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November 11, 2009

Veterans Day Roundup

Today is Veterans Day here in the U.S., so we thought we'd do a roundup of veteran-related links and recent news:

~Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) has a map of Veterans Day events across the country, so you can find the event near you. From their event organizing guide:

“We’ve Got Your Back” is the IAVA theme for Veterans Day 2009. From getting the New GI Bill passed, to advance funding the VA, to hosting A Night for Vets with MTV, to the event you are at right now, IAVA always has your back. Our upcoming series of Public Service Advertisements (PSA), which is launching on November 11th, 2009, reflect this theme. You have probably seen our first PSA, the one with two vets shaking hands. You can view it at http://www.iava.org/adcouncil. The new one is even better. It demonstrates the power of the new veterans community. And let’s OIF and OEF vets know that they are never alone. Veterans can come together every day, and find new ways to serve together. That is why we say, We’ve Got Your Back. Don’t forget to check out our new PSA launching on Veterans Day this year at www.IAVA.org!

~Senator Tom Coburn has placed a hold on a major veterans benefits bill because he has issues with how it's going to be paid for. VoteVets is collecting signatures on a petition asking Senator Coburn to lift the hold.

Democratic Senators Daniel Akaka, Jon Tester and Mark Begich held a press conference today calling on Republican Senator Tom Coburn to release his hold on a veterans' health bill. The bill offers assistance and improves benefits to wounded veterans and their caregivers. In addition, the legislation will provide assistance to caregivers who, at times, have to give up their jobs to stay at home and care for injured soldiers. On the eve of Veteran's Day, Senator Akaka said, "Let us allow our deeds to speak for us." He continued, referencing Tom Coburn, "the senator who has been blocking parts of this bill since the summer argues that this bill is too expensive. I believe that when we vote to send troops to war, we have an obligation to take care of them." [Democratic Caucus's Senate Journal]

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) “illogical" for holding up a veterans care bill Tuesday, criticizing the Oklahoma Republican for supporting war funding while blocking health care funding for veterans. Coburn, a fiscally conservative Republican, has a hold on the bill, a legislative tactic to prevent its passage. He sent a letter to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), saying that the Caregiver and Veterans Services Act of 2009 needs to be fully debated because it will cost taxpayers more than $3 billion over the next five years. The bill provides funding for families who care for wounded soldiers.

Reid, flanked by a severely injured Iraq war veteran on Tuesday, hinted that Coburn’s tough stance on the cost of legislation was flawed — he supported the war in Iraq, which wasn’t paid for, but opposes the veterans care bill for the same reason. “Where was he when we were spending a trillion dollars on the war in Iraq?” Reid asked. “That wasn’t paid for. I didn’t hear him stopping the bill from going forward at that time. I think he should become more logical and understand we have people who are suffering." [Politico]

~It seems like everyone's talking about nothing but health care reform lately, and of course it's an issue that touches the lives of many veterans too:

On the eve of Veterans Day, a team of researchers from Harvard Medical School has released a study finding that an estimated 2,266 veterans under the age of 65 died last year because they did not have health insurance. That “translates to six preventable deaths per day” and more than twice the number killed in Afghanistan since the war began in 2001.

Being uninsured raises a person’s odds of dying prematurely by 40 percent. The researchers found that 1.46 million veterans between the ages of 18 and 64 lacked insurance in 2008. While most veterans are eligible to receive excellent care from the Veterans Administration, those who were not injured in combat and whose income is above a certain threshold are often ineligible. Others are assigned low priorities, providing them with less consistent and more expensive access to care: [Think Progress]

~Young Women Misbehavin', a research project of the Business and Professional Women's Foundation, recently highlighted the foundation's research on women veterans:

Millions of America’s bravest and most exceptional women serve our country in the Armed Forces. Women comprise 15 percent of the active military, 8 percent of the total US veteran population, and 18 percent of the Iraq and Afghanistan veteran population. That is over 1.8 million women veterans! As women veterans enter the civilian workforce, they say they desire the same things from the workplace as other working women and experience many of the same challenges. However, as this unique group of working women returns home to their civilian lives and families, their needs are not receiving adequate attention and support. Issues impacting all working women–including pay equity, career advancement, and access to benefits such as health care–are magnified by challenges such as injury, sexual trauma, homelessness and PTSD.

For more, check out the reports from the foundations Women Veterans in Transition research project, as well as their Dear Jane campaign, which is a letter writing campaign that connects women veterans with deployed women who are getting ready to transition back to civilian life.

~Speaking of women veterans, IAVA recently held a Week of Women Warriors, launching a new Women Warriors Center on their website and releasing a new issue report, "Women Warriors: Supporting She 'Who Has Borne the Battle.'"

"Women make up 11% of the force in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet, their challenges have largely been overlooked and underreported. IAVA's new report pulls together the most up to date information on a broad range of issues confronting female servicemembers and veterans," said IAVA Executive Director Paul Rieckhoff. "Countless women have served bravely and honorably for their country. It's time for the Department of Defense, the VA, lawmakers and the public to take bold action on behalf of these women warriors and give them the support they have earned."

IAVA's newly released report explores a wide range of issues, including:

  • Sexual Assault, Harassment and Military Sexual Trauma (MST): Women in the military have been coping with significant and underreported sexual assault and harassment for decades. The report examines the statistics behind this prevalent issue, the measures that are currently in place and steps that must be taken to aggressively address this systematic problem.

  • Higher Divorce Rates for Female Servicemembers: Marriages of female troops are failing at almost three times the rate of male servicemembers. The report examines the data behind this troubling trend.

  • Barriers to VA Health Care: In recent years the VA has been challenged to care for female veterans, who now make up 12% of all Iraq and Afghanistan veterans seeking VA health care. The report examines the fragmentation of women's VA services, privacy and safety concerns and problems communicating eligibility and benefits to female veterans.

  • Homelessness among Female Veterans: Of homeless Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, almost 10% are women, and many of them have families. The report examines this growing trend and the urgent economic challenges facing female veterans.
Read the report, then sign IAVA's open letter to Congress and spread the word, because our women warriors deserve more respect and better care.

Happy Veterans Day!

1 comment:

Batocchio said...

Well done! I did a series of posts for 11/11, but mainly on past things, not the current landscape.