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Duty, Honor, Country, And All The Exceptions Thereto…

CCR, Fortunate Son…

A round-up of some of the more egregious items of this Veterans’ Day:

— From Sen. Kennedy and former Sen. Cleland (H/T to reader WB):

In recent years, we have called on our brave men and women to defend us once again. Since Sept. 11, 2001, 1.5 million of the nation’s sons and daughters have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, and nearly 94,000 members of the National Guard or Reserve are mobilized on active duty. Our forces have now been on duty in Iraq for 4 1/2 years – longer than our military was engaged in World War II. More than 3,800 have made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq or Afghanistan, and we will honor them for giving what President Lincoln called “the last full measure of devotion.”…

Data just released by the Department of Defense show that, in many cases, employers aren’t keeping faith with our returning troops. In a 2006 survey, 23 percent of returning reservists and National Guard members who could not find a job said that their previous employer refused to rehire them – as required by the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. About 11,000 veterans came home to find that their former employers would not promptly take them back – in direct violation of that 1994 law. Even if they did get their job back, their employers often failed to provide them with full benefits. For example, more than 22,500 reported improper loss of seniority and seniority-related pay and benefits….

Almost half of reservists and National Guardsmen who filed a complaint with the Department of Labor reported being dissatisfied with the handling of their case, and more than one-third reported that the department’s response was not prompt. One veteran’s case has languished at the Labor Department for seven years….

Heckuva job, Mrs. Mitch McConnell.

—  Further on the veterans’ front, again from the Globe:

According to a study by some of my colleagues at Harvard Medical School, to be published in next month’s American Journal of Public Health, nearly 1.8 million veterans had no health insurance in 2004, up 290,000 since 2000. An additional 3.8 million members of their households were also uninsured and ineligible for care at hospitals and clinics run by the Veterans Health Administration of the Department of Veterans Affairs. The 2006 data released this year show little change in these numbers.

Many uninsured veterans are barred from VA care because of a 2003 Bush administration order that halted enrollment of most middle-income veterans. Others are unable to obtain VA care because of unaffordable copayments for VA specialty care, waiting lists at some facilities or the lack of VA facilities in their communities. Almost two-thirds of uninsured veterans were employed, and nearly 9 out of 10 had worked within the past year. Most uninsured veterans were in working families. Many earned too little to afford health insurance, but too much to qualify for free care under Medicaid or VA rules.  (emphasis mine)

Appalling doesn’t begin to describe this. Especially when you couple it with the fact that one in every four homeless persons in this country is a veteran. Yes, you read that correctly.  And it isn’t as though this problem is new — or that recent Iraq vets are being treated better than their predecessors in uniform, either.  I agree with Juan Cole, giving to a homeless shelter in your area is a great idea.

— Talk about your stacked decks:  nothing like some surprise evidence sprung on you on the day of the hearing.  Jeebus, if I pulled a trick like that as a prosecutor in the real world, the judge would publicly dress me down on the record and then potentially throw out my case.  The ACLU has more.  No wonder so many JAG officers have been disgusted with the Gitmo process and with Constitutional abuses.

—  For those who want to do more to support veterans, you can start here.  And here.  And I’m certain that several of you out there have even more ideas.

Thank you, to all the vets past and present, for your sacrifices (and those of your families) and your service.

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com