Monday, December 25, 2006

Clarity and Vision

I wanted to share with you something brought to my attention by friend Randy. It is a speech given by a Lieutenant Colonel Randolph C. White, Jr., at the graduation ceremony for advanced infantry training at Fort Benning, Georgia this past April.

I wanted to present a transcript of the entire speech to you, but then had the thought that, no…it would not do. It is much better that you should go to the site and watch the speech itself. Watch and listen to this man give the speech. It is twelve minutes long. And it is one of the most remarkable speeches I’ve ever heard.

If you do nothing else this week between Christmas and New Years, please go to this site and watch and listen to this extraordinary man giving an extraordinary speech.

Here is the link to the speech at the Black Five website:
[click here].

Please go listen to the man.

Happy New Year!


VN Vets

Copyright © 2006, The VNVets Blog. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Your Help Needed on an Urgent Matter

Fellow vets. As you all know, the Gold Star Mothers is an organization of women who have lost a son or daughter in combat. Renowned artist Andrew Chernak has been commissioned to design and sculpt the National Gold Star Mothers Monument in Washington, D.C. Chernak, of suburban Philadelphia, recently unveiled the original Gold Star Mother’s monument in Putnam, New York. Below is a photo of the Putnam monument, dedicated in early July of this year.
A US Army Vietnam vet, Chernak needs help locating photographs of deceased Navy and Air Force veterans and their Gold Star Mothers. The plan is to etch and carve the photographs into the granite base. He has arranged for Army, Coast Guard and Marine Corp photos, but needs the Navy and Air Force Gold Star Mothers and their sons or daughters.

Preferred are full face photos of both the Gold Star Mothers, and of their sons or daughters in Uniform.

Anyone in contact with a Gold Star Mother who would be willing to submit a photograph of herself and another of her son or daughter should please put them in contact with Mr. Chernak at the following email address:
gsmmemorial@vetsnet.us

Thanks, Veterans, for all you have done. We must also never forget to thank the Mothers of the sons and daughters who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their nation. The sacrifice of the Gold Star Moms must be counted, remembered and honored as well.

Thank you in advance for all your help on this matter, and thank you again for all you've done.

VNVets

“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan--to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.”
-- President Abraham Lincoln

"Without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."
--President George Washington

Copyright © 2006: VNVets Blog; All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Blue Water Navy Court Decision article from Military.com

Court Expands Coverage for Vietnam Vets

Military.com

By Terry Howell

August 22, 2006

The U.S. Court of Appeals for Veteran Claims has announced a landmark decision in the case of Haas v. Nicholson. This ruling could directly affect thousands of disabled Vietnam-era Navy veterans.

The Court's ruling states that Veterans Affairs requirement for “boots on the ground” as the definition of “service in the Republic of Vietnam” is unreasonable, and does not align with Congress's intent. In addition the law does not limit application of the presumption of service connection for herbicide exposure to those who set foot on the soil of the Republic of Vietnam. The Court cited that the law defines “service in the Republic of Vietnam” as including “service in the waters offshore, or service in other locations if the conditions of service involved duty or visitation in Vietnam.”

According to court documents the unclear nature of the policy was further demonstrated when Secretary Nicholson was asked to apply the regulatory interpretation in the case of a veteran who served in the waters off of Vietnam, in water where his feet did not touch the seabed, versus a veteran who was in the waters where he was able to touch the seabed, he responded that neither veteran would be entitled to the presumption because the regulatory definition is limited to those veterans “who set foot on land, if you will boots on ground, not touching the ocean floor.” When later asked if there was a difference between the case of a veteran who served on a vessel floating up a river - which, according to the Secretary's argument, could be miles wide - who never touched land within the Republic of Vietnam, and a veteran who served on a ship within 100 feet of the shoreline who never touched the land, the Secretary simply responded, without rationale, that the latter form of service would not warrant application of the presumption of service.

The Court's opinion further states that VA's regulation defining “service in the Republic of Vietnam” is ambiguous and that VA's interpretation of the regulatory term “service in the Republic of Vietnam,” allowing the application of the presumption of exposure to herbicides only to Vietnam-era veterans who set foot on land, is “inconsistent with longstanding agency views, plainly erroneous in light of legislative and regulatory history, and unreasonable, and must be SET ASIDE.”

Note: The Court also found that the VA changed the Adjudication Procedure Manual to exclude receipt of the Vietnam Service Medal (VSM) as a definition of “service in the Republic of Vietnam” in 2002. The Court's decision may force VA to rethink this policy change.
The elimination of the requirement for “boots on ground” will mean that Blue Water Navy Vietnam veterans can now file claims based on service in the Republic of Vietnam including “service in the waters offshore.”

This decision may open the floodgates to millions of Vietnam-era disability claims. Navy Vietnam veterans are encouraged to contact their local Veterans Service Officer as soon as possible to determine if they are eligible to receive disability benefits based on this ruling.

VNVets

“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan--to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.”
-- President Abraham Lincoln

"Without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."
--President George Washington

Copyright © 2006: VNVets Blog; All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

VVA Press Release on Lawsuit

Here is a press release from the VVA detailing the victory for Blue Water Navy Vets with Agent Orange claims from Vietnam Service:

Vietnam Veterans of America Applauds Recent Court Decision
In Favor of Service Members Who Served in the Offshore Waters of Vietnam

(Washington, D.C. ) – “Some of the inequities of the application of presumptive coverage for exposure to Agent Orange have finally been set aside,” said John Rowan, national president of Vietnam Veterans of America. “We need to spread the word about this decision to all Navy veterans who served in the waters offshore of Vietnam and received the Vietnam Service Medal (VSM). This Court decision will allow for an untold number of veterans and their families to receive the compensation and health care they are entitled to, as well as other VA programs,” Rowan said.

On August 16, 2006, the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims rendered a decision in the appeal of Haas v. Nicholson. In their 31-page decision, the Court determined the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has been unlawfully denying presumptive disability compensation for exposure to Agent Orange (AO) for service members who served in the waters offshore of Vietnam and earned the VSM.

Numerous veterans who served in Vietnam have been able to qualify for presumptive disability compensation for exposure to AO. Unfortunately the application of presumptive coverage has resulted in many inequities for veterans and their families. An example of this can be seen in the VA’s denials of presumptive service connection to service members who served on boats and ships off the coast of Vietnam. Although these veterans earned and received the VSM, many have had their claims denied by VA for presumptive disability due to AO exposure because they did not step foot on the ground in Vietnam.“All veterans who served in the waters offshore need to speak with a service representative or service officer as soon as possible to see if they have a viable claim for compensation,” Rowan said. These veterans should also participate in the Agent Orange registry exam. I fully expect the VA will attempt to rescind and revise their interpretation of the law. If you have had a claim denied or have never filed, you must do so before the regulations change again in favor of the VA.”

