis could be the difference between temporary hardship and far-reaching disaster.
When Russia first invaded Georgia, some people may have wondered why events in this part of the world should be any concern of ours. After all, Georgia may seem a small, remote and obscure place. But many of you served in places that once seemed remote and obscure. And the veterans of foreign wars know better than anyone how inattention to small crises can invite much larger ones. There are many reasons why the Russian invasion of Georgia is of grave concern to America and to our allies. Above all, Georgia is a struggling democracy where Soviet tyranny is still fresh in memory. There are reports now of Georgian villages being razed, civilians being rounded up, and innocent civilians shot. We have seen such things before, as in the Balkans and in earlier periods of European history, and now we must ensure that events in Georgia do not unfold into a tragedy of greater scale. When young democracies are threatened or attacked, and innocent civilians are targeted, they should be able to count on the free world for support and solidarity.
If I am elected president, they will have that support. And in cooperation with our friends and allies in Europe, we will make it clear to Russia's rulers that acts of violence and intimidation come at a heavy cost. There will be no place among G-8 nations, or in the WTO, for a modern Russia that acts at times like the old Soviet Union. The Cold War is over, the Soviet empire is gone, and neither one is missed. Least of all is that empire missed by the once captive nations of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine, and Georgia. These brave young democracies have joined the free world, and they are not going back.
Through decades of struggle, free nations prevailed over tyranny in large measure because of the sacrifices of the men and women of the United States armed forces. And it will fall to the next commander in chief to make good on the obligation our government accepts every time any man or woman enters the military, and again when they receive their DD 214. Those we depend on as troops should know, when they become veterans, that they can depend on us. Honoring this obligation will require leadership. And I pledge to you that as president I will lead -- from the front -- to reform our VA system and make sure that veterans receive the respect and care they have earned.
The Walter Reed scandal was a disgrace unworthy of this nation -- and I intend to make sure that nothing like it is ever repeated. There are other problems as well that have not received as much media attention. And my administration will do the hard and necessary work of fixing them, even when the press and the public are not watching.
Reform begins with appointing a Secretary of Veterans Affairs who is a leader of the highest caliber, and who listens to veterans and veterans' service organizations. My VA secretary must be a forceful advocate for veterans and forthright advisor to me, so we can make the right choices about budgeting, health care, and other veterans' benefit issues. He or she will also need to be a high-energy leader, too, because we'll have a lot of work to do in improving service to veterans.
Veterans must be treated fairly and expeditiously as they seek compensation for disability or illness. We owe them compassion and hands-on care in their transition to civilian life. We owe them training, rehabilitation, and education. We owe their families, parents and caregivers our concern and support. Veterans should never be deprived of quality medical care and mental health care coverage for illness or injury incurred as a result of their service to our country.
As president, I will do all that is in my power to ensure that those who serve today, and those who have served in the past, have access to the highest quality health, mental health and rehabilitative care in the world. And I will not accept a situation in which veterans are denied access to care on account of travel distances, backlogs of appointments, and years of pending disability evaluation and claims. We should no longer tolerate requiring veterans to make an appointment to stand in one line for a ticket to stand in another.
I'm not here to tell you that there is a cost that is too high to be paid in the care of our nation's veterans. I will make sure that Congress funds the VA health care budget in a sufficient, timely, and predictable manner. But I will say that every increase in funding must be matched by increases in accountability, both at the VA and in Congress. And this requires an end to certain practices and abuses that serve neither our veterans, our country, nor the reputation of Congress itself.
Exactly because funding VA programs command bipartisan support, some in the Congress like to attach unrelated appropriations and earmarks to VA bills. The result is to mix vital national priorities with wasteful and often worthless political pork. Earmarks show up in bills of every kind, and not just VA bills. That's how we end up budgeting hundreds of millions of dollars for bridges to nowhere, or lesser sums for Woodstock museums and the like. When that earmark for a million bucks to fund a Woodstock museum didn't come through, I don't imagine that many veterans had to change their vacation plans. And the principle here is simple: Public money should serve the public good. If it's me sitting in the Oval Office, at the Resolute desk, those wasteful spending bills are going the way of all earmarks, straight back to the Congress with a veto.
When we make it clear to Congress that no earmark bill will be signed into law, that will save many billions of dollars that can be applied to essential priorities, and above all to the care of our veterans. But reform doesn't end there. We must also modernize our disability system to make sure that eligible service members receive benefits quickly, based on clear, predictable, and fair standards. And we must address the problems of capacity and access within our VA health care system. While this will involve a wide range of initiatives, I believe there is a simple and direct reform we should make right away.
