Archive for Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Personal ties

The military service of their children gives national candidates a personal connection to the war in Iraq.

September 10, 2008


Having children serving in the U.S. military can't help but give parents a special perspective on the nation's military engagements around the world.

While this year's candidates for president and vice president may not see eye to eye on foreign policy issues, their views seem almost certain to be influenced, and perhaps informed, by the fact that three of them have sons in the military - two who soon will be stationed in Iraq. The military connections in the candidates' families also buck the criticism that the nation's elite lawmakers don't have a personal stake in America's military actions.

During the Vietnam War, the military draft depended too heavily on poor or minority men who weren't eligible for the deferments available to young men attending college. Even after the draft was ended, the military too often has depended on personnel who couldn't afford or didn't meet the academic requirements to pursue college or other training opportunities.

That triggered valid criticism that members of Congress and other national leaders mostly were part of an elite class whose children were able to avoid military service, especially in the world's hot spots. The children of current candidates now blunt that criticism.

Two of them are young people who chose to join the military out of high school. Jimmy McCain, now 20, already has returned from a tour of duty in Iraq with the U.S. Marines. Track Palin, 19, is set to deploy to Iraq with the U.S. Army this fall.

Beau Biden, 39, represents a different kind of service. He currently is the attorney general of Delaware but is also a captain in the Delaware National Guard. He will take a year's leave from the AG's office to work as a military lawyer in Iraq. Biden and the thousands of other National Guard troops who have served in Iraq represent a renewal of the "citizen soldier" tradition of World War II. During that war thousands of American G.I.s, from all walks of life, put on a uniform and fought on this nation's behalf and returned to civilian life after the battle was finished.

It's often been pointed out that Americans now are too insulated from the realities of war. During World War II, every American was touched by the war. Their sons, husbands or brothers were serving abroad or their mothers and sisters were working in factories to produce military equipment. They planted victory gardens and lived with rationing. For them the war was personal; it involved personal sacrifice.

Most of us now go through our daily lives relatively untouched by the conflicts involving U.S. troops around the world. For those with family members in the military, that isn't the case. They have a personal connection to those conflicts and the dangers involved.

As we do with all of our troops, we hope the candidates' sons serve with distinction and return safely to their families. We honor their service and appreciate the added perspective and special connection to U.S. military actions that their service offers to their candidate parents.


Richard Heckler 9 years, 9 months ago

HOUSE REPUBLICANS VOTE TO CUT VETERANS' BENEFITS Washington, D.C. "Yesterday, the House Republicans voted to reject increased funds for veterans' health care in the war supplemental and today they voted to actually cut veterans benefits in their budget resolution. This is wrong," said Lane Evans (IL), the senior Democrat on the Veterans Affairs Committee. The budget resolution passed, primarily along party lines, by 218 to 213. The GOP budget resolution contains reconciliation orders requiring the House Veterans' Affairs (VA) Committee to cut benefits or to tax veterans by increasing their fees. For fiscal year 2006, the VA Committee must identify $155 million in benefits cuts or increased fees; and $798 million over the next five years. The amount available for veterans medical programs, including construction, and benefits administration is $127 million below the amount the Congressional Budget Office estimates would be necessary to maintain the level of services that exist in fiscal year 2005. Over five years, the Republican budget resolution cuts almost $16 billion from these discretionary programs. One proposal found in the Bush budget and embraced by Republicans on both the House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees is a new enrollment fee for some veterans. Other ways of finding savings in veterans programs might include cutting the cash payments made to veterans with service-connected conditions, cutting pension benefits, reducing vocational rehabilitation services or education benefits. Monies could also be raised by increasing the fees charged to veterans who obtain a VA home loan. Along the path to approving the Republican budget resolution, a Democratic alternative budget resolution offered by Rep. John Spratt, the ranking member of the Budget Committee, which would have added $2.4 billion to veterans' benefits and services, was defeated. An amendment offered by Rep. David Obey, the Democratic leader of the Appropriations Committee which would have added $2.9 billion to the President's Budget, was also defeated. "The Republican budget resolution will decrease critical services and inflict real pain upon servicemembers, veterans and military families during a time of war," said Evans. "Congress should be ashamed." VOTE OBAMA 2008

Richard Heckler 9 years, 9 months ago

The three trillion dollar warBy contrast, the Iraq war is costing upward of $400,000 per troop.Most Americans have yet to feel these costs. The cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts have grown to staggering proportionsJoseph Stiglitz and Linda BilmesThe Bush Administration was wrong about the benefits of the war and it was wrong about the costs of the war. The president and his advisers expected a quick, inexpensive conflict. Instead, we have a war that is costing more than anyone could have imagined.The cost of direct US military operations - not even including long-term costs such as taking care of wounded veterans - already exceeds the cost of the 12-year war in Vietnam and is more than double the cost of the Korean War.And, even in the best case scenario, these costs are projected to be almost ten times the cost of the first Gulf War, almost a third more than the cost of the Vietnam War, and twice that of the First World War. The only war in our history which cost more was the Second World War, when 16.3 million U.S. troops fought in a campaign lasting four years, at a total cost (in 2007 dollars, after adjusting for inflation) of about $5 trillion (that's $5 million million, or £2.5 million million). With virtually the entire armed forces committed to fighting the Germans and Japanese, the cost per troop (in today's dollars) was less than $100,000 in 2007 dollars. By contrast, the Iraq war is costing upward of $400,000 per troop.Most Americans have yet to feel these costs. The price in blood has been paid by