Friday, August 18, 2006

Important News for Blue Water VN Vets!

The following arrived in my email a short time ago. This is the best thing to happen to Blue Water Vietnam Vets since coming home!

The message:

WHILE THIS MAY NOT APPLY TO MANY OF YOU, PLEASE PASS IT ON TO YOUR OWN LISTS, AS IT MAY HELP SOMEONE ELSE NOT IN THE LOOP

Date: Thu, 17 Aug 2006 15:54:34 -0400
Yesterday the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) made a ruling that all Veterans that served aboard U.S. Naval ships during the Vietnam War are eligible to claim Diseases associated with exposure to Agent Orange/Dixon. If you have been denied Service Connection (SC) for any one of the 12 conditions associated with AO/D then you must re-file. If you are a vet who had his/her SC Comp pulled away from you that will be re-instated with retro. Whether or not those who filed claims and were denied is unclear at this time whether or not retro will apply? You MUST have a diagnoses from a Medical Doctor whether it be a Civilian or VA Doctor for the condition/s applied for. A list of conditions can be found by typing Agent Orange on your search engine. Click onto the sixth (6th link) listed. A picture of the C-123 "Patches" will be come up. Navigate through the web site. Get yourself somebody to represent you! DO NOT GO IT ALONE!!!!!!!!! I think VVA has the best people working for the benefit of Veterans, but there other Veteran Service Organizations out there. HuH? VFW, A. Legion, AmVets, Purple Heart, and quite a few others. To find a list of Vets Orginazition, (VSO) that are authorized to file claims for vets go to
www.va.gov/forms type in the number 21-22 That is the form that is used to appoint an Veterans Service Org to represent you scroll down to the second page and you'll find a list of organizations that can represent you. THERE IS NO CHARGE FOR THIS SERVICE!

Celebrate by sharpening up your claim, and refiling old claims!

Then you can celebrate a little. But wait for the money before you hold the big bash!

VNVets

“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan--to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.”
-- President Abraham Lincoln

"Without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."

--President George Washington

Copyright © 2006: VNVets Blog; All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

“Let's Say Thanks”


In an email that arrived the other day, I received information that the Xerox Corporation has a website that will allow you to pick out a post card, then choose a message and give your name and hometown. Xerox will then print out the post card and send it to the troops overseas.

According to their website, they have already sent two million cards!

We wholeheartedly urge you to go to Xerox’s
Let’s Say Thanks website and send a couple of cards. The message options vary and you can even send your own message using the ‘other’ option.

There is no selling besides an unobtrusive Xerox logo, and there is no real exposure of personal data except your name and hometown.

Folks, this is the real deal, a genuine nice thing for the company to do, and a nice thing for you to do. Everybody wins, you, Xerox, and most of all, our troops overseas.

Please give it a shot today, and tomorrow, and the day after that…


VNVets

Copyright © 2006: VNVets; All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

A Note from Veterans for Santorum


This just in from the Santorum Campaign:

Dear Veteran,

As you may have already heard, the Department of Veterans Affairs recently lost a computer containing sensitive and personal information of veterans. Immediately after being notified of this situation, Senator Santorum went right to work. Sen. Santorum is working to ensure that Pennsylvania's veterans personal information is being protected and will be safeguarded from further risk:

In his own words, Senator Santorum made it clear that this type of mistake is unacceptable.

"It has come to my attention that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and its contractor, Unisys Corporation, are unable to locate a computer containing the ames, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, and medical records of VA patients.

"I am absolutely appalled that another computer containing the personal information of veterans has gone missing. This is a major breach of security of not only the VA and its contracting entities, but also the Pennsylvania veterans affected. This is now the second time in less than three months that the VA has allowed such a severe breach of security to occur.

"Those responsible must be held accountable and the VA clearly needs to do a better job of overseeing its contracting entities. We must do everything in our power to protect those veterans whose information may have been compromised."

Senator Santorum has been a strong advocate for our veterans throughout his career. Growing up on the grounds of the Butler VA Medical Center, he has first-hand experience working with our veterans and he will continue to give Pennsylvania veterans the support they need for another six years.

Learn more about how Senator Rick Santorum is fighting for Pennsylvania's veterans at www.VeteransForSantorum.com.

Keep Up The Fight!

Bob Bozzuto

Deputy Coalitions Director Santorum 2006

P.S. Please send the link for this blog entry to every veteran you know so that they know Rick Santorum is fighting for all of Pennsylvania's veterans.

Recruit Others Contribute Forward to Friend

Paid for by Santorum 2006

Santorum 2006 P.O. Box 16426 Pittsburgh, PA 15242p 1-877-VOTE-RICK (868-3742) f 412.922.6461 info@ricksantorum.com Copyright 2005, Rick Santorum Legal Disclaimer

Privacy Policy Not produced at government expense. Contributions to Santorum 2006 are not tax deductible for federal income tax purposes.

****************************************************************************************

Many thanks to Bob Bozzuto and all the good folks at Veterans for Santorum.com . We vets need all the help we can get from a careless Congress. Having someone who cares in the Senate should be helpful.

VNVets

“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan--to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.”
-- President Abraham Lincoln

"Without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."
--President George Washington

Copyright © 2006: VNVets Blog; All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

10: This Just Keeps Getting Worse!"

This just keeps getting worse and worse. Now we have data on 50,000 active dute Navy and National Guard personnel that is on the stolen VA Computer Disks.

This is from CNN:

Active-duty personnel information among data stolen

Saturday, June 3, 2006; Posted: 9:12 p.m. EDT (01:12 GMT)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Personal data on up to 50,000 active Navy and National Guard personnel were among those stolen from a Veterans Affairs employee last month, the government said Saturday in a disclosure that goes beyond what VA initially reported.

VA Secretary Jim Nicholson said in a statement that his agency discovered after an internal investigation that the names, Social Security numbers and dates of birth of up to 20,000 National Guard and Reserve personnel who were on at least their second active-duty call-up were "potentially included."

In addition, the same information on up to 30,000 active-duty Navy personnel who completed their first enlistment term prior to 1991 also were believed to stored on the computer laptop and disks stolen from a VA data analyst at his Aspen Hill, Maryland, home on May 3.

The VA has previously said the stolen data involved up to 26.5 million veterans discharged since 1975, as well as some of their spouses; veterans discharged before 1975 also were deemed at risk if they submitted claims to the agency.

"VA continues to conduct a complete and thorough investigation into this incident, and those efforts are providing additional details about the nature of the data that may be involved," Nicholson said.

