Friday, March 20, 2009

(Guest Post) Veteran critical of Obama, applauds Perriello

(This is a guest post by an anonymous veteran. As a reminder, I am more than happy to post other voices on this blog, if those posts are thoughtful, respectful, and dialogue provoking.)

As a veteran, I was stressed to hear that the Obama Administration was considering a proposal that would force veterans to use their private insurance to pay for the treatment of combat-related injuries. During the campaign, Obama made several promises to veterans including “Fully Fund[ing] Veteran’s Administration Medical Care” and “Allow[ing] All Veterans Back into the VA health system.” It was strongly implied that when he became President, he would ensure proper health care to those returning from war.

In less than two months since being inaugurated, President Obama almost broke a sacred promise to those that have served our country. He considered limiting payment for our medical care for combat-related injuries. This would have not only broken his campaign promises to veterans, but would have fundamentally brought into question his administration’s commitment to the men and women still in uniform, those in harm’s way ensuring our freedoms and liberties. One of the reasons many veterans voted for Obama for President was his promises to not fail those in the uniformed services, like the previous administration had done so often. With the horrors of the Bush Administration dumping Reservists and National Guard personnel back into the Pay-As-You-Go Civilian Health Care system, rather than providing proper treatment of their injuries, wounds and amputations after deployments, veterans turned to then Senator Obama for real and permanent change. It appears that what we got for our support was the same disregard we received from former President Bush. Although we applaud our President for reversing course in favor of support for veterans with service related injuries, he should be aware that he will have to earn our full trust back, and it will not be won easily or cheaply.

Veterans, however, can praise, without reservation, the 70 members of the House of Representatives, from both political parties, who sent a letter to President Obama to urging him to abandon his proposal that would have forced veterans to use their private insurance to pay for the treatment of combat-related injuries. They were lead by Representative Glenn Nye (D-VA 2) and wholeheartedly supported by Virginia Representatives Tom Perriello (D-VA 5) and Rob Wittman (R-VA 1).

Congressman Perriello’s strong and vocal support was especially meaningful to veterans, because he is a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. To underscore his commitment to veterans, Representative Perriello stated:
We saw a threat to our veterans, and joined across the aisle to produce immediate results. That is what our brave veterans deserve from Washington.
It showed great courage and leadership for Representative Perriello, a freshman, to challenge the new President. Perriello honored his pledge to veterans, and it is good to know that people of Virginia’s 5th Congressional District are represented by someone who supports us. Veterans have fought and died to ensure our national security and fragile freedoms remain safe. It is heartening to be reminded by our Representative that our actions are not forgotten. He has shown himself to be a true friend of Veterans.


Darren Staley said...

Guest Vet,

Thanks for your post and your service to the country.

I have never served, but my grandfather on my father's side was a Navy man in WWII.

My grandfather on my mother's side was Infantry in the same war.

My father worked full-time in the NCARNG for over 20 years and my step-father was USAF in peace time.

I must, however, say this. Obama considered this proposal and decided against. I want a president to at least entertain all ideas that come his way.

Almost breaking a promise is a long way from actually breaking a promise.

While I urge you to stay on Obama for Vet issues, I urge you to also understand that his decisions are deliberate and sober.

Thanks for listening and for fighting for my right to speak.

CWPNRG? said...

Darren: I find myself incredulous that Obama actually had to think about it before rejecting it.

This is the sort of thing we expect from our Representatives, and while I applaud Perriello for signing on, I don't think we should give him too much credit for doing an obviously right thing, especially in light of his rush to support this probably unconstitutional tax on AIG. I digress.

Anonymous said...

Serving in the uniformed military is sometimes vastly over appreciated, but usually greatly under appreciated by the American public. It is a job that requires being ready at a moments notice to leave one’s family and be flown directly into harm’s way. Unlike paramilitary jobs, like law enforcement, the people in the military service cannot quit or resign without government permission. (The stop-loss system being considered to be phased out, basically could be used to extend indefinitely a person on active duty - even after their enlistment is over.) That is what is expected and that is what is given and accepted by those in the military.

