Sunday, June 25, 2006  

"support the troops..."

For people who like to sport this on their cars (often an SUV- like I said, irony is not dead, just wasted on some people), since I can't call you a f-g moron to your face, here is something to think about:

"I'm just an ordinary person who served. I'm not embarrassed about my homelessness, because the circumstances that created it were not my fault," said Beckford, 30, who was a military-supply specialist at a base in Iraq that was a sitting duck for around-the-clock attacks, "where hell was your home."

Thousands of veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan are facing a new nightmare -- the risk of homelessness. The government estimates that several hundred vets who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan are homeless on any given night around the country, although the exact number is unknown.

The reasons that contribute to this new wave of homelessness are many: Some are unable to cope with life after daily encounters with insurgent attacks and roadside bombs; some can't navigate the government red tape; others simply don't have enough money to afford a house or apartment.
the rest
These are not the stories of aberrations- a few "bad apples" having trouble staying in the barrel. Nope. The number of homeless vets of the present conflict(s) is on the rise. And in Stand-Downs across the country, these vets are being noticed.
"The government says one thing, but does another," says Noel. "I came back to New York thinking there would be support; that I would have a job, but I was sadly mistaken." After eight months of cold sleepless nights in his car, the 25-year-old veteran finally has a place he can call home. If it weren't for an anonymous donor who paid for a year's rent, Noel would still be on the streets of Brooklyn, unable to see his wife and four kids.

Noel says he contacted several government programs, including the VA, but was told he'd have to wait up to a year for services. "It's time for the government to wake up," he says. "If soldiers come back and find out they were lied to, we're going to have a rebellion on our hands."

(the rest)

When I talked to my local Stand-down while researching an article last year, I heard that last year almost 400 vets from the current conflict showed up at stand-downs around the country.

Ilona on the Daily Kos has a good run-down on just what benefits have been reduced or cut:
The President wishes to:

* Drive out 1.2 million veterans from the VA system (created specifically for them).
* Continue to turn middle-income veterans away from receiving care at VA hospital and clinics.
* Increase veteran fees for medical care by $6.8 billion.
* Introduce a new $250-per-year enrollment fee for VA care, and increase $8 prescription drug co-payment to $15.
* Force nearly half a million Minnesota veterans to pay more for health care.
* Cause 800,000 Illinois veterans to lose their health care.
* Grant $52 million to acquire land for Colorado VA hospital, but doesn't include the $539 million in funds necessary to build it.
* Leave funding out entirely for a veteran's medical center in Las Vegas that is scheduled to break ground this year. (Nevada has the fastest growing veteran population in the nation.)
* Refuse to add to the 500,000 active-duty Army, although some in Congress believe the Army is overstressed and think we should be adding another 30,000 to 100,000 troops to the Iraq theater.
* Draw down troops to 2002 levels (to below 100,000 in Iraq by year's end).
* Cut full-time Air Force personnel by 40,000.
* Shift some Guard brigades from combat roles to support units (6 of the current 34). Heavy armored units in Idaho, Louisiana, North Carolina, Minnesota, Mississippi, Tennessee and Washington are the likely targets.
* Reduce funding to Army and Air National Guard forces. 75 Senators have signed a letter urging the Pentagon to back off the proposal (Congress had already approved pay for 205,000; the Pentagon only wants to pay for 188,000.)
* Force reductions in the National Guard. All 50 governors have signed a letter last week urging Bush to reconsider.
* Decrease New Jersey National Guard troop strength by 500 (to 5,400). (Isn't New Jersey near New York?)
* Leave CARES (Capital Asset Realignment for Enhanced Services) underfunded (again).
* Take a $13 million bite out of VA research.
* Fail to provide sufficient funds for staffing and training the Veterans Benefits Administration to address a claims backlog fast approaching one million. Yes, one million.
see her links and read the rest here.

So, Cher thinks donating money for helmet protection is supporting the troops. Well, that's one way of looking at it. But I would suggest donating money to vets' groups and pushing for additional psych services and rehab is another, more productive way.

And for the rest of you yellow ribbon squad out there, lower your SUV or get rid of the thing all together, drive a Prius or something and donate ALL THAT MONEY YOU ARE GOING TO SAVE to a cause that helps vets. If you think mouthing platitudes about how great the troops are, and how they are fighting to save our rights (I sure hope you have interesting phone conversations and colorful bank accounts 'cause the Feds are watching you, too), then don't turn your head when a young homeless vet asks for help. He answered your call, and paid the price.
And for you Hummer drivers out there with the yellow ribbon slapped on- what do you need that thing for? You miss the war? Then get your ass out of the driver's seat and volunteer to defend your right to drive one of the most uneconomical vehicles on the road today (an H2 gets about 9 count 'em, nine miles per gallon).

Just for fun, Code Pink has a list of reasons why buying a hummer is not a good thing.

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