Veterans groups have criticized the VA for a three-week delay in publicizing the burglary after the May 3 theft. Last week, internal documents obtained by The Associated Press showed that the stolen data in many cases included phone numbers and addresses of veterans, as well as 6,744 records pertaining to "mustard gas veterans" -- or those who participated in chemical testing programs during World War II.

On Saturday, Nicholson said there was no evidence that information for other active-duty personnel had been breached.

He said there have been no reports that the stolen data have been used for identity theft but wanted to alert the public about the VA's findings out of an "abundance of caution" in what has become one of the nation's largest security breaches.

During hearings last month, Nicholson said he was "mad as hell" that employees did not notify him of the burglary until May 16. Since then, the VA has fired the data analyst who lost the data, and his boss, VA deputy assistant secretary Michael McLendon, has stepped down.

The department has also placed Dennis Duffy, the acting head of the division in which the data analyst worked, on administrative leave.

"VA will continue to work with the Department of Defense, other government agencies, members of Congress and other stakeholders to inform and help protect those potentially impacted," Nicholson said.

To paraphrase Bret Maverick, "If you can't trust your own government, who can you trust?" Who in the world is the VA hiring? What an imbecile to take stuff home. I have not heard if he has been fired yet, nor have I heard if he has been arrested for violating security. This just keeps getting worse.

VNVets

“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan--to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.”
-- President Abraham Lincoln

"Without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."
--President George Washington

Copyright © 2006: VNVets Blog; All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

09: “BOHICA Alert! The VA Does it Again!”


Now we are getting to know the real VA, the one with overwhelmed and careless staff. Congress expresses its outrage while slicing millions of dollars from their budget. Do not blame the VA for this. Place the blame securely where it belongs: The Congress of the United States.

Here is an article from the Associated Press, complete with mouthings from VA officials trying to downplay the threat. The threat is real. And once again, as it did in the stolen computer data incident, the VA is trying to cover its own butt.

This behavior moves from the top down and is indicative that the VA has been turned into a bureaucracy that functions only to serve itself, and not the Veterans of this nation. Thank you Congress for making the VA into what it is, a non-responsive, overly regulated, dishonestly policied, exclusionary beast from which the Veteran must jump through flaming hoops to get their justly deserved benefits, earned in the service of their nation.

The Article:

Vets Warned of Possible Exposure to Virus
Jun 3, 1:35 AM (ET)
By DINESH RAMDE

MILWAUKEE (AP) - More than 22,000 veterans who underwent prostate biopsies at veterans' hospitals across the country are being warned that improperly sterilized equipment may have exposed them to deadly viruses.

Officials said Friday it was unlikely someone could get infected by the equipment, and no patient is known to have been sickened.

Still, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs decided to offer free blood tests as a precaution after officials in Maine questioned whether the cleaning procedure was thorough enough, said VA spokesman Jim Benson.

The prostate biopsy equipment includes a probe that, if improperly cleaned, could retain traces of body fluids containing the viruses that cause hepatitis or AIDS.

Since April, the VA has alerted patients of potential inadequacies with the biopsy cleaning procedure at 21 medical centers in 18 states, plus Puerto Rico.

So far, about 7,000 vets contacted the VA after receiving the letter and about 2,000 have been tested, Benson said.

"It's too soon to have any information on their test results because each of the potential diseases we might be worried about require not only initial tests but confirmatory tests as well," Benson said. "Right now our first priority is getting information out to every veteran."

Dennis Maki, an infectious disease expert at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, aid the prostate examination technique involves inserting a stainless steel scope about the diameter of a pencil into the rectum. Then doctors use a hollow needle to draw a sample from the prostate gland.

The standard sterilizing procedure called for the equipment to be flushed with a disinfecting solution, but officials grew concerned that blood and fecal residue might remain unless the tube were physically scrubbed as well.

It's possible but unlikely that someone could get infected that way, said Michael Erdmann, chief of staff of the Milwaukee VA Medical Center.

"We're concerned for the safety of our patients, but really, the odds are really quite low," he said.

The problem wasn't manpower so much as cleaning instructions provided by the manufacturer that didn't specify the need for a brush, Erdmann said.

The equipment was made by B-K Medical Systems in Denmark. Company officials from neither B-K nor its Massachusetts-based parent company, Analogic, immediately returned phone calls by The Associated Press on Friday.

Michael O'Rourke, a spokesman for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, said he was satisfied with the VA's response. "I don't know what more they can do," he said.

Peter Gaytan, the director of veterans affairs for the American Legion, said his group is reaching out to veterans to make sure the VA has addressed their concerns.

"What the American Legion wants to make sure is that this mistake isn't the responsibility of overworked VA staff, and if it is, they need to hire more people," he said.
---
On the Net:
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs:
http://www.va.gov/

This is reprehensible on the part of the agency tasked to provide health care for millions of Veterans who served with the knowledge that the VA would be there for them, and discovered too late that was not the case. And such a lukewarm, tepid response by the American Legion shows how much they truely care. On a national level they have become a political entity, not a non-profit lobbying organization demanding aid for the Veterans from a stingy Congress! Veterans, you have been let down by your service organizations.

The VA Medical system has violated the oldest and most primary rule of medicine: “First, do no harm.”

VNVets

“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan--to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.”
-- President Abraham Lincoln

"Without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."
--President George Washington

Copyright © 2006: VNVets Blog; All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

08: “Honor the Fallen This Memorial Day!”


After the guns became silent, the cleanup began. It started with the wounded -- thousands of wounded. Those not already in hospitals in the many barns nearby, and not already on their way back to Virginia as Lee pulled his men back from the costly repulse at Gettysburg, those that still lay on the blood soaked fields, and among the tress and rocks of this ground were gathered up and swiftly borne away to fill the hospitals again.

First the living, and then the dead. The somber task of burying the Union dead began before the battle was done, and continued for well over a day. In most cases, they were buried where they fell.

The grave diggers were often criticized for their levity while going about their grim work, but in reality, it was simply a mechanism to deal with the horrors of so many mangled bodies…and if the sight of that didn’t reach you, the smell surely would. And so they would make small jokes about how this one smelled, or what he looked like he did back home: farmer, merchant, teacher, schoolboy…

After the Union dead were interred, it would take two more days to bury the Confederate dead. Meanwhile, there were tens of thousands of horses, mules and livestock that were rotting on the battlefield. They, too, had to be disposed of. There were a large number of dead horses in the small garden of the Widow Leister farm, where Major General Meade made his headquarters. Slaughtered by Confederate artillery that overshot its intended mark on Cemetery Ridge, the horses died by the dozen on the reverse slope. Later, Lydia Leister would burn their bones, and sell the ash/bone mix as fertilizer. She made about $30.

