41 Republican members of the U.S. Senate voted to sustain their filibuster of S. 1982 — the Comprehensive Veterans Health and Benefits and Military Retirement Pay Restoration Act of 2014. [rc 46] They voted against S. 1982 which would have included:
Restoring the full cost-of-living adjustment for all military retirees; Reforming the system for processing veteran’s disability claims to reduce the existing backlog; Providing in-State tuition assistance for post 9/11 veterans pursuing a college degree; Expanding programs designed to help veterans find a job; Requiring new services for survivors of sexual assault: and Improving health care services related to mental health, traumatic brain injury and other conditions. [CR1209]
Got that? Restore those COLA adjustments. Work on that unconscionable backlog of disability claims. Provide in-state tuition assistance for veterans. Help veterans find jobs. Provide services for survivors of sexual assaults and improve veteran’s services for mental health, TBI, and other conditions. The objections from the GOP side of the aisle? Those were addressed by Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD):
Now, other Republicans have come to the floor and they have objected to this bill because they argue that by expanding VA health care to veterans currently not eligible for it–veterans who in some cases are trying to get by on $28,000, $30,000 a year in this tough economy; and it is true, we do expand VA health care to those veterans who do not have a whole lot of money–the Republicans who object say, well, that would open the floodgates for millions or tens of millions–I think somebody said 22 million veterans–every veteran in America would be eligible for VA health care, that the health care system would be swamped and health care, especially for those most in need, would deteriorate because so many people came into the system.
“As I mentioned yesterday, this is absolutely untrue. No new veteran would be added into VA health care until the VA had the infrastructure to accommodate those new veterans. So we are not opening the door for millions of new veterans–not true–and, as currently is the case, those with service-connected disabilities would continue to get the highest priority service, as they currently do and which, in my view, should always be the case. Those who were injured in war are the top priority, and those folks must always be the top priority, and that is certainly the case in this legislation.”
What were the Republicans afraid of? That the bill would cost money, that more veterans might be served by the government that assigned them combat and support roles where they were expected to literally give their all in our service. So, it’s perfectly acceptable to send approximately 1,431,403 [DoD] into Iraq, Afghanistan… Libya? Syria? Crimea? Korea? BUT when they come home we can’t “afford” to have “millions of veterans” soaking up those VA benefits?
Syria: “For America to sit on the sidelines and do nothing is a huge mistake,” Georgia Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss told CBS’ “Face the Nation.” (April 28, 2013 Fox News)
Libya: “We cannot just stand by with Libya, America. We cannot just say to the Brits, the French, or even the U.N., ‘You go; we’ll watch from the shore.’ Imposing a no fly zone isn’t enough because it doesn’t protect the people on the ground from being killed at ground level; just from the air.” [USNWR]
Crimea: “Ukraine may not be the trigger event, but it sure as heck provides an insight into the mindset of the leaders vying for power. We can be fairly certain that Vladimir Putin is willing to go all the way to protect Mother Russia’s interests. How far is our Nobel Peace Prize winning President willing to go to do the same for the Homeland?” [OathKeepers]
The Republicans can’t have it both ways. Advocating the of the use of military options for each and every foreign crisis — and then refuse to pay for benefits when the troops come home.
Update: See this post from the Nevada Rural Democratic Caucus!