For the Veteran

Various information for Veterans different government programs available to assist Veterans in starting a business. Veterans benefits programs. This is not a political blog but we will speak our minds about current treatment of Veterans returning from the Gulf.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Only 29 of 100 senators and 23 percent of House members today have worn a uniform

As Congress debates the war in Iraq, the Senate and House are short on military experience.

Only 29 of 100 senators and 23 percent of House members today have worn a uniform — the lowest percentages since World War II, a review by Media General News Service found. Both of Virginia’s senators are veterans, as are four of its 11 representatives.

Several who follow Congress say the lack of military experience is unlikely to sway the debate over President Bush’s new war strategy. But it does affect oversight and legislation on other military matters that fail to make the front page but have huge impacts on readiness and the armed forces’ future.

The war debate “is so public, frankly it will have little effect,” said national security analyst Jeff McCausland. “Congressmen and senators are being inundated by their constituents who, one way or the other, have very strong feelings” about the war.

“My concern is in the nuance military issues — veterans’ benefits, military construction costs, the backlog in rebuilding [damaged] equipment — issues that aren’t sexy,” said McCausland, director of national security affairs at Buchanan Ingersoll and Rooney, a Washington law firm.

Only 130 of the 535 senators and representatives in the recently seated 110th Congress served on active duty or in the reserves of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines or Coast Guard.

It’s the lowest number since World War II, when 196 veterans served on the Hill in 1945.

The ranks of veterans in the House peaked at 317 in 1973. The Senate had 78 in 1977.

Since then, the roll call of veterans has become much shorter. Public discontent over the Vietnam War, plus elimination of the draft, meant fewer people entered the armed forces.

Since 9/11, Congress has been dealing with the gamut of military issues — from funding equipment and more troops to boosting pay and benefits.

Organizations representing veterans and military personnel said they spend more time lobbying nonveterans — both politicians and staff members — than those who served. “The impact to us is we have to educate them on veterans’ issues,” said David Greineder, deputy national legislative director for AMVETS.

The lack of veterans in Congress has resulted in an insensitivity to the burdens placed on troops and their families by the war and frequent deployments, said Steve Strobridge, director of government relations for Military Officers Association of America.

“One percent of the population is bearing 100 percent of the burden of the war,” he said.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan may fuel a resurgence of the veteran ranks in politics.

“With the war dominating politics, I think there will be more veterans running as candidates” in 2008, said Winslow Wheeler, director of the Straus Military Reform Project.



John W. Warner, Republican, Navy (World War II), Marine Corps (Korean War), Marine Corps Reserves

Jim Webb, Democrat, Marine Corps (Vietnam War)


Thomas M. Davis III, R-11th, Army and Army Reserve (Vietnam )

Virgil H. Goode Jr., R-5th, National Guard (Vietnam)

Robert C. Scott, D-3rd, Army Reserve (Vietnam), National Guard

Frank R. Wolf, R-10th, Army, Army Reserve (Vietnam)

SOURCES: Military Officers Association of America, congressional research


After world War II ended, a candidate’s veteran status became a campaign issue in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Veterans’ ranks on Capitol Hill peaked in the 1970s.


From World War II through the mid-1970s, military veterans became a larger presence in Congress, reaching 73 percent in 1973-74. Today, only 24 percent of the 535 members are veterans.


Monday, February 05, 2007

Lawmaker wants new look at veterans issues

By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Monday Feb 5, 2007 16:18:35 EST

The new chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee says he wants to try something new by holding roundtable discussions on such issues as reducing the backlog of veterans’ benefits claims and improving mental health programs, instead of traditional hearings in which lawmakers pepper administration witnesses with questions.

Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif., said in an interview that with Democrats controlling Congress and Republicans controlling the executive branch, traditional hearings don’t seem like the best way to proceed because they are confrontational, not designed to achieve solutions.

Filner became chairman in January as Democrats took control of the House of Representatives

Filner’s idea, to be tested with a first roundtable discussion about the growing backlog of benefits claims, would involve lawmakers and subject-matter experts from the Department of Veterans Affairs and veterans’ service organizations.

“I am not a professional facilitator, but I do know how to reach a solution,” Filner said, describing the meetings as “trying to look at the problem and how we are going to solve it.”

Secretary of Veterans Affairs R. James Nicholson has agreed to cooperate, Filner said.

Filner acknowledged the approach represents a big change for members of Congress who are accustomed to getting attention for their sometimes blistering attacks on administration witnesses. Filner himself has even been considered a chief attack dog on veterans’ issues. But, he said, “We don’t have to get headlines through attacking somebody. We could get headlines by solving the problems.”

Filner said he understands that veterans and veterans’ service organizations have high expectations for what Democrats can do, because when Republicans controlled Congress, Democrats promised they would do things differently. “Now, we have to see if we can keep our word,” he said.

The issue of long-range funding for veterans’ health care will serve as a test, he said. Democratic leaders have supported so-called mandatory funding to pay for veterans medical programs that would be based on the number of eligible people and the cost of care. The idea, untested for veterans’ programs, could make veterans’ health care less susceptible to political fortunes, although some opponents of the idea have worried that veterans’ programs might end up with less money if politicians are prohibited from adding funds.

Source Navy Times Online