Local attorney David Wills realized almost immediately not just the importance of the battle, but the importance of the battlefield. He began to buy up portions of it for a memorial association he founded. By mid-summer, he had contacted Pennsylvania Governor Andrew Curtin, and obtained approval to go ahead and construct a “National Soldiers and Sailor’s Cemetery” at Gettysburg. A location on the west slope of Cemetery Hill, adjacent to the old Evergreen Cemetery was obtained, and a design was approved. A group of local African-Americans won the contract to disinter the Union dead from their makeshift graves on the battlefield and after identification of the remains at least as to the state for which the soldier had fought, reinter them in the new cemetery.

When that task was finally completed in the 1880s, there were 3,577 men from fourteen northern states buried in that graveyard. Since then, veterans and fallen from all of America’s wars have added more than 3,000 interments to that number.

For all of that, only one person has truly caught the essence of the events here, and the cost, and what the men bought with their blood. And on a cool November afternoon in 1863, he put the matter quite clearly:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we may take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

He put no hate in his speech, nor disrespect of the enemy. He placed the enormous toll of the battle into the perspective of the new United States that would emerge from the war – a new nation that was no longer divided by the issue of slavery, a nation united.

In Europe at the time, the nationalist movement had been underway for a half-century or more, and resulted in wars between nations. In America, our civil war defined how we, the United States of America, would be viewed by those outside our nation, and how we would perceive ourselves. It gave us an identity that all Americans could claim, a single spirit, a national unity.

In all of America’s other major wars combined (The Revolution, War of 1812, Mexican War, Spanish American War, WW I, WW II, Korea, Viet Nam, Gulf War I), the total killed is approximately 590,360.

In the Civil War, approximately 617,000 Americans fell in combat, or from accident or disease while serving. Almost a million more were wounded. Countless more were starved in Prisoner of War Camps.

There must be something about this “experiment in Liberty” that we call a nation that drives men and women to sacrifice themselves in such numbers for it.

Visit a National Cemetery or an observance of Memorial Day this weekend. Whatever you do, do something to honor those who gave their lives in the service of this nation, so “…that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

VNVets

“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan--to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.” -- President Abraham Lincoln

"
Without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious." --President George Washington

Copyright © 2006: VNVets Blog; All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

07: “More on Latest VA BOHICA”


Caution, this is not for the Type A personality.

A CNN report, partially reprinted below, indicates the VA sat on the information of the theft of the records of over 26 million veterans and some spouses of veterans in a home burglary in Virginia. The burglary was May 3rd and the information was not released until yesterday almost 3 weeks later!

That’s plenty of time for the low-lifes of the Internet to have used your Social Security Number, Name, and Date of Birth to gain access to your bank account, credit cards, investment accounts, etc.

Here is part of the article from CNN.com:

Theft of vets' data kept secret for 19 days

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Authorities waited almost three weeks to alert the public that personal data on more than 26 million U.S. veterans had fallen into the hands of thieves, a government source said Tuesday.

The data were on a laptop and external drive stolen May 3 in an apparent random burglary from the Montgomery County, Maryland, home of a Department of Veterans Affairs computer analyst, said the government source, who has been briefed on the issue.

The government did not immediately announce the theft because officials had hoped to catch the culprits and did not want to tip them off about what they had stolen for fear they would sell it, the government source said.

On Monday, officials abandoned that plan and alerted the public.

The computer disk contained the names, Social Security numbers and birth dates of every living veteran from 1975 to the present, Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson said Monday.

Nicholson told reporters that the FBI and the department's inspector general are investigating the matter.

Nicholson and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said there was no indication that the information has been misused. The missing data do not include health records or financial information, the department said. They do include some disability ratings and data on some veterans' spouses.

Nicholson said the analyst has been placed on administrative leave during the investigation but that no "ulterior motive" is suspected. The analyst is a longtime department employee but was not authorized to take the information home, he said.

Nicholson disclosed few details about the theft, citing the investigation. But he told CNN earlier, "We think that it wasn't a targeted burglary."They weren't after this [data]," he said. "There's a pattern of these kind of burglaries in this neighborhood."

But the missing information could be gold for electronic identity thieves, who operate hundreds of Internet sites where personal information is bought and sold."It's a pretty dire situation," said Rutrell Yasin, technology editor of Federal Computer Week, which covers computer and information technology issues in the federal government. "You have to hope that information is not in the hands of people who know what to do with it."

Yasin said the theft should be a wake-up call to federal agencies.

"They should certainly have the necessary security on their computers, secure communications links that would protect personal data," Yasin said.

Gonzales and Deborah Platt Majoras, chairwoman of the Federal Trade Commission, lead the Bush administration's identity theft task force. Gonzales vowed federal prosecutors would have "zero tolerance" for anyone implicated in trafficking in veterans' personal data.

"We have no reason to believe at this time that the identity of these veterans have been compromised," he said. "But we feel an obligation to alert veterans so that they can take the appropriate steps to protect this information."

The VA sent a letter to veterans informing them of the stolen data. Anyone with questions can contact the agency at (800) 333-4636 or through the federal government's Web portal, www.firstgov.gov .

The FBI said its Baltimore, Maryland, field office is investigating, and Gonzales said the bureau was working in conjunction with local authorities.

Nicholson vowed to take steps to ensure such a mistake is not repeated, including mandatory security training in the next month for all employees with access to private information.


Lawmakers cite concerns
Lawmakers also expressed concerns about the stolen data.

To read the rest of the story click here.

Now, in addition to the security breach, we have a government agency that inexplicably exposes the people it exists to represent to greater risk and danger of identity theft by withholding information from the veterans for three weeks!

Time to dump the decision makers at the VA! (But we knew that already, didn’t we?)

VNVets

“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan--to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.” -- President Abraham Lincoln


"Without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious." --President George Washington

Copyright © 2006: VNVets Blog; All Rights Reserved.

Monday, May 22, 2006

06: BOHICA Alert


Our wonderful Department of Veterans Affairs has slipped us another one. An employee took a disk containing the social security numbers of over 26 million veterans home (ostensibly to work on it at home) and had it stolen during a burglary of his home.

Here is vital information from
FirstGov:
Latest Information on Veterans Affairs Data Security
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has recently learned that an employee, a data analyst, took home electronic data from the VA, which he was not authorized to do. This behavior was in violation of VA policies. This data contained identifying information including names, social security numbers, and dates of birth for up to 26.5 million veterans and some spouses, as well as some disability ratings.

Importantly, the affected data did not include any of VA's electronic health records nor any financial information. The employee's home was burglarized and this data was stolen. The employee has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation.

