Thursday, September 30, 2010

Suicides and other war costs

In today's New York Times, James C. McKinley Jr. reports "So far this year, Army officials have confirmed that 14 soldiers at Fort Hood have committed suicide. Six others are believed to have taken their own lives but a final determination has yet to be made. The highest number of suicides at Fort Hood occurred in 2008, when 14 soldiers killed themselves, said Christopher Haug, a military spokesman." Larry Shaughnessy (CNN) adds, "It's yet more violence for Fort Hood, which was the site of the worst shooting on an American military base in decades. On November 5 of last year, a gunman opened fire in a building on the post, killing 12 people and injuring dozens of others. Maj. Nidal Hasan, an Army psychiatrist was shot and paralyzed by police who responded to the incident and is facing murder charges in the case." Staying on the topic of veterans we'll note this from Senator Daniel Akaka's office (Akaka Chairs the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee):


WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii), Chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, praised his colleagues for supporting a comprehensive veterans’ benefits package now headed to the White House for President Obama’s consideration. If signed into law, this bill will expand insurance options for disabled veterans, upgrade compensation benefits and employment protections, authorize VA construction projects, and allow VA to keep using private physicians to quickly and accurately provide veterans with disability evaluations.

“I commend my colleagues for supporting this bill to upgrade the benefits that veterans have earned through their honorable service. I look forward to President Obama signing this important measure into law,” said Akaka, a key sponsor of this legislation.

The Veterans’ Benefits Act of 2010 (H.R. 3219, as amended), includes the following:

  • Raises an automobile assistance benefit for disabled veterans from $11,000 to $18,900.
  • Authorizes federal grants to provide job training, counseling, placement, and childcare services to homeless women veterans and homeless veterans with children.
  • Substantially increases the maximum levels of supplemental insurance for totally disabled veterans, as well as Veterans’ Group Life Insurance and Veterans’ Mortgage Life Insurance.
  • Provides retroactive Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance benefits for troops who were traumatically injured between October 7, 2001 and November 30, 2005, regardless of where their injury occurred.
  • Clarifies that the Uniformed Service Employment and Reemployment Rights Act prohibits wage discrimination against members of the Armed Forces.

H.R. 3219 passed the House late last night, after clearing the Senate on Tuesday, September 28. The bill now goes to President Obama for his consideration. A detailed summary of the Veterans’ Benefits Act of 2010 is available here: LINK

The full text of the bill, as amended by the Senate, is available here: LINK


Kawika Riley

Communications Director and Legislative Assistant

U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs

Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii), Chairman

Meanwhile the UK's Socialist Workers Party observes, "It seemed to many in early November 2008 that 'change had come to America' when Obama was elected U.S. president after eight years of the most reactionary, war mongering administration led by George W. Bush. Alas, it was not to be. Obama has managed in two short years to prove that he is every bit as much of a war monger as his predecessor: as president he is continuing a long American tradition; namely, the endless pursuit of war and domination. The massive 'city within a city' embassy in Iraq's capital, Baghdad, is being expanded, and will cost the American taxpayer $1.8 billion a year to maintain for who knows how many years to come." Earlier this week, Mary Beth Sheridan (Washington Post) reported that Secretary of State Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are whining over the cuts to their war budgets. Poor little whiny babies, didn't they hear Barack say "we will all need to sacrifice"? He's only been saying that since he was campaigning? You can find it in his October 2008 speeches, his September 2008 speeches, his August 2008 speeches. Do they not understand sacrifice, Gates and Hillary? Or do they just think sacrifice is for others? Do they think they're extra special in the Great Recession? Congress needs to continue standing up. Let the babies whine that they didn't get everything they want. The greedy need to learn to cope. Tim Louis Macaluso (Rochester City Newspaper) reports, "Taxpayers in the Rochester region will shell out $700 million to cover the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in fiscal year 2011, said retired Army Colonel Ann Wright. And New York State will kick in $97 billion of the $1 trillion in projected US war spending. War costs money, Wright said. Lots of it." The fact that the tax payers foot the bill is apparently news that's not been broken to Robert Gates and Hillary Clinton.

The following community sites updated last night: notes
an upcoming event (and the notice acts as an intro to the article at the link):

Former British MP George Galloway will now arrive in Toronto on Saturday, Oct. 2, to resume his pan-Canada speaking tour after being prevented from entering the country in March 2009. A welcome rally will assemble at 5 p.m. at the Terminal 1 arrivals gate at Lester B. Pearson International Airport, where Galloway will hold a 15-minute press conference.

On Sunday, Oct. 3, at 3 p.m., Galloway will address a public meeting at Trinity-St. Paul's United Church, 427 Bloor Street, in downtown Toronto. This event is sponsored by, and will be livestreamed on rabbleTV.

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oh boy it never ends