Wednesday, October 31, 2007

BWNVVA: Say NO!! to the Peake Nomination

From the President of the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Association:

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I believe there is NO POSSIBLE WAY, on God's green Earth, that anyone could possibly look at James Peake's background and not conclude that his nomination and possible appointment as Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs is anything but pure, unadulterated corruption and cronyism at its very worst.

I don't know the man. I don't care to. All I need to do is to look at his personal and business relationships with Anthony Principi, and the company QTC Management, Inc. and I am absolutely certain that his appointment to a public office that deals with veteran health care is absolutely absurd and very probably illegal. It is at least one of the most blatantly unethical appointments that George Bush has attempted to date.

This man has served right along side one of the most questionable personalities to ever have held a cabinet post, Anthony Principi. The mere mention of that name sends many veterans' blood boiling and reminds us that dishonesty pays ... and pays BIG.

Let me relate a little history. One of the first personalities to begin the severe decline in veteran services by the Department of Veteran Affairs was Anthony Prinicipi. The VA budgets and operations fell apart on Principi's watch. Principi was Chairman of the Board of QTC, a medical services company, prior to his appointment as Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

While holding that high government office, QTC was awarded billions of dollars worth of medical contracts by the Department of Veterans Affairs. That in itself should have sent up red flags so high that the man should have been strung up the day those agreements were signed.

After leaving the office of Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Anthony Principi returned to QTC as Chairman of the Board, to enjoy the business of living out some of the most lucrative government contracts for outsourced medical services in the history of this country. Once again, the man wasn't arrested and jailed for his actions. That was and still is an appalling miscarriage of justice. There was what is deemed to have been a thorough investigation of the actions of Principi and his end rewards by government agencies, but no wrongdoings were found. Funny there wasn't a third part investigation service involved.

Sitting on the Board of Directors of QTC is our new player in this game, James Peake. Sometimes I might dress funny, or miss a joke, but I honestly believe I'm not a stupid man. And if I am, I'm not blind. When I see a possible "should be" felon running a company that thrives on what in my humble opinion are blatantly illegal contracts with the US Government, and I see sitting next to him a man who is in a position to know the intricate details of the fleecing of public funds, I understandably conclude that this duo is complicit in these alleged crimes.

To have the sheer gall and absurd misconception of immunity from prosecution as to attempt to appoint a known associate with one of the possibly most scrupulous and scandalous of thieves of this new century, is blind idiocy, pure and simple. It makes one wonder if perhaps the personage or Office of the President is getting some kick-back for making these two gentlemen fat and rich at the expense of public funds. Actually, the payback is probably through the Party Committee connections.

This one is so easily spotted that George Bush needs to see his shrink. The American public needs to stand on their roof tops and shout "Enough is Enough!!"

But all this information will be hidden during the confirmation hearings, I'll wager. A search under 'QTC' on the VAWatchDog.org web site will confirm all this information and provide additional eyebrow-raising information on the alleged corruption that has plagued the Department of Veterans Affairs while Principi was associated with it.

Web site listing the Board of Directors of QTC Management, Inc is at http://www.qtcm.com/general/about/board.asp

JPR
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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 © 2005-2007: VNVets Blog; All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Hard Words from a Shipmate

These are some hard words from a shipmate in the Blue Water Navy Veterans of the Vietnam War. We think it is time they were said.

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One of the extremely dangerous affects of the VA winning the Haas case is that, once they have successfully treated the Blue Water Navy as a "sub-class" or "new category" of veteran, essentially legally dividing the whole into parts, they will be able to use that as precedent to pick and choose which veterans get which types of benefits.

Up until this point, all veterans (e.g., combat veterans, POWs, support troops, etc.) fall into the same class and are eligible for all benefits. If the Haas case is ruled in favor of the DVA, they will be able to exclude any veteran from receiving full medical and compensation benefits simply by creating another sub-class of veteran, as they are attempting to do here.

Let me give an example: In the XX War, veterans serving on active duty in combat or combat support would all assume they would receive medical treatment and compensation for injuries sustained in the XX War. But after the XX War is over, the Department of Veteran Affairs could proclaim that any veteran of the XX War who served further than 12 miles from some arbitrary geographical point is not eligible for full veteran benefits, even though the enemy could and did detonate weapons up to 20 miles from the arbitrary point. Those veterans who were injured by those "out of bounds" detonations are, by their own jargon, S.O.L. They will be denied medical care and monetary compensation for any injuries sustained while on active duty during the XX War.

That is exactly what is happening to the Blue Water Navy veterans of the Vietnam War. They are not being given the same medical care and compensation as the troops they supported, fought along side of, and died with. The winning of the Haas case, or the enactment of S-2026, will guarantee that the DVA can create categories of future veterans at whim, and deny them full benefits such as those received by veterans who served within the 12 mile zone from our hypothetical example.

"Impossible!" you might say? It is happening now. It is what the heart of the Haas case and what the S-2026 bill are all about. It is what the Blue Water Navy of the Vietnam War is currently experiencing and has experienced since early 2002. It is not a mere probability - it is current fact.

This situation says to the future United States military member of any branch of service: "Take your chances. Come fight our war. You might or might not receive your medical treatment and combat injury disability payments from the DVA. You won't know until after you've been injured and the War is over. But go ahead, sign on the dotted line." As a veteran of the Vietnam War, my best advice to the youth of America is "Don't play their silly game of Russian Roulette. If these problems are not fixed NOW, stay as far away from service to this Government as you can get. They lie and have no intention of taking care of you if you are injured in battle."