Appropriate law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and the VA Inspector General's office, have launched full-scale investigations into this matter. Authorities believe it is unlikely the perpetrators targeted the items because of any knowledge of the data contents. It is possible that they remain unaware of the information which they possess or of how to make use of it. However, out of an abundance of caution, the VA is taking all possible steps to protect and inform our veterans.

The VA is working with members of Congress, the news media, veterans service organizations, and other government agencies to help ensure that veterans and their families are aware of the situation and of the steps they may take to protect themselves from misuse of their personal information. The VA will send out individual notification letters to veterans to every extent possible. Additionally, working with other government agencies, the VA has set up a manned call center that veterans may call to get information about this situation and learn more about consumer identity protections.
That toll free number is 1-800-FED INFO (1-800-333-4636).

The call center will operate from 8 am to 9 pm (EDT), Monday-Saturday as long as it is needed.

Here are some questions you may have about this incident, and their answers.

I'm a veteran. How can I tell if my information was compromised?

At this point there is no evidence that any missing data has been used illegally. However, the Department of Veterans Affairs is asking all veterans to be extra vigilant and to carefully monitor bank statements, credit card statements and any statements relating to recent financial transactions. If you notice unusual or suspicious activity, you should report it immediately to the financial institution involved and contact the Federal Trade Commission for further guidance.

What is the earliest date at which suspicious activity might have occurred due to this data breach?

The information was stolen from an employee of the Department of Veterans Affairs during the month of May 2006. If the data has been misused or otherwise used to commit fraud or identity theft crimes, it is likely that veterans may notice suspicious activity during the month of May.

I haven't noticed any suspicious activity in my financial statements, but what can I do to protect myself and prevent being victimized by credit card fraud or identity theft?

The Department of Veterans Affairs strongly recommends that veterans closely monitor their financial statements and review the guidelines provided on this webpage or call 1-800-FED-INFO (1-800-333-4636).

Should I reach out to my financial institutions or will the Department of Veterans Affairs do this for me?

The Department of Veterans Affairs does not believe that it is necessary to contact financial institutions or cancel credit cards and bank accounts, unless you detect suspicious activity.

Where should I report suspicious or unusual activity?

The Federal Trade Commission recommends the following four steps if you detect suspicious activity:

Step 1 – Contact the fraud department of one of the three major credit bureaus:
  • Equifax: 1-800-525-6285; www.equifax.com; P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
  • Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742); www.experian.com; P.O. Box 9532, Allen, Texas 75013
  • TransUnion: 1-800-680-7289; www.transunion.com; Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92834-6790

Step 2 – Close any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently.

Step 3 – File a police report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place.

Step 4 – File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission by using the FTC's Identity Theft Hotline by telephone:

1-877-438-4338, online at www.consumer.gov/idtheft, or by mail at Identity Theft Clearinghouse, Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington DC 20580.

I know the Department of Veterans Affairs maintains my health records electronically; was this information also compromised?

No electronic medical records were compromised. The data lost is primarily limited to an individual's name, date of birth, social security number, in some cases their spouse's information, as well as some disability ratings. However, this information could still be of potential use to identity thieves and we recommend that all veterans be extra vigilant in monitoring for signs of potential identity theft or misuse of this information.

What is the Department of Veterans Affairs doing to insure that this does not happen again?

The Department of Veterans Affairs is working with the President's Identity Theft Task Force, the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission to investigate this data breach and to develop safeguards against similar incidents. The Department of Veterans Affairs has directed all VA employees complete the "VA Cyber Security Awareness Training Course" and complete the separate "General Employee Privacy Awareness Course" by June 30, 2006. In addition, the Department of Veterans Affairs will immediately be conducting an inventory and review of all current positions requiring access to sensitive VA data and require all employees requiring access to sensitive VA data to undergo an updated National Agency Check and Inquiries (NACI) and/or a Minimum Background Investigation (MBI) depending on the level of access required by the responsibilities associated with their position. Appropriate law enforcement agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Inspector General of the Department of Veterans Affairs, have launched full-scale investigations into this matter.

Where can I get further, up-to-date information?

The Department of Veterans Affairs has set up a special website and a toll-free telephone number for veterans that features up-to-date news and information. Please check this webpage for further updates or call 1-800-FED-INFO (1-800-333-4636).

The VA website mentioned [but not linked!!!!] above has little information of any value.

The Department of Veterans Affairs offers this somewhat insufficient piece from their website:

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has recently learned that an employee, a data analyst, took home electronic data from the VA, which he was not authorized to do. This behavior was in violation of our policies. This data contained identifying information including names, social security numbers, and dates of birth for up to 26.5 million veterans and some spouses, as well as some disability ratings.

Importantly, the affected data did not include any of VA's electronic health records nor any financial information. The employee's home was burglarized and this data was stolen. The employee has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation.

Appropriate law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and the VA Inspector General's office, have launched full-scale investigations into this matter. Authorities believe it is unlikely the perpetrators targeted the items because of any knowledge of the data contents. It is possible that they remain unaware of the information which they posses or of how to make use of it. However, out of an abundance of caution, the VA is taking all possible steps to protect and inform our veterans.

The VA is working with members of Congress, the news media, veterans service organizations, and other government agencies to help ensure that those veterans and their families are aware of the situation and of the steps they may take to protect themselves from misuse of their personal information. The VA will send out individual notification letters to veterans to every extent possible. Veterans can also go to www.firstgov.gov as well as www.va.gov/opa to get more information on this matter. The firstgov web site is being set to handle increased web traffic. Additionally, working with other government agencies, the VA has set up a manned call center that veterans may call to get information about this situation and learn more about consumer identity protections. That toll-free number is 1-800-FED INFO (333-4636). The call center will be open beginning today, and will operate from 8 am to 9 pm (EDT), Monday-Saturday as long as it is needed. The call center will be able to handle up to 20,000 calls per hour (260,000 calls per day).

The Secretary of Veterans Affairs R. James Nicholson has briefed the Attorney General and the Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, co-chairs of the President's Identity Theft Task Force. Task Force members have already taken actions to protect the affected veterans, including working with the credit bureaus to help ensure that veterans receive the free credit report they are entitled to under the law. Additionally, the Task Force will meet today, 22 May 2006, to coordinate the comprehensive Federal response, recommend further ways to protect affected veterans, and increase safeguards to prevent the reoccurrence of such incidents.

The VA's mission to serve and honor our nation's veterans is one we take very seriously and the 235,000 VA employees are deeply saddened by any concern or anxiety this incident may cause our veterans and their families. We appreciate the service our veterans have given their country and we are working diligently to protect them from any harm as a result of this incident.
I do not know about any of you, but I have a far less than fuzzy feeling about this one. I am not pleased by the response from the VA Secretary who thinks the compromise of your (and your spouse’s) health records is more important than the compromise of your name, date of birth, Social Security number, and the Lord only knows what other personal information.

