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U.S. Army National Guard Spc. Timothy Shout, a native of Austin, Texas, scans the nearby ridge line along with other members of the Provincial Reconstruction Team Kunar Security Force element, following an engagement with anti-Afghan forces.  Shout is deployed from Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 143rd Infantry (Airborne) out of Austin, Texas. The unit took small-arms fire from a nearby mountain top during a routine patrol, and was able to suppress the enemy with the assistance of local Afghan National Security Forces.

 
 

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GOTP House’s refusal to fix budget stops funding for tuition assistance for troops

According to the Army News Service funding for tuition assistance has fallen as a casualty of the ongoing budget sequester battle between the Republican Tea Party (GOTP) controlled House and the President; as a result, soldiers cannot submit new requests for tuition assistance, according to LTG Howard B. Bromberg, deputy chief of staff, G-1.

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Approval for the tuition assistance (TA), stoppage came from Secretary of the Army John McHugh, and affects Soldiers from both the active and reserve components.

While it’s reported that soldiers currently enrolled in courses approved for TA are not impacted, and will be allowed to complete their funded coursework, there will be no further expenditures until the current impasse has been breached.

According to LTG Bromberg, the suspension in funding “is necessary given the significant budget execution challenges caused by the combined effects of a possible year-long continuing resolution and sequestration, and will remain in effect until the fiscal situation matures.”

Bromberg also said, “The Army understands the impacts of this action and will re-evaluate should the budgetary situation improve.”

While the TA funding, which is funded from the Army’s budget, soldiers can continue their education using alternate methods; those methods include GI Bill funding, which is derived from the Department of Veterans Affairs, is available and Soldiers can continue their education using this benefit. The GI Bill includes the Montgomery GI Bill, Post 9/11 GI Bill and several other education programs.

So, basically the GOTP has once again stuck it to the soldiers. When everyone stepped up after 9-11 there were crowds of conservative Americans waving flags and proclaiming how they supported the troops. If you still support the troops, step up and tell Congress to fix this now, if you’re unwilling to do that, well, then it’s time to take your patriotic ribbon magnet off your car, and stop being a hypocrite.

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2013 in Veteran's

 

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Senate Republicans block veterans’ jobs bill?

As only the Republican Tea Party (GOTP) members of the U.S. Senate could do, they blocked legislation establishing a $1 billion jobs program putting veterans back to work tending to the country’s federal lands and bolstering local police and fire departments claiming the spending authorized in the bill violated limits that Congress agreed to last year. Democrats fell two votes shy of the 60-vote majority needed to waive the objection, forcing the legislation back to committee.

The legislation was reportedly based after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps used during the Great Depression to put people to work planting trees, building parks and constructing dams. Democrats said the latest monthly jobs report, showing a nearly 11 percent unemployment rate for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, merited action from Congress.

“(With) a need so great as unemployed veterans, this is not the time to draw a technical line on the budget,” said Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.

Republicans said the effort to help veterans was noble, but the bill was flawed nevertheless.

Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma said the federal government already has six job-training programs for veterans and there is no way to know how well they are working. He argued making progress on the country’s debt was the best way to help veterans in the long-term, meaning somewhere in a mystical future when Republicans have magically regained the White House – so, obviously somewhere outside of four years.

“We ought to do nothing now that makes the problem worse for our kids and grandkids,” Coburn said.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said much would depend upon the number of applicants. She noted that more than 720,000 veterans are unemployed across the nation, including 220,000 veterans who have served since Sept. 11. She said putting veterans back to work was the cost of war.

“Instead of meeting us halfway, we have been met with resistance. Instead of saying yes to the nearly 1 million unemployed veterans, it seems some on the other side have spent the last week and a half seeking any way to say no,” Murray said.

Reportedly, a handful of Republicans joined with Democrats in voting to waive the objection to the bill: Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Dean Heller of Nevada, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Maine’s Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe.

