Friday, December 26, 2008

Info for All Veterans: Social Security Benefits

This is information for all Veterans who are sick and unable to work. This has no affect on your claim with the Department of Veterans Affairs. This MAY POSSIBLY provide you with income and medical coverage while you are waiting for your DVA Claim. It is our understanding that these benefits may be received concurrently with any DVA benefits you may be receiving or may receive in the future.

If you are sick or injured and feel as though you cannot continue working, you should file a claim with the Social Security Administration [SSA].

So, what do you apply for? There are several programs that you may be eligible for: Supplemental Security Income [SSI], Social Security Disability Insurance [SSDI], or Social Security Retirement [which is age related].

SSI
Basically, SSI is for very low income single persons, or persons with very low income living with a low income family. In most states, SSI automatically makes you eligible for full Medicaid [not Medicare] benefits, which is usually administered by the State Department of Welfare or Health and Human Services, or DHS, or whatever it happens to be called in your state. You will likely also be eligible for the Federal Food Stamp Program. Check with your local Welfare office for eligibility for Medicaid and Food Stamps, but your SSI Application should go directly to the local SSA Office, or you can apply online.

Here is info on SSI from the SSA website on SSI:

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a Federal income supplement program funded by general tax revenues (not Social Security taxes):

It is designed to help aged, blind, and disabled people, who have little or no income; and

It provides cash to meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter.

Am I eligible for SSI benefits? This link will take you to the Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool. By taking 5 to 10 minutes to answer a few questions, you can find out if you are eligible for SSI or other benefits. (See also more detailed information on SSI Eligibility Requirements.)
SSI is essentially for those who have not paid into the Social Security System sufficient to be eligible for either Retirement or SSDI.

SSDI
SSDI is for those who have worked long enough to have paid into the Social Security Retirement system through payroll deductions. If you are disabled by disease or injury, you should be eligible for SSDI.

Here is info from the SSA's page on SSDI:

We pay disability benefits under two programs:

The Social Security disability insurance program pays benefits to you and certain family members if you worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes.

Your adult child also may qualify for benefits on your earnings record if he or she has a disability that started before age 22.

The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program pays benefits to disabled adults and children who have limited income and resources.

SSI benefits also are payable to people 65 and older without disabilities who meet the financial limits.

For most people, the medical requirements for disability payments are the same under both programs and disability is determined by the same process.

Whether you apply for Social Security or SSI disability, we ask you for information about your medical condition, work and education history to help us decide if you are disabled under our rules.
Retirement
If you are over 61 years of age, you should make use of the retirement calculator below and get figures on your Social Security Retirment benefits.

How the Social Security Retirement Planner can help you now:
This planner provides detailed information about your Social Security retirement benefits under current law and points out things you may want to consider as you prepare for the future. If you are:

Looking for information, you can:
Find your retirement age,
Use our Retirement Estimator and our other benefit calculators to test different retirement ages or future earnings amounts, Learn about Social Security programs, Find out what happens if you work after you retire, and Learn how certain types of earnings and pensions can affect your benefits.

Already near retirement age, you can:
Discover your retirement options, Get information about how members of your family may qualify for benefits, Find instructions on how to apply for benefits and what supporting documents you'll need to furnish, and Apply for retirement benefits.

Reminder: You need to sign up for Medicare close to your 65th birthday, even if you will not be retired by that time. (If you are getting Social Security benefits when you turn 65, your Medicare Hospital Benefits start automatically.)

Applying for Benefits:
Finally, it is not necessary to travel to your local Social Security Administration Office to file an application, but it is advised. The Online Application is long and tedious, much like the DVA's VONAPP application.

Here is information from the SSA website about Applying for benefits:

Apply as soon as you become disabled. Most of the application forms can be completed online, depending on the type of benefit for which you apply:

Social Security Disability Benefits (SSDI)
You can complete both the Application and Adult Disability and Work History Report online.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
You can complete the online Adult Disability and Work History Report. Call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or contact your local Social Security Office to set up an appointment to complete the SSI application form in person or over the phone.

Disability benefits for children
You can complete the Child Disability Report online. Call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or contact your local Social Security Office to set up an appointment to complete the rest of the application in person or over the phone.
Folks, these are benefits that you have paid into one way or another, which entitles you to make use of them when you have a need. Don't go through the DVA Claim process without applying for this ASAP. This can get you income and treatment while you are waiting for the DVA. Don't let your pride stand in the way of this. This is your money. Most of you will be eligible for SSDI. Some few will be SSI eligible. And some of you are over retirement age and have paid in enough to begin collecting your Social Security Retirement.

Once again, we advocate going to your local Social Security Office to apply for these benefits. They will assist you in completing your claim, and help you obtain supporting documentation. They are much, much nicer about it than the DVA folks.

These benefits will not be "the answer", but they can make the wait for the DVA benefits a lot easier on you.

Good luck!

VNVets

”It is a stain on this nation's honor that the Department of Veterans Affairs has become a deadlier and more difficult adversary to the American veteran than any they have ever faced on a battlefield."-- VNVets

"The concept that Agent Orange, and its effects, stopped dead in its tracks at the shoreline is simply too illogical, and too ludicrous to accept. What does that say about the Bush Administration and his Department of Veterans Affairs?"--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

"It follows than as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."--President George Washington

Copyright © 2005-2008: VNVets Blog; All Rights Reserved.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Reaction to the Dr. Phil Show on Veterans

The Doctor Phil show just ended. Like many Americans, we wept at many of the segments, and felt anger at the entire situation.

But we were not surprised one bit about the problems identified as resident in the Department of Veterans Affairs. After all, we have been experiencing this for many years now. The problems identified are not new. What was new was the format in which those problems were presented.

It was not a news show. We did not get a 2 minute sound bite, we got nearly an hour [less commercial time], and real Veterans discussing their issues. And the experts, Chairman Bob Filner of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, and Fox News expert Colonel David Hunt were there to cement the credence of what the public was hearing, and the degree of severity of what was being presented.

We have been calling for criminal charges against DVA leadership for several years. It was satisfying to finally hear such personages as Colonel Hunt, and Chairman Filner, and later, Dr. Phil, actually call the DVA's actions criminal. And listening to Colonel Hunt call for a "perp walk" to wake the nation up to what the DVA has been doing for decades elicited a leap out of the chair and a "YEAH!" loud enough to set the dogs barking.

Most of all, we were pleased that Dr. Phil promised to keep the issue of DVA incompetence at the forefront. That sounds like an opportunity, and we may be able to get our issue onto a second version of the show.

We need to get the public informed of our plight. We need the public to support our proposed legislation. And most of all, we need to make sure we do not become politically triaged out of the benefits system.

So, in addition to your campaign to get support from your "Congresscritters" while they are home on recess [they go back for the January 6th swearing in of the 111th Congress], we should get started emailing Dr. Phil to follow up by telling our story. He was outraged at what he saw and heard today, even to the point of chastising himself for not doing this show earlier. Perhaps we can keep the momentum up by getting him to do another show.

Here is the link to contact the Dr. Phil Show.

http://www.drphil.com/plugger/respond/?plugID=9164

Turn to, folks!