Kontum1972 9 years, 9 months ago

I separated from the army in 1973 after i cam back from vietnam, actually i was asked to go i really wanted to stay in but they were underpressure to draw down. I still had one year left to serve but they released me and a bunch of my buddies with no reserve time to serve they paid us bonus bucks to get out. I really wanted to stay in and make a career of it but it was no soap. I was in my junior year of college when i had two visitors dressed in army greens they wanted me to come back into the fold because they released too many army officers from the ranks (a well thought out plan). They offered me a deal, then i gave them my deal and they didnt like my deal and they said they could not do that, then i asked them nicely to get out of my house and not to come back and bug me anymore with their BS. We use to say this all the time in the ranks....over 200 years of tradition unmarred by progress! Its the same old story just a more up to date uniform. Actually we did have some political offspring in my aviation unit, they were sons of general officers or politicians, so u can just guess what that was like. It will never change. I wonder how many people in both house's of congress have kids over there fighting...not rear-eschelon actual combat...killing!

Richard Heckler 9 years, 9 months ago

"Anonymous usermadmike (Anonymous) says:Merrill, are you saying that Obama is pro-military? What have you been smoking? You aren't letting the fact that you are a left-wing anti war activist cloud your thinking are you? Obama was recorded as telling his left wing buddies that he will cut the defense budget by billions and slow the pace of new combat systems development. Your military experience consists of attending demonstrations against the military. I spent 20 years of active duty time in the Army, and I'll trust McCain as the Commander-in-Chief a hell of a lot more than someone like Obama/Carter, who will ruin it and put this country more at risk than it already is."Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11/01. That is one of the many republican lies coming from this repub white house.I am a veteran against the illegal war and occupation. My demonstrations are against the BUSHCO war machinewho has no business killing thousands upon thousands upon thousands of innocent Iraq brothers,sisters,sons,daughters,moms,dads and grandparents. The BUSHCO war machine is repsonsible for thousands of USA military deaths and more than 30,000disabled USA soldiers.With 50% of every tax dollars going to the military industrial complex I say it is time to reduce that spendingconsiderably. Just because Obama wants to take a fiscally responsible and conservative approach to defense spending is no indication he will not defend our country.....McCain voting against troops and vets is documented elsewhere. Vets for common sense know what they are talking about. McCain may speak against pork spending but does not necessarily vote against it records show. It's a facade.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 9 months ago

Barack Obama believes America has a sacred trust with our veterans. He is committed to creating a 21st Century Department of Veterans' Affairs that provides the care and benefits our nation's veterans deserve. * Allow All Veterans Back into the VA: One of Obama's first acts will be reversing the 2003 ban on enrolling modest-income veterans, which has denied care to a million veterans. Strengthen VA Care: Obama will make the VA a leader of national health care reform so that veterans get the best care possible. He will improve care for polytrauma vision impairment, prosthetics, spinal cord injury, aging, and women's health. * Combat Homelessness among Our Nation's Veterans: Obama will establish a national "zero tolerance" policy for veterans falling into homelessness by expanding proven programs and launching innovative services to prevent veterans from falling into homelessness. * Fight Veterans Employment Discrimination: Obama will crack down on employers who commit job discrimination against guardsmen and reservists. * Fully Fund VA Medical Care: Barack Obama will fully fund the VA so it has all the resources it needs to serve the veterans who need it, when they need it. Obama will establish a world-class VA Planning Division to avoid future budget shortfalls. * Fix the Benefits Bureaucracy: Obama will hire additional claims workers, and improve training and accountability so that VA benefit decisions are rated fairly and consistently. He also will transform the paper benefit claims process to an electronic one to reduce errors and improve timeliness. Obama will improve mental health treatment for troops and veterans suffering from combat-related psychological injuries.* Improve Mental Health Treatment: Obama will improve mental health care at every stage of military service. He will recruit more health professionals, improve screening, offer more support to families and make PTSD benefits claims fairer * Improve Care for Traumatic Brain Injury: Obama will establish standards of care for Traumatic Brain Injury, the signature injury of the Iraq war. * Expand Vet Centers: Obama will expand and strengthen Vet Centers to provide more counseling for vets and their families.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 9 months ago