“After everything our veterans have done for us, the least we can do is make sure they are afforded every opportunity to thrive here at home,” Heller said.

And the senator is right, unfortunately Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has vowed to do nothing that might help re-elect the president, so screw the veterans. This program was 100% paid for and the GOTP senators ignored that, and ignored our nation’s veterans (once again). Thanks for defending us, so sorry you’re unemployed, pick yourselves up and stop being part of the 47% Romney was talking about.

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2012 in 2012 Election, Veteran's

 

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Pearl Harbor 70th Anniversary

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2011 in Veteran's

 

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Veterans Hiring Bill Is A Democratic ‘Trick’?

Republican Tea Party (GOTP) favorite, Senator Jim DeMint did not serve in Vietnam (although he was born in 1951) and he’s never served in the armed forces, and yet yesterday he  distinguished himself as the only senator to oppose a measure aimed at hiring veterans, calling it a “trick” by the Obama administration and Democrats.

He ducked out on those serving in Vietnam, and he’s ducked out on those who are serving now; well, at least he’s consistent.

DeMint says he knew his decision wouldn’t be popular, but still cast the lone vote against an amendment to grant employers tax breaks worth up to $9,600 for giving a veteran a job.

“I know what I’m about to discuss won’t be very popular. I’ll probably be accused of not supporting veterans by the politicians pandering for their votes,” DeMint said on the Senate floor Thursday. “But I’m not going to be intimidated to vote for something that may make sense politically but is inherently unfair.”

Well, you got that right Sparkie, you don’t support vets; DeMint voted to grant President Bush the authority to use force in Iraq, and has been supportive of the war – as most of the uber-conservatives have been – but when the Democratic Party assumed control of Congress in 2006 and attempted to pass resolutions calling for time-tables for withdraw, DeMint was a very vocal critic of those actions saying resolutions calling for time-tables were resolutions of defeat and disgrace.

Well, the actual disgrace is not supporting Vets once they’ve gone and done what he never had the guts to do – serve.

DeMint argued that passing such a tax break was simply catering to an interest group and predicted little hiring would come from the measure. “Despite the overwhelming evidence that these tax credits do not stimulate hiring for targeted groups, the Obama administration continues to push Congress to pass another tax credit, this time exclusively for veterans,” he said. “By using a politically sensitive group the day before Veterans Day, the Democrats are hoping they can trick Republicans into further complicating the tax code.”

Yes, yes, the President’s catering to an interest group; really? Those who have served are now going to be dismissed by the likes of DeMint as merely an “interest group”? DeMint claims to love his country but has been unwilling to serve or to fully support those who do, he wants to boast he’s strong on defense but clearly he’s not. Soldiers, Marines, Sailors and Airmen are defense Mr. DeMint; they’re the muscle, bone, sinew and blood that pays for your ability to sit safely at home whining; if Karma’s listening then you’ll be duly thanked for your support the next time you run for anything.

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2011 in Veteran's

 

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Veteran’s benefits won’t be slashed?

President Barack Obama pledged on Tuesday that there won’t be any cutting of benefits for America’s veterans while he’s in the White House.

Addressing The American Legion’s 93rd Annual National Convention in Minneapolis, the President said veterans wouldn’t bear the brunt of federal cutbacks, in spite of the fact veteran’s benefits are clearly in the cross hairs of the Republican Tea Party (GOTP) controlled House and its fiscal crusade.

“As a nation, we’re facing tough choices as we put our fiscal house in order,” the President said, getting a standing ovation from the crowd of thousands in the process. “But I want to be absolutely clear: We cannot, we must not, and we will not balance the budget on the backs of our veterans. And as commander-in-chief, I won’t allow it.

“As today’s war’s end, as our troops come home, we’re reminded once more of our responsibilities to all who have served, for the bond between our forces and our citizens is a sacred trust. And for me and my administration, upholding that trust isn’t just a matter of policy; it’s not about politics. It’s a moral obligation. That’s why my very first budget included the largest percentage increase to the VA budget in the past 30 years. So far, we’re on track to have increased funding for Veterans Affairs by 30 percent. And because we passed advance appropriations, when Washington politics threatened to shut down the government last spring, the veteran’s medical care that you count on was safe.”

