Thursday, August 2, 2007

McCain "Whiffed" with veteran on Cleveland visit

Arizona senator and Republican candidate John McCain stopped in town the other day to raise some money for his presidential bid. The fund raiser took place Tuesday at Cleveland's Windows on the River.

Below are comments from a 17 year veteran, who respects McCain, but is disappointed in his answer to a question, that was not of a "soft ball" type nature....

I thought I would pass this on to y'all. I posted it on, so that maybe Senator Thompson can attempt to ponder the question before it is asked. There is no excuse why a Veteran, John McCain, couldn't.

I just arrived home from a luncheon in Cleveland, Ohio, which Senator McCain was the featured speaker, in which I was asked really nicely by a friend to attend.

After listening to several softball questions, I finally got the nerve to ask one of my own:“I know that you, Sir, have been the champion of Veteran’s causes in the past. With the massive load of veteran’s returning from Iraq and entering a system (the Veterans Administration) that is antiquated and overloaded; what are your plans, if any, to deal with these problems and to help these Veterans?”

The answer I received, much to the amazement to myself and the people at my table (whom double-dog-dared me to ask the question to begin with) was well; I didn’t expect this answer coming from one of my own kind: a Veteran.

The answer included --
  • The National Guard is being overly burdened with the job in Iraq because the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Army have lost 1/3 of their strength they had during the first Iraq war.

  • Rumsfeld mismanaged the war and now we are rebuilding these services and taking better action in Iraq.

  • The Dole commission has many great suggestions on how to deal with Veterans returning from Iraq.

  • Dealing with PTSD is a major issue and returning Veterans need to be care for immediately. Huh...???
First off, let me state that I value Senator McCain as an American Hero who showed true valor during the Vietnam war and whom I respect deeply for his service to our Nation.

Now, I know, it is a hard question, but here are some starter thoughts off the top of my head, without looking at the commission’s suggestions:
  • When a Veteran is discharged from the military they should have the access and ability to start the Veteran in the VA system BEFORE they are discharged, so that their military records can be copied and sent to the VA Regional Office where they are going to make the claim. This should cut down on the red tape and transition that the Veteran is going to deal with once they return to civilian life.

  • Increase the “hiring points” or Veterans Preference for Employment with the Government to be a first choice pick. Veterans should be considered first before “in-house hiring” of civilians already working there.

  • Increase the time to utilize the Montgomery G.I. Bill. Many Veterans employment ability will not begin to really suffer from injuries received until later in life; by which time the 10 years has passed to use the G.I. Bill and they loose $1200 that they paid into it.

  • Increase the manpower at the VA regional offices to deal with the massive load of Veterans returning from active duty; even if it is just a temporary buildup. Waiting over a year for a claim or 2-3 years for an appeal to a claim is not acceptable.

  • If a Veteran is found to be totally disabled by Social Security within 2 years of being discharged from the military for medical reasons, the Veteran should be automatically screened for Individual Un-Employability compensation.
Let me assure you that the last thing that a Veteran wants to hear when asking a Presidential hopeful about Veteran issues is how we “are going to strengthen our military to lessen the burden of our Military service members.”

Basically I was told how he is going to make more veterans, without the "how to" take care of them when they are no longer able to carry out the mission and is NOT an answer.

In fact, it is a not-so-graceful-side-step either; even the civilians could see that.

17 year U.S.M.C. Veteran.

P.S. An interesting note on the commission’s report: President Bush called it "interesting suggestions" and said NOT to expect action right away. The President had said he would accept and act on the Commission's recommendations ; apparently he didn’t mean with enthusiasm.

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