Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Has President Obama Forgotten Promise and Spc. Chris Dana?

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
February 3, 2015

I was just reading a good article on Private moments in Obama's war education help shape his evolution on casualties and wondering what the point was. Why do it? It tells about how hard it has been on Obama as Commander-in-Chief. Wars are always hard on Presidents. It told the story of how in 2012 he visited mortuary affairs soldiers in Afghanistan and those 15 soldiers wondered why.

As I kept reading I began to wonder about something else that has been asked thousands of times ever since President Obama had made another detour away from the press way back in 2008. He was just a Senator back then and was on the Veterans Affairs Committee.

In 2007 when he announced his list of advisors on veterans issues.
Veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Current Conflicts to Advise Obama Chicago, IL - The Obama campaign announced the launch of his National Veterans Advisory Committee today that will advise Senator Obama through the course of the campaign on issues related to the challenges facing troops and veterans. The group will also take the lead on building the grassroots network of support in the veteran's community in key primary states and in communities with large veteran's populations across the country.

"Senator Obama has been a leader for veterans in the Senate, and has laid out the most comprehensive plan to care for veterans among the 2008 candidates," said Major General Merrill "Tony" McPeak, a retired four-star Air Force general. "I am honored to work with him to care for our fighting men and women, both when they serve and when they return home. I firmly believe Barack Obama is the best candidate for our nation's veterans, and I would be proud to call him my commander in chief."

"Barack Obama has fought to improve veterans' care, to reduce homelessness among veterans, and ensure fair disability benefits," said Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, who served as a United States Air Force intelligence officer. "As President, Barack Obama will continue his leadership for the rights and benefits of veterans. He will stand with veterans -- just as they have stood up for us."

"I'll be a President who ensures that America serves our men and women in uniform as well as they've served us, and that's why I'm proud to have the support of these veterans advising me on the issues facing our troops and veterans," Obama stated. "After seven years of an Administration that has stretched our military to the breaking point, ignored deplorable conditions at some VA hospitals, and neglected the planning and preparation necessary to care for our returning heroes, America's veterans deserve a President who will fight for them not just when it's easy or convenient, but every hour of every day for the next four years."

As a member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, Senator Obama is committed to helping the heroes who defend our nation today and the veterans who fought in years past. As a grandson of a World War II veteran who went to college on the G.I. Bill and a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, Senator Obama has successfully reached out to Republicans and Democrats to pass laws to improve care for troops recovering from injuries, combat homelessness among veterans, and make the disability benefits process more equitable.

Obama has made it a priority to reach out to veterans as part of his presidential campaign. In August, he laid out a comprehensive plan to build a 21st-century Department of Veterans Affairs that upholds America's sacred trust with our veterans.

It was a big deal when he escaped the national press to meet with family of a National Guardsman, Chris Dana. Dana couldn't be there because Chris Dana committed suicide in March of 2007.
Obama promises to repeat Montana's National Guard PTSD work nation wide
Obama Pledges Nationwide Use of PTSD Program
Eric Newhouse

Great Falls Tribune
Aug 28, 2008 - Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama promised Wednesday to expand Montana's pilot program to assess the mental health of combat vets nationwide, if elected.The Montana National Guard has developed a program to check its soldiers and airmen for signs of post-traumatic stress disorder every six months for the first two years after returning from combat, then once a year thereafter. The program exceeds national standards set by the U.S. Department of Defense.The pilot program was created in response to the suicide of former Army Spc. Chris Dana of Helena, who shot himself on March 4, 2007, days after being given a less-than-honorable discharge because he could no longer handle attending drills following a tour in Iraq.

"He (Obama) told me he understood why we need to have additional screenings for PTSD," said Matt Kuntz, Dana's stepbrother, who was among a small group invited to meet with Obama on Wednesday in Billings. "And he told me when he is elected president, he will implement Montana's pilot program nationwide."Kuntz, who recently gave up his job as a lawyer in Helena to advocate for the mentally ill and their families, said he was invited to brief Obama on how Montana had become a national model for assessing the mental health of its combat vets.

Like everyone else paying attention to all of this, there was a lot of hope back then for me. Over the years I've been wondering where that guy went. After all the years claimed more and more lives and more men and women were kicked out of the military instead of helped while it in. More veterans ended up surviving combat but their lives ended back home. I kept waiting. Waiting to see that same guy show up and know what he was talking about. The same guy who showed that their lives mattered.

When the Vice Joint Chiefs of Staff admitted to the Senate Armed Service Committee they were not doing post deployment screenings, no one said anything about it and they sure as hell didn't do anything about the claiming they just didn't have the money or manpower to do them.

When suicides went up after Congress had been writing bill after bill, he signed them but never once demanded any of them to account for the increased suffering.

If seeing bodies in mortuary affairs was supposed to be some kind of reflection of being touched by the price of war, then why hasn't the deaths of thousands a year touched him enough to act? Why hasn't a history of being on the Veterans Affairs Committee and all the hard questions he used to ask actually carry on to when he was given the power to actually change things? This isn't the change we were hoping for.

Why has he forgotten that day on the park bench making a promise to Chris Dana's family that he was going to do something to save their lives?

This is what they knew during the first year Obama went from Senator to President.

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