Of course, that's not a hard message to swallow given the current non-treatment and ill-treatment of returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. Even when they claim to be keeping their promise of "We'll take care of you!" the care is so poor and takes so long that it is a national disgrace. This is no longer a Government worth defending. Nonetheless, it is a hard message to give, and I do so only with a very heavy heart and many tears. But this is no longer the Government that I made and kept my pledge of allegiance to. All things change over time, but the principles of Honesty and Integrity must remain constant - and the current leadership of our country has lost touch with those Ideals.
JPR

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Our tears join yours, and our heart is also heavy at the perversion of the American Ideal by vain and greedy politicians who talk from both sides of their mouths at once. There are no friends to the American Veteran in the United States Government.

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 © 2005-2007: VNVets Blog; All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Bush Administration Actions Could Cost the US its Military

Imagine ten years from now. Very few young people in this country have the slightest interest in joining the military. Even fewer who do join have any interest in reenlisting. Who will protect the nation when no one wants to serve in the military? The Bush administration has embarked on a course that could eventually cost the United States its military.

The stubborn and ill advised refusal of the Bush administration to back away from challenging the ruling in the US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims in the Haas vs Nicholson case will likely have longstanding and wide ranging ramifications far beyond the protection such refusal gives to the chemical companies who manufactured Agent Orange. Corporate protectionism at the expense of our nation’s veterans is an absolutely reprehensible action to begin with, but no amount of stockholder money is worth the potential loss of confidence among our nation’s youth and current members of the US Military, that their futures will be protected by the government should they be affected medically by their service to the nation.

In 2002, the DVA cut off benefits to Blue Water Navy Veterans of Vietnam – benefits they had been paying on claims from as early as the Agent Orange Act of 1991 went into effect, essentially claiming that the initial intent of Congress in the 1991 Agent Orange Act did not include Blue Water Navy Veterans unless they actually set foot on the ground in Vietnam. Oddly enough, 2002 was the projected end of the Agent Orange Act, but Congress renewed it in 2002, adding the creation of the Institute of Medicine, and their task of assembling scientific evidence for the DVA to review.

In the Haas case, the Department of Veterans Affairs took a hit from what is essentially their own court. The Court took the DVA to task for changing the interpretation of the law that was in place from 1991 until they took their action in 2002. The Court ruled that there is, essentially, no difference between the Brown Water Navy Veterans of Vietnam – those who served in the Riverine Forces, and Navy SeaBees, for example, and the Blue Water Navy Veterans of Vietnam who served off shore, and did not set foot on the ground.

The DVA appealed the Haas decision early this year, and the briefs have been filed. Oral arguments are scheduled for November 7th in the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Additionally, new evidence favorable to the Blue Water Veterans [and Haas] was introduced in an amicus brief that sought to insert the study done by the Australian government that showed sea water with dioxin contaminated run off, when processed by a ship’s evaporators to make fresh and potable water, did not eliminate the dioxins, but instead concentrated them. This study, which was conducted more than a few years ago, has been suppressed and ignored by the DVA, even to the point of forcing the Institute of Medicine to preclude it from their annual Agent Orange Report, which the DVA reviews for scientific evidence that would make a change to who, and what disease or conditions, would qualify for Presumptive Eligibility for exposure to Agent Orange.

The Australian and New Zealand governments have been paying benefits to their Vietnam Navy Veterans for a couple of years now.

Early in September, the DVA asked the chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, Senator Daniel Akaka, to introduce a bill, S.2026, which would in essence, permanently block all Blue Water Navy Veterans who did not set foot on the ground in Vietnam from receiving Presumptive Eligibility for exposure to Agent Orange. In addition, this proposed legislation would overturn the Court decision in Nehmer vs. the DVA, which forced the DVA to pay claims for Agent Orange related disease retroactively to their date of claim, or September 25, 1985, whichever was later.

These manipulations and maneuverings on the part of the Bush Administration’s cabinet level Veterans Affairs department are symptomatic of the effort to protect not only the chemical companies, but also the government from being named as defendants in a class action suit similar to the one decided in the late 1990s. Since that suit remains closed by the judge who decided it, and the DVA stopped benefits for Blue Water Navy sailors in 2002, a new class of potential litigants has been created. While they cannot reopen the old case -- something the administration may want to reconsider since the government was dealt out of that case, the door is open to a new case, and this time the government might not be dealt out.

The danger, should the DVA be upheld in Haas, or Congress enact S.2026 or some facsimile thereof, or both, stems from the example being set for all veterans henceforth. The dismissal of protection provided by the United States government for Veterans who honorably served at war, and at peace, will have an extremely deleterious effect on military recruitment, and retention. Who would make a career out of a military that serves a government that throws its Veterans to the wolves rather than allow corporations to pay damages won in court, and to avoid paying benefits and extending medical care for those Veterans. What youth would enlist in the military when the government will not live up to its obligations to its Veterans?

We think it reprehensible that the current administration has worked so hard to prevent thousands of Veterans from receiving their proper care, and benefits. But then, perhaps the administration is waiting for word that they can indeed be dealt out of a second Agent Orange class action lawsuit.

Frankly, I don’t care if the government is made a defendant in a new Agent Orange class action suit. But I would like an apology from the United States government, for their bad decisions in this case, for employing Agent Orange when they knew the effects it would have on anyone exposed, and then wasting the taxpayers money while employing every possible means to delay and deny these benefits until the potential class has died off.

Despicable.

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 © 2005-2007: VNVets Blog; All Rights Reserved.