Apparently the Secretary does not get SPAMMED daily by the unscrupulous @ssholes who inhabit the Internet and use just that information listed above to ruin you financially by stealing your identity.

Further, I appreciate that the FBI and the VA’s Inspector General are starting investigations, but I am more concerned that the Virginia (where the burglaqry occurred) State Police and the local police have stepped up their investigation!

I get no such assurances from the Secretary.

And this from the very government agency built to help you.
Absolutely shameful and criminal.


VNVets

“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan--to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.” -- President Abraham Lincoln


"Without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious." --President George Washington

Copyright © 2006: VNVets Blog; All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

05: Veterans March on Washington [Repost]


We thought it a good idea to repost this and hope that you will spread the word.
Here’s something you should be aware of, and perhaps become a part of, as it impacts all veterans. This was received from Tom Trefts at the Unified Veterans Coalition:

Legislators Attempt to Head-Off Veteran’s March on DC

WWW.FIREBASENETWORK.NET
By Staff Writer: Rick Townsend
firebaseadrian@tc3net.com
March 17, 2006

Lawmakers in our nation’s capitol are attempting to pacify this country’s veterans and supporters of an upcoming grassroots veterans’ affairs demonstration planned for Washington, DC next month.

On April 25th & 26th Operation Firing For Effect – The Veteran’s March will kick off a March and Rally in opposition to proposed future cuts in veteran’s services, and increases in retired military health care cost. The demonstration will be held on the U.S. Capitol steps and will address a wide variety of issues which affect the future of veterans’ affairs in this country. Thousands of veterans and their family members are expected to attend the Rally, which will begin at 8 am at the West Lawn of the Capitol building.

Over the past 90 days there has been a groundswell of Bills and Resolutions introduced addressing several veteran and retired military issues. From real legal representation for veterans filing claims with the VA, to efforts to block TriCare health coverage increases, our elected officials are scrambling to defuse growing anger and discontent within this country’s former military community.

The Military Retirees’ Healthcare Protection Act, H.R. 4949, if passed, would prevent
increases in TriCare enrollment fees and pharmacy co-pays. This single Bill would affect over 3 million military retirees and their families. H.R. 4914, if passed, would permit veterans to hire an attorney when they disagree with a benefits claims decision of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Currently, veterans are not allowed to hire an attorney until the end of the administrative appeals process, specifically, after the Board of Veterans Appeals has rendered a decision. In addition, there is a 72.4 billion VA supplemental funding bill in Congress. And yet another Bill would define veteran’s health care funding as a “Cost of War” to be addressed in the Department of Defense budget. In short, the word “veteran” has been mentioned more times in the past 3 months, than the past 3 decades.

Organizers of Operation Firing For Effect – The Veteran’s March are convinced their efforts to unite this country’s veterans has resulted in this recent flurry of activity and posturing on The Hill.

Vietnam combat veteran, Gene Simes is the Chairman of Operation Firing For Effect – The Veteran’s March. Simes said, “The introduction of these new Bills is not a coincidence. Our elected officials are very aware of our plans and they know we are coming”.

Event Co-Chairman, Gulf War One combat veteran, James North explained The Veteran’s March and Rally this way, “Our objectives are very simple and straight forward. First, we want to draw public awareness and media attention to serious problems facing our former military personnel and their families. Second, we want to send a message to our Congress and Senate demanding Veterans’ Affairs issues take precedence over special interest issues. Third, we want to send a message to our deployed troops that we support them and they can count on us to fight for the protection of their earned benefits and services. Forth, we want to improve the State of Veterans’ Affairs in this country in an effort to increase enlistment and improve retention in the U.S. military, thus preserve our all volunteer military. Fifth, we want to provide our former military personnel and their families a voice in matters that affect them,” North said.

Vietnam combat veteran and noted veteran’s rights advocate, Jere Beery is Public Relations Director for the Rally. “I really don’t think many Americans will be pacified or fooled by the recent and sudden pro-veteran activity on Capitol Hill. We have to influence the overall mindset of the entire Congress and Senate, and that will take a great deal more than a couple of showboat Bills,” Beery stated.

Jim North agrees with Beery. “The problems facing our veterans will only be solved when the American people demand our government provide and protect the benefits and services earned by our troops. If we can find billions of tax dollars for Mars exploration, surely we can find adequate funding for our veterans,” North said. “It’s a simply matter of priorities,” North added.

Gene Simes and James North are very confident of a good turn out in DC. “We are providing an opportunity for the American people to voice their concerns about the future of veteran’s affairs. Our April 25th Rally will be merely the beginning of a much bigger movement to insure veteran’s issues take precedence over all special interest issues. This is the message we are taking to Washington, DC,” Simes stated.

In a related story, yesterday the U.S. Senate voted down Stabenow Amendment 3141 requiring mandatory funding for veteran’s health care. (46 YEA votes, to 54 NAY) (Senate Roll Call Vote)


For more information on Operation Firing For Effect – The Veteran’s March visit;
WWW.VetMarch2006.COM

Tom Trefts
Unified Veterans Coalition
www.xsorbit27.com/users5/unifiedveteranscoalition/

Thanks Tom, my fellow vets who read this blog should take a large interest in this.

VNVets

“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan--to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.”
-- President Abraham Lincoln


"Without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."
--President George Washington

Copyright © 2006: VNVets Blog; All Rights Reserved.


Saturday, March 25, 2006

04: “More Agent Orange News”



A recent news article from Australia confirms the findings of a study done several years ago by the Australian Navy. Suspicious after being told by the U.S. not to make fresh water using their ship’s desalinization (evaporators) plants while operating inshore of Vietnam, the Australian Navy decided to find out why. The results have been floating around the Internet for several years, thanks in large part to the fine work done by Veteran’s Advocate Ms. Taura King out in California. We’ll let the article lay out for you what the study found, and what the Aussies are doing about it.

[Note: The Repatriation Medical Authority is an independent board that determines medical conditions’ causes and linkages to military situations for the Australian Department of Veteran Affairs.]

Navy Shipboard Vietnam cancers linked to water

WED 22 MAR 2006, Page 003
By: Simon Kearney

SAILORS who served on naval ships during the Vietnam War have been told their ships' drinking water, which was contaminated with Agent Orange, could be causing their cancers.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is investigating a link between the number of cancers among sailors and the desalinated water on board some ships, which contained dioxins from the deadly defoliant.

