Monday, March 07, 2011

Death by prescriptions, homless -- veterans issues

Senior Airman Anthony "Tony" Mena managed to dodge bullets, rocket-propelled grenades and roadside bombs during two tours in Iraq.
But he couldn't survive the onslaught of medications that military, Veterans Affairs and civilian doctors prescribed to treat his resulting post-traumatic stress disorder and back pain.
Five months after being medically discharged, the former member of Kirtland Air Force Base's 377th Security Forces Squadron died in his sleep — the result of a lethal mix of nine prescribed medications, including antidepressants, pain killers, tranquilizers and muscle relaxers.

Above is the opening to Charles D. Brunt's "Family of NM soldier who died of prescribed drugs hope to raise awareness" (Albuquerque Journal via The Republic). You can go through all the needed steps to try to get help and still be failed by the system. The parents of Iraq War vetern Jeffrey Lucey, Joyce and Kevin Lucey, found that as well. PTSD didn't start yesterday, it didn't even just spring up in the '00s. Two wars were started by the US government, you'd think they'd have taken the time to ensure that those serving would be able to get the help they needed when they returned. Apparently that wasn't a priority. There was no plan for health care, which is how you get the growing homeless population among the veterans of the ongoing wars. From Maria Cuomo Cole's "Prosecution Those Who Served" (Huffington Post):

In the short-term budget agreement reached last week by Congress and the White House, $75 million in housing aid for 10,000 homeless veterans was cut. At a time when we're pushing American soldiers to the limit of endurance, we just pushed 10,000 of them out of safe homes.
This mistake must be corrected in the longer-term agreement now being negotiated.
For the last few years, as troops have been returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, advocates and nonprofit providers have leveraged resources to address an alarming increase of veterans who are without stable housing, including the chronically homeless and a significant increase in the number of women. Marginal living conditions, scarce employment opportunities, physical injuries and mental health issues have made veterans more at risk of becoming homeless. For female veterans, family reunification challenges and experiences of abuse during their service exacerbate that risk.

Also covering the topic of homeless veterans is Marisa Agha (Sacramento Bee) who focuses on the largest growing percentage of homeless veterans: women. American Women Veterans' Genevieve Chase notes one of the many problems facing homeless women veterans, "A lot of homeless shelters for veterans do not accept women, much less women with children. They've just been falling through the cracks." Current veterans, regardless of gender, face a bad economy, a national housing crisis and vultures ready to pounce. US Senator Kay Hagan of North Carolina issued the following on Friday:

WASHINGTON, D.C. - United States Senator Kay R. Hagan (D-NC) yesterday cosponsored a bill to increase foreclosure protections for military personnel serving overseas and their families. Hagan is a member of the Senate Armed Services and Banking committees.
"This bill will ensure our servicemembers do not return home from war to find a foreclosure sign in their yard," Hagan said. "North Carolina is the most military-friendly state in the nation, and it is our duty to protect our heroes and their families from wrongful foreclosures. I will work with my colleagues to advance this important bill in Congress this year."
The Protecting Servicemembers from Mortgage Abuses Act of 2011 would incentivize financial institutions to comply with the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). Enacted in 2003, SCRA is intended to prevent active duty military from certain financial and legal hardships as a result of their absence due to military service. Unfortunately, financial institutions have repeatedly failed to comply with the SCRA. Major loan servicers have been responsible for mistakes that led to thousands of mortgage overcharges and a number of unlawful foreclosures and evictions.
During testimony in the House of Representatives earlier this month, an executive from J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. testified that the company "failed to comply with aspects of the law" in overcharging 4,500 servicemembers and improperly foreclosing on 18.
The bill would double the maximum criminal penalties for violations of its foreclosure and eviction protections. It would also double civil penalties in cases where the Attorney General has commenced a civil action. In addition, the bill will give servicemembers the time they need after returning from deployment to regain solid financial footing.
The bill was sponsored by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, and in addition to Hagan, it was cosponsored by Senators Jack Reed (D-RI), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Jon Tester (D-MT).

The House testimony by JPMorgan Chase was to the House Veterans Affairs Commitee. You can read about that in Third's "The Lawbreaking JPMorgan Chase," here with "Iraq snapshot," Ava covered it at Trina's site with "The crooks get away with it (Ava)," Wally covered it at Rebecca's site with "JP Morgan Chase's song and dance" and Kat covered it with
"Grading the new Chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee." In terms of employment, Senator Hagan is proposing Hire A Hero:

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Kay R. Hagan (D-NC) today commented on national February unemployment numbers and the number of unemployed veterans. The national unemployment rate dropped to 8.9 percent in February. Despite progress on overall unemployment, unemployment among returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan still exceeds national unemployment. In February 2011, unemployment among these veterans was 12.5 percent, and among males, it was even higher: 13.3 percent.
"The unemployment numbers for our returning heroes from Afghanistan and Iraq are particularly troubling," Hagan said. "I have cosponsored the Hire a Hero Act, which would make a tax credit for businesses that hire veterans permanent and extend the credit to members of the Guard and Reserve. North Carolina is the most military-friendly state in the nation, and as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I am continuing to look for additional ways to help connect our veterans to employment opportunities."
The Hire a Hero Act, introduced last month by Hagan and Scott Brown (R-MA), extends the Work Opportunity Tax Credit to include members of the Guard and Reserve and makes the credit permanent for veterans.

We're happy to note the Hagan press releases which do fall under what we cover here. We're not happy to note other things. For example, Bradley Manning? We support him. We do not repeat the gossip of convicted felon and government snitch Adrian Llamo. We've never done that, we never will. And that means I can't link to you when you do. Is that not clear? In February, we refused to link to a bad Australian documentary. Now World Can't Wait wants me to link to their rah-rah about that month old documentary.

Can we grow a brain? Llamo is a star of the documentary -- problem one. The documentary states Bradley Manning did what the US government has accused him of -- problem two. So why the hell would anyone want to link to that piece of s**t documentary? I have no idea. But think about what you're asking for before you ask for a link. We've been very vocal about Adrian Llamo from the start. We've also argued from the start that the peace movement does not make the US government's case against Bradley for them. I have no idea why World Can't Wait wants to link to that bad Four Corners documentary. But they can be stupid if they want. We have better things to do.

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Mary Pops Back" went up yesterday. Today on Law and Disorder Radio (begins broadcasting at 9:00 am EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week), Michael Ratner, Heidi Boghosian and Michael S. Smith speak address Palestine with Ali Abunimah and the MidEast and North Africa with Professor Zachary Lockman.

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