VNVets

”It is a stain on this nation's honor that the Department of Veterans Affairs has become a deadlier and more difficult adversary to the American veteran than any they have ever faced on a battlefield."-- VNVets

"The concept that Agent Orange, and its effects, stopped dead in its tracks at the shoreline is simply too illogical, and too ludicrous to accept. What does that say about the Bush Administration and his Department of Veterans Affairs?"--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

"It follows than as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."--President George Washington

Copyright © 2005-2008: VNVets Blog; All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Filner Discusses Veterans Issues on Dr. Phil Show

This just in from the office of Chairman Bob Filner, House Committee on Veterans Affairs:

NEWS FROM…

CHAIRMAN BOB FILNER

HOUSE COMMITTEE ON VETERANS’ AFFAIRS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 17, 2008

http://veterans.house.gov

Filner Discusses Veterans Issues on Dr. Phil Show

Episode explores the needs of America’s returning service members

Washington D.C. – Congressman Bob Filner, Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, will appear on Dr. Phil in an episode focused on honoring America’s contract with our military veterans. Dr. Phil talks with veterans and their families about the challenges of returning home after deployment. Congressman Filner shares his views about the medical and mental health care needs of returning service members. He also discusses the need for a good faith reform effort at the Department of Veterans Affairs to improve the care and services offered to America’s veterans. The show, entitled “Beyond the Front Lines,” is scheduled to air on Friday, December 19. Check your local listings for air time.

What

Dr. Phil episode “Beyond the Front Lines”

When

Friday, December 19 - Check local listings for air time

Who

Veterans and their family members

Congressman Bob Filner, Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

Colonel David Hunt, FOX News Military Analyst

Tammy Duckworth, Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs

Paul Reickhoff, Director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America

Beyond the Front Lines

Military men and women are true American heroes who fight for our freedoms. But are we doing all we can as a nation to honor our contract with these warriors? When a soldier survives war, oftentimes he or she comes home to face a different battle. Dr. Phil's guests are veterans who say they have returned from the front lines only to fight a medical system bureaucracy that is failing them. Randy was severely injured during an ambush while deployed in Iraq. His mother, Tammy, says the military lied to him, and used him, and that Randy was eventually lost in the system. She says getting any help from the Department of Veterans Affairs is a struggle with minimal results. Dr. Phil introduces this wounded warrior to two special people who want to make his life better. Next, Jerry says he got a "raw deal" when he returned from Iraq, and he's struggling with what he believes to be post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). His wife says Jerry is angry and violent, and she's afraid of him. You won't believe what they say the Department of Veterans Affairs advised Jerry to do to cope with his suicidal thoughts.

Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Congressman Bob Filner, and FOX News military analyst Colonel David Hunt passionately share their opinions about health care for veterans. Then, Kevin and Joyce say their son came home from Iraq a changed man. They say they tried to get him help for what they believed was severe PTSD, but it didn't come in time. And, Tammy Duckworth, director of the Illinois Department of Veteran Affairs and Paul Rieckhoff, director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, weigh in on the cases. If you are an American, this is your call to arms to step up and help turn things around for the men and women in uniform.

###
This is a program that should interest all of us. Please make sure to watch. Check your local listings: for example, local to us, the Dr. Phil show is on NBC at 3 PM, Eastern, but double check your local channels to be sure.

VNVets

”It is a stain on this nation's honor that the Department of Veterans Affairs has become a deadlier and more difficult adversary to the American veteran than any they have ever faced on a battlefield."-- VNVets

"The concept that Agent Orange, and its effects, stopped dead in its tracks at the shoreline is simply too illogical, and too ludicrous to accept. What does that say about the Bush Administration and his Department of Veterans Affairs?"--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

"It follows than as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."--President George Washington

Copyright © 2005-2008: VNVets Blog; All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

New Help for NHL Claims

We have posted a new file that is important for anyone with a claim that includes Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma [NHL].

The file is titled: VA NHL Letter.pdf and can be found on our companion site,
VNVets Files, or, by joining the Veterans Association of Sailors of the Vietnam War [click on the orange VASVW logo on the left sidebar. Click on "Join this group" when you get there.]

The letter is an Adobe portable document file [.pdf] [you'll need Adobe Acrobat Reader so you can read this file.].

The letter is to Representative Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, who happens to be the Representative for Susie Belanger, who is an extremely experienced activist advocating for our cause, among others. I received my copy from Chuck Graham...thanks Chuck.

The letter is from Admiral Dunne, The Undersecretary of Veterans Affairs for Benefits. In the letter he quotes a policy that was released to all the Regional Offices in September of 2008, ordering the release of all NHL cases from the Haas stay.

If you are getting the runaround, or the stone wall about your NHL case, print out several copies of this letter and either take them to your local RO, or have your VSO do it.

If that doesn't work...let me know, ASAP. Give it 3-4 weeks after you get the letter to them.

Seriously, email me if you don't get movement on your claim. I have a plan of action ready to go. Use the "Email Me" link on the left sidebar.

VNVets

”It is a stain on this nation's honor that the Department of Veterans Affairs has become a deadlier and more difficult adversary to the American veteran than any they have ever faced on a battlefield."-- VNVets

"The concept that Agent Orange, and its effects, stopped dead in its tracks at the shoreline is simply too illogical, and too ludicrous to accept. What does that say about the Bush Administration and his Department of Veterans Affairs?"--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

"It follows than as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."--President George Washington

Copyright © 2005-2008: VNVets Blog; All Rights Reserved.


Sunday, December 07, 2008

"Air Raid Pearl Harbor, this is no drill!"
Sixty-seven years ago today, Japanese aircraft slashed through the morning skies over Pearl Harbor Naval Station, Ford Island Naval Air Station, Hickam Field Army Air Corps Station, and Wheeler Field and the Schofield Barracks Army Station on the northwest side of Oahu.

Alerted by the thump of bombs falling from high above, and from the rattle of machine gun fire from low flying Japanese A6M-2 Zero-Sen Fighters on strafing runs, the ships of the United States Pacific Fleet were slow to react. Slowly, battle stations were manned, and ammunition broken out from magazines was finding its way to US Navy gunners. It was far too little and far too late. Japanese Val dive bombers and Kate torpedo planes began streaking in on their runs, delivering telling blows to the big ships.

In human lives, the attack on Pearl Harbor was horrific. 2,403 were dead, and 1,178 wounded.

188 planes were destroyed, the vast majority on the ground, as only a few Army Air Corps fighters managed to get airborne. A further 159 aircraft were significantly damaged, leaving only 43 planes operational at attack’s end.

It was the toll in ships that was staggering, however.

“Battleships
· Arizona blown up with a loss of 1,177 men.
· Oklahoma capsized with a small part of her hull above water.
· California “sank gradually for about three or four days: and came to rest rather solidly on a mud bottom, with her mainmasts and the upper parts of her main batteries above water. “The quarterdeck [was] under about twelve feet of water...”
· Nevada, which had got under way, beached in the narrow channel opposite Hospital Point in a wrecked condition.
· West Virginia sunk at her berth.
· Maryland moderately damaged but not needing to go into drydock.
· Tennessee, seriously damaged aft in the officers’ quarters from fire and otherwise moderately damaged.
· Pennsylvania, in drydock, with considerable damages, “but not of vital nature.”
· Utah, then used as a target ship, capsized, having been at the Saratoga’s regular berth.
Light Cruisers
· Raleigh, Helena, and Honolulu moderately damaged.
Destroyers
· Cassin and Downes, in Drydock No. 1, severely damaged.
· Shaw’s bow blown off while in floating drydock, severely damaged.
Others
· Vestal (repair ship) was along side the Arizona when the raid commenced and was beached at Aeia to prevent further sinkage.
· Curtiss (seaplane tender) was badly damaged by a crashing plane and one 500-lb. bomb.
· Oglala (minelayer) capsized.”*

For the Japanese, the cost was minimal.

“Twenty-nine planes did not return: fifteen dive bombers and high-level bombers, five torpedo planes, and nine fighter escorts. The midget submarines inflicted no damage, and none returned to their mother ships; four were sunk, and one was wrecked on a reef, its captain captured. One I-class submarine was also sunk.”*

[*Dull, Paul S., A Battle History of the Imperial Japanese Navy (1941-1945). United States Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, 1978.]