The point is this is something the President should not have thought twice about. (thank you CWPNRG for your response) Sacrificing the health of our military in favor of corporate enrichment was the hallmark of the previous administration. Health care for those who sustained service related injuries or illnesses was the key reason so many veterans voted for then Senator Barack Obama. His having to think about it long enough for 70 United States Representatives to write and deliver a letter encouraging him to reconsider, is the issue at hand. A plan that says “Go to war, get injured, return home and pay out of your pocket to be healed” is not a plan veterans expected to ever be thought about in the White House, and one veterans were horrified to find coming from the President who vowed to reverse the neglect they experienced under former President George W. Bush and his over-loyal supporters like former Representative Virgil Goode.

Representative Perriello is often quoted in the press as saying “It is not about right or left, it is about right or wrong.” The decision to consider a proposal that would force veterans to use their private insurance to pay for the treatment of combat-related injuries was not an issue of Democrat vs Republican, right vs left, liberal vs conservative, it was an issue about right vs wrong. The President was wrong to ever consider it and Representatives Perriello, Nye and Wittman were right in opposing it’s prolonged consideration.

Darren, I deeply respect and honor the service your father, and grandfathers gave so freely to protect us. Sir, no one is abandoning their support of the President based on this one act on his part. It does put all of us on guard to watch how he supports those that have served honorably in our nation’s defense. There are things we will have to sacrifice in order to bring our nation back to economic stability, but veterans sacrificing a second time for their defense of our nation is not one that should ever be considered.

Anonymous said...

Darren I was rereading my last and I want to correct one thing. I meant to write "I deeply respect and honor the service your fathers, and grandfathers gave so freely to protect us. Your father's service in the NCARNG and your step-father's service in the Air Force are greatly appreciated.

I thank you and CWPNRG for your responses.

Darren Staley said...

Thanks to everyone for reading and responding. Something I do need to say but did not in my original post is that I in no way ever supported this proposal.

I recently worked as a liason between the VA and my grandfather to assist him in getting benefits for injuries he suffered during Operation Crossroads (the atom bomb tests in the Pacific).

I am for more, much, much more veteran benefits, not less. Obama has said the same. If he had set this policy in place, I would march on Washington with you.

But politics are involved here as well. It may be possible that this horrible idea was leaked as a real possibility, a possibility that gave members of Congress a chance to shore up military cred as cover for controversial votes on other issues.

It may also be possible that a president in office for less than three months with multiple crises coming across his desk every second looked at something briefly, said let's come back to that, and then when they came back to it and he saw the reality said no.

This is my long-winded way of saying that these questions should be asked. These members of Congress should be applauded. And that Obama should not be given too much flak for looking into an issue. Eight years of a "sign off on anything that comes across my desk" presidency is enough.

I do hope, Guest Vet, that you will continue to come post veterans issues here and in other media. You will find me to be a fierce and vocal ally.


Anonymous said...

Again thank you Darren. I often read this blog because I find it enlightening and open to deep thoughtful discussion on issues that really impact our lives. I thank both you and CWPNRG for the kind of deep insight and stands that show you both persons engaged in making a better world, rather than sitting on the side lines.

I also thank Drew Lumpkin with all my heart for accepting my words and turning them into this Guest Post. Drew you are awesome, keep up your mighty work.

I hope others contribute to this discussion and all the others posted on Dem Bones.

Drew said...

No, thank you. I appreciate your post and bring us up to date on important veterans issues.

CWPNRG? said...

"It may be possible that this horrible idea was leaked as a real possibility, a possibility that gave members of Congress a chance to shore up military cred as cover for controversial votes on other issues."

That thought had not crossed my mind, and I sure as hell (in the spirit of the next thread up) hope that wasn't the case. Playing politics with vet's care? That's brazen.