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Saturday, July 21, 2012

VoteVets Defends Attacks on Iraq War Hero Tammy Duckworth


The following is from VoteVets.org, defending one of our own -- double amputee and Iraq War hero Tammy Duckworth -- against unconscionable, no-holds-barred attacks on her military service and deep sacrfice.


-AH

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Amazing Response to Joe Walsh's Attacks on Tammy Duckworth

VoteVets.org unleashes the power of our membership to raise over $52,000 for Tammy Duckworth's campaign for the US House in Illinois' 8th District in response to Rep. Joe Walsh's attacks on her sacrifice and service:
  • Tammy Duckworth says Joe Walsh disrespected all veterans. Tammy Duckworth, a veteran who lost both her legs in the Iraq War, said that Rep. Joe Walsh disrespected  millions of veterans by accusing her of talking too much about her military record.  View story in the original context 
  • Rep. Joe Walsh Blasts Double Amputee’s Military Service, Says She’s Not A ‘True Hero’ - Though he never joined the military himself, Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) disparaged his Democratic opponent's military service at a town hall, saying that she's not a "true hero." View story in the original context
  • US lawmaker under fire for berating double-amputee rival - A non-partisan US veterans group stepped up calls for a Republican congressman to resign after he openly berated his double-amputee political rival for talking up her Iraq War injuries. "She is a hero, and that demands our respect, but it doesn't demand our vote," he told CNN. "All she does, guys, is talk about her service." View story in the original context
  • Rep. Walsh faces campaign backlash over comments on double-amputee rival - Republican Rep. Joe Walsh is facing a campaign trail backlash after he was caught on camera accusing his double-amputee opponent of talking too much about her military record. View story in the original context


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VoteVets.org in the News

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

House Includes Kucinich Amendment Doubling Gulf War Illness Defense Medical Treatment Research Funding

Written by Anthony Hardie, 91outcomes.com


(Washington, DC - 91outcomes.com) -- The U.S. House of Representatives today included an amendment to this year's Defense spending bill that would add $10 million in medical treatment research for Gulf War Illness, a debilitating condition estimated by official sources to affect more than one in three veterans of the 1991 Gulf War.

The amendment, authored by outgoing Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) and included in the full Fiscal Year 2013 Defense Appropriations Act on a voice vote on the House floor this evening, represents a major victory for 250,000 ill Gulf War veterans after a series of setbacks in recent months with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Gulf War veterans' advocates were angered in recent weeks by an unexpected, two-thirds VA budget cut for Gulf War Illness research quietly tucked into the VA budget request, which passed the House intact.  

And last week, the Congressionally chartered Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses (RAC) issued a scathing report blasting the VA not only for the secretive budget cut, but also for a litany of failures including a refusal to implement laws related to Gulf War veterans' health, misrepresenting medical research related to Gulf War Illness including in reports to Congress, and ignoring medical experts in a national survey expected to damage already deteriorating relations between Gulf War veterans and VA.

The Kucinich amendment essentially reverses the $10 million VA budget cut -- with a twist -- by instead directing the funding to the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP).  The Defense program is immensely popular with Gulf War veterans and medical researchers alike.

The Defense spending bill is expected to pass the House this week, though prospects for action in the Senate are reportedly dim until after the November elections.

In any event Rep. Kucinich enjoys the support of veterans across the nation for his advocacy and unyielding support of Gulf War veterans in particular and veterans in general. We have never had a truer friend.
In any event Rep. Kucinich enjoys the support of veterans across the nation for his advocacy and unyielding support of Gulf War veterans in particular and veterans in general.
We have never had a truer friend.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Federal Committee Says "No Confidence" in VA on Gulf War Illness


Despite all the best promises and intentions, actions speak louder than words: VA has again broken Gulf War veterans’ trust.

Written by Anthony Hardie, 91outcomes.com

(91outcomes.com) - A scathing new report publicly released this week by a federal advisory panel blasts the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for new failures related to caring for veterans of the 1991 Gulf War.  

The report, by the Congressionally chartered Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses (RAC), reveals independent experts’ and veterans' anger at VA over the agency’s failure to begin treatment for the estimated 250,000 veterans suffering from Gulf War illness (GWI).  

And, at the panel’s Boston meeting on June 19, 2012, one Gulf War veteran RAC member stormed out of the meeting in protest -- and another separately discussed resignation with the chair, also in protest -- of VA’s catastrophic failures to conduct research and assist ill Gulf War veterans.  Numerous veterans in the audience and attending by phone also vocalized their anger and frustration.  

At the meeting, the committee voted to approve the report, publicly released this week on the body's website, stating the panel has “no confidence” in VA’s “ability or demonstrated intention,” to help veterans with GWI associated with hazardous toxic exposures during the war.

A landmark 2010 study by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) confirmed GWI is a unique diagnosis, is physical (not psychiatric) in nature, and affects about 250,000 veterans of the 1991 Gulf War and other U.S. forces.  IOM urged “a renewed research effort with substantial commitment to well-organized efforts,” to diagnose and treat GWI.  Congress quickly followed with additional mandates to launch research.

The RAC’s 46-page “no confidence” report details a litany of examples of VA’s “failure to acknowledge that the central health problem of this war even exists:”

  1. VA Misdirected Gulf War Illness Research, focusing on efforts against Gulf War veterans rather than working to improve our health;
  2. VA Misrepresented Scientific Conclusions About GWI and the effort being made to address it, including whitewashing GWI out of a major, groundbreaking, consensus-developed strategic plan that had previously been aimed squarely at GWI treatments
  3. VA Ignored Public Panels (such as the RAC), including in a major national study that ignored GWI and instead focused largely on long discredited "stress" and psychological issues
  4. VA Slashed GWI Research Budget by two-thirds, from $15 million per year to less than $5 million per year
  5. VA Failed to Follow Law (1), by not contracting with the IOM to research multiple sclerosis among Gulf War veterans, as mandated by Congress.
  6. VA Failed to Follow Law (2), by not researching treatments for physical ailments as mandated by Congress, instead focusing on scientifically discredited “stress” and psychiatric theories, in a new IOM "treatment" panel created this year. 

The release of the RAC’s 2008 report, and the IOM’s 2010 study showed not only that GWI is real -- what Gulf War veterans had been saying all along -- but that effective treatments could be found, bringing much hope to many distraught service-disabled veterans.  

However, the RAC report paints the picture of a VA that has, by oversight or design, betrayed veterans in a bureaucratic travesty impacting 250,000 Gulf War veterans and their families.

The report has been sent to the VA Secretary's office and the White House, which have not yet made a response.  


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

236th Anniversary of our U.S. independence - With Humble Gratitude




I once heard a WWI veteran reflecting on the lessons he had learned, "If we lose our democracy, it won't be easy getting it back." I had never before considered the "if", always taking it for granted that our liberty and freedom are etched in stone, slated to exist in perpetuity. 


As we celebrate the 236th anniversary of our U.S. independence, let us pause and reflect: that democracy is not a spectator sport; that our nation's liberty has never been maintained solely (albeit often valiantly) by those who wear the uniform; that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance by each one of us who wishes to remain free.


-A.H.