FADED CELEBRITY BARRY O WRAPPED UP HIS SAUDI ARABIA VISIT WITHOUT EVER RAISING ANY SIGNIFICANT ISSUES INCLUDING THE RIGHTS OF WOMEN IN SAUDI ARABIA -- THIS DESPITE HIS FOREVER POSING AS AN ADVOCATE FOR WOMEN.
REACHED FOR COMMENT BY THESE REPORTERS, BARRY O STATED, "LOOK, I TRAVELED TO THE DAMN COUNTRY. ISN'T THAT ENOUGH? AS IT IS, I'M BEHIND ON MY T.V. WATCHING BUT DOES ANYONE CARE ABOUT THAT? NOPE! I WENT THERE. WAS I ALSO REQUIRED TO SPEAK?"
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
We'll start with Congress. In yesterday's snapshot, we covered some of the Wednesday joint-hearing of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. Kat covered the hearing in "When stupid talks to stupid (Congressional hearing)" and Wally covered it in "Rural veterans (Wally)." The House Committee Chair is Jeff Miller, the Ranking Member is Mike Michaud (Wally covered Michaud in his post). The Senate Chair is Bernie Sanders. The Ranking Member is Richard Burr who was not present. Senator Johnny Isackson acted as Ranking Member.
The testimony came from the Veterans Service Organization The American Legion -- and the testimony was mainly presented by National Commander Daniel Dellinger. We'll note two more who accompanied him as we note the three questions Chair Bernie Sanders had.
Senate Committee Chair Bernie Sanders: Right now there are tens of thousands, mostly women, who are taking care of disabled vets -- in some cases 24-7 under great stress and this is just not easy to do. Some of us would like to see the Caregivers Act that we passed for the 9-11 veterans be extended. I would like your feelings on that. Should it be extended to all generations of veterans?
Daniel Dellinger: We do agree with your assessment on that, Mr. Chairman. It needs to happen. Our -- actually our Veterans Rehabilitation Committee Chairman [Ralph] Bozella has been looking into that and I'd like to ask him to give some comments on that.
Senate Chair Bernie Sanders: Thank you. Mr. Bozella?
Ralph Bozella: Thank you, Commander, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Chairman and members. The Caregivers Act is the three pieces: the primary, the general and the family. And, as you stated, Mr. Chairman, the current way that it works is that with this new generation The Caregiver Act of the OIF and OEF is where the lion share of the funding is going. And what we would really like to see is that funding extended to the general and the family portion with the understanding that all veterans who need that care should be given the same financial resources to have that done in their homes.
Senate Committee Chair Bernie Sanders: Thank you. Second issue I'd like you to comment on, historically VA has covered dental care for service related problems. You have an oral problem? They're there. But for veterans who have dental problems that are not service related, there really is no care. Do you think we should begin the process through a pilot project or whatever expanding VA health care into the area of dental care.
Daniel Dellinger: We definitely agree with the assessment also because as we all know if you -- if you -- dental hygiene directly relates to-to the body which in turn would-would alleviate some infections and also improve the overall health of your body and would also -- should actually decrease the amount of treatments necessary for veterans.
Senate Committee Chair Bernie Sanders: Finally, one of the last things I want to touch on has been that some 2300 men and women have come home with wounds that make it difficult or impossible for them to have babies and have families. And some of us believe that the VA should help with in vitro fertilization, with the adoption process, to give them the opportunity -- if they want -- to have families. Is that a sensible proposal to you, Mr. Commander?
Daniel Dellinger: We've been looking at that. That was part of your bill. And we actually do not, at this time have a resolution on that. I'd like to turn this over to our legislative because they've been looking into this since your bill was introduced.
Brett Reistad: Senator, Mr. Chairman, indeed this is something that we are taking a look at. There are a lot of different issues associated with costs and types of procedures that would take place if this were something that the government funded. Uh, we anticipate that this is something that we will have a stance on at some point in time upon further study by our organization.
