Republicans Have Betrayed America’s Veterans

I know that all veterans are patriotic, because when our country called to defend America, democracy, or freedom for others, we answered the call. Whether drafted or volunteered, we answered the call. We may not have agreed with the war(s), but we answered the call. Political affiliation was not a major factor.

I understand that most veterans today tend to be conservative and vote Republican. This is partially due to the Republican party posturing themselves as the party of military strength and continued increases in defense spending. They proudly display their “Support our Troop” banners and bumper stickers, call themselves “Patriots,” and continue to pass budgets that increase our military spending. They are more than willing to send our troops off to fight the next war under the guise of “defending America”.

However, when our patriotic veterans return from war, they treat them like low class citizens that are a burden to our society. They don’t want to deal with the problem. The truth is the Republicans don’t care about veterans. They are more than willing to renege on their obligations to our veterans for their own political gains.

Why am I saying this?  Let me explain. Two months after President Obama was sworn in on January 20, 2009, he made the following statement reference his commitment to our veterans:

“For their service and sacrifice, warm words of thanks from a grateful nation are more than warranted, but they aren’t nearly enough. We also owe our veterans the care they were promised and the benefits that they have earned. We have a sacred trust with those who wear the uniform of the United States of America. It’s a commitment that begins at enlistment, and it must never end.” -President Barack Obama, March 19, 2009

Since that statement, President Obama has taken key steps to ensure that our veterans receive the best health care, get the benefits they have earned, and have access to the education and training they need to re-enter the workforce.  He has provided historic levels of support to veterans and their families in his budget requests.  However, he had to fight the Republicans every step of the way. The following veteran bills are an example of the Republican’s unwillingness to support our nation’s veterans.

Two of the Largest Veteran Bill’s Rejected By Republicans Since President Obama Took Office.

The Veterans Job Corps Act of 2012 would have spent $1 billion over five years to put veterans to work tending to federal lands, and in the nation’s police and fire departments. The measure would have potentially created jobs for up to 20,000 veterans. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) based her plan on FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).

September 19, 2012 was the day that forty Senate Republican members of the United States Senate betrayed our nation’s veterans when they decided that denying President Obama a victory was more important than spending $1 billion to create jobs for veterans. Senate Republicans blocked the measure on a procedural point, arguing that the bill was unpaid for and because they said there is no proof that it would work.

“It’s both shocking and shameful that Republicans today chose to kill a bill to put America’s veterans back to work,” Senator Murray said in a statement. “At a time when one in four young veterans are unemployed,” she said, “Republicans should have been able, for just this once, to put aside the politics of obstruction and to help these men and women provide for their families. These men and women have worn our uniform, shouldered the burden and faced unthinkable dangers in forward areas during a very dangerous time. This vote was a stark reminder that Mitch McConnell, Senate minority leader from Kentucky, and Senate Republicans “are willing to do absolutely anything to fulfill the pledge he made nearly two years ago to defeat President Obama. It doesn’t matter who gets in their way or which Americans they have to sacrifice in that pursuit, even if it’s our nation’s veterans.”

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In 2014, Democrats submitted legislation that would have expanded federal healthcare and education programs for veterans. The measure would have brought the most significant changes in decades to U.S. veterans’ programs. It would have provided $21 billion for medical, education, and job-training benefits. The bill contained provisions that would restore the cost-of-living increases (COLA) for vets, protect them from losing their benefits in the event of another government shutdown, and would have provided tuition assistance to post-9/11 vets. It also would have authorized the construction of 27 new clinics and medical facilities to help a healthcare system that is strained by veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

On February 14, 2014, Senate Republicans, led by Mitch McConnell, once again blocked the legislation saying the bill would bust the budget. Playing politics, Senate Republicans attempted to attach controversial legislation calling for possible new sanctions on Iran which President Barack Obama opposed.

“The issue of Iran sanctions… has nothing to do with the needs of veterans,” complained Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Bernard Sanders of Vermont, the main sponsor of the bill. “I personally, I have to say this honestly, have a hard time understanding how anyone could vote for tax breaks for billionaires, for millionaires, for large corporations, and then say we don’t have the resources to protect our veterans.”

The only message that can be taken away from this is that Republicans continue to think it is more important to deny President Obama a “win” than it is to follow through on their obligations to our nation’s veterans.

More Veteran Bill’s Rejected By Republicans Since President Obama Took Office.

H.R. 466 – Wounded Veteran Job Security Act – This bill would actually provide job security for veterans who are receiving medical treatment for injuries suffered while fighting in defense of their country. It would prohibit employers from terminating employees who miss work while receiving treatment for a service-related disability.

H.R. 1168 — Veterans Retraining Act – This bill would provide for assistance to help veterans who are currently unemployed with their expenses while retraining for the current job market.

H.R. 1171 – Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program Re-Authorization – This bill would reauthorize programs in support of homeless veterans, to assist them with job training, counseling, and placement services through the Department of Veterans Affairs through 2014.

H.R. 1172 – Requiring List on VA Website of Organizations Providing Scholarships for Veterans which does nothing more than direct the Department of Veterans Affairs to include information about scholarships for veterans.

H.R. 1293 – Disabled Veterans Home Improvement and Structural Alteration Grant Increase Act of 2009 – Another bill in support of those who have fought for their country, passed by House Democrats and blocked from becoming law by Republicans.

H.R. 1803 – Veterans Business Center Act – This bill would set up a Veterans Business Center program within the Small Business Administration, which would specialize in such programs as grants for service-disabled veterans, help them develop business plans and secure business opportunities. In other words, it would create jobs and offer opportunities to those who have fought in defense of our country.

