Letters to the Editor

Part of the 99%

November 2, 2011


To the editor:

They use to call me a hero and give me hollow “thank you for your service.” Now they call me a parasite and a drag on the economy.  I am a disabled veteran and part of the 99 percent.


Gandalf 6 years, 5 months ago

Sorry buddie, I know what you mean. Teapubs have no use for vets once the fighting is over.

Gandalf 6 years, 5 months ago

Shoot me an email, I'll buy you a few beers and swap war stories with you...might even invite vertigo. :)

rockchalk1977 6 years, 5 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

deec 6 years, 5 months ago

In 2010 half the people in the U.S. made less than $26,364. The federal government, meanwhile, has committed to guarantee $75 trillion in European debt. Yet there are people who resort to personal attacks in defense of some perceived team of which they are not a member. When ordinary citizens stood up to corrupt government in Berlin, Poland, Prague, Hungary, Syria, Libya and Egypt, they were cheered on from our shores. Now when our own citizens stand up to corrupt government, they are excoriated. It makes no sense. The enemy is in the media, in Washington, on Wall Street, and in our own hearts, because we let it happen. We let our country be bought. Now, at last, people are buying it back with their time, their words, and their suffering, http://dailybail.com/home/holy-bailout-federal-reserve-now-backstopping-75-trillion-of.html http://www.readersupportednews.org/news-section2/320-80/8019-50-of-all-workers-made-less-than-26000-in-2010 http://wearethe99percent.tumblr.com/archive

deec 6 years, 5 months ago

The Fed has given out 16 trillion dollars in secret loans to prop up the world's banking system. http://www.unelected.org/audit-of-the-federal-reserve-reveals-16-trillion-in-secret-bailouts 18 bank executives who received federal bailout loans sit on the Board of Directors of Fed. They got to vote on whether their banks received bailouts,

jafs 6 years, 5 months ago

I would like an explanation of why this post doesn't violate the terms of service.

Or that it is removed.

jafs 6 years, 5 months ago

Of course I was referring to your comment.

Is there some reason that you can't discuss things without insulting large groups of people?

I don't appreciate it when I'm included in those groups.

I also think Gandalf's comment is inappropriate, but you must be aware that yours preceded his, and caused that kind of reaction.

jafs 6 years, 5 months ago

I have no such double standard - I have spoken many times about the need for civility and refraining from insults and personal attacks, which applies to everybody.

If you review my posts, you will see that I refrain from those, and don't employ them.

Please stop insulting me.

The reasonable response to a post you find insulting is to ask it be removed, rather than responding in kind.

That's what I do, because I think these sorts of personal insults are bad in a variety of ways.

Join me - if enough people do, it will make a difference.

For example, you should notice that despite your having insulted me, I have not done the same to you in response.

jafs 6 years, 5 months ago

I'd say the same things to you that I said to rockchalk.

jafs 6 years, 5 months ago

Why not just stop insulting people?

deec 6 years, 5 months ago

It is unfortunate that a few individuals, who were stopped by other participants, got violent. It is also quite possible the violent ones were government plants to discredit the movement and give the police an excuse to move in.

Crazy_Larry 6 years, 5 months ago

Highly unlikely? ROFL

The Guardian; May 9, 2009 - G20 police 'used undercover men to incite crowds'. ""When I was in the middle of the crowd, two people came over to me and said, 'There are people over there who we believe are policemen and who have been encouraging the crowd to throw things at the police,'" Brake said. But when the crowd became suspicious of the men and accused them of being police officers, the pair approached the police line and passed through after showing some form of identification."

The Denver Post; Nov. 7, 2008 - ACLU wants probe into police-staged DNC protest. "When a Jefferson County deputy unleashed pepper spray at unruly protesters on the first night of the Democratic National Convention, he did not know that his targets were undercover Denver police officers. "

The Toronto Star; Aug. 21, 2007 - Police accused of using provocateurs at summit. ""I have no hesitation in saying they were police agents . . . and they were caught red-handed.""

The New York Times; Dec. 22, 2005 - New York Police Covertly Join In at Protest Rallies. "In glimpses and in glaring detail, the videotape images reveal the robust presence of disguised officers or others working with them at seven public gatherings since August 2004. "

Let's dance! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dC3VTB...

Alceste 6 years, 5 months ago

Bruce W. Johanning, Lawrence:

You forgot to include the part where they were happy to send YOU into it and not their own kids.....Oh yeah....and let's not leave out the part where they refused to provide armour once the great need for the commodity was identified.