Okay, let's get real. For those late to the party, "your bill," the comment by Daniel Delligner, refers to the last week of February when there was a vote. Thursday, February 27th, Senator Patty Murray (who is the Senate Budget Committee Chair and was the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chair prior to Sanders) went to the floor of the Senate to make an incredibly strong argument for why this was needed. Late Thursday, as noted in the February 28th snapshot, the vote was shot down in the Senate.
And if you're as stupid as The American Legion hopes you are, that's not just where the story ends, it's also where it begins.
Poor American Legion. Last week of February and they can't just pull an opinion out of their ass.
That's what they hope you believe.
But thing is, it didn't start there.
When Senator Patty Murray was the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, she introduced S. 3313, The Women Veterans and Other Health Care Improvement Act of 2012 to address this issue. She explained it at a June 27, 2012 Committee hearing (we covered that hearing in the June 27th and June 28th snapshots).
And am I mistaken or did Dellinger not tell the same two Committees September 10, 2013 that they'd place a special priority on health care for female veterans (I'm not mistaken, my notes show that he said they had a task force which did research from November 2012 to April 2013 which "focused on women veterans' health care").
So the point here is this has been proposed since 2012. The American Legion has refused to take a position on the issue.
And let's note something else about Commander Dellinger.
Did MST stop?
Did Military Sexual Trauma vanish?
Last time he gave the American Legion testimony, he could give lip service to the problem. If it's too much for you, maybe you should step down. I'm looking at my notes and when Fang Wong was National Commander of the Legion, he could address MST. It's really strange that Delligner came in so recently with so many promises and none of them are being met. If the Legion finally has the Women Veterans Outreach Coordinator, Wong noted (September 21, 2011 to the joint-hearing of the Veterans Affairs Committees) that they would be hiring one, the Legion doesn't value the position very much. I can see endless men and two two or three token women (like the "historian") as I flip through the Legion's webpages of various 'officers' or 'officials' or whatever b.s. titles they give themselves. I don't see the Women Veterans Outreach Coordinator. In in those miles and miles of elderly White men occupying one position after another, I don't see anything that young veterans can relate to.
Now I know at one point in 2011, the Legion had Amanda Leigh in that role -- while also making her hold down the post of Assistant Director of Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation Division. And if you search the Legion's website for her, you'll see they haven't noted her since 2012. So is she gone? Is the position gone? Seems like if you have a Women Veterans Outreach Coordinator, you note it at the website. Like maybe on your "Women Veterans" page. If the position still exists, how is any outreach taking place when a female veteran visiting the website would never find out about it?
Dellinger's doing a lousy job. Wednesday, he read a long statement -- which didn't note MST once in the 18 pages -- and then had no little to no knowledge of what he had just read. It was embarrassing.
I don't have any respect for the current leadership because they show no respect for Congress (or the people's dime) by showing up and thinking they can b.s. their way through a Congressional hearing and (b) they show no respect for women.
To be clear, there are a huge number of issues facing veterans. Stating publicly that you have no position? Many do say that -- some because their membership has no position, some because they don't want to get in the middle of a Congressional squabble. And I can respect that. I can even respect someone coming out against a needed measure. But the American Legion didn't just play the 'oh, we don't know' card this week, they've played it since 2012 and you're being played if you buy for a minute that this was a new issue for them. And it wasn't a 'new' issue in 2010 when the American Legion representative (attorney) for a veteran didn't show up in court to represent them -- do we want to go there, because I can go there.
So let flow the hydrants
And we'll dance in the spray
And we'll wash our dirty laundry
In the alleyway
-- "Put Your Love Out In The Street," written by Carly Simon, first appears on her Playing Possum
The American Legion has a really sad record on the in vitro issue. And maybe women veterans need to be aware of that when they're looking for a VSO that will serve them. 15 typed pages. Single-space. That's how long Dellinger's opening remarks were (he didn't get to read it all but was told it would go into the record). Yet he never mentioned MST. Not one damn time.
Women veterans need to know that.
Women veterans need to know that the American Legion is not a friend to them.
And if that truth hurts, Dellinger, maybe it's time the AL started delivering on all the public promises they've made to women veterans in the last three years.
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