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We Are Failing To Uphold Our Promises To Veterans

Image by  DVIDSHUB  CC Filickr

CC Filickr

Today we honor the brave men and women who answered the call and put their lives at risk to serve our country.   The unfortunate fact is that our government is not doing enough to help these veterans when they come home.

Republicans in Congress have been forcing deeper and deeper cuts to every program in the government – and that is hurting our veterans.

You would think that the party that is always looking to start another war – so their friends can make obscene profits off constructing weapons of destruction – would be the first to stand up and say “no” when it comes to cutting services that affect our veterans. Sadly, this is not the case.

Almost everyone knows of the troubles that are plaguing the Department of Veterans Affairs. The VA is responsible for providing healthcare to our returning vets. VA health centers are overcrowded, under-staffed and grossly under-funded, leading to long wait times for vets, particularly those with mental diseases.

As usual, the Republicans’ answer to fixing the problems within the VA is to fire the director and gut the program’s funding. Now they are proposing an even worse idea, privatizing the entire VA Healthcare system to a for-profit contractor.

The Republicans’ style of gratitude towards veterans continues, as they make drastic cuts to every social program in the federal budget.

Programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, that provided food assistance to over 900,000 veterans in 2014.

Nearly a million veterans are living on food stamps because our returning vets face a higher than average (7.2%) unemployment rate, leading them to take dead-end low wage jobs.

Just raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would help over 1 million struggling veterans. However, the Republicans in Congress refuse to even consider the idea of raising the minimum wage – even though an increase is supported by a strong majority of Americans (71%).

What about the drastic cuts to the Department of Housing and Urban Development? In 2013, Republicans cut almost 9% of HUD’s overall budget. This means that millions of low-income families would not get housing assistance.

The HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) was created specifically to assist veterans in getting the housing assistance they need. Over the last eight years, HUD-VASH has given out, on average, 10,000 vouchers a year to veterans.

That may seem like a lot, but it is nowhere near enough. Too many of our veterans are still falling through the cracks and ending up homeless on the streets.

In 2014, veterans made up over 8% of the overall homeless population. Nearly 50,000 veterans found themselves homeless last year and HUD-VASH could only afford to give out 10,000 vouchers. Some gratitude.

Of the nearly 50,000 veterans that are living on the streets today, 50% of them suffer from a mental or physical disability. This brings us right back to Department of Veterans Affairs and their inability to treat the metal disorders that stem from sending our brave men and women into combat.

So while everyone else is just “Thanking veterans for their service” today, I am demanding that we do more than give the annual lip service and actually show our veterans our gratitude.

Start by raising the minimum wage, increasing funding to HUD, increasing funding to SNAP and getting more people working inside the VA to reduce wait times. That is how we honor our vets.

Politicians are Trying to Sell Off Veterans’ Health Care

Veterans_defend_the_promiseIt’s just… wrong.

It’s SO wrong, I’m having a hard time writing about it.

Politicians want to get rid of the VA healthcare system, and replace it with a system of vouchers that veterans would use “to purchase their own health insurance in the private marketplace.”

And they’re justifying this by pointing fingers at the VA system’s waiting lists. Nevermind that the system has a severe staff shortage, with 41,500 unfilled health care positions. Nevermind the amount of medical care that veterans need, since more than one-quarter of them are disabled. The politicians say it’s all the VA’s fault, and they’re using it as an excuse to privatize veterans’ health care.

So… who’s going to profit from this?

Probably all those special-interest campaign donors. (The health care industry spent more than $142 million on the 2014 congressional elections. Plus another $487 million lobbying, last year.)

And… how is this going to work?

Somebody – probably Congress – is going to decide how much each voucher will be worth. And then veterans will have to find their own health care. And if that health care costs more than the vouchers are worth… well, that’s not something that Congress will have to figure out.

Because by that point, the VA will be dismantled. Gone.

And it’ll just be a problem for each individual veteran… how to cover the gap between what Congress will pay, and what their health care will cost.

— — — —

Here’s what I think:

The idea of dismantling the VA healthcare system… it’s just wrong.

The thought of private healthcare corporations profiting off our veterans… it’s wrong, beyond words.