H.R. 2352 – Job Creation Through Entrepreneurship Act – This bill essentially combines a number of other bills that Republicans had blocked in the Senate previously, and adds a few elements. The bill would again establish a Veterans Business Center Program and would establish a Military Entrepreneurs Program.

Republicans have a long record of shameful betrayal of the promise that has been made to those veterans who put their lives on the line for this country. Their hiding behind our “troops” when they vote against what’s best for them time and again is sickening and needs to be exposed. They put a good game on for their voters about “supporting the veterans”, and promote the quaint notion of “patriotism”, but these are merely smokescreens to distract and confuse the population.

Republicans like going to war but throw our veterans into the gutter when they are too wounded, or worn out, to go back for another round of multiple tours. It’s not enough to shed blood for your country. How despicable these angry old men, pretending to serve the American people, can be. Sadly, this isn’t new to the GOP.

I hope this is a wake-up call for veterans who think that the Republican Party has their best interests at heart.

Summary of President Obama’s Success in Supporting Our Veterans

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Sources: Reuters, DailyKos.com, Whitehouse.gov, public domain

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Congress’ Disgusting Betrayal of WWI Veterans (The Bonus Army)

This account shows that Congress has a history of betraying our war veterans. They willingly send them off to war but don’t want to take care of them when they no longer serve as warriors in their ill-begotten wars…

Bonus army encamp

Members of the Bonus Army encamp within sight of the Capitol, 1932

In 1924, a grateful Congress voted to give a bonus to World War I veterans – $1.25 for each day served overseas, $1.00 for each day served in the States. The catch was that payment would not be made until 1945. However, by 1932 the nation had slipped into the dark days of the Depression and the unemployed veterans wanted their money immediately.

In May of that year, some 15,000 veterans, many unemployed and destitute, descended on Washington, D.C. to demand immediate payment of their bonus. They proclaimed themselves the Bonus Expeditionary Force but the public dubbed them the “Bonus Army.” Raising ramshackle camps at various places around the city, they waited.

The veterans made their largest camp at Anacostia Flats across the river from the Capitol. Approximately 10,000 veterans, women and children lived in the shelters built from materials dragged out of a junk pile nearby – old lumber, packing boxes and scrap tin covered with roofs of thatched straw.

Discipline in the camp was good, despite the fears of many city residents who spread unfounded “Red Scare” rumors. Streets were laid out, latrines dug, and formations held daily. Newcomers were required to register and prove they were bonafide veterans who had been honorably discharged. Their leader, Walter Waters, stated, “We’re here for the duration and we’re not going to starve. We’re going to keep ourselves a simon-pure veteran’s organization. If the Bonus is paid it will relieve to a large extent the deplorable economic condition.”

June 17 was described by a local newspaper as “the tensest day in the capital since the war.” The Senate was voting on the bill already passed by the House to immediately give the vets their bonus money. By dusk, 10,000 marchers crowded the Capitol grounds expectantly awaiting the outcome. Walter Waters, leader of the Bonus Expeditionary Force, appeared with bad news. The Senate had defeated the bill by a vote of 62 to 18. The crowd reacted with stunned silence. “Sing America and go back to your billets” he commanded, and they did. A silent “Death March” began in front of the Capitol and lasted until July 17, when Congress adjourned.

Bonus army evac

Troops prepare to evacuate the Bonus Army July 28, 1932

A month later, on July 28, Attorney General Mitchell ordered the evacuation of the veterans from all government property, Entrusted with the job, the Washington police met with resistance, shots were fired and two marchers killed. Learning of the shooting at lunch, President Hoover ordered the army to clear out the veterans. Infantry and cavalry supported by six tanks were dispatched with Chief of Staff General Douglas MacArthur in command. Major Dwight D. Eisenhower served as his liaison with Washington police and Major George Patton led the cavalry.

By 4:45 P.M. the troops were massed on Pennsylvania Ave. below the Capitol. Thousands of Civil Service employees spilled out of work and lined the streets to watch. The veterans, assuming the military display was in their honor, cheered. Suddenly Patton’s troopers turned and charged. “Shame, Shame” the spectators cried. Soldiers with fixed bayonets followed, hurling tear gas into the crowd.

By nightfall the BEF had retreated across the Anacostia River where Hoover ordered MacArthur to stop. Ignoring the command, the general led his infantry to the main camp. By early morning the 10,000 inhabitants were routed and the camp in flames. Two babies died and nearby hospitals overwhelmed with casualties. Eisenhower later wrote, “the whole scene was pitiful. The veterans were ragged, ill-fed, and felt themselves badly abused. To suddenly see the whole encampment going up in flames just added to the pity.

True to form, the Republican House recently voted down a bill (again) that would have expanded veteran benefits.

Source: “The Bonus Army” EyeWitness to History, www.eyewitnesstohistory.com (2000).

Republicans Block Veterans Benefits Bill

FilibastardsWITH JUST 41 VOTES, REPUBLICAN SENATORS BLOCK VETERANS BENEFITS BILL.

AP reports on the GOP’s successful filibuster of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ veterans benefits bill:

Senate Republicans have blocked a Democratic bill that would enrich health, education and job-training programs for the nation’s 22 million veterans.

And why did Republicans—who “won” the vote because “only” 56 senators voted in favor of moving forward with the bill—decide to block it?

Republicans complained that the bill was too expensive. And they were upset that Majority Leader Harry Reid prevented a vote on a GOP amendment cutting the bill and adding sanctions against Iran for its nuclear program.

Ah yes, we mustn’t be too generous when it comes to the people we ask to defend our country with their lives. Especially not when we’re not even able to have a vote on an unrelated piece of legislation, even if that unrelated piece of legislation would make it more likely that we’d send even more veterans to their death, as their Iran sanctions bill would do.

Lovely Republican Party, eh?

[ Source DailyKos.com ]