Mr. Brown, a Democratic congressman from Lorain, criticized President Bush, U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine, and Republican leadership for what he said was shortchanging the veterans' health-care system. Mr. Brown will face Mr. DeWine, a Republican, in November.Why can't reporters and/or editors do a little research? Is that too much to ask??? I looked around on the Al Gore's internets and had some difficulty finding again what I remembered reading in the run-up to the '04 election but a quick email to my sources within the GOP, I was able to get all of what you are about to read...
"Earlier this week, all honored the brave men and women who died in service to our country in World War II, in Korea, in Vietnam, in the first Gulf War, in Iraq, and Afghanistan," Mr. Brown said, speaking outside the VA Outpatient Clinic on Glendale Avenue yesterday. "Unfortunately, though, when the parades ended and when the graveside ceremonies were completed, too many politicians go back to Washington and are part of a government that ignores the needs of veterans."
Mr. Brown called for fully funding veterans' health programs, tax cuts for businesses that pay service members during extended tours of duty, and passing the "GI Bill for the 21st Century" to help veterans afford education and homes. He also said the government should cover costs resulting from the recent theft of personal information from veterans.
Let's start with the Bush administration's accomplishments in the area of veterans healthcare:
On Veterans Day, America Honors Our Nation’s Men And Women In Uniform And Their Families Who Have Sacrificed For Our Nation. Members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard have protected our country and liberated millions of people around the world from tyranny and terror.And now for Senator DeWine's record on veteran's healthcare:
President Bush Is Dedicated To Supporting Our Nation’s 25 Million Veterans, And His Administration Has A Record Of Accomplishment For Those Who Have Sacrificed For Our Liberty And Security. Since the President took office, the Administration has increased spending for veterans by $24 billion – a total of 53 percent. In the President's first four years in office, spending for veterans increased twice as much as it did in the eight years of the previous Administration.
The Administration Is Committed To Providing A Seamless Transition For Veterans As They Leave The Military. Agencies throughout the Federal government, including the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, Labor, Transportation, Treasury, and Veterans Affairs, offer programs and services for America’s newest veterans and for the military families who stand behind our servicemen and women.
Improving Health Care for Veterans
Health Care For Veterans Is A Top Priority. President Bush recognizes the importance of health care to veterans and has made it a priority to improve the current system. Since taking office, the President has increased the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical care budget by 51 percent, and these resources are being used to make real improvements for veterans. Over the past four years, the number of total outpatient visits and volume of prescriptions filled have increased, and disability claims are being processed faster.
VA Facilities Are Being Modernized And Expanded. In the last two years, the Administration has committed more than $1.5 billion to modernizing and expanding VA facilities so that more veterans can get care closer to home. The Administration is committed to helping the veterans who fought and sacrificed for America get the quality care they deserve.
Priority Scheduling Gives Precedence To Veterans With The Greatest Needs. Treating veterans with military disabilities, lower incomes, and special needs has always been VA’s core health care mission. Under the President’s leadership, the Administration has refocused resources and implemented a priority scheduling system to ensure that returning combat veterans and core-mission veterans are first in line.
Expanded Access Allows For Long-Term Care In The Most Non-Intrusive Settings. The Administration’s budgets continue to promote non-institutional long-term care that allows veterans to live and be cared for near or in the comfort and familiar settings of their homes surrounded by their families.
Serving America’s Veterans and Caring for Families of Veterans
President Bush Is The First President In Over 100 Years To Sign Concurrent Receipt Legislation. President Bush twice signed legislation effectively providing “concurrent receipt” of both military retired pay and VA disability compensation for those regular military retirees most deserving – combat-injured and highly disabled veterans – reversing a century-old law preventing concurrent receipt.
The President Kept His Promise To Award Disability Claims Faster. The President promised to reduce the disability claims backlog, and at his request, Congress has provided VA with the resources it needs to award claims faster. Since January 2002, the average length of time to process a veteran’s disability compensation or pension claim has dropped from approximately 230 days to 167 days.
The Administration Has Increased Traumatic Injury And Death Benefits. The President signed into law proposals increasing the death gratuity for deaths in Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, or combat-related activities from $12,420 to $100,000; increasing the maximum life insurance benefit from $250,000 to $400,000; and providing a lump sum payment of up to $100,000 for serious traumatic injuries occurring in service.
New And Expanded Benefits Provide For Families Of Veterans. VA makes pensions based on need available to surviving spouses and unmarried children of deceased veterans with wartime experience. President Bush signed the Veterans Benefits Act authorizing new and expanded benefits for disabled veterans, surviving spouses, and children.
Faith-Based And Community Grants Help Homeless Veterans. President Bush expanded faith-based and community grants to all 50 States, Washington, D.C., and to Indian Tribal governments for the first time in history. Under his leadership, veterans have decreased by 10 percent as a percent of the adult homeless population, and the number of veterans homeless on any given night has decreased by 20 percent.
Taking Steps To Honor American Veterans Laid To Rest. To comfort families and honor veterans with a hallowed, final resting place, the President signed the National Cemetery Expansion Act of 2003 into law, authorizing the future development of six new national cemeteries across the country. Between FY 2001 and FY 2005, VA provided more than 1.7 million headstones and markers to honor American veterans laid to rest in national and state veteran cemeteries and private cemeteries around the world. By 2010, 90 percent of America’s veterans will have access to a burial option within 75 miles of their residence, either at a National Cemetery or State Veterans Cemetery that was constructed or expanded through Federal grants.