Want to know more about profits in the health industry? Start with this piece by whistleblower Wendell Potter.

Want to know more about the Koch-founded astroturf group “driving the VA scandal” for political purposes?  Start here.

— — — —

Veterans_deserve_quality_healthcareThis past week, two polling firms – one Republican, one Democrat – joined together to poll veterans about what they want, in their healthcare system.

The results shouldn’t be a surprise: Veterans want to keep their VA health care system – but they want it fixed, and properly staffed.

Veterans want health care providers who are specialists in veterans’ health care. They need doctors, nurses and support staff who already know about the health impacts of their military service. They don’t want to have to explain themselves – explain the circumstances and the consequences of their military service – every single time they need medical care. They want health care professionals who already know.

And veterans need 100% of their care covered. If the VA is replaced by a voucher system, that won’t happen.

You can read the full poll here. If you’ve talked with any veterans recently, none of it will be a surprise.

— — — —

This morning I am remembering particularly

  • two children of a veteran who committed suicide. Suicide is one of the least-discussed “health impacts” of military service. The Veterans Crisis Line is available here.
  • the veteran with PTSD who I spent time with, last weekend. Where to Get Help for Veterans with PTSD is available here.

To all of our veterans, thank you for your service.

Congress Votes Tomorrow On Everything That Will Happen For The Rest Of Obama’s Presidency

Congress West Front Late last night, House GOP leadership announced a compromise bill that will (temporarily) end all the Congress-created crises by setting the federal budget and suspending the debt limit through the end of the Obama presidency.

The House is expected to vote on the bill tomorrow (Wednesday). A draft of the bill is available here.

What it doesn’t do, from the perspective of the Right Wing:

  1. It doesn’t try to force through the Keystone XL Pipeline.
  2. It doesn’t try to de-fund Planned Parenthood.
  3. It doesn’t try to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
  4. It doesn’t try to voucherize Medicare.
  5. It doesn’t try to privatize Social Security.

What it doesn’t do, from the perspective of the Working Class:

  1. It doesn’t rein in corporate giveaways to stockholders, such as dividends and buybacks. (Trillions of dollars that corporations could have used to create jobs, pay fair wages and make long-term investments.)
  2. It doesn’t end the tax preference for unearned income. (Most investment income is still taxed at about half the rate of wage income.) Ending this tax preference could end the budget deficit.
  3. It doesn’t eliminate the Social Security wage cap (which would strengthen Social Security, long-term).
  4. It doesn’t raise the minimum wage.
  5. In its current form, it doesn’t do much to reverse previous cuts to Food Stamps, veterans benefits, and other safety-net programs. It doesn’t mention the 2.1 million American workers who are long-term unemployed… or the 1-in-five American children who are living in poverty.

What it does do:

  1. It loosens the Sequester budget restrictions, both for defense and non-defense spending – and it also increases an off-budget military spending account.
  2. It completely rewrites the procedures governing IRS audits of business partnerships. (Call me cynical, but I’m guessing that part of the bill was written by somebody’s lobbyist.)
  3. It diverts some Social Security tax revenue into the Social Security Disability Trust Fund, and *privacy alert* it also creates a new information clearinghouse (presumably, to be used to detect fraud).
  4. It reduces payments to some Medicare providers and regulates the increase in Medicare supplement policy premiums.
  5. It renames the small House rotunda… in honor of the House Freedom Caucus.

It does some other things. Please take the time to read through the bill yourself – and encourage your Congressional representatives to do the same. Contact information for those representatives is available here.


Having watched this impossibly deadlocked Congress — and its impossibly intransigent Right Wing

Personally, if this “grand compromise” happens, I don’t expect anything else to get through this Congress until President Obama leaves office.  (Remember, GOP extremists have been working to “submarine his presidency” since the very first day of his first term.)