My administration will create a Veterans' Care Access Card to be used by veterans with illness or injury incurred during their military service, and by those with lower incomes. This card will provide those without timely access to VA facilities the option of using high- quality health-care providers near their homes. For many veterans, the closest VA facility isn't close enough. And many of their local providers are already familiar with the most common needs of veterans. Often, all that prevents them from receiving local care is a system for sharing medical records among VA, DOD, and civilian hospitals and doctors. My reform will improve care, reduce risks, and broaden access all at the same time.
This card is not intended to either replace the VA or privatize veterans' health care, as some have wrongly charged. I believe the VA should always be there to provide top-quality care for our veterans. And I believe that the VA should continue to provide broad-spectrum health care to eligible veterans, in addition to specialized care in areas such as spinal injuries, prosthetics, and blindness -- services in which the VA sets the standard in medical care.
Even so, there are veterans eligible for care who are not currently able to receive it, on account of distance, wait times, or the absence of certain specialties. And for this group, the new card I propose will offer better alternatives, to provide the benefits they have earned.
Reform must also recognize that greater care is needed for certain types of injuries. In the Senate, I co-authored the Wounded Warrior Act, which was the first major legislative initiative to address post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. As president, I will build on this legislation to improve screening and treatment for these severe injuries suffered by many in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The VA must also broaden its care for the women who are entering the armed forces in greater numbers than ever. The growing ranks of women in uniform have left the VA lagging behind in the services it provides. And here the Veterans Care Access Card will prove especially valuable, affording women medical options while the VA improves capacity and expands services.
These are among the elements of my reform agenda for the VA system. And today, as other occasions, I have stated in the plainest, most straightforward terms that the Veterans Health Care Access Card will expand existing benefits. I don't expect this will deter the Obama campaign from misrepresenting my proposals, but lest there be any doubt you have my pledge: My reforms would not force anyone to go to a non-VA facility. They will not signal privatization of the VA. And they will not replace any scheduled expansion of the VA network -- including those facilities designed to serve veterans living in rural and remote areas.
I suppose from my opponent's vantage point, veterans concerns are just one more issue to be spun or worked to advantage. This would explain why he has also taken liberties with my position on the GI Bill. In its initial version, that bill failed to address the number one education request that I've heard from career service members and their families -- the freedom to transfer their benefits to a spouse or a child. The bill also did nothing to retain the young officer and enlisted leaders who form the backbone of our all-volunteer force.
As a political proposition, it would have much easier for me to have just signed on to what I considered flawed legislation. But the people of Arizona, and of all America, expect more from their representatives than that, and instead I sought a better bill. I'm proud to say that the result is a law that better serves our military, better serves military families, and better serves the interests of our country.
No one who has worn the uniform of his or her country can ever take these matters lightly. We all learned an ethic in the service of looking after one another, of leaving no one behind, and this commitment did not end when we left the service. As a matter of duty and of honor, whatever our commitments to veterans cost, if I am president those commitments will be kept.
The next president will have many responsibilities to the American people, and I take them all seriously. But I have one responsibility that outweighs all the others and that is to use whatever talents I possess, and every resource God has granted me to protect the security of this great and good nation from all enemies foreign and domestic.
It is every veteran's hope that should their children be called upon to answer a call to arms, the battle will be necessary and the field well chosen. But that is not their responsibility. It belongs to the government that called them. As it once was for us, their honor will be in their answer not their summons. Whatever we think about how and why we went to war in Iraq, we are all humbled by and grateful for their example. They now deserve the distinction of the best Americans, and we owe them a debt we can never fully repay. We can only offer the small tribute of our humility and our commitment to do all that we can do, in less trying and costly circumstances, to help keep this nation worthy of their sacrifice.
Many of them have served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many had their tours extended. Many returned to combat sooner than they had been led to expect. It was a sad and hard thing to ask so much more of Americans who have already given more than their fair share to the defense of our country. Few of them and their families will have received the news about additional and longer deployments without aiming a few appropriate complaints in the general direction of people like me, who helped make the decision to send them there. And then they shouldered a rifle or climbed in a cockpit and risked everything -- everything -- to accomplish their mission, to protect another people's freedom and our own country from harm.