In spite of the overwhelming destruction inflicted on the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, the Japanese were foiled by a number of things that did not go according to plan, or were missed by the planners. The attack called for strikes particularly on the US Aircraft Carriers, however, they were at sea at the time of the attack and were missed. Additionally, millions of barrels of oil were stored in large tank farms behind the US Submarine base at Pearl Harbor, and also between there and another tank farm near Hickam Field. The Japanese left them totally unscathed. They also failed to attack the submarine section of the sprawling naval base. With the exception of a number of Cruisers and Destroyers based elsewhere throughout the Pacific, the surface fighting arm of the Pacific Fleet was on the bottom at Pearl Harbor, but the Aircraft Carriers, their pilots and planes were intact, as were the submarines, and their facilities at Pearl Harbor. The remains of the Pacific Fleet would not suffer for the want of oil to patrol the waters of the Pacific either.

The Japanese sneak attack catapulted the isolationist American nation to a Declaration of War, made by Congress the following day, at the request of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in his stirring “Day of Infamy” speech.

The rest of the story…
Arizona
was the ship that suffered the most damage. Devastated when a bomb ripped through the main deck and exploded in the forward magazine. Arizona has come to symbolize the events of December 7th at Pearl Harbor. Some of her dead lie still entombed within her, the rest buried in the cemetery at the “Punch Bowl”. The USS Arizona remains in commission as a U.S. Navy ship.

The former battleship Utah was converted to an auxiliary vessel in 1931 and used as a radio controlled target ship. Later, she was converted back to a gunnery training ship. Moored on the opposite side of Ford Island from Battleship Row on December 7th the Utah was in the spot where the aircraft carrier Saratoga usually was to be found. Utah received the attention of dozens of Japanese planes; struck repeatedly by bombs and torpedoes, she rolled over and sank. Later the hulk was raised and moved closer to Ford Island where she remains today.

Horribly mangled by bombs and torpedoes, the Nevada, the only battleship to get under way, was intentionally beached to prevent her sinking. Repaired and returned to service by 1943, she took part in a raid on the Aleutian Islands and eventually made her way to the Atlantic where she provided shore bombardment at Normandy on D-Day in 1944.

Capsized, the Oklahoma was eventually partially raised but never repaired. A frantic rescue effort went on for days after the attack trying desperately to free men trapped inside the overturned hull.

Flagship of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Pennsylvania was in drydock at the time of the attack, sharing the drydock with the destroyers Cassin and Downes. Pennsylvania’s damage was minimal, thanks in no small part to the sturdiness of the drydock caissons. Japanese aircraft tried repeatedly to torpedo the Pennsylvania, but the drydock walls absorbed the hits. Not so lucky were the two destroyers in with the Pennsylvania, USS Cassin DD 372 and USS Downes DD 375. The Downes and Cassin were both salvaged with much equipment taken off their ruined hulls and installed on new hulls in the U.S. Re-launched, these “new” vessels went on to fight in many of the western Pacific Campaigns from 1943 on. The Pennsylvania was quickly repaired and returned to service. In 1944 she participated in the bombardment of Guam prior to the invasion there, and later saw action at the Battle of Surigao Straits.

The Tennessee was moored inboard of the USS West Virginia, and was thus protected from torpedo attack. She was scorched by the flaming oil from the Arizona, and received two bomb hits on her main gun turrets. After a period of repair and modernization in California, the Tennessee resumed duty, participating in all the major offensives of the Western Pacific from early 1943 on. Tennessee took part in the Battle of Surigao Straits and later had a hand in the sinking of the IJN super battleship Yamato.

Severely damaged by torpedoes and bombs, and sunk at her berth, California was a major salvage undertaking and was not completed until January of 1944. She took part in the major Pacific campaigns of 1944 and 1945, and fought in the surface action against Japanese Battleships at the Battle of Surigao Straits.

Perhaps the least damaged of all the battleships at Pearl Harbor, Maryland turned out to be the unluckiest. After a brief overhaul stateside in 1942, Maryland returned to combat status. While supporting Marine amphibious operations at Saipan in 1944 she was torpedoed by a Japanese plane. After another repair period, Maryland returned to the firing line at the Palaus Islands, and operated with the fleet during the Leyte invasion in October 1944. A month later she was struck in Leyte Gulf by a Japanese Kamikaze aircraft, requiring still another overhaul. She returned to the line just in time for the end of the war in the Pacific.

Next to the Arizona, the West Virginia took the worst beating at Pearl Harbor. Several bomb hits and at least seven torpedo hits all on one side. Excellent damage control kept her from rolling over, and thus allowed many of her crew to escape. She was re-floated and repaired, and back in action by July of 1944, in time to participate in the closing months of the war in the Pacific.

USS Helena CL 50. Helena was a brand new light cruiser. At Pearl Harbor she was struck in an engine room by a single torpedo, and was repaired to fight in the southwest Pacific campaigns of 1942 by July of that year.

USS Raleigh CL 7. Unlike the Helena, Raleigh was a much older vessel, built in 1924. Like the Helena, she was lightly damaged at Pearl Harbor, receiving one torpedo hit and a near miss by a bomb. She was repaired and back in the fight by summer of 1942.

USS Honolulu CL 48. Another relatively new cruiser, the Honolulu received only moderate damage to its hull and by mid January was repaired and escorting a convoy to San Francisco.

USS Shaw DD 373. The destroyer Shaw was in a floating drydock and received serious damage from a bomb. Her bow section was completely blown off. Repaired and restored for duty, Shaw went back in action in the summer of 1942.

USS Helm DD 388. The Helm, a relatively new destroyer, was slightly damaged by two near-miss bombs. She remained in service.

USS Curtiss AV 4. The Curtiss was brand new seaplane tender. A bomb hit her and a Japanese plane crashed into her upper works. She was repaired on the west coast of the United States and back at Pearl Harbor by February, 1942.

USS Vestal AR 4. The Vestal, a repair ship, was moored alongside the USS Arizona on December 7th. Struck by two bombs and further damaged by the explosion in the forward magazine of the Arizona, Vestal was moved to another part of the harbor where she was grounded to avoid sinking. Vestal was repaired and by August of 1942 she was busy repairing ships involved in the Guadalcanal campaign.

USS Oglala CM 4. Oglala was the fleet minelayer for the Pacific Fleet. An old ship, she was damaged during the attack by nearby torpedo and bomb explosions. She rolled onto her side and sank. Raised and repaired, she was returned to action as a repair ship for internal combustion engines in 1944.

Amazingly, of the twenty ships mentioned above, which indeed are the ones that received any damage of a nature greater than superficial, only Arizona, Utah, and Oklahoma were not raised, repaired and returned to wartime service. And Utah was little more than a hulk to begin with. Ultimately, one of the real stories about Pearl Harbor is this superb salvage effort to get the ships repaired well enough for a voyage to a West Coast shipyard, where they were repaired and in many cases overhauled and modernized, often returning to service in much finer condition than prior to the attack. The men and women who performed these tasks at Pearl Harbor are as big a set of heroes as any crew who sailed their ships against the Japanese in the Pacific.

All the ships served with distinction later in the war, and it was a fitting event at the Battle of Surigao Strait when Admiral Jesse Oldendorf led six U.S. Battleships, among them Pearl Harbor veterans California, West Virginia, Maryland, Tennessee and Pennsylvania in a classic “Crossing the T” maneuver, just as Togo had done at Tsushima Strait in 1905, and sank most of Vice Admiral Nishimura’s striking force of battleships and cruisers.

