Showing posts with label congressional hearing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label congressional hearing. Show all posts

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Housing privatization initiative, put military families in squalor

Families living with military housing horrors plea for reforms

Published: February 13, 2019
Several witnesses and lawmakers agreed Wednesday that the residential horror stories can be traced back to the 1996 military housing privatization initiative that let contractors take over management of the residences. Previously, the military managed these properties.
Military spouse Janna Driver testifies Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019, during a Senate Armed Services subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, as fellow military spouses Crystal Cornwall, left, and Jana Wanner look on. CARLOS BONGIOANNI/STARS AND STRIPES
WASHINGTON — Termites falling from light fixtures. Toxic mold sickening families. Rodent infestations of residences. Asbestos and lead paint exposures.

This is the alarming world of dilapidated military housing today.

On Wednesday, some families who have suffered with these residential nightmares told their stories on Capitol Hill.

“Our military families do not deserve this after all the sacrifices they make,” Janna Driver, the wife of an active-duty Air Force servicemember and mother of five children, told lawmakers during an extensive Senate hearing on military housing problems. “It is criminal. It is unbelievable the extent of this cover up.”

Driver joined two other military spouses during the more than three-hour hearing to plead for help as they detailed years of battles with deteriorating housing conditions, subsequent illnesses and extensive bills.
Private military housing executives and top military officials also testified before the joint subpanel hearing for the Senate Armed Services Committee. They said they are now addressing the concerns.
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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Where was all the outrage 7 years ago before 56,210 veteran suicides?

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
May 25, 2014

Memorial Day is the day we are supposed to honor those who gave their lives for this country. What about those who died because of this country? The lives lost because they served but were not taken care of afterwards deserved so much more than we were prepared to pay.

Wounded Times started 7 years ago so that news reports would not go silently into the archives, allowing history to be forgotten like the men and women risking their lives and military families standing by their sides.

It is an attempt to remove politics keeping a promise to a Marine serving in Iraq bothered by politics as much as he was bothered by what was happening. After all, politicians are supposed to be taking care of them when they deploy and other politicians are supposed to take care of them afterwards, but they don't. They get elected, get the power and then do what they have to do to stay in office. Some care enough but the bills they right do little to solve the issues veterans face simply because the politician does not understand the problems or the mistakes others have already made.

Today there is a huge outrage about veterans suffering and dying waiting for appointments. Rightful indignation however totally misguided considering we've all been down their road before. We let it all happen.

The links to what veterans are suffering thru today go back generations. There is nothing new coming out except the real headline of the people in charge knew and did basically, nothing to fix any of it. Most of the links you'll read are long gone but the links to news reports coming out today show that had we been outraged when reports first came out, lives would have been saved, spared from the agony they have suffered for over the last 7 years.

Where was the outrage when there were less VA Service Reps working for the VA with two wars producing more veterans? "Between 600,000 and 800,000 claims (depending on who you believe) are trapped in a huge backlog of cases and there are less Service Reps now than before the invasion of Iraq?

Four years after the invasion of Iraq and they have less to deal with the wounded they claim are so important to them?

Six years after the invasion of Afghanistan and that occupation now producing more wounded along with more dead, and they didn't increase service reps?

Suicide rates on the rise every year and they have less service reps?

Families falling apart and they have less service reps?

Veterans come back from combat wounded, unable to work, ending up homeless and they have less service reps?

WTF are they out of their minds?"
Veterans groups maintain that the backlog amounts to official negligence. Since the launch of the Iraq war more than four years ago, the number of people charged with reviewing and approving veterans' disability claims has actually dropped. According to the American Federation of Government Employees, the VA employed 1,392 Veterans Service Representatives in June 2007 compared to 1,516 in January 2003. (IPS Aaron Glantz October 19, 2007)

Where was the outrage before thousands more suffered the same fate?
Bennington, Vt. - The high incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among soldiers returning from Iraq is one of the many "inconvenient truths" of this war. Inconvenient largely because it is costly: The most effective and humane means of treating PTSD are time-intensive and long-term.

