A Dose of Reality Rather Than The Perception Created ….
My friends and I recently made a pact that we’d take a ride up to Arlington National Cemetery to visit the tombs of fallen US military servicemen and women. It’s something that I’ve done twice before, once back in 2003, for a second time in 2005 and then again in 2007. Each time , as solemn as the occasion has been I can’t help but wonder how the families of these fallen heroes might have been different had they not died in the service of their country. Having spent eight and a half years myself in the British military (Royal Marines) serving in a number countries , I’d like to think that military service molded me in some ways into the person I am ! I’ve seen the horrors of conflict up close and personal when I served in Ireland during the troubles there when the United Kingdom was seeking an accord between the IRA and the Protestant led region of Northern Ireland , whose loyalties were to the monarchy and the UK government .
Slide show for your perusal .
Our visit which I hope will take place some time in mid to late August will be something that I will be looking forward to __ with a great deal of solemnity. Whenever possible I have devoted much of my time volunteering with other work colleagues in assisting veterans seeking to obtain benefits that somehow has been denied to them by the bureaucracy of the federal governmment . And as many of you know , dealing with the government at any level from the local leveln on up can be as cumbersome as trying to push a boulder up a steep incline unaided . The VA ( Veterans Administration) to my mind in spite of the claims made by certain members of Congress or the Senate that their budget has risen steeply over the years, what they have failed to addresss is the very fact that those increases have been curtailed by severe cuts in other areas of the budget of that agency . Now we are informed that the Walter Reed Army Medical Center will soon be closed and that the facility’s operations will transferred elsewhere to other medical establishments around the country. As prestigious as the facility is said to be there are parts of it that from its facade that would give the impression that it is a dilapidated building about to be imploded . But such are perceptions created about the military veterans being given the best available care when in reality nothing could actually be further from the truth .
Having visited Walter Reed on several occasions in order to see wounded veterans and provide some support to these men and women I have felt that there can be so much more that could be done to make the lives of these individuals a great deal better . What might be even more intolerable upon one of my visits there , was to find that the many of inhouse facilities were not up to par and expected of a medical facility . The Walter Reed Medical Center is the oldest medical establishment within the Veterans Administration and it has been in use for over a century meeting the needs of the the US military . The rest rooms within certain areas of the facilty failed to work properly , you had a shortage of trained staff to meet the needs of the patients in residence . There has been continuous debate as to the fact the budget ($132 billion) of the VA has seen stark increases over the past few years but what both Senate Veterans Affairs Comittee and House Veterans Services Committee has failed to acknowledge is that they have made and steep financial cuts .
I’ve long held the contention that the members of the House and Senate have never been sincere when they state they care about the well being of the members of the US military . Meaningless sound bytes and little action if anything has me wondering why all the bullsh_t from these elected officials when they’re so full of crap to begin with ? And with that in mind it will be interesting to see what statements will be forthcoming from the Secretary of the VA , retired Army General Eric Shinseki once the House and Senate meander to an accord concerning the debt ceiling crisis and the undoubted cuts that will be made to the Veterans Affairs Department’s budget .
Now we all know that as contentious as the ongoing “debt ceiling” deliberations have been between President Barack Obama and the members of both the House and Senate much of which has been along political partisan lines . The one thing that cannot be overlooked has been the intransigence shown by both sides in trying to resolve this matter intelligently . While wrecklessness seems to be the norm , rather than showing creativity , intelligence and intuitiveness we have seen that neither side really have an idea how best to resolve this matter . Meanwhile we have members of the President’s cabinet chiding other countries as to how best to deal with their economic woes , whereas here in the United States members of the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Finance Committee show about as much insight on the issues as a blind man in the midst of a sandstorm searching for water ! It is now bad enough that you have both political parties rather than show some common sense merely act like immature children , name calling and attritbuting the non-action due to the other side’s intransigence ——- when in fact it is there for the public to see that neither side knows what the hell they are doing and that they are simply making this more than a political hot potato by seeking to gain some traction without actually reaching an accord in trying to solve this issue. Not unlike they have typically conducted business ever since the 112th session of Congress came returned to work and prior to that .