LTE: Our Country And Our Veterans Deserve Better

During the Iraq war we air shipped, about 12 billion dollars in cash to Iraq and now we have trouble accounting for most of this money.  The top 10 percent of our population, that have 90 percent of the wealth, they may have an idea as to where some of this missing money is but I can tell you where it is not going!  We have returning servicemen that need jobs; some have none because when they left their job, it was guaranteed to be there; then when they came back, if the company moved out of the country, sorry no job and we allow this to happen.  The younger returning veterans, who had no job before leaving, are welcomed home to minimum wage jobs with family unfriendly benefits at a retail box store selling merchandise that is not made in this country.  We have politicians that want to lower or do away with the minimum wage, who is funding their campaign?  We have politicians that want more free trade agreements for us.  The last ones worked just fine, look at the unemployment numbers.  Ross Perot was correct about the giant sucking sound!  We have been deficit spending for more than 70 years, and now it has become a game for the rich or middle class to who will pay.  The Tea Party wants it paid back immediately without new taxes.  When this country becomes a divided rich and poor nation, we will become a weak nation just like the ones we try to help.  We need leaders, a truthful news media and zero lobbyist.

Joe Gallagher,

New Shaheen Campaign TV Ad Shows How Shaheen Gets the Job Done For New Hampshire

Latest Ad Highlights Shaheen’s Record of Fighting For NH Jobs, Small Businesses, Working Families and Veterans

Jeanne ShaheenManchester – Today, the Shaheen campaign released a new television ad titled “Granite,” which shows how Senator Shaheen always fights for the people of New Hampshire, not special interests like the big banks or Big Oil. The ad describes her work to protect jobs in New Hampshire and how she has helped small businesses, working families, and veterans across the state.

To watch the ad, click here: http://jeanneshaheen.org/granite/

“They don’t call us the Granite State for nothing. We’re tough here. I never back down from a fight for the people of New Hampshire. I don’t work for the big oil companies or the big banks, I work for you,” says Senator Shaheen in the ad.

Jeanne Shaheen works for the people of New Hampshire, not the Big Oil or corporate special interests. But when Scott Brown was a Senator from Massachusetts, he supported billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies for Big Oil. He secured billions in special breaks for Wall Street and worked to water down new regulations on behalf of the big banks. He also voted to protect tax breaks for corporations shipping American jobs overseas. And since getting voted out of office, Brown is now collecting more than a quarter of a million dollars by serving on the board of a company that sent jobs to China and Mexico.

“Jeanne Shaheen’s common sense leadership makes a difference for New Hampshire,” said Shaheen campaign Communications Director Harrell Kirstein. “She has deep roots in New Hampshire, raised her family here and her record proves she will always put New Hampshire first.”

As a member of the Armed Services Committee, Shaheen has taken on her own party to oppose a new round of BRAC which could threaten the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and the thousands of New Hampshire jobs there. This summer she worked with Republicans to pass bipartisan legislation reforming the VA, and a special provision she worked to include will soon allow New Hampshire veterans to receive health care closer to their homes.

Shaheen helped write the Small Business Jobs Act, a law that cut taxes for small businesses, increased their access to credit, and helped New Hampshire companies export their products. And she stood up for working families by introducing the Bank On Students Emergency Loan Refinance Act, legislation that would allow student loan borrowers to refinance their student loans and reduce their loan debt.

A transcript of the ad is below.

