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Bu$h, Republicans Losing Support of Retired Veterans

"He pats us on the back with his speeches and stabs us in the back with his actions," said Charles A. Carter of Shawnee, Okla., a retired Navy senior chief petty officer. "I will vote non-Republican in a heart beat if it continues as is."

"I feel betrayed," said Raymond C. Oden Jr., a retired Air Force Chief Master Sergeant now living in Abilene, Texas.

Registered Republican James Cook, who retired to Fort Walton Beach, Fla., after 24 years in the Air Force, said he is abandoning a party that he said abandoned him. "Bush is a liar," he said.
" . . . promises made to our veterans will be promises kept . . . "
Bush, Republicans Losing Support of Retired Veterans

by Steven Thomma
Posted on Sat, Jul. 26, 2003

WASHINGTON - President Bush and his Republican Party are facing a political backlash from an unlikely group - retired veterans.

Normally Republican, many retired veterans are mad that Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress are blocking remedies to two problems with health and pension benefits. They say they feel particularly betrayed by Bush, who appealed to them in his 2000 campaign, and who vowed on the eve of his inauguration that "promises made to our veterans will be promises kept."

"He pats us on the back with his speeches and stabs us in the back with his actions," said Charles A. Carter of Shawnee, Okla., a retired Navy senior chief petty officer. "I will vote non-Republican in a heart beat if it continues as is."

"I feel betrayed," said Raymond C. Oden Jr., a retired Air Force Chief Master Sergeant now living in Abilene, Texas.

Many veterans say they will not vote for Bush or any Republican in 2004 and are considering voting for a Democrat for the first time. Others say they will sit out the election, angry with Bush and Republicans but unwilling to support Democrats, whom they say are no better at keeping promises to veterans. Some say they will still support Bush and his party despite their ire.

While there are no recent polls to measure veterans' political leanings, any significant erosion of support for Bush and Republicans could hurt in a close election. It could be particularly troublesome in states such as Florida that are politically divided and crowded with military retirees.

Registered Republican James Cook, who retired to Fort Walton Beach, Fla., after 24 years in the Air Force, said he is abandoning a party that he said abandoned him. "Bush is a liar," he said. "The Republicans in Congress, with very few exceptions, are gutless party lapdogs who listen to what puts money in their own pockets or what will get them re-elected."

Veterans have two gripes.

One is a longstanding complaint that some disabled vets, in effect, have to pay their own disability benefits out of their retirement pay through a law they call the Disabled Veterans Tax.

Since 1891, anyone retiring after a full military career has had their retirement pay reduced dollar for dollar for any Veterans Administration checks they get for a permanent service-related disability. However, a veteran who served a two-or-four-year tour does not have a similar reduction in Social Security or private pension.

A majority of members of Congress, from both parties, wants to change the law. A House proposal by Rep. Jim Marshall, D-Ga., has 345 co-sponsors.

But it would cost as much as $5 billion a year to expand payments to 670,000 disabled veterans, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld earlier this month told lawmakers that the president would veto any bill including the change.

The proposal is stuck in committee. A recent effort to bring it to the full House of Representatives failed, in part because only one Republican signed the petition.

"The cost is exorbitant. And we are dealing with a limited budget," said Harald Stavenas, a spokesman for the House Armed Services Committee.

The second complaint is over medical care. After decades of promising free medical care for life to anyone who served for 20 years, the government in the 1990s abandoned the promise in favor of a new system called Tricare. The Tricare system provides medical care, but requires veterans to pay a deductible and does not cover dental, hearing or vision care.

A group of military retirees challenged the government in a class-action lawsuit, won a first round, then were seriously disappointed when Bush allowed the government to appeal. Government won the next legal round.

"I voted for the president because of the promises," said Floyd Sears, a retired Air Force master sergeant in Biloxi, Miss. "But as far as I can tell, he has done nothing. In fact, his actions have been detrimental to the veterans and retired veterans. I'm very disappointed about the broken promise on medical care."

Stavenas said House and Senate negotiators were working this week on proposals to address the veterans' two specific complaints. He added that Congress has increased spending for veterans' benefits, including a 5 percent increase next year for the Veterans Health Administration.

Christine Iverson, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, said: "The Bush administration and the Republican Congress have taken and will continue to take steps to enhance benefits for our veterans."

Not all military retirees will vote against Republicans, of course. Some, like retired Air Force Lt. Col. Gene DiBartolo of Tampa, will vote for Bush again gladly.

Though he believes his fellow veterans have a just complaint, he said the government simply cannot "do everything."

As for Bush, he said, "he has restored honor and dignity to this nation . . .

It would take a lot more than this issue to dissuade me from my support of this man."

homepage: homepage: http://www.realcities.com/mld/krwashington/6392003.htm
address: address: Knight Ridder Newspapers

'veggie boy' RE: election day 27.Jul.2003 18:01

dawn

If you think your vote will count in 2004, you're delusional. The mainstream media is finally coming around to reporting on the vulnerabilities in the new electronic voting systems we'll see in use in 2004.

P.S. got PROBLEMS with the above article, or the US Veterans' opinions voiced within? Take it to Knight Ridder Newspapers.


Bu$h Bankrupting US Treasury 27.Jul.2003 18:11

Veteran

Running up a $1,000,000,000,000.00 ($ trillion dollar) deficit over just this year and next, and with his 2 trillion tax giveaway to the wealthy, any veteran with a still functional brain must realize their benefits will be cut and cut again if not eliminated in years to come.

Bush has no concern at all in funding any gov't program for average citizens (medicare,veterans, medicaid etc.). His only interest is providing $$ for privatization of gov't by turning all functions of gov't over to Republican corporations that can be counted on to pay big bucks to crooked CEO's like Ken Lay and kickback big $$ to the Republican Party.

support of veterans 27.Jul.2003 18:37

Dom

Its not new money folks. For those who do not know let me introduce you to how things work for disabled retired veterans. First, money is appropriated each year for all retired veterans. These funds are place into a military trust fund and is used to pay retirement benafits to veterans. If a disability payment is made by the VA, then the DoD has those funds to spend without the approval of congress. At last accounting the (MRTF) had over 30 billion. See the money is already there.

OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT BUSH 27.Jul.2003 19:59

Jim www.supportthevets.com

An open letter to president Bush



I have listened to you many times about your respect for the military and have heard many promises about what you will do. What have you done? According to you the government can't afford to stop the tax on disabled veterans and the pentagon supports this issue. The same people that lose billions every year in cost overruns and busted contracts and poor accounting procedures. I don't know about you but I can't afford to lose 10 dollars. There is a growing concern in the people of this nation about how veterans are treated, or mistreated. George Washington said, " A nation can be judged by how they treat their veterans." You remember us? The veterans? The men and women that put their personal dreams and aspirations on hold while the country mortgaged our future. Look around (not in a mirror) and you can see us everywhere. Some are in wheelchairs, some hooked up to odd machines, some with crutches and canes, some just walk kind of funny, some can't hear much anymore, some can't see at all and some see things that just aren't there, some wake up at night in their beds drenched in sweat screaming, and some call an underpass or a bench home because they don't have a bed at all. These are the ones that gave what they could when asked and expected nothing in return. This is my family. These are my brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, sons and daughters. I ask for nothing more than justice. Give them there due. Let them have what they've earned and then don't look back at us again. Your not one of us, you never will be, you will never understand our quiet dignity and that is one thing no one can take from us.