The President also offered a plan to help revive the economy through the hiring of veterans who have and are returning from deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

“We’re going to offer more help with career development and job searches,” he said. “I’ve directed DoD and the VA to create a reverse boot camp to help our newest veterans prepare for civilian jobs and translate their exceptional military skills into industry-accepted licenses and credentials. And today I’m calling on every state to pass legislation that makes it easier for our veterans to get the credentials and the jobs for which they are so clearly qualified. This needs to happen, and it needs to happen now.

“We’re encouraging the private sector to do its part. I’ve challenged companies across America to hire or train 100,000 unemployed veterans or their spouses. This builds on the commitments that many companies have already made as part of the Joining Forces campaign championed by (Michelle Obama) and the vice president’s spouse, Dr. Jill Biden. I’ve proposed a Returning Heroes Tax Credit for companies that hire unemployed veterans and a Wounded Warrior Tax Credit for companies that hire unemployed veterans with a disability. When Congress returns from recess, this needs to be at the top of the agenda. For the sake of our veterans, for the sake of our economy, we need these veterans working and contributing and creating the new jobs and industries that will keep America competitive in the 21st century.”

The President also addressed the needed care of U.S. service members when they return home – specifically those dealing with hidden wounds such as post-traumatic stress and mental illness.

“We’re working aggressively to address another signature wound of this war, which has led too many fine troops and veterans to take their own lives – post-traumatic stress disorder,” he said. “We’re continuing to make major investments: improving outreach and suicide prevention, hiring and training more mental health counselors and treating more veterans than ever before.

“The days when depression and PTSD were stigmatized must end. That’s why I made the decision to start sending condolence letters to the families of service members who take their lives while deployed in a combat zone. These American patriots did not die because they were weak. They were warriors. And every man and woman in uniform, and every veteran, needs to know that your nation will be there to help you stay strong.”

President Obama told Legionnaires U.S. service members serving in Iraq will be home by the start of 2012, while the drawdown in Afghanistan will continue.

“Having ended our combat mission in Iraq and removed more than 100,000 troops so far, we’ll remove the rest of our troops by the end of this year and end that war,” he said. “Having put al Qaeda on the path to defeat, we won’t relent until the job is done. Having started to drawdown our forces in Afghanistan, we’ll bring home 33,000 troops by next summer and bring home more troops in the coming years. As our mission transitions from combat to support, Afghans will take responsibility for their own security, and the longest war in American history will come to a responsible end.”

Those men and women who have served in both campaigns are deserving of a grateful nation’s praise, the President said.

“Young captains, sergeants and lieutenants have assumed responsibilities once reserved for more senior commanders, reminding us that in an era when so many other institutions have shirked their obligations, the men and women of the United States military welcome responsibility,” he said. “In a decade of war, they have borne an extraordinary burden, with more than two million of our service members deploying to the warzones. Hundreds of thousands have deployed again and again, year after year. Never before has our nation asked so much of our all-volunteer force – that 1 percent of Americans who wears the uniform.

“Through their service, their sacrifice, their astonishing record of achievement, our forces have earned their place among the greatest of generations.”

The President said those men and women who come home injured and file a claim with VA shouldn’t have to wait for that claim to be adjudicated, and that the current backlog of VA claims remains a priority for his administration.

“Now, I know that over the past year, the backlog has actually grown, due to new claims from Agent Orange,” he said. “But let me say this, and I know Secretary Shinseki agrees: When our veterans who fought for our country have to fight just to get the benefits you’ve earned – that’s unacceptable. So this is going to remain a priority. We’re going to keep hiring new claims processors, keep investing in new paperless systems and keep moving ahead with our innovation competition in which our dedicated VA employees are developing new ways to process your claims faster – not in months, but days. The bottom line is this: Your claims need to be processed quickly and accurately, the first time. And we’re not going to rest until we get this done.”