Title Granite
Media TV 0:30
Date 10/27/14
Script Backup
Sen. Shaheen: They don’t call us the Granite State for nothing. We’re tough here. I never back down from a fight for the people of New Hampshire. I don’t work for the big oil companies or the big banks, I work for you.Sen. Shaheen: Saving jobs at the Shipyard.Saving Jobs
Shaheen Led The Fight To Stop A Potential BRAC Round That Would Put PNSY AT RiskCapital Beat: In Face Of Call For BRAC Round By President Obama That Could Put PNSY At Risk, Shaheen Among NH’s “Heavy Hitters” For The Shipyard. “Eight years ago, the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard was on the Pentagon’s chopping block. In the end, it was spared during the 2005 round of military base closures, but the experience left advocates for the shipyard – and its thousands of employees – wary. President Obama called this year for a new round of base closures, starting in 2015. But the proposal has gained little traction on Capitol Hill, and it looks like the shipyard can breathe a little easier for now. […] On the Senate side, New Hampshire has a couple of heavy hitters in U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte.” [Concord Monitor, Capital Beat, 7/7/13]Shaheen-Led Readiness Subcommittee Rejected BRAC Requests In 2013 And 2014. [Associated Press, 6/11/13; Politico, 5/21/14]
Sen. Shaheen: Helping our businesses compete.Helping Business
Shaheen-Backed Small Business Jobs Act Provided Help To Small Business To Increase Exports To Expand, Create JobsShaheen Voted For Small Business Jobs Act That Included 8 Small Business Tax Cuts. [Vote 237, 9/16/10; U.S. Small Business Administration, Accessed 10/22/14]Small Business Jobs Act Provided Funds To Help Create New High-Tech Companies In The State, A Provision Shaheen Championed. [New Hampshire Union Leader, 7/9/12]Report: “Dozens” Of NH Companies Will Receive Grants Through Small Business Export Program That Shaheen “Helped To Craft.” [Foster’s Daily Democrat, 12/31/2012]·         Headline: 35 NH companies receive export grants [New Hampshire Union Leader, 12/29/12]
Sen. Shaheen: Allowing families to refinance student loans…Refinance
Shaheen Introduced Legislation To Let College Grads Refinance Student Loans, Saving ThousandsShaheen Was An Original Cosponsor Of The Bank On Students Emergency Loan Refinance Act That Would Allow Students To Refinance Their Loans At Lower Interest Rates. [S.2432, Introduced 6/4/14]Student Loan Refinancing Bill Would Help 25 Million Borrowers Save $2,000 Each Over The Lifetime Of Their Loans. [Boston Globe, 6/11/14]
Sen. Shaheen: …and veterans get health care close to home. Getting the job done for New Hampshire.Veterans
HEALTH CARESen. Shaheen: I’m Jeanne Shaheen. I approve this message. I didn’t just move here, I’ve been here fighting for you. I’d be honored to have your vote.VOTE NOV 4TH  Jeanne Shaheen
Shaheen Worked To Get Provision In VA Reform Bill To Allow NH Veterans To Get Health Care Close To HomeShaheen & Ayotte Held Joint Press Conference To Mark Passage Of The VA Reform Bill Containing The Equivalent Care Provision They Crafted. [New Hampshire Union Leader, 8/1/14]·         Provision Will Let NH Veterans That Live More Than 20 Miles From A Full-Service VA Hospital Obtain Care Outside The VA System. [Concord Monitor, 7/31/14]·         Report: Provision Will “Mean Elderly, Ill New Hampshire Veterans Will Not Have Travel Hours To Get Medical Care Treatment” At Out-Of-State VA Hospitals. [New Hampshire Union Leader, 8/1/14]

Governor Hassan And NH Employment Security Launch Operation VETS Connect

Initiative Creates 100-Day Challenge to Employers to Incorporate or Expand Veteran Hiring Initiatives

CONCORD – In order to support New Hampshire’s veterans and help ensure that they have the employment opportunities that they deserve, Governor Maggie Hassan and New Hampshire Employment Security (NHES) Commissioner George Copadis today launched Operation VETS Connect, an initiative aimed at building on current efforts to support veteran hiring in New Hampshire.

Operation VETS Connect creates a 100-day challenge to New Hampshire employers to incorporate or expand upon established veteran hiring initiatives. The challenge runs from September 2 to December 10, and it will promote a greater awareness of veterans, the unique skills that they bring to the workforce and the benefits employers obtain in hiring them.

“Our veterans sacrifice bravely in defense of our freedoms, and they have the character, experience and work ethic to be an asset for any employer,” Governor Hassan said. “They represent the very best of our state’s deep talent pool, possessing a wide variety of transferrable skills proven in real-world situations, including leadership, collaboration and the ability to focus on and achieve defined objectives. Operation VETS Connect is an exciting initiative that will help strengthen our civilian workforce and our economy while ensuring that all of our veterans have access to the employment opportunities that they deserve.”

“New Hampshire Employment Security is committed to supporting veteran employment, and we are proud to launch Operation VETS Connect, an important initiative that will enhance current efforts to support veteran hiring in the Granite State,” NHES Commissioner George Copadis said.

As part of Operation VETS Connect, NHES will continue to host veteran-specific job fairs. The state will also send out notices to employers about the benefits of hiring veterans and provide resources to veterans to assist with resume writing and other tips for a successful job search.