The alarm relates to ships that took on water in Vung Tau harbor in Vietnam between 1965 and 1972, specifically HMAS Sydney, which made 23 trips to Vietnam during the war, and her escort ships.

Between 1980 and 1994 as many as 170 navy personnel died from cancers potentially related to the water on the ships, according to the Mortality of Vietnam Veterans cohort study.

An updated mortality study on Vietnam veterans is due to be released later this
year.

The problem was identified nearly three years ago when the National Research Center for Toxicology found that desalinated drinking water taken from the estuary was contaminated with Agent Orange, which was sprayed widely across the country during the war.

“We are investigating what the issues associated with water and water taken from Vietnamese waters are, and the RMA (Repatriation Medical Authority) have made some progress in that in terms of providing some linkages,” Department of Veterans Affairs secretary Mark Sullivan said in a Senate budget estimates hearing last month.

He said drinking the water was linked to prostate cancer, bone marrow cancer, and two cancers of the lymphatic system, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and Hodgkin's lymphoma.

“It (RMA) is still considering the medical and scientific evidence for the inclusion of a potable water factor in the investigations for malignant neoplasm of the lung (lung cancer), soft tissue sarcoma, malignant neoplasm of the larynx (throat cancer) and acute myeloid leukemia,” Mr. Sullivan said.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is urging former navy personnel who have these conditions and served on ships that anchored in Vung Tau harbor to submit or resubmit claims.

“What we encourage all veterans to do, if they are unwell or have a condition or disease and they have any suspicion that that condition is related to their service, is to put in a claim.

We will investigate it,” Mr. Sullivan said.

However, Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia president Ron Coxon said the Government had not gone far enough because veterans had to prove they spent a total of 30 days drinking the water.

“They talk about 30 cumulative days but we don't know how much of the dioxin actually settled in the tank because they never cleaned them,” he said.

The initial toxicology report found that distilling seawater concentrated the dioxins in the water navy personnel were drinking and washing in to above safe levels. The report was an attempt to explain why more navy personnel were dying after the war than other veterans.

Of the 55,000 Australians who served in Vietnam, 12,376 were in the navy.

Opposition veteran’s affairs spokesman Allan Griffin said the Department of Veterans Affairs was not being active enough about warning veterans who might be at risk.

Simon Kearney
The Australian newspaper
2 Holt Street
Surry Hills
NSW 2010

E-mail:
kearneys@theaustralian.com.au

It appears the Aussies are almost as unwilling as the US Veterans Administration to accept that naval and maritime personnel operating off the coast of Vietnam were indeed subject to the dangers of dioxin from the widespread spraying of the defoliants in several areas of Southeast Asia. In particular, I Corps area in the northern part of Vietnam, just below the DMZ, and III corps area which was a large area surrounding Saigon, the Mekong River and its delta were subject to the highest concentrations of applied dioxins.

U.S. Navy vessels operated close inshore to support the ground troops ashore with naval artillery (Naval Gun Fire Support or NGFS), and in many cases operated within several hundred yards of the beach. During extended periods on the gun line, ship would have been forced to operate their fresh water evaporators to make fresh water from sea water.

The United States Veteran’s Administration unfairly excluded these “blue water sailors” from qualifying for Agent Orange benefits under the false premise that they were not exposed unless they “set foot on the ground” inside Vietnam.

Contact your Veteran’s Service Organization (American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, AMVETS, VVA, etc.) and have them get active in the press to right this extremely wrong and uncaring exclusion. Contact your Congressman and pressure them to get on board and move in Congress to correct the law.

This cannot be allowed to stand.

VNVets

“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan--to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.” -- President Abraham Lincoln

"Without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious." --President George Washington

Copyright © 2006: VNVets Blog; All Rights Reserved.

Monday, March 20, 2006

03: Veterans’ March on Washington


Here’s something you should be aware of, and perhaps become a part of, as it impacts all veterans. This was received from Tom Trefts at the Unified Veterans Coalition:

Legislators Attempt to Head-Off Veteran’s March on DC

WWW.FIREBASENETWORK.NET
By Staff Writer: Rick Townsend
firebaseadrian@tc3net.com
March 17, 2006

Lawmakers in our nation’s capitol are attempting to pacify this country’s veterans and supporters of an upcoming grassroots veterans’ affairs demonstration planned for Washington, DC next month.

On April 25th & 26th Operation Firing For Effect – The Veteran’s March will kick off a March and Rally in opposition to proposed future cuts in veteran’s services, and increases in retired military health care cost. The demonstration will be held on the U.S. Capitol steps and will address a wide variety of issues which affect the future of veterans’ affairs in this country. Thousands of veterans and their family members are expected to attend the Rally, which will begin at 8 am at the West Lawn of the Capitol building.

Over the past 90 days there has been a groundswell of Bills and Resolutions introduced addressing several veteran and retired military issues. From real legal representation for veterans filing claims with the VA, to efforts to block TriCare health coverage increases, our elected officials are scrambling to defuse growing anger and discontent within this country’s former military community.

The Military Retirees’ Healthcare Protection Act, H.R. 4949, if passed, would prevent
increases in TriCare enrollment fees and pharmacy co-pays. This single Bill would affect over 3 million military retirees and their families. H.R. 4914, if passed, would permit veterans to hire an attorney when they disagree with a benefits claims decision of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Currently, veterans are not allowed to hire an attorney until the end of the administrative appeals process, specifically, after the Board of Veterans Appeals has rendered a decision. In addition, there is a 72.4 billion VA supplemental funding bill in Congress. And yet another Bill would define veteran’s health care funding as a “Cost of War” to be addressed in the Department of Defense budget. In short, the word “veteran” has been mentioned more times in the past 3 months, than the past 3 decades.

Organizers of Operation Firing For Effect – The Veteran’s March are convinced their efforts to unite this country’s veterans has resulted in this recent flurry of activity and posturing on The Hill.

Vietnam combat veteran, Gene Simes is the Chairman of Operation Firing For Effect – The Veteran’s March. Simes said, “The introduction of these new Bills is not a coincidence. Our elected officials are very aware of our plans and they know we are coming”.

Event Co-Chairman, Gulf War One combat veteran, James North explained The Veteran’s March and Rally this way, “Our objectives are very simple and straight forward. First, we want to draw public awareness and media attention to serious problems facing our former military personnel and their families. Second, we want to send a message to our Congress and Senate demanding Veterans’ Affairs issues take precedence over special interest issues. Third, we want to send a message to our deployed troops that we support them and they can count on us to fight for the protection of their earned benefits and services. Forth, we want to improve the State of Veterans’ Affairs in this country in an effort to increase enlistment and improve retention in the U.S. military, thus preserve our all volunteer military. Fifth, we want to provide our former military personnel and their families a voice in matters that affect them,” North said.

