Monday, March 28, 2011

Veterans issues

Sunday afternoon US Senator Amy Kloubuchar announced in St. Paul that she planned to introduce legislation. Mark Brunswick (Star Tribune) reports that the legislation will be "to preserve evidence and documentation of military sexual trauma" and the senator is quoted stating, "It's a small piece to make sure these things don't fall through the cracks. These are things that any civilian would expect, and it brings the military up to that same level." As military sexual trauma has been addressed in more and more hearings, members of the House and Senate have increasingly expressed amazement over what practices for policies with regards to sexual assault and rape. In a press release, the senator's office noted:

According to the U.S. Department of Defense, there were 3,158 official reports of sexual assaults in the military in 2010. Because most incidents are not reported to a military authority, the Pentagon estimates this number represents only 13 to 14% of total assaults – making the total number of sexual assaults in the military in excess of 19,000 in 2010.
Earlier this year, the American Legion surveyed women veterans about VA health care and found that nearly 40 percent of female veterans were dissatisfied with the VA’s screening process for military sexual trauma.
"Military sexual trauma" is the phrase that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs uses to refer to sexual assault or repeated, threatening sexual harassment that occurred while a veteran was in the military.

Meanwhile the Veterans Affairs Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs, L. Tammy Duckworth, writes about homeless veterans at the Sun-Sentinel:

It's not only male veterans who fall victim to homelessness. Women are the fastest growing segment of the military and veterans populations. The percentage of women in the military has doubled in the last 30 years and women are enrolling in the Veterans Administration at historic rates. In fact, 44 percent of female OIF/OEF veterans have enrolled in VA services — the largest percentage of any group. But with the female veteran population growing, more are going to be at high risk of becoming homeless.
Tonight, 76,000 veterans are estimated to be homeless. According to the study "Veteran Homelessness: A Supplemental Report" presented to the 2009 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, on any given night there were an estimated 7,135 homeless veterans in the state of Florida alone. We are all dishonored any time a veteran is forced to sleep on the streets that he or she defended. President Obama, Secretary Shinseki and all of us at VA will no longer stand for it.

And this morning, US Senator Kay Hagan hosts a roundtable in Durham, North Carolina. Her office issued the following announcement:

WASHINGTON, D.C. - In honor of National Women's History Month, U.S. Senator Kay R. Hagan (D-NC) on Monday will visit the Women's Health Clinic at Durham VA Medical Center and host a roundtable with women veterans to hear their concerns and experiences. Almost 70,000 women veterans live in North Carolina, the fifth highest population in the country.
Hagan, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is dedicated to ensuring that our state's veterans and members of the Armed Forces have access to the services and care they deserve. Hagan cosponsored a measure that requires funding for veterans' health care to be allocated two years in advance, preventing delays in passing the federal budget from interfering with critical care for veterans. Hagan is also working to help connect veterans to employment opportunities. Last month, Hagan and Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) introduced the Hire a Hero Act, which will give tax credits to businesses that hire members of the National Guard and Reserve, and make the tax credit permanent for veterans.
Hagan also visited Durham VA Medical Center in November. In advance of Veterans Day, she toured the center's newly renovated Ward 6A, and the Women's Health, Audiology Service, and Traumatic Brain Injury clinics.
Monday, March 28, 2011 10:20 AM

Reminder: If you served in the US military and you were stop-lossed, you are owed additional money. That money needs to be claimed. DoD announces the date to file for that additional payment has been extended:

The deadline for eligible service members, veterans and their beneficiaries to apply for Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay (RSLSP) has been extended to April 8, 2011, allowing personnel more time to apply for the benefits they've earned under the program guidelines.
The deadline extension is included in the continuing resolution signed by President Obama Friday, providing funding for federal government operations through April 8, 2011.
Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay was established to compensate for the hardships military members encountered when their service was involuntarily extended under Stop Loss Authority between Sept. 11, 2001, and Sept. 30, 2009. Eligible members or their beneficiaries may submit a claim to their respective military service in order to receive the benefit of $500 for each full or partial month served in a Stop Loss status.
When RSLSP began on Oct. 21, 2009, the services estimated 145,000 service members, veterans and beneficiaries were eligible for this benefit. Because the majority of those eligible had separated from the military, the services have engaged in extensive and persistent outreach efforts to reach them and remind them to apply. Outreach efforts including direct mail, engaging military and veteran service organizations, social networks and media outlets, will continue through April 8, 2011.
To apply for more information, or to gather more information on RSLSP, including submission requirements and service-specific links, go to

Isaiah has a comic going up this morning. 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 with Global Research's Professor Michel Chossudovsky about the Libyan War and with David R. Jones about unemployment rates among young African-Americans.

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