In addition, referrals or funding may be available through state agencies for training opportunities such as the Return to Work and On-the-Job Training (OJT) programs, apprenticeships and programs through NH Works. For OJT specifically, up to $500,000 may be available.

Employers with a federal tax identification number and who hire New Hampshire veterans are eligible to participate in Operation VETS Connect. In order to participate, employers must register in the New Hampshire Job Match System (JMS), share job announcements with the local American Job Center and complete a job fair registration form.

Participating employers are encouraged to attend NHES-sponsored job fairs or host a hiring-recruitment event. They also agree to consider veteran applicants and their unique skills, to work with NHES to identify areas to help better prepare denied applicants to enter the workforce and to respond to all resumes and applications received from veterans.

Veteran job seekers must visit their local American Job Center, register in JMS, attend local NHES job fairs and make a good faith effort to strengthen their documentation and presentation to employers of relevant skills and experience.

At the end of the 100-day challenge, employers will be recognized for their participation. For more information about NHES job fairs and events, visit http://www.nhes.nh.gov/media/job-fairs/.

Shaheen Breaks Gridlock To Help New Hampshire Veterans (VIDEO)

Jeanne Shaheen Worked With Republicans For New Law
So New Hampshire Veterans Can Get Health Care Close To Home
Jeanne Shaheen Is Making A Difference For New Hampshire

Manchester, NH – Congressional approval of a major veterans reform bill that allows New Hampshire veterans to get health care close to home is the subject of the new television ad from Jeanne Shaheen’s campaign, “Breakthrough.” New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen, along with Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte, introduced and fought for the language in the bill that allows New Hampshire veterans to get health care outside the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

New Hampshire veterans in need of health care will no longer have to travel hours for treatment at one of the VA hospitals in Boston or White River Junction in Vermont, and instead will have the option of receiving their care locally from a non-VA provider.

“Jeanne Shaheen is a tireless fighter for New Hampshire veterans and she gets things done for us. This has been a long time coming; she helped break the gridlock in Washington to deliver a tremendous victory for New Hampshire veterans,” said Barry Conway of Hampton, Airman First Class, US Air Force, Commandant of the New Hampshire Veterans Home and Chair Emeritus of the State Veterans Advisory Committee. Conway is a member of the Veterans for Shaheen Leadership Committee.

Language Senator Shaheen had included in the Veterans’ Access to Care Through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act – also known as Sanders-McCain – would allow veterans in New Hampshire to receive health care services from certain non-VA medical facilities if they live more than twenty miles from the nearest full service VA hospital, because New Hampshire doesn’t have a full service VA hospital.  The bill passed the U.S House of Representatives, and U.S. Senate, last week.

“This is something that people promised us for years but Jeanne Shaheen delivered,” says George Fleming of Barrington, a USMC and Vietnam Veteran, in the ad. “It’s going to make a world of difference. She gets the job done for New Hampshire.”

“Being able to get health care outside the VA is a huge step for veterans,” adds Charlie Mooskian of Pelham, US Navy veteran and Past Commander of VFW District 6.

Jeanne Shaheen is a tireless advocate for keeping our nation’s commitment to veterans. The first piece of legislation she introduced when she got to the U.S. Senate was the bipartisan Veterans Health Equity Act to improve VA care in New Hampshire by opening a full service hospital or providing New Hampshire’s veterans with an equivalent level of health services.  She has introduced legislation to encourage companies to hire veterans and supported 2011 legislation that provided tax credits to businesses that hired unemployed veterans.  She broke through years of red tape to get veterans clinics and health centers open in Manchester and Keene with two more on the way in Berlin, and Colebrook.

Over 100 Veterans Come Out To Endorse Sen. Shaheen

Image by Harrell Kirstein

Image by Harrell Kirstein

More Than 100 New Hampshire Veterans Endorse Jeanne Shaheen As She Calls For Passage Of Bipartisan Veterans’ Access to Care Act

CONCORD — Today, more than 100 New Hampshire Veterans, both Democrats and Republicans, came together to endorse New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s re-election and discuss the difference she makes for veterans here, as she calls for passage of the Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act.  Language Senator Shaheen had included in the legislation would allow veterans in New Hampshire – because it doesn’t have a full service VA hospital – to receive healthcare services from certain non-VA medical facilities if they live more than twenty miles from a full service VA provider.