Military Industrial Complex spending deserves an intense review when considering what appears to be Republican foreign policy which openly advocates for total global military domination and one that must be squashed.The Project for the New American Century (PNAC) is a neo-conservative think tank with strong ties to the American Enterprise Institute. PNAC's web site says it was "established in the spring of 1997" as "a non-profit, educational organization whose goal is to promote American global leadership."PNAC's policy document, "Rebuilding America's Defences," openly advocates for total global military domination. Many PNAC members hold highest-level positions in the George W. Bush administration.PNAC members in prominent government positions:Dick Cheney Vice PresidentDonald Rumsfeld Former Secretary of DefenseDouglas J. Feith (former) Undersecretary of DefenseI. Lewis Libby Vice President Cheney's former Chief of Staff and Assistant to the Vice President for National Security Affairs.Aaron Friedberg Vice President Cheney's deputy National Security advisorRobert Zoelick US Deputy Secretary of StatePaula Dobriansky Undersecretary of StateElliott Abrams Deputy National Security AdviserFrank Gaffney Pentagon's Defense Policy BoardFred C. Ikle Pentagon's Defense Policy BoardEliot A. Cohen Pentagon's Defense Policy BoardHenry S. Rowen Pentagon's Defense Policy BoardWilliam J. Bennett Presidential speech writerJeb Bush Former Governor of FloridaPaul Wolfowitz World Bank PresidentJohn Bolton Ambassador to the U.N.Zalmay Khalilzad U.S. ambassador to Iraq

KS 9 years, 9 months ago

Merrill - You take up entirely too much space on this forum. Nobody reads you any more.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 9 months ago

Obama Record of Advocacy: As a member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, Obama passed legislation to improve care and slash red tape for our wounded warriors recovering at places like Walter Reed. He passed laws to help homeless veterans and offered an innovative solution to prevent at-risk veterans from falling into homelessness. Obama led a bipartisan effort in the Senate to try to halt the military's unfair practice of discharging service members for having a service-connected psychological injury. He fought for fair treatment of Illinois veterans' claims and forced the VA to conduct an unprecedented outreach campaign to disabled veterans with lower than-average benefits. Obama passed legislation to stop a VA review of closed PTSD cases that could have led to a reduction in veterans' benefits. He passed an amendment to ensure that all service members returning from Iraq are properly screened for traumatic brain injuries. He introduced legislation to direct the VA and Pentagon to fix disjointed records systems and improve outreach to members of the National Guard and Reserves.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 9 months ago, February 26, 2008 - Since everyone is at least a bit familiar with John McCain's record but not that many really, truly know just how horrific his voting record is when it comes to the troops. Whether it is for armor and equipment, for veteran's health care, for adequate troop rest or anything that actually supports our troops. McCain is not a friend of the military.September 2007: McCain voted against the Webb amendment calling for adequate troop rest between deployments. At the time, nearly 65% of people polled in a CNN poll indicted that "things are going either moderately badly or very badly in Iraq.February 2007: For such a strong supporter of the escalation, McCain didn't even bother to show up and vote against a resolution condemning it. However, at the time a CNN poll found that only 16% of respondents wanted to send more troops to Iraq (that number has since declined to around 10%), while 60% said that some or all should be withdrawn. This number has since gone up to around 70%.May 2006: McCain voted against an amendment that would provide $20 million to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for health care facilities.April 2006: McCain was one of only 13 Senators to vote against $430,000,000 for the Department of Veteran Affairs for Medical Services for outpatient care and treatment for veterans.March 2006: McCain voted against increasing Veterans medical services funding by $1.5 billion in FY 2007 to be paid for by closing corporate tax loopholes.March 2004: McCain once again voted for abusive tax loopholes over veterans when he voted against creating a reserve fund to allow for an increase in Veterans' medical care by $1.8 billion by eliminating abusive tax loopholes. Jeez, McCain really loves those tax loopholes for corporations, since he voted for them over our veterans' needs.October 2003: McCain voted to table an amendment by Senator Dodd that called for an additional $322,000,000 for safety equipment for United States forces in Iraq and to reduce the amount provided for reconstruction in Iraq by $322,000,000.April 2003: McCain urged other Senate members to table a vote (which never passed) to provide more than $1 billion for National Guard and Reserve equipment in Iraq related to a shortage of helmets, tents, bullet-proof inserts, and tactical vests.August 2001: McCain voted against increasing the amount available for medical care for veterans by $650,000,000.So there it is. VOTE OBAMA 2008

Ralph Reed 9 years, 9 months ago

Regardless of who does and and who doesn't support the military, or who is and who isn't in favor of the action in Iraq (Did Congress ever declair war? I don't know.), all the candidates have done is turn their sons into bullet magnets. That's the same reason Prince Harry didn't deploy.

davidsmom 9 years, 9 months ago

Just because someone votes no on a bill doesn't mean he is against all of its points. The bill may be full of pork, or the funding may be all wrong, or the logistics for the program may be wrong, or any number of other reasons. You cannot judge a person's voting record without knowing the full explanation of why he voted the way he did on each bill.

Left_handed 9 years, 9 months ago

Merrill, if arguments were won by the word you'd have everyone convinced. Given that you just paste a bunch of blather, I doubt that it's convincing much of anyone other than your fellow libtards who were on board already.

RedwoodCoast 9 years, 9 months ago

Well, left, I am a 'libtard' and I react the same way to Merrill's pasting as the rightard wingnuts.

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