Yeah....them "Mission Accomplished" types....swell group of guys and gals, eh?

tbaker 6 years, 5 months ago

  1. No one held a gun to your head and forced you to join the military. It's an all volunteer force.

  2. You would force people to join? If the kids from rich people don't join, how does that hurt you? What else would you like to force people to do? Do tell.

  3. There were no "armored" wheeled vehicles in the US military inventory when we invaded Iraq. The Navy didn't think carrier-based planes were a threat to their fleet right up until December 7, 1941. You go to war with the military you have at the time. They sent the armor as fast as US industry could produce it.

rbwaa 6 years, 5 months ago

I applaud your success and appreciate your service but you might have some compassion for some of your fellow veterans. Some statistics that might prove enlightening:

Veteran-specific highlights from the USICH* report include:

23% of the homeless population are veterans 33% of the male homeless population are veterans 47% served Vietnam-era 17% served post-Vietnam 15% served pre-Vietnam 67% served three or more years 33% were stationed in war zone 25% have used VA homeless services 85% completed high school/GED, compared to 56% of non-veterans 89% received an honorable discharge 79% reside in central cities 16% reside in suburban areas 5% reside in rural areas 76% experience alcohol, drug or mental health problems 46% are white males, compared to 34% of non-veterans 46% are age 45 or older, compared to 20% non-veterans

Service needs cited include:

45% need help finding a job 37% need help finding housing

  • U.S. Interagency Council on the Homeless (USICH)


We might ask the question: How many of our Lawrence homeless individuals are veterans? Depending on the answer your comment: "Nobody thinks or suggests that disabled vets are parasites and part of the problem." might be seen in a different light.

deec 6 years, 5 months ago

"The ugly truth is that virtually all of the major defense contractors in this country for years have been engaged in systemic fraudulent behavior, while receiving hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer money," said Sanders. "With the country running a nearly $15 trillion national debt, my goal is to provide as much transparency as possible about what is happening with taxpayer money." http://blog.buzzflash.com/node/13089

deec 6 years, 5 months ago

"Sometimes that can be several years unfortunately..." So that might be why we have so many homeless disabled vets. Not all vets get free health care. Homeless services are inadequate; your own link talks about how, for example, 20,000 vets got section 8 certificates http://www.va.gov/healtheligibility/costs/ http://www.va.gov/HOMELESS/housing.asp Getting a section 8 certificate does not guarantee finding section 8 eligible housing. Section 8 housing also often requires security deposits and utility deposits. The VA estimates that there are 107,000 homeless vets on any given night. "About 1.5 million other veterans, meanwhile, are considered at risk of homelessness due to poverty, lack of support networks, and dismal living conditions in overcrowded or substandard housing." The VA, like other parts of the military, is rife with fraud. Clearly money meant for services which is diverted via fraud is money that cannot be spent on providing services for its intended recipients. http://www.va.gov/oig/52/reports/2010/VAOIG-10-00004-166.pdf

deec 6 years, 5 months ago

Another impediment to veterans transitioning to civilian life, which could lead to homelessness, would be the delays in available treatment for PTSD and depression through the VA system. Self-medication (alcohol and/or drug use) may also be a contributing cause.This is probably also a reason veterans are supporting OWS in growing numbers. http://articles.latimes.com/2011/may/11/local/la-me-0511-veterans-ptsd-20110511

deec 6 years, 5 months ago

So veteran services are not free for all vets. It can take years to get disability. That's what I said. Also a Section 8 certificate does not mean you'll find a home that accepts a section 8 certificate. And they only gave out 24,000. If there are so many services available for veterans, why do an average of 18 a day commit suicide?

deec 6 years, 5 months ago

At least some of the 107,000 homeless veterans on any given night may be homeless due to the fraud perpetuated on them by the banks who received bailouts: http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/suit-alleges-banks-and-mortgage-companies-cheated-veterans-and-us-taxpayers/2011/10/04/gIQATp4RLL_story.html

Crazy_Larry 6 years, 5 months ago

The Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex is out of control. Fix our corrupted political and corporate systems so we can spend tax dollars on helping homeless vets find a home instead of spending money on bombing brown people around the world....maybe? I'm guessing. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLwrPD...

Kendall Simmons 6 years, 5 months ago

No. They aren't. Any more than most non-veterans who are homeless are homeless by choice. (The figure is actually less than 6%...which certainly doesn't even come close to being "most".)