“The first bill I introduced when I was elected to represent New Hampshire in the U.S. Senate was the Veterans Health Equity Act.  It had bipartisan support and would require the VA to open a full-service medical center in New Hampshire or provide New Hampshire’s veterans with an equivalent level of health services,” said Jeanne Shaheen.  “We have continued that fight and I am proud that the bipartisan Sanders-McCain bill the Senate passed last month included language to provide New Hampshire veterans greater access to health care.”

The veterans endorsing Senator Shaheen will be leading outreach to fellow New Hampshire veterans and military families between now and November, talking to them about how Jeanne Shaheen makes a difference for Granite State veterans, and also about what is at stake in this election.

“Our nation owes a deep debt to all service men and women who have answered the call of duty and served our country in uniform, and I am deeply honored to have the support of so many New Hampshire veterans,” said Shaheen.

“I fully support the re-election of Senator Jeanne Shaheen, our former governor, who I was privileged to work under when I was on the State Board of Education, and who has been a great U.S. Senator to date,” said Jim Steiner of Concord, Captain, US Army Special Forces and a registered Republican.  “It is time for voters to stop worrying about the party label and focus on actual leadership we see demonstrated.  Senator Shaheen thank you so much.”

“When one of our residents at the New Hampshire Veterans Home approached me about Senator Shaheen and he said ‘you know, Mr. Conway I really like her, she’s the real deal’ – I’ll never forget that.  I am happy to endorse the real deal for New Hampshire veterans, Senator Shaheen,” said Barry Conway of Hampton, Airman First Class, US Air Force, Commandant New Hampshire Veterans Home and Chair Emeritus State Veterans Advisory Committee.

“What impresses me most about Senator Shaheen is that because of her history here in New Hampshire, she knows who to reach out to in the state to get the New Hampshire position, the people’s position.  So when she goes back to Washington she’s properly representing us because she knows us,” said Gail Prince of Bedford, Colonel, US Air Force, and former Commander of the Sweeney Post in Manchester.

“This is my very first time standing up at a political event and saying I’m going to be behind somebody. I spent a career making sure no one could paint me with a brush, but it is time to come out and take a stance because what is going on here is too important.  We need Senator Shaheen,” said Ken Clark of Stratham, Major General, US Air Force (Ret.), and Former Adjutant General of the New Hampshire National Guard

From a family with a strong tradition of military service, Jeanne Shaheen is a tireless advocate for keeping our commitment to veterans. She has introduced legislation to encourage companies to hire vets and supported 2011 legislation that provided tax credits to businesses that hired unemployed veterans.  She broke through years of red tape to get veterans clinics and health centers in Manchester, Keene, Berlin, and Colebrook.

Earlier this spring, the Shaheen campaign released a 30 second television ad entitled ‘Open’ featuring Vietnam Veteran Dwight Clark who worked with Shaheen to cut 30 years of red tape and bring a new Veterans Clinic to Keene.  Click here to see the ad.

The full list of the more than one hundred veterans endorsing Senator Shaheen is below.

Ken Clark of Stratham, Major General, US Air Force (Ret.), Former Adjutant General of the New Hampshire National Guard

Jim Smith of Salem, Brigadier General, US Air Force (Ret.), former U.S. Ambassador

Jim Steiner of Concord, Captain, US Army Special Forces

Barry Conway of Hampton, Airman First Class, US Air Force , Commandant New Hampshire State Veterans Home, Chair Emeritus State Veterans Advisory Committee

Ned Helms of Concord, Infantry Lieutenant, US Army

Wayne Alterisio of Manchester, Specialist, US Army

Paul Martineau of Manchester, Captain, US Army

Gail Prince of Bedford, Colonel, US Air Force (Ret.)

Dwight Clark of Keene, Staff Sergeant, US Air Force

Billy Shaheen of Madbury, Captain, US Army

Bob Hannan of Dover, Captain, US Air Force

Jack Scarborough of Plymouth, Lieutenant Colonel, USMC (Ret.)

Val Scarborough of Plymouth, Lieutenant Colonel, USMC (Ret.)