Vietnam combat veteran and noted veteran’s rights advocate, Jere Beery is Public Relations Director for the Rally. “I really don’t think many Americans will be pacified or fooled by the recent and sudden pro-veteran activity on Capitol Hill. We have to influence the overall mindset of the entire Congress and Senate, and that will take a great deal more than a couple of showboat Bills,” Beery stated.

Jim North agrees with Beery. “The problems facing our veterans will only be solved when the American people demand our government provide and protect the benefits and services earned by our troops. If we can find billions of tax dollars for Mars exploration, surely we can find adequate funding for our veterans,” North said. “It’s a simply matter of priorities,” North added.

Gene Simes and James North are very confident of a good turn out in DC. “We are providing an opportunity for the American people to voice their concerns about the future of veteran’s affairs. Our April 25th Rally will be merely the beginning of a much bigger movement to insure veteran’s issues take precedence over all special interest issues. This is the message we are taking to Washington, DC,” Simes stated.

In a related story, yesterday the U.S. Senate voted down Stabenow Amendment 3141 requiring mandatory funding for veteran’s health care. (46 YEA votes, to 54 NAY) (Senate Roll Call Vote)


For more information on Operation Firing For Effect – The Veteran’s March visit;
WWW.VetMarch2006.COM

Tom Trefts
Unified Veterans Coalition
www.xsorbit27.com/users5/unifiedveteranscoalition/

Thanks Tom, my fellow vets who read this blog should take a large interest in this.

VNVets

“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan--to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.”
-- President Abraham Lincoln


"Without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."
--President George Washington

Copyright © 2006: VNVets Blog; All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

02: News for Bluewater Vietnam Veterans!

Our good friend, EMO, Lt. James "EMO" Tichacek, USN (Ret) Director, Retiree Assistance Office, U.S. Embassy Warden & VITA Baguio City RP, sends a bi-monthly newsletter chock full of great information about Veterans and military benefits. This latest one, arriving yesterday, hits close to home. Apparently there is hope for the Blue Water Sailors of the Navy in Vietnam. Here's what EMO reports:
VA AGENT ORANGE CLAIMS UPDATE 01: The American Legion and the National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP) have been working closely together over the last 15 years to make sure that the VA pays all of the benefits that Vietnam veterans and their survivors deserve as a result of exposure to Agent Orange. Recently, there have been two important developments. This article provides advice about the steps you should take if you represent yourself, a veteran, or a survivor who may be affected:

1.) CLL Claims: Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is the latest disease the VA added to the list of diseases presumptively service connected due to Agent Orange. The VA issued the regulation adding CLL on 16 OCT 03. CLL is a malignancy (cancer) of the white blood that results from an acquired injury to the DNA of a single cell, a lymphocyte, in the bone marrow. This injury is not present at birth.

As a result of the Nehmer lawsuit [Nehmer v. U.S. Veterans Administration, 32 F. Supp. 2d 1175 (N.D. Cal. 1999)] the VA is normally required to pay benefits for an Agent Orange-related disease retroactive to the date the VA received the first claim the veteran or survivor filed based on the disease with the exception of claims that were finally denied before 25 SEP 85. VA took the position that when it was service connected CLL the Nehmer rules did not apply to CLL claims. As a result, the VA assigned an effective date no earlier than 16 OCT 03 whenever the VA granted a disability or DIC claim based on CLL even if the first CLL claim was filed before 16 OCT 03.

The Nehmer lawsuit is a class action brought by National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP) on behalf of Vietnam veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange and their survivors. NVLSP appealed the VA's decision concerning CLL, and on 1 DEC 05, the federal court that oversees the Nehmer lawsuit agreed with NVLSP that the Nehmer rules do apply to CLL claims. The court's December 1st ruling requires the VA to pay disability and DIC benefits retroactive to the date of claim to all veterans or survivors who filed a CLL claim before 16 OCT 05. The VA recently appealed the December 1st decision to the court of appeals. If you know of a Vietnam veteran or survivor who filed a CLL claim before 16 OCT 03, you should contact NVLSP attorney Rick Spataro at (202) 265-8305, ext. # 149 or rick_spataro@nvlsp.org. NVLSP is currently trying to get the court to require the VA to pay the retroactive benefits owed under the December 1st order as soon as possible, even though the VA has appealed the decision. Rick is collecting a list of all CLL claimants who deserve an earlier effective date under the December 1st order to present to the court.

2.) Blue Water Disability/DIC claims: From 1991 to 2002, the VA took the position that Navy veterans who were awarded the Vietnam Service Medal as a result of service in the waters offshore Vietnam (blue water vets) were entitled to the same presumption of exposure to Agent Orange as veterans who set foot on land in Vietnam. As a result, many Navy veterans who served offshore and their survivors were granted disability or DIC benefits based on an Agent Orange-related disease. However, in FEB 02 the VA amended VA Manual M21-1 to limit the presumption of exposure to Agent Orange to only those veterans who actually set foot on the land mass of Vietnam. As a result of the policy change the VA has been denying claims filed by blue water vets for Agent Orange related diseases since FEB 02. In addition, the VA has taken action to sever awards of service connection in some of the cases that were granted prior to February 2002.

NVLSP has appealed to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims many of the BVA decisions denying benefits to blue water veterans. NVLSP has argued in these cases that the VA's change of position in 2002 violates the Agent Orange Act of 1991. On 10 JAN 06, a panel of the Court heard argument in one of NVLSP's appeals and a decision on the legality of the VA's set-foot-on-land requirement is expected some time this year. In any case in which you are representing yourself or another blue water Navy veteran/survivor on a claim based on an Agent Orange-related disease, you should keep the claim alive by filing a timely Notice of Disagreement (NOD) after the VA denial, and a timely substantive appeal after the Statement of the Case (SOC). If the BVA denies the claim, contact NVLSP attorney Rick Spataro so that a timely appeal can be filed with the Veterans Court. This is a prudent move because if NVLSP wins its appeal, the VA will be required to follow the Veteran Court's decision on the pending claim.

On the other hand, if the VA's denial of the claim becomes final, there is no guarantee that the VA will consider the prior final denial to be a clear and unmistakable error even if NVLSP were to win its appeal.

[Source: NVLSP Staff Attorney msg 16 Feb 06]
I don't know about anyone else, but I am refiling my claim tonight!
This is exactly what I have been trying to fight.
Now its underway. This is not the class action suit I was getting ready to start, but it will accomplish the same end, so we'll wait until this plays out and see what we want to do at that time.
"VNVets"
Vietnam 1966
Copyright © 2006: VNVets Blog. All Rights Reserved.