The President concluded his remarks saying he will address the rest of the nation next week with a plan for creating jobs and reducing the nation’s deficit. “We Americans have been through tough times before, much tougher than these,” he said. “And we didn’t just get through them, we emerged stronger than before. Not by luck. Not by chance. But because in hard times, Americans don’t quit; we don’t give up. We summon that spirit that says, ‘When we come together, when we choose to move forward together, as one people, there’s absolutely nothing we can’t achieve.'”

At a time when the uber-conservatives, who bravely waved the flag and sent our young men and women off to two wars now threaten to cut – and even discontinue – their benefits, it’s nice to know the Command-in-Chief says he has veteran’s backs.

If he holds true to what he’s pledged it will go a long way to building bridges between veterans and the Democratic Party; but if he gives in to uber-conservatives and cuts veteran’s benefits he will gravely damage not only his own prestige and that of the office of the President, but he may forever weaken an already ailing relationship between groups like the American Legion and the Democrats.

What’s amazing is how veterans seem to hold fast to the GOTP and its candidate’s even though time-and-time again they throw veterans under the bus. Any veteran who votes for any of the current crop of GOTP presidential wanabees or for uber-conservative Congressional candidates votes against their own future. The GOTP isn’t strong on defense and it has proven over-and-over that it doesn’t care about veterans.

 
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Posted by on September 1, 2011 in Veteran's

 

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President Obama seeks tax credits to aid vets?

According to the Associated Press (AP), President Barack Obama is asking Congress to approve new initiatives to help some of America’s 1 million unemployed military veterans find work, including tax credits for companies that hire out-of-work vets.

The proposal is part of the President’s efforts to return to a focus on jobs after spending weeks fighting with Tea Partista terrorists in Congress who held raising debt ceiling hostage for most of the summer.

Last month’s jobs report was dismal, with the country’s unemployment rate ticking up to 9.2 percent and job growth slowing nearly to a halt.

The White House reportedly says the sluggish economy creates additional challenges for veterans looking to enter the civilian labor market. About 1 million veterans are unemployed, according the administration, including former 260,000 service members who joined the military after the 9-11pt, and the administration sets the unemployment rate for the post-Sept. 11 service members at about 13.3 percent.

The main features of the President’s proposal, according to administration officials, are two tax credits for companies hiring unemployed veterans:

– A “Returning Heroes” tax credit for 2012-2013. Companies that hire unemployed veterans would receive a $2,400 tax credit. That tax credit would increase to $4,800 if the veteran has been unemployed for six months or more.

– A two-year extension of the “Wounded Warriors” tax credit, which gives companies that hire veterans with service-related disabilities a $4,800 credit. If the veteran has been unemployed for six months of more, the tax credit increases to $9,600.

The tax credits would require congressional approval. Administration officials said the White House would start working with lawmakers on the proposal after Congress returns from its recess in September, with the estimated cost of the tax credits being $120 million.

President Obama will reportedly challenge private companies to hire or train 100,000 veterans by the end of 2013. He is expected to name some companies that already have committed to taking part in that effort.

The president also will announce a joint initiative between the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments to come up with a “reverse boot camp” program that would help train service members for the civilian workforce as they wind down their time in the military.

It will be interesting to see how the Republican Tea Partistas (GOTP) in Congress and those running for the party’s presidential nomination will react to these proposals; no doubt some will attack claiming we don’t have money to support any additional spending. To that sort of claim the  President should then say the money will come from a tax on all corporations who made money hand over fist (Haliburton) while Americans fought and bled – and continue to fight and bleed – in Iraq and Afghanistan. You can’t fight a war and not pay for them, and a big part of that cost is taking care of veterans after the fight is over.

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2011 in Veteran's

 

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