Terry Shumaker of Concord, Captain US Army, former US Ambassador

Pat Duffy of Manchester, Colonel, US Air Force (Ret.)

Bill Hatch of Gorham, Staff Sergeant (Medic), US Air Force

Judy Atwood Bell of Hudson, Sergeant First Class, US Army

Bill Duncan of New Castle, Lieutenant, US Navy

Mike Lopez of Manchester, Master Sergeant, US Army

Scott Baetz of Windham, USMC

Dave Bamford of Dover, US Army

Michael Bannan of Bristol, US Air Force

Thomas Barry of Nashua, US Army

Francis Bartula of Manchester, US Navy

Joe Bellabona of Lee, US Air Force

Ryan Bellabona of Madbury, US Air Force

Joseph Bennett of Manchester, US Army

Rene Bisson of Berlin, US Army

Roger Bleau of Manchester, US Army

Alfred Bouchard of Nashua, US Army

Janice Bouchard of Nashua, US Air Force

Jerry Burt of Plainfield, US Army

Patricia Bushway of Hampton, US Army

Bill Caldwell of Dover, USMC

Peter Casey of Gilmanton, US Army

William Cashin of Manchester, US Army

Skip Clark of Portsmouth, US Army

Pat Clark of Tilton, USMC

Lou D’Allesandro of Manchester, USMC Reserve

Jay Dean of Dover, US Air Force

Josh Denton of Portsmouth, US Army

Jerry DiGrezio of Dover, US Army

Raymond Dionne of Hudson, US Navy

Len Disesa of Dover, US Army

Roland Dubois of Rochester, US Navy

John Dunn of Hollis, US Navy

Nancy Ehrig of Lancaster, US Army

Karen Fesler of Bath, US Navy

George Fleming of Barrington, USMC

Rene Flurey of Manchester, USMC

Louis Foskin of Manchester, US Air Force

Richard Goulet of Goffstown, US Air Force

Paul Hackel of Nashua, US Army

Lou Henry of Gilmanton, US Army

Arthur Hilson of Portsmouth, US Air Force

Roland Hofemann of Dover, US Air Force

Elroy Hume of Somersworth, US Army

Lionel Ingram of Exeter, US Army

Sherwood Jackson of Stoddard, US Army

Nicholas Kalipolites of Manchester, US Navy

Harvey Keye of Nashua, US Army

Merton King of Hooksett, US Army

Burton Knight of Amherst, US Air Force

Charles Kokkinos of Manchester, US Army

Dennis Kounas of Candia, US Air Force

Antonia Laflamme of Littleton, US Army

Raymond Lakeman of Gilford, US Navy

Linda Lauer of Bath, US Navy

Robert LeBlanc of Meredith, USMC

Irving Legeti of Lebanon, US Air Force

Doug Micklon of Salem, US Navy

Gordon Miller of Orford, US Air Force

Terence O’Rourke of Alton, US Army

Gerald Olsen of Nashua, US Army

Bertrand Ouellette of Auburn, US Air Force

Norman Page of Derry, US Army

Frank Pizzutillo of Manchester, US Army

Joe Plaia of Portsmouth, USMC

Paul Proulx of Manchester, US Air Force

Dan Proulx of Nashua, USMC

Leonard Pufahl of Portsmouth, US Air Force

Ken Putney of Derry, US Navy

Richard Querze of Manchester, US Air Force

Gerald Reilly of Manchester, US Army

Denis Roy of Milan, US Army National Guard

Kevin Rutledge of New Ispwich, US Navy

Louis Ryan of Middleton, US Army

Joel Saren of East Hampstead, USMC

Lonn Sattler of Barrington, US Navy

Dan Shaheen of Dover, US Army Reserve

Steve Shurtleff of Penacook, US Army

Tim Siekmann of Londonderry, USMC

Lincoln Soldati of Exeter, US Army

Stan Soloman of Albany, US Army

Pete Stearns of Amherst, US Army (Ret.)