It is a privilege beyond measure to live in a country served by them. I have had the good fortune to know personally a great many brave and selfless patriots who sacrificed and shed blood to defend America. But I have known none braver or better than those who do so today. They are our inspiration, as I suspect all of you were once theirs. And I pray to a loving God that He bless and protect them. Thank you.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Soviet spy codenamed "Zephyr" who worked undercover with his wife in Europe and the United States for more than a quarter of a century has died aged 101, Russia's foreign intelligence agency (SVR) said on Tuesday.
The agency issued a glowing tribute to spy Mikhail Mukasei, whose death comes at a time when Russia's tense relations with the West and its conflict with Georgia are prompting many observers to draw parallels with the Cold War.
Mukasei operated with his wife Elizaveta as an undercover team in an unnamed "West European country" from the 1950s until their return to Moscow in 1977, the agency said in a statement on its Internet site www.svr.gov.ru.
"Their active work was as illegal operatives. The geographic operations of the Mukaseis were very extensive: they performed tasks for the motherland on several continents," the SVR's tribute said.
Earlier, during World War Two, under the cover of the Soviet vice-consul in Los Angeles, Mukasei gathered "highly valued" information linked to Japan's wartime threat to the Soviet Union, the SVR said.
Mukasei received numerous Soviet decorations for his work, including the Red Banner, the Red Star and the Andropov medal and went on to train future generations of spies before writing books and teaching aids, the tribute said.
Mukasei's services were also recognised by the Soviet Union's successor state Russia, which awarded him a medal for his "outstanding contribution to ensuring the security of the Russian Federation", the SVR said.
(Reporting by Conor Sweeney, Editing by Meg Clothier)
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
A full-page op-ed in Germany’s prestigious conservative daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung caught my eye last Wednesday. Titled “Preventive Nuclear War in Europe”, the article (which is not available online) describes in great detail the Warsaw Pact’s secret military planning for a first-strike massive nuclear surprise attack on Germany and Western Europe during the Cold War. The two highly-respected authors – Dr. Hans Ruehle, a senior ranking German defense ministry official and his son Michael Ruehle, who currently serves as the head NATO’s Policy Planning and Speech Writing Section – base their analysis primarily on relevant Warsaw Pact documents recently declassified by the Czech government.
The Warsaw Pact’s nuclear strategy devised by the Kremlin was heavily influenced by the lessons of the Cuban Missile Crisis. While Moscow feared that a direct nuclear exchange with America could lead to an Armageddon-type doomsday scenario, the Soviet leaders apparently believed that they could win a limited regional war in Europe by launching a massive surprise nuclear attack on Western Europe, destroy US / NATO nuclear weapons / troops stationed there, and then move in with Red Army tanks to spread the Communist world revolution. The Kremlin fully expected that in a potential European war, the United States / NATO would eventually use nuclear weapons first anyway to counter the Soviet’s huge advantage in conventional forces. Also, ever since Hitler’s “Operation Barbarossa” surprise attack in 1941, Stalin and other Soviet leaders after him were in an “offense is the best defense” mindset, believing that they had to rely on first-move advantages to deal with the perceived military and technological threats posed by the United States and NATO.
In 1961, for example, Warsaw Pact intelligence sources were convinced that NATO’s large-scale “Buria” military maneuvers set to begin on August 6th would be used by the Atlantic Alliance to effectively launch WWIII with a nuclear attack at 12:08 pm that day. “In response”, the Warsaw Pact contemplated a pre-emptive nuclear strike exactly three minutes earlier at 12:05 pm. West Germany alone would have been instantly hit by 422 nuclear warheads (attacking both military and civilian targets). Munich, Verona, Vicenza and even Vienna, the capital of neutral Austria, were to be directly attacked with nuclear weapons. In total, well above 1000 Soviet nuclear warheads were to be used to invade Western Europe. On day 7 or 8 of their nuclear war, the Soviets expected to cross the Rhine; on day 9, they expected to reach Lyon, and so forth.
During 1975-1985, the Kremlin leaders also debated unleashing a massive nuclear surprise attack on Western Europe to prevent the anticipated technological-economical rise of the United States and its Western allies. In contrast to many pacifist left-wing protesters in the West, the Soviets recognized and feared the fundamental challenges posed by Ronald Reagan’s arms build-up, the SDI project, etc. For several decades, Moscow did not give its Warsaw Pact satellites any right to weigh in on the bloc’s nuclear strategy. This iron-fisted approach only changed in 1986, one year after the reform-minded Mikhail Gorbachev took control of the Kremlin. Poland was particularly outspoken in its criticism of the Warsaw Pact’s preventive / pre-emptive nuclear war strategy. In 1986, Polish Communist leader General Jaruzelski told his Soviet counterpart bluntly that “Nobody should believe that in a nuclear war, one can sip a cup of coffee in Paris after five or six days.”
