Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Columns

March 24, 2009

WE THE PEOPLE: Veterans storm the Hill

When young men and women risk their lives and sacrifice both physical and mental health for their country, a grateful country should at least provide them with shelter, food, and health care. But there is a lot of hypocrisy between what some windbag says on Veterans Day and what the country actually does for veterans. After the horrors of the battlefield, they have to fight a second war when they come home. As one army psychiatric nurse said, civilians need to stop asking “What was the hardest part about being over there?” and start asking “What is the hardest part of being home?”

A delegation of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans went to Washington recently and spent a week educating our leaders on the most pressing issues facing today’s troops and veterans: better screening for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain injury, correct implementation of the new GI Bill, and above all, the need for advance funding for veterans’ hospitals. Under the current system, the VA budget remains uncertain each year until the annual appropriations bills are passed. This makes it difficult for hospitals to begin hiring personnel and to plan long-term infrastructure projects, forcing the largest health care provider in the nation to ration care. Approving the VA health care budget one year in advance would supply timely and predictable funding. In the face of this surge of veterans from across the country, Congress rapidly responded, introducing legislation to provide advance appropriations for the VA.

Every major veterans’ organization in America is on board with the Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. The young vets led, and in the coming weeks other generations will follow, demonstrating that 25 million veterans of all generations stand united behind this effort.

It is unconscionable that veterans have to fight these battles, but we have a long, sorry history of leaving veterans to fend for themselves. In 1781 veterans of the Continental Army marched on Philadelphia to demand pay they had been denied and were run out of town for their efforts. One of the most disgraceful events in our history occurred in 1932. Unemployed, their families hungry, 20,000 World War I veterans (known as the Bonus Army) descended on Washington and requested that Congress pay the bonuses it had promised. President Hoover called out the army, and they were fired on, tear-gassed, and their cardboard city burned. Two veterans were shot to death, a thousand injured by gas, an eleven-week-old baby died, and an eight-year-old boy was partially blinded by gas. Perhaps it was to wipe out that ugly memory that the veterans of World War II received a generous GI Bill of Rights. The Vietnam vets, on the other hand, came home to find that the same government that had sent them into an immoral and fruitless war now wanted to forget about them.

We tend to ignore anything that makes us uncomfortable. But attention must be paid. When our soldiers come home from war they shouldn’t end up sleeping under a bridge or waiting six months to see a doctor.



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Columns
  • veteran GARY'S WORLD: Thank our veterans this weekend A tremendous opportunity presents itself in our community this weekend — an opportunity to honor those who served in the Vietnam War. Personally, after attending last year's first Welcome Home celebration, I wouldn't want to miss this. It was an emotional event for both Vietnam veterans and ordinary citizens. It was a great way to commemorate Vietnam Veterans Day in Tennessee, March 29.

    March 27, 2009 1 Photo

  • antique RANDOM THOUGHTS: "Antiques Roadshow" comes to Tennessee If you are one of the 10 million who watch each episode of the “Antiques Roadshow” mark your calendar. The three upcoming Mondays, March 30, April 6 and April 13, were all taped in Chattanooga last July.

    March 24, 2009 1 Photo

  • LION AND THE LAMB: An open letter to Sharon Baier I was happy to read your well-written article, printed in last week's Chronicle. It makes a strong case, in the story of Al and Jennifer, that "To make money, you have to spend money." That misguided couple thought that they ought to cut down on their purchase of supplies, to save money. They did so, week after week, until they lost their business.

    March 24, 2009

  • WE THE PEOPLE: Veterans storm the Hill When young men and women risk their lives and sacrifice both physical and mental health for their country, a grateful country should at least provide them with shelter, food, and health care. But there is a lot of hypocrisy between what some windbag says on Veterans Day and what the country actually does for veterans.

    March 24, 2009

  • child crying THEREFORE I AM: Kids stress out parents? Well, duh! This just in: According to an expert, children can add stress and strain to a marriage. In other news, further expert studies have indicated that the sky is in fact blue, Paris Hilton is a tad spoiled, peanut butter and chocolate taste great together, and the Middle East has issues. Thank goodness we have experts to tell us these things.

    March 23, 2009 1 Photo

  • shackles INSIDE THE FIRST AMENDMENT: With shekels come shackles When President Obama launched his faith-based initiative at the National Prayer Breakfast on Feb. 5, he promised not only to sustain the Bush administration’s signature domestic program — but to expand it.

    March 19, 2009 1 Photo

  • loneranger THEREFORE I AM: Jim Croce and I will keep you safe and sound My philosophy of life is simple: When in doubt, follow the advice of a dead folk-rock star. I always found Jim Croce to be particularly handy in this capacity. Don’t tug on Superman’s cape. Don’t spit into the wind. Don’t pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger, and regardless of how badly you may want to, do not, under any circumstances, mess around with Jim.

    March 16, 2009 1 Photo

  • STUMPTALK: Stimulating a war on prosperity and freedom Near Bush’s sunset, Treasury Secretary Paulson and Fed chairman Bernanke terrified the nation with “the sky’s falling and America is doomed” unless the government steps in with new regulations, institutional takeovers and massive lending.

    March 16, 2009

  • WE THE PEOPLE: Thoughts on bringing a recession to heel Responding to the recent full-throated baying of conservative “economic watchdogs,” I slogged into the swamp of their icon Adam Smith’s murky tome, “The Wealth of Nations,” to see if they had finally treed anything of value.

    March 10, 2009

  • LION AND THE LAMB: Reality Dim blue of early morning shines into the living room

    while you flip through television channels.

    March 10, 2009

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