The military, however, has changed the terms and given many thousands of enlisted men and women a new diagnosis: "personality disorder." While the government would be obliged to care for veterans suffering from combat-related trauma, a personality disorder – defined as an ingrained, maladaptive way of orienting oneself to the world – predates a soldier's tour of duty (read: preexisting condition). This absolves Uncle Sam of any responsibility for the person's mental suffering.

The new diagnostic label sends the message: This suffering is your fault, not a result of the war. On one level, it's hard not to see this as another example of the government falling short on its care for Iraq war veterans. Yet there's another, more insidious, bit of sophistry at work. The implication is that a healthy person would be resistant to the psychological pressures of war. Someone who succumbs to the flashbacks, panic, and anger that haunt many former soldiers must have something inherently wrong with him. It's the psychological side of warrior macho: If you're tough, you can take it. Of course, we know this is not true. Wars forever change the lives of those who fight them and can leave deep scars.
(CS Monitor, Judith Schwartz August 20, 2007)

"Thousands of U.S. soldiers in Iraq - as many as 10 a day - are being discharged by the military for mental health reasons. But the Pentagon isn't blaming the war. It says the soldiers had "pre-existing" conditions that disqualify them for treatment by the government." according to another report from St Louis Dispatch on September 29, 2007. In the same report this came out,
Working behind the scenes, Sens. Christopher "Kit" Bond, R-Mo., and Barack Obama, D-Ill., have written and inserted into the defense authorization bill a provision that would make it harder for the Pentagon to discharge thousands of troops. The Post-Dispatch has learned that the measure has been accepted into the Senate defense bill and will probably become part of the Senate-House bill to be voted on this week.
When those reports came out, the Army discharged 5,600. In 2013 the Army discharged 11,000. The Navy discharged 3,700. Air Force discharged 2,900. The Marines discharged a little over 3,000. (Associated Press Lolita C Baldor February 14, 2014)

Where was the outrage when the VA was no where near being able to take care of PTSD veterans?
Eventually, (Byron) Hancock came home, bringing with him an emotional burden that would haunt him and his family in the months to come. He began having flashbacks and nightmare images of slitting throats - events that never happened. He was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, an illness once denied by the government but one that continues to haunt many veterans of the Korean and Vietnam conflicts and, increasingly, veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Doctors still struggle to learn all its ramifications, but treatment is available, although success rates vary with the individual.

The real problem is that the Veterans Administration is unable to handle the growing number of current and former service members needing assistance. Hancock learned that when he tried to get help for his illness from the VA. Amazingly, he was put on a waiting list for the post-traumatic stress disorder program at the Temple Veterans Administration Hospital.

The VA says between 12 percent and 20 percent of Iraq war veterans suffer from the disorder, although a study cited by a Department of Defense task force puts that number at 38 percent for Army soldiers and 31 percent for Marines. Alarmingly, the study found that 49 percent of its respondents in the National Guard reported problems.
(Veterans Deserve Needed Care for Life The Eagle, September 2, 2007)

Where was the outrage when the percentage of veterans suffering PTSD began to rise?
According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2004, 86 percent of soldiers in Iraq reported knowing someone who was seriously injured or killed there. Some 77 percent reported shooting at the enemy; 75 percent reported seeing women or children in imminent peril and being unable to help. Fifty-one percent reported handling or uncovering human remains; 28 percent were responsible for the death of a noncombatant. One in five Iraq veterans returns home seriously impaired by post-traumatic stress disorder. (Veterans for America, Ex SSG Michael Goss September 10, 2007)

Where was the outrage when wounded were coming home and started to lose everything?
Hinkle was diagnosed with Traumatic Brain Injury, or TBI, as a result of the IED explosion. He suffers from sudden seizures. He tires quickly. He doesn't think clearly, and he cannot be left alone.

Hinkle was honored for his service in November when Vice President Dick Cheney pinned a Purple Heart to his desert fatigues, but his family feels otherwise deserted by the Army.