The salvage work done at Pearl Harbor in the aftermath of the December 7th attack was finely managed and heroically carried out. Oldendorf’s victory at Surigao Strait is a testament to that effort. Icing to the cake was added barely six months later when the Naval Shipyard located at Pearl completed what would normally have taken several months to repair: the battle damage to the USS Yorktown from the Battle of Coral Sea, in 48 hours, allowing her and her aircrews to participate in the first major naval victory against the Japanese at the Battle of Midway. Aircraft from the three US aircraft carriers, the Hornet, Enterprise, and Yorktown, the ones that were missed at Pearl, sank four of the Japanese aircraft carriers that participated in the December 7th attack on Pearl Harbor, the Hiryu, Soryu, Kaga and Akagi.

Remember Pearl Harbor…67 years ago today.

VNVets

”It is a stain on this nation's honor that the Department of Veterans Affairs has become a deadlier and more difficult adversary to the American veteran than any they have ever faced on a battlefield."-- VNVets

"The concept that Agent Orange, and its effects, stopped dead in its tracks at the shoreline is simply too illogical, and too ludicrous to accept. What does that say about the Bush Administration and his Department of Veterans Affairs?"--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

"It follows than as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."--President George Washington

Copyright © 2005-2008: VNVets Blog; All Rights Reserved.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Latest on Haas, and other Hi-jinks at the Supreme Court

Latest on Haas at the Supreme Court
The Department of Veterans Abuse was due to file its response brief on the Haas case on November 21st. It failed to do so, asking for an extension, which was granted, until the 22nd of December.

It may be likely that the DVA is going to ask for an additional 30 days, which would put the brief due at court about the same time Obama walks into the White House as President, [See below for more on that!].

Either way, the Bush Administration's influence on the Department is essentially gone. But they may try one last sneak attack, so be ever vigilant!

Watch Congress, and watch the courts.

In the meantime, keep at your Senators and Representatives. Please continue to record your successes in the poll at the top right.

<------------------------------------------->

Supreme Court to discuss Obama's eligibility for the presidency Friday
At the Supreme Court there are currently not one, not two, but three requests for review of cases claiming the Barack Obama is not eligible to be President of the United States. The suits claim a number of technicalities, but one of them seems to us to be more of a threat than the others. The claim is that Obama was not born in Hawaii, but in Kenya. The claim is that there is a record of his mother being denied access to a flight from Nairobi Kenya because of her pregnancy being close to term, in the week BEFORE his birth. His mother, of course, is a US Citizen, but his father was a Kenyan citizen [and possibly also a British citizen at the time], and that Barack's mother was then on the record as having returned to the US about 7-10 days later, presumably AFTER the birth of Barack in Kenya, which would make him a Kenyan Citizen and not a native born citizen of the United States.

The Constitution requires that the President be a native born citizen of the United States. Article Two states [in part]:

No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.
That means that if Obama is a native born Kenyan, as the suit claims, then he is not eligible to be the President. Should it come to the fact that Joe Biden is not a natural born citizen of the US [and we know he is!], then he would not be eligible to step in to replace Obama.

The entire Court is meeting Friday, December 5th to decide whether to accept the case[s], and what, exactly, to do with them. They would have to move fast since the Electoral College vote officially making Senator Obama as President-elect [at the moment he has no title, he is "the guy who won the election", no matter what anyone says, not even the media! He does not become President-elect until made so by the Electoral College vote.]

<------------------------------------------->

File under "Showing contempt at the wrong place and time!!"
Three yahoos who happen to be citizens of the tiny island nation of Singapore were jailed for contempt of court when they showed up wearing t-shirts with pictures of kangaroos in judges' robes!

Two got seven days in the the Singapore jail, which may still be Changi Jail left over from WW II Japanese occupational use as a POW prison. The third was given fifteen days since he was the Assistant Secretary-General of the opposition Singapore Democratic Party.

Wait, it gets better...

The trial at which they appeared was for the party chairman and his sister, charged with defamation of the current and former Prime Ministers of Singapore!

Obviously, this is a party that took lessons from American politics and ran them to the extreme.

Hmmm...or did they?

VNVets

”It is a stain on this nation's honor that the Department of Veterans Affairs has become a deadlier and more difficult adversary to the American veteran than any they have ever faced on a battlefield."-- VNVets

"The concept that Agent Orange, and its effects, stopped dead in its tracks at the shoreline is simply too illogical, and too ludicrous to accept. What does that say about the Bush Administration and his Department of Veterans Affairs?"--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

"It follows than as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."--President George Washington

Copyright © 2005-2008: VNVets Blog; All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Red Cross "Holiday Mail Call" Program 2008 Guidelines

The American Red Cross is pleased to announce that it will sponsor a national "Holiday Mail Call" program in 2008 as it did in 2007! Last year the Red Cross reviewed and distributed over 600,000 cards to our wounded service members at hospitals around the country and overseas. This year we want to expand who is reached with the holiday greeting cards to include not only our wounded warriors, but all service members and their families, as well as veterans. Our goal is to reach 1,000,000 persons this year to show our appreciation for their service and wish them well over the holiday season and with your help we will!

Start Date of the Program: Veteran’s Day, November 11, 2008

Mailing Address:
Red Cross Holiday Mail Call
P.O. Box 5456
Capitol Heights, MD 20791‐5456

•The Guidelines below should be followed to enable a quick reviewing process as well as to ensure that cards are not offensive in any way to anyone who might receive one:

1. Please ensure all cards are signed
2. Please send cards as opposed to long letters which delay a quick review process
3.Please do not include e‐mail or home addresses on the cards as the program is not meant to foster pen pal relationships
•Please do not insert photos, money, religious articles (i.e.‐rosary beads, prayer cards, etc), glitter, ‘snow’ or like items in cards as these items will be removed during the reviewing process

•Phone cards or gift cards will not be accepted with cards. Those wishing to send calling cards or gift cards/certificates should go to http://www.aafes.com/, scroll down to "AAFES Community Connection" and click on "Help Our Troops Call Home" or "Gift Cards/Certificates for Our Troops" in order to send such items

•No ‘Care Packages’ will be accepted at this address. Those wishing to send care packages should go to http://www.americasupportsyou.com/ and click under "Home front Groups" to find out how to send care packages

•Participants are requested not to send more than 25 cards from any one person or 50 cards from any one group.

End Date of the Program: All cards must be postmarked no later than Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Thanks to Bruce S and Family for making us aware of this!

VNVets

”It is a stain on this nation's honor that the Department of Veterans Affairs has become a deadlier and more difficult adversary to the American veteran than any they have ever faced on a battlefield."-- VNVets

"The concept that Agent Orange, and its effects, stopped dead in its tracks at the shoreline is simply too illogical, and too ludicrous to accept. What does that say about the Bush Administration and his Department of Veterans Affairs?"--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

"It follows than as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."--President George Washington

Copyright © 2005-2008: VNVets Blog; All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Attention Vets with NHL Claims

We have combined some of the contents of three earlier posts that deal with the Department of Veterans Affairs treatment of claims by Veterans with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. In short, the DVA should immediately process all Vietnam Era Veterans' NHL claims regardless of any other aspects to the claim.

Any member of the Veterans Association of Sailors of the Vietnam War [VASVW] now has the document available to them in the files section of the VASVW site. It is accessible there only to members. We recommend that if you are not a member, join. Membership is absolutely free, and always will be. Click on the big orange VASVW logo on the left sidebar. That will take you to the VASVW site, and click on "join this group", then follow the directions. If you have problems joining, come back here and contact me using the "email me" link also on the left sidebar. I will provide assistance. You do not have to be a Navy Veteran, or even a Veteran at all to join.

As to the DVA, such claims have no business being held under the Haas stay. Such heinous actions by the DVA amount to depraved indifference and a violation of the civil rights of those Veterans not in the Haas category.