It is not clear why the Cold War never reached the nuclear boiling point. And unless Russia opens up its archives – which is extremely unlikely – we are unlikely to find out why the Soviets decided not to go through with their detailed plans to wage preventive / pre-emptive nuclear war against NATO and Western Europe. If anything, the declassified Warsaw Pact nuclear planning documents are a stern reminder that the Cold War was not as cold, rational and stable as it may appear in retrospect.
Dear Vets for Freedom Member:
Last weekend Vets for Freedom welcomed eight Iraq War combat veterans home as we returned from serving as embedded correspondents with U.S. combat units. The seven combat vets and myself met with top commanders, the lieutenants and sergeants fighting on the ground, their Iraqi counterparts and ordinary Iraqi citizens.
We returned to Iraq as part of the Back--to--Iraq embed program sponsored by Vets for Freedom and National Review Online, The Weekly Standard and Blackfive. In doing so, each of us had the opportunity to assess the situation on the ground in cities like, Fallujah, Samarra and Baghdad. We posed tough questions to top commanders, scrutinized the implementation of General Petreaus' counterinsurgency plan and surveyed the impact that the Surge has had in Iraq.
Read Our Dispatches and Watch our Videos from the Frontlines Here
Immediately upon returning, Vets for Freedom co-founder and former Army Staff Sergeant David Bellavia and former Marine Corps Captain Erik Swabb participated in an Iraq Update Forum with one of Senator Barrack Obama's chief foreign policy advisors, Colin Kahl at the American Enterprise Institute. And, this morning David Bellavia was featured on C-SPAN's Washington Journal taking questions from viewers from around the nation.
Today, we urgently need your help in order to educate the American people about the importance of achieving victory in Iraq. Please sign up on the VFF website and let us know how you will help to inform your friends and neighbors about the phenomenal progress in Iraq and the need for victory on every front of the Global War on Terrorism!
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
What Did We Expect?
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
If the conflict in Georgia were an Olympic event, the gold medal for brutish stupidity would go to the Russian prime minister, Vladimir Putin. The silver medal for bone-headed recklessness would go to Georgia’s president, Mikheil Saakashvili, and the bronze medal for rank short-sightedness would go to the Clinton and Bush foreign policy teams.
Let’s start with us. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, I was among the group — led by George Kennan, the father of “containment” theory, Senator Sam Nunn and the foreign policy expert Michael Mandelbaum — that argued against expanding NATO, at that time.
It seemed to us that since we had finally brought down Soviet communism and seen the birth of democracy in Russia the most important thing to do was to help Russian democracy take root and integrate Russia into Europe. Wasn’t that why we fought the cold war — to give young Russians the same chance at freedom and integration with the West as young Czechs, Georgians and Poles? Wasn’t consolidating a democratic Russia more important than bringing the Czech Navy into NATO?
All of this was especially true because, we argued, there was no big problem on the world stage that we could effectively address without Russia — particularly Iran or Iraq. Russia wasn’t about to reinvade Europe. And the Eastern Europeans would be integrated into the West via membership in the European Union.
No, said the Clinton foreign policy team, we’re going to cram NATO expansion down the Russians’ throats, because Moscow is weak and, by the way, they’ll get used to it. Message to Russians: We expect you to behave like Western democrats, but we’re going to treat you like you’re still the Soviet Union. The cold war is over for you, but not for us.
“The Clinton and Bush foreign policy teams acted on the basis of two false premises,” said Mandelbaum. “One was that Russia is innately aggressive and that the end of the cold war could not possibly change this, so we had to expand our military alliance up to its borders. Despite all the pious blather about using NATO to promote democracy, the belief in Russia’s eternal aggressiveness is the only basis on which NATO expansion ever made sense — especially when you consider that the Russians were told they could not join. The other premise was that Russia would always be too weak to endanger any new NATO members, so we would never have to commit troops to defend them. It would cost us nothing. They were wrong on both counts.”
The humiliation that NATO expansion bred in Russia was critical in fueling Putin’s rise after Boris Yeltsin moved on. And America’s addiction to oil helped push up energy prices to a level that gave Putin the power to act on that humiliation. This is crucial backdrop.