Norman Talbot of Rochester, USMC

David Taylor of Derry, US Army

Eugene Tillock of Durham, US Army

Andrew Tuttle of Bridgewater, US Army

Gareth Vincent of Hudson, Army of the United States

William Watts of Manchester, US Army

Lon Weston of Bethlehem, US Army

Bradford Whipple of Sugar Hill, US Air Force

Dept Of Justice Report Reveals Severe Inequalities In Federal Benefits For Same Sex Military Couples

Underscores need for legislation to extend federal benefits to same-sex couples

Gay Couple from back Holding HandsU.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) reacted with disappointment today to a Department of Justice announcement that declared that some federal agencies have been unable to extend benefits to same-sex couples in spite of last year’s Supreme Court ruling striking down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), further underscoring the need to pass her Charlie Morgan Act. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is one department that because of current law is unable to grant important benefits to same-sex couples living in states that do not recognize such marriages even if they are legally married in another state. This has created a situation in which veterans who have volunteered to serve in our Armed Forces are discriminated against and can be denied benefits based simply on geography.

“In the year since the Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act we’ve seen significant progress toward ending discrimination in federal policy on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity but more work remains,” Shaheen said. “Today’s announcement underscores the need for legislative action. It is unconscionable that same-sex couples in half the country are denied services extended to all couples in the other half and we cannot allow this to continue, particularly for our veterans who have already sacrificed so much for our country. We need to pass the Charlie Morgan Act because all veterans deserve access to the benefits they have earned.”

“Every legally married, same-sex couple deserves to have their marriage fully recognized by the federal government regardless of where they live or what federal benefits they have earned,” said David Stacy, Government Affairs Director of the Human Rights Campaign. “Senator Jeanne Shaheen didn’t wait while VA was deciding whether they would act to ensure our veterans marriages are respected by their country—she took the lead in introducing legislation to guarantee them the benefits they earned. With Senator Shaheen leading the fight, soon every citizen will be treated equally regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.”

The Charlie Morgan Military Spouses Equal Treatment Act would require the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs to honor any marriage that has been recognized by a state and provide a number of key benefits to the spouses of all servicemembers. By allowing for an individual to be considered a “spouse” if their marriage is valid in their state, Shaheen’s bill ensures that same-sex military families receive many of the same federal benefits as heterosexual couples regardless of where they live.

Shaheen’s amendment honors New Hampshire National Guard Chief Warrant Officer Charlie Morgan who passed away last year after a battle with breast cancer. Morgan’s wife and daughter have not been able to receive certain survivor benefits due to restrictions in the federal code prohibiting the VA from administering benefits.

Sen. Shaheen Introduces Veterans Access To Care Accountability Act

In Response to Inspector General Report, bill addresses gaps in VA health system, prohibits bonuses for VA officials 

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) introduced legislation today designed to address the gaps and gross mismanagement of Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) resources that were recently identified in an Office of Inspector General (OIG) report and have led to delayed care for veterans. Shaheen’s bill, the Veterans Access to Care Accountability Act, includes numerous provisions to remedy identified instances of veterans being delayed care, strengthen VA accountability and hold individual VA officials responsible, including through precluding bonuses from being paid to VA officials involved in mismanagement.

“The problems we’ve seen at VA hospitals across the country are unacceptable,” Shaheen said. “We need to do everything we can to make sure that veterans are getting timely access to the quality medical care they’ve earned. If there are problems, we need to know immediately, and those responsible need to be held accountable. This bill will go a long way toward improving oversight of the VA and ultimately providing our veterans with the care they deserve.”

Shaheen’s bill would implement a new random auditing requirement by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the Office of Inspector General and other watchdog agencies for VA medical facilities and would require veterans be contacted within 48 hours and scheduled an appointment with an outside medical facility within one week if a report determines veterans have been delayed access to care. The Veterans Access to Care Accountability Act also includes provisions to hold VA officials involved in potential delays accountable, specifically banning the distribution of bonuses to VA officials who may have been involved in mismanagement.

The bill builds off bipartisan legislation Shaheen is co-sponsoring that has been included as an amendment to the FY 2015 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations bill to give the Secretary the authority to fire or demote senior level employees based on their performance. Shaheen, who called for the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki following the release of the OIG report, has also requested a full briefing on the findings of rapid audit teams deployed across the VA enterprise, including at the Manchester and White River Junction VA Medical Centers that serve New Hampshire’s veterans.

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