The U.S. Army failed to provide all the benefits and support for which the family is entitled. Now the Hinkles are tens of thousands of dollars in debt, and they may lose their ranch. Ron's wife, Reece, gave up her lucrative income as a corporate accountant to take care of him.

Reece now finds herself as more of a caretaker than wife, and she laments that Ron has lost the ability to be a father, a son and a husband because "he is living his life being injured."

"Just trying to just figure out how to deal with that is enough," Reece said. "What people don't realize is it's not the injury that destroys families. It's the aftermath. It's how you reconstruct your life, how you physically regroup, emotionally, financially. It will never be the same."
(Wounded Soldier's Family Feels Forgotten by Army NPR All Things Considered Howard Berkes September 12, 2007)

In fiscal year 2006, the reports show, some of the VA's specialized PTSD units spent a fraction of what the average unit did. Five medical centers — in California, Iowa, Louisiana, Tennessee and Wisconsin — spent about $100,000 on their PTSD clinical teams, less than one-fifth the national average.

The documents also show that while the VA's treatment for PTSD is generally effective, nearly a third of the agency's inpatient and other intensive PTSD units failed to meet at least one of the quality goals monitored by a VA health-research organization. The VA medical center in Lexington, Ky., failed to meet four of six quality goals, according to the internal reports. A top VA mental-health official dismissed the reports' significance, saying veterans receive adequate care, either in specialized PTSD units or from general mental-health providers. In addition, he said, some of the spending differences aren't as extreme as the documents indicate, and the department is working to increase its resources for mental health treatment. VA studies: PTSD care inconsistent, McClatchy News September 16, 2007)
934,925 Veterans being treated by VA for PTSD in 2007. We forgot all about that news along with the fact that VA did not meet the challenge. Imagine how many would still be alive.

With at least 22 veterans a day committing suicide after war, that is 8.030. That means during the last 7 years we have lost over 56,210. That number does not include the number of suicides that happened during military service which have remained in the hundreds every year despite billions a year on efforts to reduce them. The military claimed that for 2013 the numbers went down however when you consider how many were discharged with "bad conduct" knowing most had been connected to "mental health" issues it is easy to see that they never had what they needed to heal. The military kicked them out and we sent them to the abyss.

Yet with all of this, the worst part was what was going on in Washington. American Legion Commander: ‘I Blame Bush And Congress’ For Veterans Cuts MARCH 6, 2007
A look at the facts back up Morin’s claims about Bush’s short-changing of veterans: Bush plans to cut veterans health care after 2008. “The Bush administration plans to cut funding for veterans’ health care two years from now — even as badly wounded troops returning from Iraq could overwhelm the system. … Even though the cost of providing medical care to veterans has been growing rapidly — by more than 10 percent in many years — White House budget documents assume consecutive cutbacks in 2009 and 2010 and a freeze thereafter.”

Bush raises health care costs for veterans. For the fifth year in a row, Bush’s budget has attempted to raise health care costs on 1.3 million veterans, calling for “new enrollment fees and higher drug co-payments for some veterans.”

Bush administration has claimed veterans benefits are “hurtful” to national security. In 2005, the Wall Street Journal noted the growing cost of veterans benefits due to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Pentagon’s response was to complain that it would “rather use [the funds] to help troops fighting today.” “The amounts have gotten to the point where they are hurtful. They are taking away from the nation’s ability to defend itself,” says David Chu, the Pentagon’s undersecretary for personnel and readiness.

There are more reports on Bush's Veteran's Day Challenge with veto pen in hand but again, all was forgotten. Why bother to remember the men and women risking their lives when we can forget them so easily? We get to be outraged and pretend that we are doing something about it so we can feel good about ourselves but as you can see, we do nothing meaningful at all.

There are over 21,000 posts on Wounded Times to remind folks about how bad it has been and for how long but as this latests outrage wears off, it will only be replaced by more suffering and more gone by next Memorial Day because we forgot all about them the rest of the time.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Friday, March 18, 2011

War with Libya? Will Congress get it right this time?