Nevertheless, today we must support all diplomatic efforts to roll back the Russian invasion of Georgia. Georgia is a nascent free-market democracy, and we can’t just watch it get crushed. But we also can’t refrain from noting that Saakashvili’s decision to push his troops into Tskhinvali, the heart of Georgia’s semiautonomous pro-Russian enclave of South Ossetia, gave Putin an easy excuse to exercise his iron fist.
As The Washington Post’s longtime Russia watcher Michael Dobbs noted: “On the night of Aug. 7 ..., Saakashvili ordered an artillery barrage against Tskhinvali and sent an armored column to occupy the town. He apparently hoped that Western support would protect Georgia from major Russian retaliation, even though Russian ‘peacekeepers’ were almost certainly killed or wounded in the Georgian assault. It was a huge miscalculation.”
And as The Economist magazine also wrote, “Saakashvili is an impetuous nationalist.” His thrust into South Ossetia “was foolish and possibly criminal. But unlike Putin, he has led his country in a broadly democratic direction, curbed corruption and presided over rapid economic growth that has not relied, as Russia’s mostly does, on high oil and gas prices.”
That is why the gold medal for brutishness goes to Putin. Yes, NATO expansion was foolish. Putin exploited it to choke Russian democracy. But now, petro-power-grabbing has gone to his head — whether it's invading Georgia, bullying Western financiers and oil companies working in Russia, or using Russia’s gas supplies to intimidate its neighbors.
If it persists, this behavior will push every Russian neighbor to seek protection from Moscow and will push the Europeans to redouble their efforts to find alternatives to Russian oil and gas. This won’t happen overnight, but in time it will stretch Russia’s defenses and lead it to become more isolated, more insecure and less wealthy.
For all these reasons, Russia would be wise to reconsider Putin’s Georgia gambit. If it does, we would be wise to reconsider where our NATO/Russia policy is taking us — and whether we really want to spend the 21st century containing Russia the same way we spent much of the 20th containing the Soviet Union.
At the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) National Convention in Orlando, Florida
This morning, I had the honor of addressing the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) National Convention in Orlando, Florida. The VFW was one of our major allies in the fight for the new GI Bill, and we wouldn't have succeeded without their support. As part of my remarks, I announced IAVA's relaunch of www.GIBill2008.org. The website, which served as a critical hub of online activism during our fight for the new GI Bill, is now a resource center for members of the military to learn about their hard-earned education benefits.
Starting this week, www.GIBill2008.org will provide America's newest generation of veterans with the tools they need to access the new GI Bill. It includes an interactive benefits calculator based on your zip code, answers to Frequently Asked Questions, and the latest news and information about the new GI Bill as it goes into effect.
IAVA is committed to helping eligible veterans access their new benefit, and we've begun community outreach with ads in newspapers across the country, urging veterans to visit www.GIBill2008.org. The original GI Bill made education affordable for millions of veterans during the 20th century. Thanks to your help in fighting for the new GI Bill, millions more will have the same opportunity in the 21st century. None of this would be possible without your continued support.
This is a piece all Americans should read by Phillip F. Tourney, survivor and past president of the USS LIBERTY Veterans Association three times and co-host of the LIBERTY HOUR radio show. This post appeared in the Blog Bits and Pieces
"I was murdered! Can you hear me?"
August 8, 2008
Can you hear me as I scream out from my watery grave in the Mediterranean Sea? Can you hear me from the tomb in the mass grave at Arlington National Cemetery? Can you hear me from my grave in the rolling hills of Kentucky? Can you hear me from my grave next to Mom & Dad’s house in Wisconsin? I am in many graves throughout this land in America. Can you hear me, so my death was not in vain?