With a little less than a week with a deadline set of 2nd August beore the government officially could default on its debts for the very first time in its history , it’s rather asinine to think that under the four previous Presidents prior to Barack Obama’s first term in office the country’s debt ceiling had been raised in excess of fifteen times ! But here we have the Congress repeatedly berating each other over this issue . It is obvious that they have learned nothing and will continue to learn not a god-damn thing ! And it certainly hasn’t helped the situation with the rather now idiotic stance being taken by new incumbents in either legislative chambers who claim to be fiscally responsible when we now find out that many of them having sworn to continue with “pork barrel” spending on pet projects have simply done about face and made sure that the constituencies they represent will be funded with tens of millions of dollars for what in some cases are meaningless projects merely to appease their ” backers” and monetary donors who just happen to be business with deep pockets and a great deal of political clout by way of their use of lobbying firms . But yet we are led to believe that these legislators went to Washington promising change ? The only thing that has in essence that has changed has been the names on doors of the offices where they have replaced their predecessors and not a great deal else ! It’s business and usual without a great deal of anything at all having been achieved .
Now while I am not naive enough to think that there should not be cuts in the budget of the Veterans Administration I would like to think that the cuts that will undoubtedly be made will not be as steep and severe whereby the acute needs of the men and women assisted will become a major cause for concern. It certainly is bad enough when one realizes that in the city of Los Angeles alone there are now over 9,000 homeless military veterans and shocking number of them in question are some of the most recent to have seen action both theaters of war in Afghanistan and Iraq. Meanwhile you have a city Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa whose biggest concern appears than the opportunistic photo opportunities of getting as much air and face time in the media , is to try and lure an NFL franchise to his beloved city , rather than actually take care of his city’s most dire needs . If you think that the figure mentioned is said to be extremely high in terms of the homeless veterans within the city of LA then consider what it might be in a city the size of New York ? Somehow reality then might really begin to set in as to the plight of these individuals .
A number of years ago I wrote a solemn piece concerning the plight a US military serviceman ( the piece was first published within Fox’s sports forum ) Marine Staff Sgt Carmelo Rodriguez whose story had also been documented by CBS News in their national evening broadcast . That soldier would later die but the sheer lack of real assistance provided to him by not only local authorities at the state and federal levels was marked indictment of system that is now systematically broken and wherein mere lip service is only paid by members of Congress and at the state level when it comes to the plight of military veterans .
I know now that over the coming weeks should this debate not be solved to everyone’s satisfaction then the ramifications will be far reaching beyond anything that any of us could have imagined. We all support the military and with good reason but herein lies the caveat we show support but how much support is actually given to them when they need it most ?
Picture gallery for your perusal .
What thoughts if any do you have concerning the issue of the military servicemen and women who are now more often than not being left to fend for themselves with little assistance if any being on hand from the federal government much less at the state level ? By all means simply a comment as to your thoughts on the matter .
Alan aka tophatal ……….. http://tophatal.wordpress.com
Picture and slide show details below .
(1) Walter Reed Medical Center the US military’s oldest medical facility which is due to close this year having been in service for over 100 years . Many part of the center has fallen into dilapidation and disrepair causing a great deal of consternation amongst the public as well as servicemen and women who have availed themselves use of the facility over the years. The VA itself has stated that it was time for the hospital to close given the numerous problems that have arisen in recent years . mediadefenseindustry.com …. ( Media Defense Industry)
(2) Thousands of Christmas wreaths are nestled against headstones in Section 27 at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., on Dec. 15, 2005. Hundreds of volunteers gathered at Arlington to place more than five thousand donated Christmas wreaths on head stones in the cemetery. The 14th annual wreath laying event is a result of Worcester Wreath Company owner Morrill Worcester’s boyhood dream of doing something to honor those laid to rest in the National Cemetery . Courtesy of Wikipedia.com ….
(3) Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) (L) speaks as former Washington State Governor Gary Locke (C) and Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) (R) listen during his confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on Capitol Hill March 18, 2009 in Washington, DC. Locke will become the 36th Commerce Secretary of the United States if confirmed. Murray also is the chairperson for the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee . Getty Images North America / Alex Wong ………..
(4) House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Bob Filner center (D-CA), Melinda Darby (R), former Executive Director of the Department of Defense/Veterans Affairs Senior Oversight Committee, and Sara Wade, the wife of a wounded Iraqi veteran, participate in a roundtable discussion on the military and “wounded warrior” care, in Washington on September 22, 2009. Filner is the ranking Democrat and chair of the Veterans Affairs Committee . UPI/Kevin Dietsch …….
(5) U.S. President Barack Obama (2R) makes a statement on the SAVE (Securing Americans Value and Efficiency) program with Office of Management and Budget Director Peter R. Orszag (L) and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Gen. Eric Shinseki in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House on December 21, 2009 in Washington, DC. The award is given to Federal employees who submit ideas for saving the government money. He also applauded the Senate’s vote to end a Republican filibuster aimed at blocking health care reform. Getty Images North America / Pool resources ……