Friday, May 23, 2014

Senate and House Shirking Responsibility to Veterans

When it comes to what is happening to our veterans, it seems as if everyone is suddenly upset. Why? It has all been going on for years and we've been upset before. Right now all fingers are pointing at President Obama. Honestly, they always do no matter how many of them sit in the chair, they get the blame. People forget that the Senate and the House are all responsible for what goes on. Why? Easier to blame one than so many.

The Senate and House have the power over the Armed Services and the Veterans Affairs but when things happen, they forget they had let it all happen because they didn't do their jobs. Why be on a committee and not pay attention? Isn't that why we have committees in the first place? No one person can pay attention to everything.

They have jobs to do but somehow have been left off the hook for what they have allowed to happen all these years. Do reporters even know what they are supposed to be doing?
Senate Armed Services Committee
Committee History
The Senate Committees on Military Affairs; on the Militia; and Naval Affairs were established on December 10, 1816. The Committee on the Militia was merged with the Committee on Military Affairs in 1858 to form the Military Affairs and Militia Committee. However, in 1872 the Committee dropped "Militia" from its name. The Military Affairs and Naval Affairs Committees existed until 1947 when they were combined by the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946 into a new standing committee, the current Committee on Armed Services.

Committee Jurisdiction
As specified in Rule XXV, 1(c)(1) of the Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee on Armed Services' has the following jurisdiction:

1. Aeronautical and space activities peculiar to or primarily associated with the development of weapons systems or military operations.

2. Common defense.

3. Department of Defense, the Department of the Army, the Department of the Navy, and the Department of the Air Force, generally.

4. Maintenance and operation of the Panama Canal, including administration, sanitation, and government of the Canal Zone.

5. Military research and development.

6. National security aspects of nuclear energy.

7. Naval petroleum reserves, except those in Alaska.

8. Pay, promotion, retirement, and other benefits and privileges of members of the Armed Forces, including overseas education of civilian and military dependents.

9. Selective service system.

10. Strategic and critical materials necessary for the common defense.

The Senate has also given the committee the authority to study and review, on a comprehensive basis, matters relating to the common defense policy of the United States, and report thereon from time to time.

Senate Armed Services Sub Committee

Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities
Responsibilities: Policies and programs to counter emerging threats including the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, and illegal drugs; homeland defense; technology base programs; special operations programs; and emerging operational concepts.

Special additional areas: Foreign Military Sales; technology export policies; Department of Defense (DOD) and Department of Energy (DOE) nonproliferation programs, including the Nunn-Lugar program; and nontraditional military operations, including peacekeeping and peace enforcement, low-intensity conflict, strategic communications and information operations, and building partner capacity.

Oversight of budget accounts: Technology base RDT and E; operational test and evaluation; RDT and E and procurement supporting special operations; counterdrug programs; RDT and E supporting low-intensity conflict, peacekeeping operations, and information warfare; combating terrorism; chemical and biological warfare defense; chemical demilitarization; train and equip programs; and DOD and DOE nonproliferation programs.

Oversight of DOD offices: Assistant Secretary of Defense (Homeland Defense); Assistant Secretary of Defense (Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict); and Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering.

Oversight of DOD commands and agencies: Special Operations Command; Northern Command; Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency; Defense Threat Reduction Agency; and Defense Security Cooperation Agency.

Subcommittee on Personnel
Responsibilities: Military and DOD civilian personnel policies; end strengths for military personnel; military personnel compensation and benefits; military health care; and military nominations.

Special additional areas: Professional Military Education; DOD schools; DOD child care and family assistance; Civil-military programs; POW/MIA issues; Armed Forces Retirement Home; Morale, Welfare and Recreation; and military commissaries and exchanges.

Oversight of budget accounts: Military personnel; military retirement; Defense Health Program; DOD Medicare-Eligible Retiree Health Care Fund; and operation and maintenance for certain education and civil-military programs.

Oversight of DOD offices: Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel and Readiness); Assistant Secretary of Defense (Reserve Affairs); Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs); and Defense Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Office.

Oversight of DOD agencies: TRICARE Management Activity; Defense Commissary Agency; and Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.

Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support
Responsibilities: Military readiness including training, logistics, and maintenance; military construction; housing construction and privatization; contracting and acquisition policy; business and financial management; base realignment and closure; and defense environmental programs.

Special additional areas: Conventional ammunition procurement; RDT and E infrastructure policies and programs; National Defense Stockpile; defense industrial and technology base policies; facility and housing maintenance and repair; land and property management; information technology management policy; and industrial operations, including depots, shipyards, arsenals, and ammunition plants.

Oversight of budget accounts: Operations and maintenance; conventional ammunition procurement; military construction and family housing; base realignment and closure; working capital funds; the National Defense Stockpile Transaction Fund; and RDT and E support programs.

Oversight of DoD offices: Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics); Department of Defense Deputy Chief Management Officer; and the Chief Management Officers of the military departments.

Oversight of DOD agencies and commands: Defense Logistics Agency; Defense Finance and Accounting Service; Defense Investigative Service; Defense Contract Audit Agency; DOD Inspector General; and Joint Forces Command joint training and doctrine activities.

Senate Veterans Affairs Committee

House Veterans Affairs Committee

Subcommittee on Veterans Oversight and Investigations (O and I)

Welcome to the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, which has oversight and investigative jurisdiction over veterans’ matters generally and such other matters as may be referred to the Subcommittee by the Chairman of the full Committee. The Subcommittee provides oversight on programs and operations of the Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as those of other federal agencies that pertain to veterans. In carrying out its responsibilities, the Subcommittee conducts hearings, site visits, and investigations nationwide. The Subcommittee’s legislative jurisdiction is over such bills or resolutions as may be referred to it by the Chairman of the full Committee.

It is astonishing to be constantly reminded of how dumb we've been. How could we be so easily deluded into thinking there is accountability in our country?

Sure, we try to raise our kids to do the right thing. We try to do the right thing on our jobs. We're even nice to drivers acting like jerks. For the most part we're all trying to be the best person we can be. Maybe that is why we assume our elected officials are doing what we elected them to do but they don't. We end up shocked over the messes they let this country get into and they try to blame everyone else but themselves.

Veterans have always had to fight for benefits and compensation. Nothing new there. They have had to wait for appointments and yes, all too often, end up having to wait far too long. They have had to endure hardships and heartaches. This is far from recent news. All of it has been going on since we started to send the troops to fight wars.

The Senate and House have been shirking their duties to the troops and veterans and we let them do it.

We didn't hold any of them accountable since WWI! Every two years we elected members of the House to represent us. Every six years we elect members of the Senate to do the same. Every four years we elect a President or put one back into office.

The President is easy to blame because we figure he appoints cabinet members to head departments like the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs. When these two mess up, we fail to notice that the Senate and the House are supposed to be checking what they do and not wait for something to go so horribly wrong lives are lost.

The House seems to care more about Benghazi with 13 hearings and over 50 briefings than they care about military and veterans suicides. Seems there have been a lot more lives lost by members of our military, current and past. The House committees are headed by Republicans and the Senate Committees are headed by Democrats, so it isn't about one doing the right thing since we've been down this road for far too long. They all play games.

Nothing will change until we decide that we can no more forget that our responsibility does not end after an election. It starts. It is up to us to make sure they do the right thing and as soon as we start to read reports on what goes wrong, we need to make sure reporters actually find out who knew what when, what they did about it and if they didn't know, hold them accountable for not doing their jobs checking up on the people they pay to do jobs.

Enough is enough! Too many died because no one did what they were elected to do!

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