It's sad when people like you write nonsense like that...because others will think you're saying something factual, rather than make-believe, and pass it on as true. As a result, homeless veterans (or the homeless in general) will continue to face even more difficulties getting out of homelessness simply because people like you think they "chose" to be homeless. Yeesh.

Kendall Simmons 6 years, 5 months ago

I already provided you with the "less than 6%" statistic. It's actually your turn to show me yours.

Kendall Simmons 6 years, 5 months ago

Excuse me??? That page itself says "The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is taking decisive action to end Veteran homelessness in five years".

Unlike you, the decision-makers at the VA don't believe that "there is absolutely no reason for a veteran to be homeless". Rather, they recognize that there are numerous reasons and obstacles, and that it's going to take time and effort and funding to deal with them.

You might want to click on the links and actually read about what the various programs do...and why they exist. Contrary to your apparent belief, these programs are not magic bullets. They do not immediately end homelessness. Nor do they expect to.

And I'm still waiting for your evidence. After all, you were the person who made the first claim and I'm asking you to document it. Since you're out there googling the subject, perhaps you don't actually have any such evidence? Heck, we've all been guilty of believing "facts" that turn out to be nothing more than mythology.

(By the way, that "less than 6%" figure? It comes from HUD.)

Kendall Simmons 6 years, 5 months ago

Your claim was "Most veterans who are homeless are homeless by choice. There is help available through VA.". There was NOTHING on that website that supported your "most veterans" claim...just your "there is help available through the VA".

Indeed, you haven't pointed to a single link anywhere that demonstrates it. (Jeez, I can simply google my claim and point to http://www.ehow.com/about_4566199_homeless-shelters.html (cites Goodwill as the source) or http://goldiesplace.org/new_web/homeless.htm or many more sites. Or you could search the HUD HMIS system. You want that link?)

Apparently, your "proof" is the existence of a VA website that lists services. Are you arguing that, if a veteran utilizes those services, he immediately won't be homeless. (If it doesn't happen immediately, then people utilizing those services would still be homeless. Hmm.)

Look at the list of services offered and the 5 year plan scheduled to end in 2015: http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/press/press_releases_media_advisories/2010/HUDNo.10-132

Unlike you, the VA obviously thinks it's been lack of services that's the problem, and are now trying to solve that problem. But that doesn't mean there's sufficient resources to provide help to all that request, much less need them or that those services are just needed once and...yippee...the person is no longer homeless. Indeed, the VA provides grant funding to organizations that build housing for homeless veterans. Doesn't that suggest there's insufficient housing for homeless vets right now?

Here's the HUD 2010 Veteran Homelessness: A Supplemental Report to the 2010 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress: http://www.hudhre.info/documents/2010AHARVeteransReport.pdf It's fascinating reading...and provides multiple data that effectively dismiss your claim.

And here's a 2008 CNN article < http://articles.cnn.com/2008-07-02/us/homeless.veterans_1_homeless-veterans-vietnam-veterans-veterans-affairs?_s=PM:US > that includes quotes from Peter Dougherty, the director of homeless programs for the VA. Among the statements in the article is: "The government says PTSD is one of the leading causes of homelessness among veterans."

I actually work directly with folks with severe mental illness...and I don't know a single one with PTSD who "chose" to have PTSD. Nor have I worked with a single homeless vet who has chosen to be homeless.

I'm not saying there aren't veterans that choose homelessness. Of course there are. I'm simply saying your "most" claim is a harmful exaggeration...just like claiming most homeless people regardless of vet status are homeless by choice. It's a darned, harmful myth.

Your link only supports the second part of your original post: "There is help available through VA." I've shown you my links. Now you have to point to something that shows that "most veterans" don't want that help because they "choose" to be homeless.

Kendall Simmons 6 years, 5 months ago

Unfortunately, those figures are from 1999.

Sorry, but 12 year old statistics on homeless veterans...gathered long before we invaded Afghanistan and Iraq...really don't mean too much anymore.

Oldsoul 6 years, 5 months ago

Maybe he/she was just trying to make a concise statement for why they identify with the 99%--no need for personal attacks.

Crazy_Larry 6 years, 5 months ago

I'm a fellow vet and I think I understand the point Mr. Johanning is trying to make. If he's rated at 90 or 100% disability, then he probably holds no job, pays no income tax, and receives a monthly check from the government to live off of...kind of like a welfare check, eh? He's thrown under the bus with the rest via broad-brush political rhetoric - "we are the 53%". Easy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RAUvZHmTQw

Maddy Griffin 6 years, 5 months ago

Thank you for your service. I'm so sorry that it cost you so much.Your bravery is appreciated.

