discuss, debate, decide


Obama Moving Backwards on Veterans' Health Care? [update]

As a veteran I can not emphasize how much of an insulting and disgraceful act this, via The Chicago Sun-Times, would be if it is true:

Q The VA Secretary was on the Hill today and he confirmed -- Secretary Shinseki -- that the administration is considering a plan to have veterans have the treatment for their service-related injuries paid for with private insurance, rather than the government. And there are a lot of veterans groups who have written to the President saying they believe this is outrageous and the government should be picking up the tab for those who served. What can you say about why the President is considering this --

MR. GIBBS: I've not seen what the VA Secretary had to say on this today, so let me go back and get a chance to read up on it.

Let us think about this one, OK?

CNN: 72% Want More Governmental Involvement With Health Care

From CNN:

Seventy-two percent of those questioned in recent CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey say they favor increasing the federal government's influence over the country's health care system in an attempt to lower costs and provide health care coverage to more Americans, with 27 percent opposing such a move. Other recent polls show six in 10 think the government should provide health insurance or take responsibility for providing health care to all Americans.

Clearly, Americans want less private and more public health care.

Gibbs better get back with better answers about that because we are not about to watch the nation screw up Veterans' care even more than the Bush administration already had. The VA's only real problems were serious underfunding by those that pay lip service to supporting the troops.

And we all know what a taxpayer boondoggle privatization of government services is.

I would be less insulted if the Obama administration said they were going to move Veterans and the uninsured, as well, to Medicare which, as the New England Medical Journal points out, is a cost saving program when compared to for-profit insurance:

Inclusion in the national insurance exchange of a public-plan option that would be open to businesses and individuals is key to achieving savings. Medicare has lower administrative costs and provider-payment rates than fee-for-service commercial insurers; if private plans did not bring down rates, a new public-plan option could offer premiums that would be 20 to 30% lower than commercial rates for similar benefits. To be competitive, private insurers would need to become more efficient and work with providers to integrate, coordinate, and redesign care to treat chronic conditions more effectively and avert preventable hospitalizations, complications, and readmissions.

The only real problem with that statement is that for private insurers to be competitive they would have to give up the idea of profit and bonuses, both of which are counterintuitive to the common good of providing better health care for everyone, rendering the idea of lowering private insurance costs argument as ridiculous.

Veterans need answers concerning Shinseki's statement.

And we need to demand these answers now. We can not solve the problems involved in veterans health issues by throwing them the anchor of a bunch of CEO's fantasy based bonuses and profits for nothing private insurance scam.

[update] From the Suburban Guerrilla, Susi Madrak, writing over at Crooks and Liars, we find that CNN poked around a bit on this and we may know enough to alleviate veterans' concerns:

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki confirmed Tuesday that the Obama administration is considering a controversial plan to make veterans pay for treatment of service-related injuries with private insurance.

But the proposal would be "dead on arrival" if it's sent to Congress, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, said.

Murray used that blunt terminology when she told Shinseki that the idea would not be acceptable and would be rejected if formally proposed. Her remarks came during a hearing before the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs about the 2010 budget.

I still would be much happier if Obama came out and said this is not in the cards but it is nice to know that on the record this would be DOA in the Senate. And it is nice to know that a couple of elections can make a difference in the sanity level in D.C..

VA: A Bureaucratic Mess

We've seen this before, especially us "Nam Vets as we returned, tens of thousands, and those needing and seeking the care from their service in a war became backlogged, or just plain denied. Many of us veterans were trying to be heard, over the rising drum beat of war, of what was coming especially if invading a country that did absolutely nothing to deserve that invasion and occupation. We were one of those groups politically labeled, by our hired administration, as a 'focus group' that they didn't listen to. But it wasn't only the administration not listening it was the greater majority of this country, they don't mind spending billions upon billions upon billions........... on the war machine and waging war with same, but when the soldiers start returning and the system gets overwhelmed the country doesn't want to hear anything about that, or if they hear they most certainly don't want to pay..


"That young man never should have come into the Army"

The above subject title is the forth addition in a week long series at Salon.com by Mark Benjamin and Michael de Yoanna on the returned Soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan called "Coming Home". It's the open window into what happens to some after serving in man's hell on earth, Wars and Occupations of Choice!<!--Break-->

"You're a p- - -y and a scared little kid", 3rd Installment of "Coming Home"

Bumped by Carol. This is a painfully important series. Originally posted 2009-02-12 07:12:02 -0500

The subject title above is the third installment of a week long series of reports being run at Salon.com.


The first two installment reports can be found in links below or with this link of what I posted previously


"The Death Dealers took my life!"

Hey this sure seem like nepotism or something, but I am bumping this and promoting it. It was originally posted 2009-02-10 12:48:26 -0500. carol.


A 'Big Hat Tip' to Carol White who sent me the link to the first of this series, a 'Big Hat Tip'!!

Salon.com has a series running all this week called "Coming Home", researched and written by Mark Benjamin and Michael de Yoanna.

The following is the description and lead in information on the series:

Army: 24 Suspected Suicides in January '09

Originally posted but worthy of noting again since much time and effort has been devoted to covering PTSD by ePluribus Media - standingup


This is just being reported,


Army reports alarming rise in suicides last month


There has been a small sprinkling of reports about the Military Suicides in the last couple of months, most of those found only if one is hitting a number of news outlets but not making National News, even as those who serve do so for the Country not a Community located near a base or where their from.


Soldiers Get Shafted, Again and........................!!