The wholesale stoppage of all work on all claims by Navy personnel, including the Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma claimants and all Brown Water Navy Veterans is reprehensible, and a crime against humanity.

VNVets

”It is a stain on this nation's honor that the Department of Veterans Affairs has become a deadlier and more difficult adversary to the American veteran than any they have ever faced on a battlefield."-- VNVets

"The concept that Agent Orange, and its effects, stopped dead in its tracks at the shoreline is simply too illogical, and too ludicrous to accept. What does that say about the Bush Administration and his Department of Veterans Affairs?"--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

"It follows than as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."--President George Washington

Copyright © 2005-2008: VNVets Blog; All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans Day Reflections

VNVets Joins PTSD Effort
One of the more important events that occur here is when we are contacted by other Veterans who are fighting similar fights as we Blue Water Navy types. Recently I was contacted by fellow Vietnam Veteran Brian Delate. Brian has a website dedicated to his project to help those with PTSD. While Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome is not one of the Agent Orange diseases, we have plenty of our members who are suffering from it as well.

I recently heard of an acquaintance who was going through the VA's C&P process of exams. He was a professed non-believer in PTSD. This gentleman was a cool cucumber of a guy who exhibited no symptoms that I was aware of. One day I heard that he was interviewed for PTSD and was told afterward that he met many of the criteria for diagnosis of PTSD. He was flabbergasted.

Brian Delate has PTSD and he has made a movie about it, called "Soldier's Heart." We strongly urge you to visit his website Restore Our Soldiers and take a look around. It is called Soldier's Heart. It is a worthy site, and a poignant one. The story is remarkable. Watch the trailer on the right sidebar here.

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Reflections
Veterans Day. A day to celebrate the Veterans of this nation. That is anyone who ever took time from their life to serve in the military of the United States of America. Not just volunteers but draftees, too. Not just Veterans who served in combat, not just Veterans who served during war time, but Veterans who served when the nation was at peace, as well. Indeed, a peacetime force is a necessary tool of diplomacy and national policy.

And this in a nation the government of which routinely abuses its Veterans. Sooner or later the bill will have to be paid. The nation owes its Veterans for providing the security and rights they enjoy. Men and women have died so John and Mary Doe and their three kids can watch the Simpsons on Sunday nights, take their pick of malls in which to shop, vacation at the shore, or the lake for two weeks every year, and own two cars, their own house, and attend church on Sunday mornings [except John who spends his Sunday mornings worshiping the golf gods]. That bill has been written in blood. It starts with the Does of America, and is incumbent upon them to ensure that the government they elect takes proper care of its Veterans.

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A Fulfilling Moment
I had taken my wife out car shopping and we stopped to have a bite to eat. We had just started to enjoy our lunch when two soldiers in combat fatigues walked in. They began giving their orders while I quietly stood up and went to the clerk at the register. I handed her a credit card and told her "Those two gentlement over there," I said cocking my head toward the soldiers, "their meal is on me."

She smiled and said, "I'll run the tape and bring it and your card to your table. And, thank you for this!" I went back and continued my meal.

When the first man got to the clerk to pay his bill he listened briefly to the clerk and turned around. He saw my wife and I sitting there, and saw that I had my ship's ball cap on and apparently knew I was the one. He walked over and thanked us.

We chatted for a moment, talked about Vietnam, and then he left. I saw on his chest a tab with a black eagle on it...a Colonel!. The second soldier had a similar experience and came to the table to thank us. I thanked him for his service, and he replied, "I guess I'll have to stop saying bad things about the Navy!" His chest tab had a single black star.

I replied, "You bet...well...at least until early December!" We laughed and the Brigadier General went to join the Colonel.

On our way out I stopped and asked if they were local. They shook their heads and said no, they were from D.C., on their way to our National Guard base about fifty miles further up the road. They said they were training our local Guard and Army Reserve units, both of which were recently called up for deployment to Southwest Asia.

I asked them to train them good so they'd be sure to make it back. They agreed.

It was one of the most fulfilling moments of my life, and it occurred today, the best Veterans Day I ever had.

VNVets

”It is a stain on this nation's honor that the Department of Veterans Affairs has become a deadlier and more difficult adversary to the American veteran than any they have ever faced on a battlefield."-- VNVets

"The concept that Agent Orange, and its effects, stopped dead in its tracks at the shoreline is simply too illogical, and too ludicrous to accept. What does that say about the Bush Administration and his Department of Veterans Affairs?"--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

"It follows than as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."--President George Washington

Copyright © 2005-2008: VNVets Blog; All Rights Reserved.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Veterans Day: The American Idea, the American Ideal

Since uncounted and unnamed battles fought in the years before the May 18th, 1754 Battle of Jumonville Glen in western Pennsylvania, "Americans" have been fighting for America, for the idea of America, and for the ideal of America.

The American Revolution put a name to that ideal in July of 1776, calling it the United States of America.

Twenty-two years later the United States began a naval war with her greatest ally, France, to protect United State ships that were being taken from the high seas by French Privateers, and fourteen years later another naval war was fought with Great Britain for stopping US ships and pulling US citizens from them to serve on British ships. When Britain got the idea they could beat us and take back the colonies, they invaded, and captured Baltimore MD, and Washington, DC, burning the White House. They sent troops ashore in recently acquired Louisiana, where a future president defeated them with the help of Gulf of Mexico pirates.

People became more and more caught up in the greatness of the American Ideal, and in the late 1840s, fought the nation's first unpopular war, making short work of neighboring Mexico, all in the name of Manifest Destiny.

A dozen years later, festering business left unfinished by the Founders and the Framers, burst into a full rebellion that, when it ended, redefined the meaning of the American Ideal, and reinstated the American Idea of 1776 once again.

Over the next thirty three years the United States fought battles on the Great Plains of the American West and in the hills and deserts of the American Southwest, defeating the indigenous Native American tribes into deep submission.

In 1898, the Nation went to war with Spain to remove their influence and presence from the Americas, and in the process, liberated the peoples of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippine Islands from European Monarchy rule.

A brief incursion into Mexico to police the banditry emanating across the border into the US from there in 1916, gave the Army an opportunity to develop itself, to practice maneuvers, and to develop modern tactics on the eve of the First World War, the Great War. Presidential promises to keep us out of the war in Europe gave way to rising anger over the opening of unrestricted submarine warfare in late 1916, and the US entered the war in April of the following year. Much of Western Europe had democratized by then, even while retaining their monarchies, but Eastern Europe was a tangled web of alliances, and animosities between small states and large. The American Ideal had grown up and become a World Power. We entered the war, yet barely fought for another year, while the Allies fought the Central Powers to an exhausted standstill in eastern France, and the Bolshevik Revolution made a compromise with the Germans. But when we fought, we won. Belleau Wood was where the US Marine Corps earned the sobriquet "Devil Dogs" with defensive stands inspired by the words, "Retreat! Hell! We just got here!", and ferocious attacks inspired by a Sergeant Major's cry, "Come on you sons of bitches, do you want to live forever!" 360,000 casualties, 50,000 combat deaths and more from influenza and other disease totaling 118,000 US dead during the Great War. A high price for exporting the American Ideal and the American Idea overseas, but the price paid was there for all to see.

It ended in the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month of 1918, in a railroad car at the French town of Compiegne. It is the event that we celebrate today, 90 years later, initially named Armistice Day to signify the armistice signed in that railroad car, and later changed to Veterans Day to celebrate all the Veterans whoever served in the military forces of the United States.

