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.