I was trying to write something more about this report I just read, but after these last eight previous years my rage keeps me from thinking straight in trying to add words to the total apathy, arrogance, and incompetence found in this country and it's elected representatives.

But I want you to meet Melissa Sterry, a Gulf War I National Guard Veteran, from New Haven Connecticut, and read the cuts I placed below also visiting the Hartford Advocate and read the rest, not only about Ms. Sterry but as to the rest of the Veterans of Connecticut, and what the state reps have to say.

Killing Themselves And Others For God And Country

Reports are now emerging about an alarming rise in the suicide rates in the Army -- and a similar increase in the Marines.

Julian E. Barnes and Jia-Rui Chong posted this piece today in the LA Times:

Army sees sharp rise in suicide rate
It's the highest in 30 years. Military officials say in a report that prevention efforts are inadequate.

An excerpt from the piece:

It marked the first time the Army rate has exceeded the national suicide rate for the corresponding population group -- 19.5 per 100,000 -- since the Pentagon began systematically tracking suicides nearly 30 years ago.

The 2008 figure does not include 15 additional deaths under investigation that officials suspect were suicides.

A similar piece appears in the Mercury News from John Simerman of the Contra Costa Times with the following title:

Here's an excerpt from there:

"This is not business as usual. We need to move quickly to do everything we can to reverse this very disturbing number of suicides," said Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the Army vice chief of staff. "We need to help our soldiers and their families understand that it's OK to ask for help."

Defense officials have not released overall suicide statistics in the military, but the numbers for Marines also reportedly rose in 2008. Army doctors said that troubles with intimate relationships, poor job performance, alcohol or drug abuse sparked some of the suicides. Stress from long deployments and multiple tours can play a role, often straining relationships at home; some soldiers have killed themselves after returning home and receiving new deployment orders, the Army confirmed.

According to Simerman's piece, officials have also stated that most of the suicides have occurred during initial deployments, but that's hardly comforting -- and certainly not an excuse. Again from the Simerman piece:

Change of Culture at VA Called For

From: Veterans for Common Sense


During Confirmation Hearing for New Veterans Secretary


(Washington, D.C.) - Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) questioned Retired General Eric Shinseki, President-elect Barack Obama's nominee to be the next Secretary of Veterans Affairs, about challenges facing the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Senator Murray, a senior member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee and an outspoken leader in fighting for veterans' benefits and care, discussed changing the overall culture at the VA, improving care for women veterans, and working to make the VA a more proactive agency. Secretary-Designate Shinseki"s nomination is expected to be voted on by the full Senate as part of a package of Obama administration nominees on January 20th.


California's Landmark Combat PTSD Case: Former Army Ranger Sargent Binkley Receives Treatment, Not Jail Sentence

Promoted. Originally posted 2009-01-14 14:59:25 -0500. -- GH

If you ever feel less than empowered, if you ever wonder if members of society can actively play a role in shaping how its returning veterans are treated beyond the accolades given at welcome home parades and Veterans Day potlucks, look no further than the citizens of California for one shining example of how its done.

Back in September 2007, I linked to a piece by John Corté that ran in the San Francisco Chronicle in my PTSD Combat post Combat Veterans, PTSD and Prison. Corté's article introduced us to a former West Point graduate who served in Bosnia and Honduras who was arrested and facing a possible 12-year stint in jail for holding up two pharmacies to feed his painkiller addiction, the same medication the VA prescribed -- over 15 times -- for injuries suffered while the former Army Ranger was based in Honduras.

Civilian doctors had also diagnosed PTSD.

His watershed case has gone to trial and the verdict was delivered yesterday. [ABC-San Francisco news report is now available online; KTVU also has their news report up, which includes interviews with his parents.] Full details in extended.


Promoted. Originally posted 2009-01-10 06:34:20 -0500. -- GH

Coming to terms with the reality and the lessons ignored for far too long, which ultimately by ignoring led us into the Deja-Vu of invasion and long term occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan and the failed leadership exposed!

Vietnam Veterans Confront the Truth About U.S. War Crimes Inside, the book, the Army's Secret Archive of Investigations.

Atrocities, on all sides, are only a part of the story of the Tragedy of War and Occupation.

The rest we are once again observing and those serving and sacrificing in these theaters are living, along with their families.


Veterans of george's War Want a Bailout

The following is a Twofur of Information:

392,000 Pending Appeals to VA for Help

It's not easy to get the runaround when you have a traumatic brain injury from george's war.

Did You Know 200,000 Vets Are Sleeping on the Streets?

America's promise to "Support the Troops" ends the moment they take off the uniform and try to make the transition to civilian life.

Demand O'Reilly apologize to the "non-existent" homeless vets he attacked ?

Distress: December 26th 1971 and December 26th 2008

Back on December 26th 2006 I put together a post, for my site and a few others, in remembrance of an anniversary of a day my fellow Vietnam Veterans made a statement to our country, a statement of a Country in Distress, Our Country!
A shoutout about not only our War of Choice but what our society was going through, Civil Rights Movement, care of the returning Vets, civil disobedience for the many failed policies, and more, the statement wasn't really taken seriously except by the minority, as is usually the case, the country itself just dug deeper into it's apathy and never came to terms with our War and Occupation and still hasn't!
December 26, 1971 Two dozen members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War "liberated" the Statue of Liberty with a sit-in to protest resumed U.S. aerial bombings in Vietnam. They flew an inverted U.S. flag from the crown as a signal of distress.

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