This may be the first steps taken leading up to troops being sent into Libya. Let's pray that doesn't happen. The last thing we need is one more war to fight. The last thing the troops need is one more time congress does not debate sending them with all seriousness.

When the military was deciding how many troops to send into Afghanistan, congress was not debating any of it. They sure didn't debate how to take care of the wounded. No one thought about them. As the clock ticked and more died, more were wounded, the VA was not driven to increase staff any more than their budget was increased. Then came sending more troops into Iraq. Again, congress fell flat on their face squashing debate as being "anti-military" with some demanding they fully support the President in order to support the troops. Again, no one in congress demanded the VA be ready to take care of the wounded another war would create.

The men and women we sent are the ones paying the price. The American people were asked to contribute nothing toward the war efforts considered so vital to our security, billions were spent waging the wars. We ended up with a detached citizenry.

Today if you ask the average person about Iraq, they think all the troops are out of there. If you ask them about Afghanistan, all they will say is that it needs to end. Hardly no one knows how many died, were wounded or committed suicide because of combat. Even less know how many have PTSD and how many families are falling apart because of it.

Now there is talk about another military action in Libya. The no-fly zone could very well be the beginning of war since Moammar Gadhafi has shown very little interest in what his own people want or the rest of the world will tolerate. It is very unlikely a no-fly zone will be the end of this. Will congress do the right thing this time? Will they make sure this is the last option? Will they make sure the plans are in place ahead of time? Will they make sure contractors are held accountable? Will they make sure the DOD and the VA are ready to take care of the wounded another war will create? Will the American people be asked to sacrifice anything instead of just military families?

Prompt military moves afoot over Libya
By the CNN Wire Staff
March 18, 2011 8:23 a.m. EDT

NEW: French official says action could begin in several hours
NEW: Britain says it's starting preparations to deploy aircraft
NEW: Gadhafi quoted as saying "I'm going to win"

(CNN) -- Military action against the Moammar Gadhafi regime could begin in the coming hours, a French government spokesman said on Friday, hours after the U.N. Security Council authorized the use of force to protect besieged civilians in Libya.

Speaking in an interview with RTL radio, Francois Baroin said France plans to participate in what he described as "swift" efforts.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said Britain has started preparations to deploy aircraft, and "in the coming hours" they will move to air bases where they will be positioned for any "necessary action."

One Libyan official, Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaim, said the Gadhafi regime supports a cease-fire. But a defiant Gadhafi, in an interview with the French newspaper Le Figaro on Friday sloughed off the threat of an attack, saying, "I'm going to win because the people are with me."
The decisive Security Council move comes after weeks of civil war between the Gadhafi regime and opposition forces, a conflict spurred by an anti-government uprising and regime violence against civilians -- which the U.N. resolution cites as "outrageous."

Breaking down a no-fly zone over Libya Libya reacts to no-fly zone Libyan amb. still hopeful for airstrikes UN okays no-fly zone in Libya

The council Thursday night voted 10 to 0 with five abstentions to authorize "states to take all necessary measures to protect civilians" and it imposed a no-fly zone, banning all flights in Libyan airspace, with exceptions that involve humanitarian aid and evacuation of foreign nationals.
read more here
Prompt military moves afoot over Libya

Thursday, August 14, 2008

DOD:Dr. Kaye Whitley, expert on sexual attacks, will testify

DoD to let expert testify on sex assaults

By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Thursday Aug 14, 2008 8:50:47 EDT

The Defense Department has decided to make its top sexual assault expert, Dr. Kaye Whitley, available to testify before Congress.

Whitley, director of the office of sexual assault prevention and response, is now expected to appear at a Sept. 12 hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s national security panel.

Whitley had been asked to appear at a July 31 hearing about military efforts to reduce sexual assault, but she did not appear after senior defense officials decided to have someone else testify.

The hearing featured testimony by a sexual assault victim and the mother of a service member who had been raped and murdered.
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