Twenty Two years later Adolph Hitler accepted the surrender of the French government in that same railroad car, in the same town of Compiegne. The war in Europe went on for over two years before the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor sent us into the war the next day. Declaring before Congress that, "No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory." It took "our boys" three years and five months to roll back the Germans in Europe and four additional months to subdue the Japanese in the Pacific. This time the cost to export the American Ideal and the American Idea was much higher: 416,000 American dead.

Once again, the might of the American Idea, and the American Ideal provided the muscle and the inspiration to fight a two ocean war...really two major wars at the same time, and win them both, with major help in Europe from the British, Free French, Free Czechs, Free Poles, and so on, and the Canadians and Australians, and of course, the Soviets, and with help in the Pacific from the Australians, the Free Dutch, the New Zealanders, the Free Philippines Forces, and the British. Once again America fought to save free peoples around the world.

Five years later we went to war again to save a free people -- this time in Korea. Our Marines and the Army fought gallantly at places like the Chosin Reservoir, frozen solid in early winter. This time the price of the export of the American Ideal and the American Idea was 36,500 dead, and over 92,000 wounded. Another 8,000 were prisoners of war.

A decade later we were fighting again, this time to stop the advancing tide of Communism in a Southeast Asian country called the Republic of Vietnam. This time the cost was higher: 58,000 dead, over 153,000 wounded, and another 1,900 still missing today. That war was so divisive it kept us out of further conflicts for nearly two decades.

In the early 1990s, we joined forces with a rather impressive coalition and drove the Iraqi Army from the country of Kuwait in hours, not days. So superior in numbers, firepower, air strength, and technology were the coalition forces that the war was halted barely 100 hours after the ground fighting began. US casualties were light for this war, 148 combat casualties, 1 missing pilot, and 145 accidental deaths.

A dozen years later saw us back in the area, engaging the same Iraqi Army, but this time with far less superiority of numbers -- and this after we entered Afghanistan to root out Al Qaeda and the ruling Taliban. In Afghanistan, we have lost 534 dead to date, while in Iraq nearly 4,200.

There have been literally hundreds of thousands of dead in all our wars, including the ones before we were even a nation of our own, and all for the American Ideal and the American idea.

The American Idea that democracy benefits all, and is beneficial to all, and that it is the most free form of government known, and practiced on this planet.

The American Ideal: that all should enjoy 'life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.'

An idea, and an ideal worth fighting for, and dying for, and that has inspired Americans to do so for over two and a half centuries.

Remember them all on this day, at the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month.

VNVets

”It is a stain on this nation's honor that the Department of Veterans Affairs has become a deadlier and more difficult adversary to the American veteran than any they have ever faced on a battlefield."-- VNVets

"The concept that Agent Orange, and its effects, stopped dead in its tracks at the shoreline is simply too illogical, and too ludicrous to accept. What does that say about the Bush Administration and his Department of Veterans Affairs?"--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

"It follows than as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."--President George Washington

Copyright © 2005-2008: VNVets Blog; All Rights Reserved.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Field Day...cleaning up the compartment.

Just a few items to put things in order.

First, the Haas case at the Supreme Court. There is some confusion in some corners about the schedule of events.

November 21st is NOT a drop dead decision day. That decision, to take on the case for review, or not, comes sometime after the first of the year...or later. November 21st is the date the Department of Veterans Affairs has to file their brief in response to Haas's filing. Based on past practices, the DVA will mail their response directly to the Supreme Court, and it will likely not show up anywhere until at least the middle or end of the following week, or possible even after Thanksgiving.

On another note, we really must pick up the pace now.

If you have gotten a pledge of support for the next version of HR 6562 as introduced last summer, first check to see if your Representative or Senator is returning to Congress, or has left office either voluntarily or by voters turning him or her out of office. If you have a new Rep or Senator, you must start from ground zero. Go get to them before they leave for DC.

If your Rep or Senator is not leaving office, and you have not already gotten a ledge of support from them, by all means grab them while they are still at home and elicit the support we need. Remember, the magic number is 357...combined Reps and Senators to guarantee a veto proof passage of the bills.

President-elect Obama as made a number of sweeping promises to Veterans, and some can be construed to include us. It remains to be seen how he will look on our efforts should the bills reach his desk for signing. While we are optimistic, we are guardedly so. Whatever you do, be assertive, yet polite. The best way to gain their help is to go see them.

In the mean time, make sure you take time to observe Veterans Day.

Perhaps you might see your Rep or Senator at your local Veterans Day events.

VNVets

”It is a stain on this nation's honor that the Department of Veterans Affairs has become a deadlier and more difficult adversary to the American veteran than any they have ever faced on a battlefield."-- VNVets

"The concept that Agent Orange, and its effects, stopped dead in its tracks at the shoreline is simply too illogical, and too ludicrous to accept. What does that say about the Bush Administration and his Department of Veterans Affairs?"--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

"It follows than as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."--President George Washington

Copyright © 2005-2008: VNVets Blog; All Rights Reserved.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Magic Number: 357 = Veto-Proof!

Haas case got you down? Depressed because the Federal Court won't review their own decision? Disappointed because HR 6562 failed to pass this session of Congress? You are not alone.

But you need to get out of your funk and get the blood flowing again!

What's wrong, you ask? Look at the numbers. The poll says you've only gotten support from slightly more than 10% of the members of the US House of Representatives. You've done better in the Senate with 29%, but that number is still far too low to guarantee the passage of the Agent Orange Equity Act of 2009, and the Agent Orange Supplemental Act of 2009 after they get introduced in January.

There are 435 voting members of the House of Representatives. To guarantee passage of the Agent Orange Equity Act of 2009 and its partner bill the Agent Orange Supplemental Act of 2009, we need a bare minimum of 218 Congressmen pledged to support the passage of the bills.

In the Senate, it is simpler. There are 100 Senators. To guarantee passage of the bills, we need the support of 51 Senators as a bare minimum.

To guaranted the bills are veto-proof, we need 290 members of Congress and 67 Senators to pledge support for the legislation.

Congress is going home to vote. They will likely be back sometime in November for a lame-duck session, so obviously, we need to concentrate on them while they are home. That is when you all have done your very best work. Now you have to turn up the heat.

Go see them. Many of them are running for office, so they will be available.

BUT! Lay off Bob Filner and John Hall. Going after them is preaching to the choir. They are already on our side.

What we need now is to concentrate on adding cosponsors in the House and the Senate and making sure they are aware that we are trying to get two bills introduced at the same time, one to restore benefits to BWN, BSAF, and TLC Vets, and the other to start benefits to those who were exposed outside of the Vietnam Theater of Operations.

Two things to be aware of that will affect our efforts. The first is the outcome of the election. What we mean is the shape of Congress, and who gets dumped in the election, and who comes in new. That changes the ball game a bit.

The other thing is the money. We have been told that "it is not about the money, we have the money" [Bob Filner, July 23, 2008]. We have also been told by his staff that while there is money, it is committed to funding other things, so if we want to fund the AO Equity Act and the AO Supplemental Act next year, something else, somewhere, has to become "defunded". You need to get this across to your Representative and your Senators that they need to fund these bills.

Finally, while writing to your Reps and Senators is a good thing, it takes far too long to be effective because your letter goes someplace else, first, where the Department of Homeland Security and the US Postal Service go over it for bad stuff [like AO, nuclear radiation...you know, the stuff they tested on us!]. So a letter will take 30-50 days to get to your Rep/Senator, and who knows how long to get a response after that, if you get one at all.

Better to write the letter, and FAX it to them. Put a nice cover sheet on, and fax it to them. That gets it to them immediately.

So, to summarize, the best strategy now is to write a letter and fax it to your Rep and your Senators. There will be a time to write a fax to Filner later on this year.