…I was 19 years old and had the rest of my life ahead of me. I sure miss Mom and Dad, my kid brother. Most of all I miss the love of my life, Jenny. We met in second grade. We went to the prom together. She went off to college and I went off to the navy to serve my country. I loved her so much. How could I have looked into the future and known that my fate had already been sealed? I was to be murdered in cold blood…
…I had been in the navy for 9 years and was a chief petty officer already. The navy was my life. My wife accepted my decision to retire from the navy. We had a home in Norfolk, VA with our two kids, Debbie and little Joey. Joey loved to put on my chief’s hat and run around the house barking out orders. We all obeyed them. What good times we had together. As our ship left the pier, Cindy, my wife, would wave goodbye and stay until our ship was completely out of site over the horizon. I miss my family so much. How could I have known I was to be murdered, never to see my family again?…
…I graduated from the naval academy. What a proud day for me, Ma and Pa especially! Everyone was there, even my great-aunt. She came all the way from Hawaii to wish me well. I will never forget the great big hug she gave me. It felt so good. I really enjoyed my jobs in the navy, starting out as a lowly ensign. But how exciting were the tasks asked of me. I was just glad to be in the navy. I was on a blind date along with my roommate from the academy when I met his sister. He fixed me up with her. I really didn’t expect what I saw when I met her. Nothing against Tom but he wasn’t the most handsome man on the block so my expectations were pretty low, to say the least. She opened the door and I fell in love immediately. She was beautiful, breathtaking is a more fitting word. We were married 6 months and 4 days after I first saw her. We both wanted a family so we started immediately. I was blessed with three kids; two girls and a son. I had progressed in the navy and was now a Lt. Commander and the executive officer of my ship, the USS LIBERTY. How could I have ever imagined that sunny day in May as we set sail that I would never see my family again. God, I hope they all pull through this without me. I was to be murdered in the first week of June, 1967…
…I was retiring from the navy. I had already put in all of my time and hated that. I wanted to stay in until I was 90 years old, that’s how much I loved my job serving my country. My ship was about to sail off without me. I could not stand that I couldn’t go with her just one more time. I begged the captain to change my orders and he finally gave in and said ok, I’ll make sure you can make one more cruise with us. Now I had to go to my other captain, my wife, and tell her what I had done. My palms were sweaty, my heart was racing. Then I told her. I said honey the old man said I can make one more trip on the ship I love but I won’t go unless you and the kids say it’s ok. She started laughing, kissed me deeply and said I will not say no to something you love so much. I kissed my wife and kids goodbye, then hurried back to my ship. How her heart must have been broken when she heard I had been murdered aboard my good ship, the USS LIBERTY on June 8, 1967, by the Government of Israel….
I hear your voices, shipmates as do your other mates. We promise you WE SWEAR TO YOU IN THE NAME OF OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN AND IN THE NAMES OF OUR FOREFATHERS WHO MADE THIS GREAT NATION–we won’t let you die in vain. I hear your voices, shipmates. You remember me? My name is Ron Kukal. I’m the one who brought your lifeless and blown-up bodies out of the torpedoed spaces. I hear your voices. I won’t let you die in vain.
Forty one years ago, on June 8, 1967, my shipmates were murdered in cold blood by the Government of Israel in a sneak attack upon our ship in international waters. Our ship was attacked by jet aircraft using rockets and napalm to strafe our ship and burn us alive with their deadly napalm.
The Israelis sent 3 torpedo boats in for the kill, firing five torpedoes at us with one hitting the starboard side of our ship, instantly blowing to bits 25 brave American sailors and marines.
Our ship was in great danger of sinking so we put over our three remaining life rafts. The rest were shot up or burning. The Israelis shot two of the remaining rafts out of the water and took one aboard their boat. I guess they took it as a trophy for murdering their American friends. No survivors were to be allowed.
They then sent troop-carrying helicopters to finish us off. If it had not been for an incorrect message that help was on the way, I would have joined my brothers in death that fateful day.
Our government knew we were under attack and refused to come help us. Our government left us out there to die at the hands of our assassins, the Government of Israel. When it was all said and done our ship had over 800 canon and rocket holes. Thousands of armor piercing bullets were in her skin and a torpedo hole so big you could fit your house in it.
The torpedo gunmen made sport of shooting our fire fighters and stretcher bearers. I know this first hand because I was on the receiving end of their bullets. Thirty-four sailors and marines were murdered, 174 were wounded, and a 40 million dollar ship was in ruins.
The U.S. Government ordered all of us to never breath a word about what Israel did to us under penalty of prison or death. They made us part of the cover-up. Many survivors today will not speak of these war crimes for fear of our government. But many of us survivors chose to speak up and protest this act of treason by our own government officials who protect Israel with the phony excuse of ‘mistaken identity’.
The congress, then and now, are under the thumb of the Israeli political actions committees in this country and it is disgraceful that our spineless elected officials have no guts to confront them. The media–with few exceptions–are bought and paid for by the same people–ISRAEL.
I hear my shipmates every night, crying out from their graves for justice so their lives will not have been taken in vain. The only way I can drown out their voices is with my own voice as I cry back to them–I hear you, mates, and I will speak up for you until my last breath.
Now America, you know the story. Speak out–SHOUT–from the rooftops for justice, for the dead, and the wounded aboard the USS LIBERTY AGTR-5. It’s your duty as Americans.
Written in memory of the 34 murdered aboard the LIBERTY and all of the wounded.