Kendall Simmons 6 years, 5 months ago

Unfortunately, he wrote that our saying "thank you for your service" was hollow, so I'm assuming it is wasted on him.

But I'm still going to say it to other servicemen and women. And I hope that some of them realize, unlike Mr. Johanning, that I truly mean it. And I still am grateful for his service and sacrifice, even though he apparently doesn't believe that.

Brock Masters 6 years, 5 months ago

Is the letter from the same army officer that was profiled in a LJW video about voting. Google his name and find the video - adds a different element to the letter.

Flap Doodle 6 years, 5 months ago

In other occupy news: "NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The Occupy Wall Street movement, which says its goals include improving the economic lot for 99 percent of Americans, may have some explaining to do to some cafe workers now out of a job. Mark Epstein, owner of the Milk Street Cafe at 40 Wall Street, just let 21 employees go. The reason? The barricades police have set up throughout Wall Street as a consequence of the ongoing demonstration..." http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2011/11/01/milk-street-cafe-owner-sacks-21-employees-as-consequence-of-occupy-wall-street-demonstration/

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 5 months ago

Sounds like the complaint should be directed towards the police-- they set up the barricades, not the protestors.

Kendall Simmons 6 years, 5 months ago

Actually, the guy said got it right... "I blame it on three groups," Epstein explained. "Protesters, city officials and police. The barricades are it."

Kendall Simmons 6 years, 5 months ago

And, as an aside, he called Donald Trump (his landlord) who called Mayor Bloomberg...and the barricades were removed today!

While I find it weird, I can't help but think that the 1% actually came through this time. Of course, maybe Trump simply didn't want to lose a tenant. Guess we'll never know.

fancy80 6 years, 5 months ago

Blame the police? Are you freaking kidding me? They are doing their jobs. It's a g-dam shame that they are having to spend their time doing this anyway and now you're blaming this on them? So I guess it's the Oakland Police Department's fault that OWS there effectively shut down the port? The police are now the bad guys....is that what I am hearing from you Bozo? Seriously??

tbaker 6 years, 5 months ago

Lets not neglect the Mayor and City Council. They passed the city ordinances the police are sworn to enforce. Flaming strawman arguments could help keep the occupiers warm.

Crazy_Larry 6 years, 5 months ago

You're the one who needs glasses, friend. You are the one blinded by politics. (30% service connected).

jaywalker 6 years, 5 months ago

Sincerely appreciate your service and sacrifice, Mr. Johanning. But nobody is referring to you as a drag on society or a parasite. And we're all part of the 99%.

Lauralnk 6 years, 5 months ago

Gee folks, I have a revolutionary idea, how about we all grow up and quit calling each other names or insulting people. As my grandmother use to say, "If you don't have something nice to say then don't say anything at all." Quite honestly it seems that some people act like they are still in grade school.

beatrice 6 years, 5 months ago

No, nor should we pay attention to people who have been removed under different names and come back on again and again to post more ridiculous strawman arguments and continue calling others names.

We must take a stand against the zombie corp of the reappeardededed.

voevoda 6 years, 5 months ago

Many protestors stop by for short periods of time between jobs. Some bring their families to witness people exercising their Constitutional freedoms and trying to improve their society. Some don't have time to attend personally, but lend moral support to those who do.
Disagree with the OWS message if you like, its_just_math, but don't impugn their motives or their level of responsibility.

tomatogrower 6 years, 5 months ago

And maybe if the billionaires who run the businesses would be happy with 1 billion instead of 2, and pay the single mom a living wage, she wouldn't have to work 2 jobs.

Liberty275 6 years, 5 months ago

So are you in charge of allotting happiness now? It's about time somebody came and told us what we should be happy with. Thank you!

Liberty275 6 years, 5 months ago

I'm part of the .00001% that isn't rich and isn't jealous of what other people have. You aren't a parasite. You are a victim of politicians that put you in the line of fire and don't care if you live or die now. Wall street doesn't owe you, America owes you. Of course, you could go to DC and try knocking on the right doors, but they'd just have the latest models of yourself point their bayonets in your back and escort you to the sidewalk you fought to protect.

jafs 6 years, 5 months ago

If disabled vets are part of the 47% who don't pay federal income taxes, perhaps that's where the letter writer is getting his idea.

Many on the right castigate that group as being slackers, etc.

I don't know whether veterans benefits and disability pay are exempt from federal taxes, although it would make sense for them to be - anybody know?

jafs 6 years, 5 months ago

Well, there you go.