Be neat, type your letter, have someone else proof read it for you, correct the mistakes they find, then read it out loud to yourself to make sure it sounds right.

Urge them to urge Filner and the House Committee on Veterans Affairs to adopt the twin bill strategy.

Stay on this, folks, we are fighting an uphill battle but right now it is not only our best chance, it is likely our only chance.

The Magic Number is 357. That is 290 Representatives and 67 Senators. We are at 69 now. We need 288 more. Lets get them now, so they are waiting for the bills in January when the bills are hopefully introduced.

Now you know what you need to do. This is in your hands. You have the power to influence things enough to secure your legacy, your future and the future of your survivors and widows. With that much at stake, can you afford to sit back and let someone else do it? You will be amazed at all you can accomplish when you have a plan, and a target. You will be astounded at your own power when we are finally successful.

It is your future, now is the time to seize the moment. Remember, support for the bills, AND funding for them! It won't be easy. But then, neither was serving in a war. You've fought once, now you must fight again.

One of our longtime heroes is Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz, who commanded all forces in the Pacific during World War II. He prayed, “God grant me the courage not to give up what I think is right even though I think it is hopeless.” Look at what he accomplished with that attitude. Put that attitude on, and wear it.

VNVets

”It is a stain on this nation's honor that the Department of Veterans Affairs has become a deadlier and more difficult adversary to the American veteran than any they have ever faced on a battlefield."-- VNVets

"The concept that Agent Orange, and its effects, stopped dead in its tracks at the shoreline is simply too illogical, and too ludicrous to accept. What does that say about the Bush Administration and his Department of Veterans Affairs?"--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

"It follows than as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."--President George Washington

Copyright © 2005-2008: VNVets Blog; All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Haas Appeals to Supreme Court

Legal pleadings, as reading material, are usually dry, and often filled with convoluted references to other cases and decisions, and of course, the ubiquitous legal terms that are often foreign to us and sometimes approach the opposite of what they should mean in their definitions. We must be getting used to such after reading the filings of the Haas case over the past two years. We actually understand what they are saying, now. Mostly. Pretty much.

Our first read through of Friday's filing to the Supreme Court for a review of the decision at the Federal Circuit in the Haas case was begun with intimidation. This is a case going to the Supreme Court, perhaps the only governmental entity this nation has that is closest to being something to worship. But the pleading filed by Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP's Stephen Kinnaird, assisted and advised by the National Veterans Legal Services Program's attorneys [NVLSP], is, for all its length, a fairly simple document. It is perhaps the most complete, and well laid out legal document we've ever read.

We have become familiar with some of the more frequently cited case precedents such as the "Chevron deference" [Chevron, U.S.A., Inc. v. NRDC], and the "Pro-Veteran Canon" [Brown v Gardner, and King v St. Vincent's Hospital].

The first gives a cabinet level department the right, duty, and authority to interpret legislation as it sees fit when translating the language of the legislation into workable, usable policy for the employees of that department to carry out. It was this precedent that the Federal Circuit Court cited as the main reason for reversing the Veterans Court decision in the Haas case.

The second, the "Pro-Veteran Canon", is a precedent established by the Supreme Court itself, which is, legislative ambiguity must be resolved in favor of the Veteran, even before applying deference [Chevron]. Translated, this means the "Pro-Veteran Canon" trumps the "Chevron deference".

In the Haas case, "Chevron" gives the Department of Veterans Affairs the right to define legislation it must administer as it sees fit to do under its charter. Therefore, it may define "Service in Vietnam" as it sees fit. This is what the Federal Circuit Court ruled in May. When the NVLSP asked for an en banc review, that is, a review by the entire Federal Circuit Court of the decision rendered in May by a two judges to one decision, it raised the question of the "Pro-Veteran Canon". The court responded by refusing the review the case, and rejecting the NVLSP claim of failure to apply the "Pro-Veteran Canon" because the NVLSP had not raised it in its pleading in the appeal.

In the pleading filed last Friday, Mr. Kinnaird takes the issue that the "Pro-Veteran Canon" need not be raised by a party to the suit, but should be applied by the courts.

He also pleads for a swift review by the Supreme Court:
"This Court’s review is justified alone by the critical importance of this case to the numerous blue-water Navy veterans who served in Vietnam and who have been (or will be) stricken with covered diseases. But it is especially critical that this Court grant review now. The Federal Circuit, which has exclusive jurisdiction over this statute, has definitively resolved this issue. Vietnam veterans who have contracted the serious diseases addressed in Section 1116 are likely to be in dire financial straits. Delay in receiving benefits could be severely prejudicial to many veterans. Many veterans will also be deprived of free, priority VA medical care available to persons with Agent Orange diseases, see 38 U.S.C. §1710(e)(1)(A), and may forego medical care altogether, with serious consequences.

"Moreover, if this Court were to deny review and the CAVC were to lift the current stay on Haas-related claims, many pending claims will be denied. Even if this Court were later to review and overturn the Federal Circuit’s rule, many claims will never be revived, and others would face a demanding standard of clear and unmistakable error. 38 C.F.R. § 20.1403(e); see also Jordan v. Nicholson, 401 F.3d 1296 (Fed. Cir. 2005). Other veterans may never file claims, and still others will lose benefits from preclaim periods if they are deterred by the decision below from filing. This Court’s immediate review is imperative."
As you can see from the above, not only does the filing take the legal question to hand and deal with it quite well, it takes the ethical question to hand as well, asking the court to show some mercy toward the already-ailing Blue Water Navy Veterans.There is much more to the brief that was filed on Friday, and most of it is technical points of law. We think the case will rise or fall on the merits of the "Pro-Veteran Canon" and the absurdity of the DVA's definition of "Service in Vietnam".

[Read the actual brief: click here, then click on the light green link labeled "Haas v Peake-Supreme Court".

Folks this is a job well done.

That said, it will be unusual for the court to agree to review the case, and even more so to overturn the Federal Circuit Court. Keep that in mind. The NVLSP hopes to have an answer sometime after the first of the year [delete: in November]
on whether the Supreme Court will review the case.

In the meantime, keep hitting your Congressional Representatives and Senators to support the Agent Orange Equity Act of 2009!

And keep recording your successes in the ongoing poll at the top right of the page.

Keep up the fight, keep up the good work.

VNVets

”It is a stain on this nation's honor that the Department of Veterans Affairs has become a deadlier and more difficult adversary to the American veteran than any they have ever faced on a battlefield."-- VNVets

"The concept that Agent Orange, and its effects, stopped dead in its tracks at the shoreline is simply too illogical, and too ludicrous to accept. What does that say about the Bush Administration and his Department of Veterans Affairs?"--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

"It follows than as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."--President George Washington

Copyright © 2005-2008: VNVets Blog; All Rights Reserved.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

More on Brown Water/Blue Water Claims

The Captain of the USS Ingersoll DD 652 went to war with the DVA and won benefits for his crew that served aboard Ingersoll while she was at anchor for shore bombardment in the Saigon River in Vietnam. The Secretary of the DVA authorized benefits for those crewmembers who were on board.

Here is the citation from the VA website:

The USS Ingersoll (DD 652) operated as a Navy destroyer gunship providing fire support for military ground operations along the Vietnam coast during 1965. In addition to coastal duty, the USS Ingersoll traveled up the Saigon River on October 24th and 25th of 1965 to fire on enemy bases. C&P Service has reviewed the ship’s deck logs, located at the National Archives and Records Administration, and confirmed this service in the “inland waterways” of Vietnam. As a result, the presumption of herbicide exposure, as described in 38 CFR 3.307(a)(6)(i), should be extended to any crewmember who served aboard ship during October of 1965. This presumption is authorized by M21-1MR section IV.ii.2.C.10.b. Regional offices should reevaluate any disability claim based on herbicide exposure from one of these veterans that has been denied.

http://uss_ingersoll_vets.tripod.com/addendum.pdf
It follows, then, that if your ship went up a river, you should be entitled to the same benefits as the crew members of the USS Ingersoll. Additionally, since the DVA opened this can of worms for themselves, if you were in any land locked harbor or bay, or in the delta of any of Vietnam's rivers, and at anchor, you should be eligible for benefits under the Agent Orange Act of 1991 and the Secretary's announcement in the Addendum Compensation & Pension Service Bulletin issued July 31, 2007. The Secretary has established a precedent for this type of service.

