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Wednesday, October 03, 2007


Picture courtesy of Normandy American Cemetery
Colleville Sur Mer

By Michael Linn Jones

This latest furor over comments made by Rush Limbaugh is like a chord sharply struck. It points out more the growing divide in the nation than anything else. I'm reminded of those days in the 60's, when people were requested to drive with their headlights on if they were for the war, or leave them off if they were against. On those days you could see how divided the country was on Vietnam.

Oddly, though, the nation was not divided on veterans. There was bipartisan support for treating veterans in a way that the rest of the world had never attempted. The "G.I. Bill" at the end of World War II helped provide many with college degrees or training. The medical services of the Veterans Administration were available to any ex-serviceman or woman, provided they were honorably discharged.

Over the decades, the benefits of the G.I Bill shrank. Adjusted for inflation, the amount of funding for schooling is not at the level it was in the 40's and 50's. However, support remained constant for medical services.

That is, until this century. In 2003 the Congress voted funding for the Iraq War. Within minutes it also voted to slash spending for the VA. In print and on the air this can be debated, but the proof of eating, as they say, is in the pudding.

It is a fact that President Bush did not veto the VA cuts. It is also a fact that his administration foresaw a CUT in VA spending for 2008, using the same myopic idiocy that has shown up elsewhere. A cynical view would see this as part of the "starve the beast" strategy whereby the services will become so restrictive that veterans will just give up and go elsewhere. We are reminded of the golden virtues of the "free economy" and how those needing medical attention should have thought of that when they were young, etc.

The end result are those little things that mean a lot. Like diabetics being limited to 50 test strips A YEAR. Like any veteran who attempts to enroll in the VA now must not earn more than $32,000 a year. Oh, and those folks in Afghanistan and Iraq? Well, they get VA coverage for two WHOLE YEARS...for FREE! After that, adios and good luck.

So, if Rush Limbaugh is so deeply and patriotically committed to those in our armed forces, let him prove it. It would be refreshing if he used his golden EIB microphone to blast anyone who has been involved in cutting services to veterans. And I'm sure he can find a good number of Democrats, too.

It is more than extraordinary that today, 63 years after D-Day, one can visit Normandy and find the French folks as thankful now to those Crosses and Stars of David in their neat rows as they were in 1944. And here? Those who serve are forgotten as soon as they return home.

I hate to be like a boil on the butt here, but I would be more impressed with Mr. Limbaugh if he shifted his focus a bit from debating whether the troops support President Bush to how well our government supports those who sacrifice their freedom so that he can enjoy his. I've heard many times Rush's philosophy that makes it clear that the money he earns should not go to the government; that he should be allowed to keep it. It's his, by God, etc.

Could he make an exception in this case? Is it asking too much?

Sadly, it is.

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Anonymous Tom said...

It would be nice if they would also support expanded mental health services for the veterans, a significant minority of them suffering from varying degrees of PTSD.
NPR had a program about problems with mental health services at Fort Carson, and it was disturbing how hard it was for the vets to get help and how dismissive their superiors were of their problems.

6:20 PM  
Blogger Papamoka said...

I have to agree with Tom on that point. These kids are coming home and some of them look fine but the mind is a funny thing when it comes to the stress of living and fighting in a war zone 24/7.

Mike you have an amazing ability to put what I'm thinking only it makes better sense. While our nations leaders claim to support our troops it seems that in order for them to do so they have to steal from them any future benefits they may need for the return to active citizen life. I'm of the firm opinion that the Veterans Administration should be a third rail like Social Security. Reality and Republicans wave the flag at the beggining of the war and most of them have to Google search directions on where the hell Walter Reed is.

6:44 PM  

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