Saturday, November 10, 2007

Support funding for Vets, our troops & their families

As one of the Board of Directors of Military Family Speaks Out, we are diligent in our efforts to make sure the voices of military families are heard. Although this letter was sent to members of MFSO, there is no reason you can't or shouldn't take a few minutes to contact your legislators to make sure they hear your voice and that you support H.R. 3043 and veterans and their families.
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The Board of Directors of MFSO has just voted to endorse H.R. 3043, an appropriation bill currently before Congress, which includes funding for critical services for our veterans, our soldiers and their families.

We have joined with IVAW, Gold Star Families Speak Out, the National Coalition for the Homeless and other organizations, representing thousands of veterans and soldiers, in signing a letter which was sent on Tuesday, November 6, to every member of Congress, urging passage of this bill. Today, we are asking MFSO members to individually contact their Congressional representatives and Senators. Ask them to not only support this bill but also to pledge to override a threatened presidential veto.

In asking you to take this action, we do not intend in any way to let Congress off the hook for their continued funding of the Iraq war. This bill is a totally separate issue from war funding votes and our support for it shows commitment to our mission to "take care of them when they get home". While most veteran-related programs are funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services also provide vital services to help our veterans, especially for the two-thirds of recently returning veterans who have not enrolled in the federal veterans' health care program.

Specifically, H.R. 3043 would provide:

  • $231 million for Veterans' Employment and Training programs to assist returning veterans to find and train for good paying jobs.
  • $23.6 million for the Homeless Veterans' Program. Currently 23% ofAmerica's homeless are military veterans.
  • $10 million for those veterans suffering from traumatic brain injuries (TBI), for their rehabilitation, hospital care and long-term support. Thousands of returning National Guard soldiers rely on community-based systems of care that are not funded by the VA.
  • $3.4 billion for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. With Army suicides recently reaching a 26 year high, our returning veterans suffering from PTSD and depression have an urgent need to rely on this funding. This bill is currently being debated on the House floor.

Bush has said he will veto the bill because it does not conform to his request for $3.6 billion in cuts below last year's total funding levels. As military family members, we are outraged that this administration and Congress can continue to spend $5 billion dollars a week in Iraq and yet not care if our soldiers and veterans are denied these critical funds for practical help in finding jobs, providing shelter for homeless vets, and for medical and mental health care.

Please take a simple action today. Call, send a postcard to or write a letter to your representative and senator and ask them to approve H.R. 3043. Ask them not to back down from overriding a Bush veto. Tell them, as a military family member, what this bill's provisions will mean to your child, spouse, or loved one returning from Iraq. And tell them that passing the provisions in this bill demonstrate the kind of authentic support for our troops that every soldier and every American understands.

In peace and solidarity,

The Board of Directors of MFSO

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NOTE:

The Senate passed the bill 75-19. Here is the the list of members of the Senate Hall of Shame for voting NO on this bill. If you are in the district for any of this Senators; please ask them why they do not support the troops and their families. And don't ever let them tell you they do. If they say that this country cannot afford to spend more money, tell them they are wrong; we cannot afford to NOT support veterans and their families. And remind them of the $2 billion dollars a week we are spending on the occupation in Iraq.

And here is the Hall of Shame for the members of the House who voted NO. 274 Representatives saw fit to vote yes and pass this bill 274-141

Notice all the "R"'s? Where are the "D"'s? Oh yeah, the Democrats do support the troops.

5 comments:

AikoAdam said...

Thanks you for posting this. I will cover it on my blog and on MichiganLiberal.com

Peace be with you

Anonymous said...

I think you are a bit misguided on the House Hall of Shame.

They voted against the Veterans approps bill because Mrs. Pelosi and her cronies tacked it onto the bloated Labor/HHS approps bill.

The House dems knew it would be against the Senate rules to tack it on the way they did, and the Senate split Veterans from Labor/HHS, but they went forward with it anyway.

The net result of playing games with a 140-day old veterans bill is the fact that today is Veterans Day and we have no veterans bill.

Nice try at being non-partisan.

GSMSO said...

Anon-

Thanks for stopping by and for commenting. Sadly, the legislators listed on this Hall of Shame are repeat offenders when it comes to supporting the troops. And despite what their pretty websites say, they do not support the troops or veterans.

It is easy to slap a magnetic yellow ribbon on the back of your gas guzzling vehicle, but that means nothing to veterans or those currently serving.

The reason given by many for voting against the bill claimed fiscal irresponsibility, which seems a bit disingenuous to me considering the past 6 years of out of control spending. Bush has a problem with domestic spending, but can't keep his hands off of bills related to foreign policy. Additionally, in the past, Republicans routinely bundled the veterans budget with other bills. Funny how their view of the world changes when their party becomes the minority.

The Republicans are also whining that this Congress did not pass the budget by Veteran's Day but they need only check their recent history books to see how well they did in that area.

I'm probably more non-partisan than you believe, but the day I was told my son was killed in Iraq, was the day I vowed that people would know what it feels like to be a Gold Star mom and also that people would hear from me how the troops, veterans and their families are really being treated. If a member of Congress doesn't vote the way I think they should, they are landing in my Hall of Shame.

Erica said...

I came across your blog on a google search. I'm in a Medical Anthropology class and we recently watched a documentary on PTSD among Iraq War Veterans. The whole class was incredibly touched and we wanted to do something about helping people receive support. Reading your bio, I noticed you said "any number above zero (of casualties) is too much." I wholeheartedly agree and I was wondering if you would be willing or able to help me and my classmates find some resources to help with VA funding. Thank you so much--Erica

GSMSO said...

Erica, I'm glad you found me. I would be happy to help you and your classmates anyway I can. Please contact me at my email kensmomkm (at) gmail (dot) com