Phillip F. Tourney, survivor and past president of the USS LIBERTY Veterans Association three times and co-host of the LIBERTY HOUR radio show through republicbroadcasting.org.
EXTENSION OF ELIGIBILITY FOR VETERANS PENSION BENEFITS TO VETERANS WHO RECEIVED AN EXPEDITIONARY MEDAL FOR A PERIOD OF MILITARY SERVICE OTHER THAN A PERIOD OF WAR.
May 8th 1975 - August 1st 1990 , Feb. 1st 1955 - August 4th 1964 A combined period of 24 years and 9 months of Cold War Era service not currently eligible for VA Pension. Here lies a major injustice. Any service between the above mentioned is not considered war time service. Below is a list of AFEM dates , as one can see all of these places and dates where the Cold War turned hot and there is potential for no VA Pension eligibility. I really believe we should get behind this and or similar legislation.
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.
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
April 17, 2007
Mr. RAHALL introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs
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.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. EXTENSION OF ELIGIBILITY FOR VETERANS PENSION BENEFITS TO VETERANS WHO RECEIVED AN EXPEDITIONARY MEDAL FOR A PERIOD OF MILITARY SERVICE OTHER THAN A PERIOD OF WAR.
Section 1501(4) of title 38, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new sentence: `Such term includes, in the case of any veteran, any period of active military, naval, or air service not covered by the preceding sentence for which the veteran received an expeditionary medal.'.
designated U.S. military operations, areas, and dates are as follows:
(1) Quemoy and Matsu Islands. From 23 August 1956 to 1 June 1963.
(2) Lebanon From 1 July 1958 to 1 November 1958.
(3) Taiwan Straits. From 23 August 1958 to I January 1959.
(4) Berlin. From 14 August 1961 to 1 June 1963.
(5) Cuba. From 24 October 1962 to I June 1963.
(6) Congo. From 23 to 27 November 1964.
(7) Dominican Republic. From 28 April 1965 to 21 September 1966.
(8) Korea. From 1 October 1966 to 30 June 1974.
(9) Cambodia (Evacuation of Cambodia-Operation EAGLE PULL). From 11 to 13 April 1975.
(10) Vietnam (Evacuation of Vietnam-Operation FREQUENT WIND). From 29 to 30 April 1975.
(11) Mayaguez Operation. 15 May 1975.
(12) Grenada Operation URGENT FURY. From 23 October 1983 to 21 November 1983. The qualifying criteria for non-unit direct support personnel in Grenada is 6 consecutive days or 12 nonconsecutive days.
(13) Libya-Operation ELDORADO CANYON. From 12 April 1986 to 17 April 1986.
(14) Persian Gulf Operation EARNEST WILL. From 24 July 1987, the date of the Bridgeton incident, to 1 August 1990. The area of operations is the area from 20 degrees north latitude northward to 30 degrees, 30 minutes, north latitude and from 46 degrees, 36 minutes, east longitude eastward to 63 degrees east longitude. These geographical limits include the Persian Gulf, Bahrain, Kuwait, the Gulf of Oman and most of Saudi Arabia.
(15) Panama-Operation JUST CAUSE. From 20 December 1989 to 31 January 1990.
d. Designated U.S. operations in direct support of the United Nations: Congo. From 14 July 1960 to 1 September 1962.
e. Designated U.S. operations of assistance for a friendly foreign nation are as follows:
(1) Laos. From 19 April 1961 to 7 October 1962.
(2) Vietnam. From 1 July 1958 to 3 July 1965.
(3) Cambodia From 29 March 1973 to 15 August 1973.
(4) Thailand (only those in direct support of Cambodia operations). From 29 March 1973 to 15 August 1973.
(5) Lebanon. From 1 June 1983 to I December 1987.
This section sets forth the beginning and ending dates of each war period beginning with the Indian wars. Note that the term "period of war" in reference to pension entitlement under 38 U.S.C. 1521, 1541 and 1542 means all of the war periods listed in this section except the Indian wars and the Spanish-American War. See §3.3(a)(3) and (b)(4)(i).
(a) Indian wars. January 1, 1817, through December 31, 1898, inclusive. Service must have been rendered with the United States military forces against Indian tribes or nations.
(b) Spanish-American War. April 21, 1898, through July 4, 1902, inclusive. If the veteran served with the United States military forces engaged in hostilities in the Moro Province, the ending date is July 15, 1903. The Philippine Insurrection and the Boxer Rebellion are included.