Go, do not walk, run to your VARO and get them to pull your case. If you do not have deck logs, get them, but do not wait for them. The DVA should get them for you, like they did for the Ingersoll.

I only wish other skippers would go to bat like the Ingersoll's skipper did.

VNVets

”It is a stain on this nation's honor that the Department of Veterans Affairs has become a deadlier and more difficult adversary to the American veteran than any they have ever faced on a battlefield."-- VNVets

"The concept that Agent Orange, and its effects, stopped dead in its tracks at the shoreline is simply too illogical, and too ludicrous to accept. What does that say about the Bush Administration and his Department of Veterans Affairs?"--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

"It follows than as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."--President George Washington

Copyright © 2005-2008: VNVets Blog; All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

ALS now Service Connected

The DVA has added Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis [Lou Gehrig's Disease] to its list of disease with service connection. THIS IS NOT AN AGENT ORANGE DISEASE!! Any Veteran or Serving member of the military who has served 90 or more days on Active Duty, and has been diagnosed with ALS is eligible for compensation. Since the disease is incurable, and survival is generally less than 3-5 years, I suspect benefits will be at the 100% level. If you have ALS, you should file a claim immediately, and if you have a claim pending for other issues, you should amend your claim immediately to include ALS.

For a little more information visit this FRA website article.

VNVets

”It is a stain on this nation's honor that the Department of Veterans Affairs has become a deadlier and more difficult adversary to the American veteran than any they have ever faced on a battlefield."-- VNVets

"The concept that Agent Orange, and its effects, stopped dead in its tracks at the shoreline is simply too illogical, and too ludicrous to accept. What does that say about the Bush Administration and his Department of Veterans Affairs?"--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

"It follows than as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."--President George Washington

Copyright © 2005-2008: VNVets Blog; All Rights Reserved.

If Your Claim is in Haas Stay...

We anticipate that the Department of Veterans Affairs [DVA] will shortly issue their new rule clarifying, in their minds at least, the definition of service in Vietnam. Once they do, I suspect they will have teams in all the VA Regional Offices [VAROs] cull out all the Haas stay cases and send them mass rejections, and they may do so without checking for the validity of whether or not the claims are, indeed, Haas cases.

From the start, the DVA shunted all Navy cases into the Haas stay. That this is illegal does not seem to bother an agency that has bags of claims in Regional Offices sitting in shred bins...even claims that have never officially been opened. There are actually employees of the VAROs in NYC and Detrot who are on the street today without pay pending an investigation of their actions.

Regardless, we will issue this call once again: if your ship entered port, went up a river or estuary or anchored in the delta of any of Vietnam's Rivers, or in any of its enclosed bays, you should get your Veterans Service Officer from your Veterans organization, the one that is representing you, to GO to the VARO [with you!], and get nose-to-nose with management there to have them pull and process your claim. You might, if you ruin into resistance, indicate the probability of your filing a complaint with the United States Commission on Civil Rights, and the DVA Office of the Inspector General to investigate the VARO's claim handling. There should be enough threat in that to get them to pay attention.

The DVA, as a Department-wide policy has been putting all Navy claims into the Haas Stay, while the court directed them to stay cases only affected by the Haas case. So, once again they have been putting the screws to Vietnam Veterans.

VNVets

”It is a stain on this nation's honor that the Department of Veterans Affairs has become a deadlier and more difficult adversary to the American veteran than any they have ever faced on a battlefield."-- VNVets

"The concept that Agent Orange, and its effects, stopped dead in its tracks at the shoreline is simply too illogical, and too ludicrous to accept. What does that say about the Bush Administration and his Department of Veterans Affairs?"--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

"It follows than as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."--President George Washington

Copyright © 2005-2008: VNVets Blog; All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Court Denies Review of Haas Decision

In a not unexpected decision released today, the United State Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit refused to review the Haas case.

The main reason cited is because the appellant failed to ask for a review on the basis of what was covered in the case originally heard by the Federal Circuit Court. Instead, the review request was focused on a canon that states the Department's deference in determining definitions is to be set aside and decided for the good of the Veteran.

For the record, we think this reasoning thin, and appealable. The next question is whether or not the NVLSP And Commander Haas will appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States, and whether that august body will review the case.

All the more reason to concentrate now on Congress to get the Agent Orange Equity Act of 2009 passed.

VNVets

”It is a stain on this nation's honor that the Department of Veterans Affairs has become a deadlier and more difficult adversary to the American veteran than any they have ever faced on a battlefield."-- VNVets

"The concept that Agent Orange, and its effects, stopped dead in its tracks at the shoreline is simply too illogical, and too ludicrous to accept. What does that say about the Bush Administration and his Department of Veterans Affairs?"--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

"It follows than as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."--President George Washington

Copyright © 2005-2008: VNVets Blog; All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

VASVW Announces Election Results!

We would like to announce a milestone. The Veterans Association of Sailors of the Vietnam War was started on August 21, 2008 to provide an organization where all have a say and all have access to all the available information. We have just concluded the first election of officers and board members and these folks will serve a one year term.

The 2008-2009 Officers of the Veterans Association of Sailors of the Vietnam War:

President........................ Bob Gray
Vice President...................Dave Sanderson
VP Membership..................Tom LaLiberte
VP Public Relations.............Dale Williamson
Secretary........................ Frank Weber

Exec Bd. @Large................Mike Teaney
Exec Bd. @Large................Bill Conrad

Trustees.........................Rich Appling
Trustees.........................Javier Garcia
Trustees.........................Fred Kidd
Trustees.........................Don Hawbaker
Trustee [Atty]..................John Wells
Trustee [Atty]..................Mark Weitz

Appointed:
Election Committee:
.................................Carol Olszanecki
.................................Neil Richardson
.................................James Blish
.................................Noli Capitulo
.................................James Stark
.................................Garrett Wiles

We thank these people for their willingness to serve in a leadership role. We pride ourselves on the fact that we have conducted elections less than six weeks after we were founded. Now we can go about our business of seeing legislation through Congress that will restore benefits taken or withheld by the Department of Veterans Affairs improperly since the advent of the Agent Orange Act of 1991. We have also adopted a motto: Fortitudine vincimus - By endurance we conquer.

Their term in office will be somewhat tedious and frustrating as it will fall upon them to set the course for the group, to document it and to lead it where it must go to accomplish the goals set forth at the founding. We are small at this point, but plan to grow. Won't you join us? Click on the orange logo to the left on the sidebar and join VASVW today. Click on this link to join today:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/vasvw/

And stay tuned for more news from VASVW in the coming weeks and months.

VNVets

”It is a stain on this nation's honor that the Department of Veterans Affairs has become a deadlier and more difficult adversary to the American veteran than any they have ever faced on a battlefield."-- VNVets

"The concept that Agent Orange, and its effects, stopped dead in its tracks at the shoreline is simply too illogical, and too ludicrous to accept. What does that say about the Bush Administration and his Department of Veterans Affairs?"--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

"It follows than as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."--President George Washington

Copyright © 2005-2008: VNVets Blog; All Rights Reserved.