Monday, January 5, 2015

Why Can't We Err on the Side of Caution for Veterans?

Update: Good news! On the 3rd of February, 2015 the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act was passed. Here is a video by the IAVA in response.

It has already been 2 weeks since Senator Coburn stood up and stopped a unanimous resolution vote in the last session of the Senate for 2014 to stop the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act (H.R. 5059).

Clay Hunt participated in a Team Rubicon mission in Haiti  after the devastating earthquake in 2010. Team Rubicon was created by two retired marines in direct response to the earthquake.

sidenote: You need to know about Clay Hunt
He was a lad from Houston, Texas. He fought in Iraq. He appeared  on a public service announcement to support veterans and veteran's issues. But he had his own burdens. He suffered from post traumatic stress and survivor's guilt. Several buddies had been killed in Iraq. He committed suicide in  2011. Here is the story of Clay Hunt  as told on 60 Minutes

The bill sponsored by the IAVA - Iraqi and Afghanistan Veterans of America had several innovative ideas to help returning wounded veterans with mental issues. Innovative ideas intended  to break the continuing tragedy of veterans committing suicide. 22 or 23 every day committing suicide. Not even counting those more creative with their self destructive urges...

But, the penny pinching Senator Coburn from Oklahoma- a deficit hawk- when he feels like it- smelled a possibility of 22 million dollars of new Federal spending over a 5 years mind you- with no offsets. And they wanted this fancy website too...

Senator Coburn tried to explain his objections. Here is  Sen Coburn's’ explanation for his objection to the legislation. It is instructive to read it.

I don’t know how you rationalize an attitude like this for wounded veterans. Both of these wars were fought off budget with no concern for deficit spending- no talk of offsets. And now, when veterans are desparate for help, we start penny pinching? The mind reels.

The IAVA gave an eloquent and impassioned response to Senator Coburn. Read the  eloquent response by the IAVA.

Caring for veterans is not a partisan issue, but they are surely neglected. Why are paying for defense and preparing for war given a much higher priority than caring for wounded warriors who must cope with pain and disorientation and stress as they try to adjust; try to find healing and peace?

This potential 22 million dollar budget busting item is dwarfed in just the allocation for the advanced fighter that is built right here in Fort Worth- the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

We have already spent nearly 400 billion dollars on these planes- and I am not even going to jump on and knock them- this plane has had its troubles; but the technology is being invented as the planes are built. There have been glitches. The F-35 has been grounded several times for defects.

Why are we paying so much for advanced fighters? Is the world bristling with hostile countries building advanced fighters? Are we in an arms race? Well, no; but we error on the side of caution to make sure we have the most powerful military in the world. Several times over .

But the key point right here, is why cannot we error on the side of veterans? 

Why not do whatever we can to help them as quickly as possible- with innovative ideas. We are losing them everyday- 22 more.  23 more. Why do we not error on the side of caution for them? Why do we parse resources watching every nickel? If you understand this, let me know.

With the draft gone now, just a small subset of American families are touched personally by wars. They do not have powerful lobbyists and multi-billion dollar budgets for buying influence on capitol hill. Veterans depend on each other, their families and Americans like you and I to watch out for them.

In perspective, the “fast track” process was being used to pass the legislation and any senator could object and stop the bill. Senator Coburn is retiring this session. He leave with ths legacy around his neck.

In 2015, the regular senate process will be followed. Let's hope the new Congress will vote on it and pass it. There are high hopes. The house passed the bill unanimously. It would have passed the Senate, ostensibly, if Sen coburn had not objected. It is expected to pass easily. But this in Congress.

And what about the veterans who might have been saved? Which families will suffer because the right kind of resources were NOT added at the precise time where they could have made a difference?

And I leave you with the question. Why can't we- on a regular basis, err on the side of caution for veterans?

Let’s make sure this legislation is not forgotten and gets passed quickly. we have lives to save. It is the least we can do for our wounded warriors. All we have to do is pay attention and demand action.

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