Perhaps those who are quick to condemn the 47% of Americans who pay no federal income tax should reconsider that.

Unless they want to continue to cast aspersions on disabled vets.

And those on Social Security who've worked their whole lives and paid into that system.


Thanks, by the way, for the response.

jafs 6 years, 5 months ago

Aren't all veterans benefits not taxed as federal income tax?

That's what my quick google search seemed to indicate.

So, veterans who have pensions, etc. aren't paying federal income tax on any of that, right?

deec 6 years, 5 months ago

Jobless rates among male veterans 18-24 was over 30% in May. "The military paid $882 million in unemployment benefits last year, up from $450 million in fiscal 2008." I'd guess that might be why more and more vets are joining the Occupy movement. They put their lives on the line and got sold out by corporate America. http://www.usatoday.com/news/military/2011-06-16-jobless-military-veterans_n.htm

deec 6 years, 5 months ago

Veterans are part of the 99% and they know it. That's why there was this march yesterday: http://online.wsj.com/article/APc43a6cf8468b40468d62f26add155afe.html That's why this organization was formed; http://occupymarines.org/ And this one: http://www.facebook.com/pages/OccupyA... And this one: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Occupy-... Clearly you don't feel they represent your views. Clearly your views do not represent them, either. Veteran supporters of the Occupy movement do exist, however, and their numbers are growing.

deec 6 years, 5 months ago

Some veterans are part of the movement. Occupy is a diverse movement; people of all political stripes are participating, including about 2% who self-identify as Republicans. A few tea partiers agree with the Occupy movement. Many groups are represented including those on the right and left. In this nation citizens have the right to support non-mainstream political parties.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 5 months ago

Face it Bank of America should be subject to an FBI investigation and Grand Jury probe over the home loan scandal. Goldman-Sachs should also.

The banks should be nationalized and executives sent to prison!

10 reasons NOT to bank with Bank of America http://www.truth-out.org/ten-reasons-not-bank-or-bank-america/131

Where did the Bush/Cheney/Paulson Bailout Money Go? Not much is known... http://www.democracynow.org/2009/9/10/good_billions_after_bad_one_year

Move Your Money - To local institutions and do your community a large favor.

A database to assist those wishing to move their money out of big banks that took taxpayer money and used it to pay themselves large bonuses:




tomatogrower 6 years, 5 months ago

November 5, enough people are moving their money, that those who want to remain loyal may lose theirs. Oh well, it's only money.

Flap Doodle 6 years, 5 months ago

It must be at least 4 days since you posted that demo-now article from 2009. You're starting to taper off, merrill. Eventually you'll be able to go a whole week without getting all frantic about a President who's been out of office for almost three years now.

Liberty275 6 years, 5 months ago

Since BOA bought our mortgage, we get free checking and savings with "keep the change", some kind of photo debit card, and a free safe deposit box. We also get the usual internet banking, text for balances, smartphone banking and some other cool perks like automatic bill pay contracts with thousands of companies, and all the major ones in Lawrence..

As for the mortgage, they have always been reasonable, even when our paychecks get a little far from mortgage day. They honor their grace periods as you would expect.

I wish they had more branches though.

They also have a free account if you do direct deposit, regardless of your balance.

And they don't charge a $5 fee for using your ATM card. They responded well to customer demand.

This guy telling you to go to a bunch of ultra-left websites to listen to their truth, don't bother. BOA will be as good a bank as you'll get in Lawrence.

bad_dog 6 years, 5 months ago

In 2009 BOA also notified me that they were changing my fixed rate loan to a variable rate. When I asked them to point out exactly where in the contract they were granted the right to do so, they had no answer. I informed them I would be happy to sue them if they did and furthermore would seek class action certification. I received a lovely letter from them about two weeks later telling me how they had decided not to do so as a courtesy to their customers, despite the tough economic times they faced.

Stephen Roberts 6 years, 5 months ago

Merill loves George Bush...

Merrill loves George Bush...

Merrill loves George Bush...

Merrill loves George Bush...

rtwngr 6 years, 5 months ago

I don't think you're a drag on the economy, Bruce, just a drag. Why is it other disabled vets are able to overcome their disabilities and lead meaningful, productive lives? Does the world owe you something, Bruce?

The reason we served, Bruce, was to protect a way of life called freedom. Some of us returned unharmed physically and some of us didn't. None of us returned unchanged. Freedom carries an expensive price. Some of us gave more than others. Some of us never stop giving.

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