(c) World War I. April 6, 1917, through November 11, 1918, inclusive. If the veteran served with the United States military forces in Russia, the ending date is April 1, 1920. Service after November 11, 1918 and before July 2, 1921 is considered World War I service if the veteran served in the active military, naval, or air service after April 5, 1917 and before November 12, 1918.
(d) World War II. December 7, 1941, through December 31, 1946, inclusive. If the veteran was in service on December 31, 1946, continuous service before July 26, 1947, is considered World War II service.
(e) Korean conflict. June 27, 1950, through January 31, 1955, inclusive.
(f) Vietnam era. The period beginning on February 28, 1961, and ending on May 7, 1975, inclusive, in the case of a veteran who served in the Republic of Vietnam during that period. The period beginning on August 5, 1964, and ending on May 7, 1975, inclusive, in all other cases. (Authority: 38 U.S.C. 101(29))
(g) Future dates. The period beginning on the date of any future declaration of war by the Congress and ending on a date prescribed by Presidential proclamation or concurrent resolution of the Congress. (Authority: 38 U.S.C. 101)
(h) Mexican border period. May 9, 1916, through April 5, 1917, in the case of a veteran who during such period served in Mexico, on the borders thereof, or in the waters adjacent thereto. (Authority: 38 U.S.C. 101(30))
(i) Persian Gulf War. August 2, 1990, through date to be prescribed by Presidential proclamation or law. (Authority: 38 U.S.C. 101(33))
Sean P. Eagan
ACWV Public Affairs Director
Saturday, August 16, 2008
LONDONDERRY — United States Senator John Sununu today, received the endorsement of the National Vietnam and Gulf War Veterans Coalition. The Coalition is comprised of over 80 veterans organizations and advocacy groups which represent over 250,000 veterans and 2 million family members nationwide.
“I am honored to receive the endorsement of the National Vietnam and Gulf War Veterans Coalition and look forward to working with its members to continue fighting for the issues that are important to our nation’s 65 million service members and 25 million veterans,” said Senator John Sununu. “In the Senate, I have worked to secure a new veterans center in Berlin, wrote legislation that improves access to veterans housing, and continue to work on expanding benefits for the families of the brave men and women who have served our country.”
At a press conference in Londonderry announcing the endorsement, the Senator was joined by John Molloy, the Chairman of the National Vietnam and Gulf War Veterans Coalition.
“It is with great pleasure that I take this opportunity to announce that the National Vietnam and Gulf War Veterans Coalition has unanimously agreed to endorse Senator Sununu on his re-election to the United States Senate,” said Chairman John Molloy. “Senator Sununu should be commended for his vigorous efforts to restore full services to the Veterans Administration Hospital in Manchester.”
Also in attendance was State Representative Frank Emiro (R-Londonderry), a National Vietnam and Gulf War Veterans Board Member, who praised Senator Sununu for his strong support for Granite State veterans and efforts to expand veteran services in New Hampshire.
“Senator Sununu has always been a strong advocate for members of our armed forces that have served today and in the past,” said Representative Frank Emiro. “When there is an injustice affecting a veteran, Senator Sununu comes through like the Calvary.”
Senator Sununu’s Record to Improve and Expand Veteran Services
Helped to secure in-state radiation services for veterans at non-VA facilities in New Hampshire.
Worked with Senator Judd Gregg to open the VA Veterans Center in Berlin to provide counseling and outreach services in the North Country.
Advocated strongly for the location of a VA Veterans Center in Keene to provide services to veterans in the Southwestern area of the state.
Wrote and guided to passage an amendment to the “Veterans’ Housing Opportunity and Benefits Improvement Act” to update eligibility criteria for housing assistance grants for younger disabled veterans, and also cosponsored an amendment to increase the grants’ value.
Supported legislation in the United States Senate to modify and update the education incentives in the GI Bill and increase the monthly benefit for college costs.
Supported concurrent receipt legislation to permanently end the dollar-for-dollar reduction of retirement pay by disability benefit payments received by military retirees.
Supported legislation to create and fund a comprehensive outreach program to assist members of the National Guard with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as they return from combat.
Urged the VA to designate Greenfield, New Hampshire's Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center as a satellite to the Veterans Administration polytrauma-level care centers for war-related injuries.
Secured funding for the New Hampshire Veterans Home in Tilton and Buckingham Place, a veterans’ transitional housing development in Nashua. Fought for funding for Liberty House veterans’ homeless shelter in Manchester.
Announced new Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Grants to provide rental vouchers for homeless veterans with disabilities in New Hampshire.