The President Is Committed To Safeguarding America’s Symbols Of Freedom. The American flag is a special mark of pride and dignity to America’s veterans – and the President believes it deserves to be protected in the Constitution. In June, the House of Representatives voted for a constitutional amendment to ban flag desecration, and the President has urged the Senate to pass this important amendment this year.
Helping America’s Newest Veterans Transition To Civilian Life
New Partnerships And Innovative Programs Facilitate Benefits Delivery Upon Discharge From Military Service. Under the President’s leadership, agencies and departments throughout the Federal government are joining forces to provide programs and services for America’s newest veterans and military families, including:
VA, The Department Of Defense (DoD), And The Department Of Labor (DOL) Have Developed A Partnership To Facilitate The Delivery Of Services To Veterans And Military Beneficiaries. VA experts are reaching out to service members at 140 military bases to provide America’s newest veterans with the benefits they have earned and to bring about a seamless transition for new veterans from military to civilian status.
VA And DoD Work Together To Meet The Needs Of The Men And Women Who Served In Operation Iraqi Freedom And Operation Enduring Freedom (OIF/OEF). Together, VA and DoD are finding ways to move records more efficiently between the two agencies; share critical medical information electronically; process benefits claims quickly and efficiently; and, in every way possible, support their transition from active duty to civilian life. A VA website provides information about a wide range of benefits for returning veterans at www.seamlesstransition.va.gov.
The Department Of Housing And Urban Development’s (HUD) HUDVET Resource Center Is Specifically Designed To Help Veterans, Current Military Members, And Their Families Make Full Use Of HUD's Programs And Services. In cooperation with leading veteran's groups, HUDVET produces a Resource Directory and maintains a comprehensive web site. Both the Directory and the website provide an easy-to-use breakout – on a state-by-state basis – of the organizations and services available to veterans.
DOL And The Department Of Justice (DOJ) And The Office Of Special Counsel Actively Protect The Employment Rights Of Veterans. DOL helps veterans and employers understand their rights and responsibilities under the Uniformed Services Employment & Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). This law requires employers of active duty service members, reservists, and deployed National Guard members to reinstate them to their jobs with full pay and benefits. If returning soldiers face problems in securing reinstatement and legal action is necessary, DOJ personally represents returning soldiers under USERRA when they seek to resume the job they left to serve their country. The Office of Special Counsel represents soldiers’ Federal sector USERRA claims.
DOL Helps Employers Find Qualified Veterans As They Leave The Military And Helps Veterans Make The Best Use Of A National Network Of Employment Resources. Through a national “Hire Vets First” campaign, the Department is raising awareness among employers of the relevance and value of military training and experience to civilian occupations. DOL provides more than $7 billion in job training and employment services, which are delivered through a nationwide network of One-Stop Career Centers and administered in partnership with states and local communities, and assures that every veteran, surviving spouse, or the spouses of captured or missing service members, have priority for these services.
New Initiative To Increase The Number Of Contracts The Department of Agriculture (USDA) Awards To Disabled Veterans Who Own Small Businesses. USDA developed a Service Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Strategy to provide the formal direction and aggressive activities necessary to afford its contracting opportunities to veteran small business owners throughout the country.
DoD And The Department Of Education Have Partnered On The Highly Successful Troops-To-Teachers Program. Under this program, the Secretary of Education supports DoD in providing assistance, including stipends of up to $5,000, to eligible members of the Armed Forces so that they can obtain certification or licensing to become highly qualified elementary, secondary, or vocational/technical teachers. In addition, the program helps these new teachers find employment.
• Senator DeWine has voted against efforts to increase co-payments for certain veterans seeking health care at a Veterans’ Affairs medical facility, and worked with my subcommittee last year to quickly close the more than $1 billion health care shortfall identified by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs midyear;Now does all that sound like "shortchanging the veterans' health-care system" to you? It sure doesn't to me...
• Senator DeWine co-sponsored legislation to reduce the age at which Guardmen and Reservists may begin to collect retired pay from 60 to 55.
• Senator DeWine is a co-sponsor of the Military Retirees Health Care Protection Act, which would establish a modest yearly increase to TRICARE premiums and halt the current Department of Defense proposal to more than double these expenses for retirees under age 65;
• Senator DeWine co-sponsored legislation to allow Federal civilian and military retirees to pay health insurance premiums on a pretax basis and to allow a deduction for TRICARE supplemental premiums;
• Senator DeWine introduced legislation to improve survivor benefits, including: increasing the death gratuity to $100,000, expanding the TRICARE Prime eligibility for minor dependents, increasing the monthly payments for dependency and indemnity compensation, and increasing the education benefit for survivors. Last year, the death gratuity increase and TRICARE Prime for kids became law.
• Senator DeWine co-sponsored legislation to repeal the unfair offset imposed on widows that are eligible to receive both dependency and indemnity compensation and payments from the Survivor Benefit Plan.
• Senator DeWine sponsored an amendment, which became law January 6, 2006, to close a loophole which had prevented certain beneficiaries of troops that die from receiving an increased special death gratuity of $150,000. Prior to my amendment, this special death gratuity was limited to combat/combat-related deaths between October 7, 2001 and May 11, 2005.
• Senator DeWine co-sponsored the Retired Pay Restoration Act, which will provide retirees long-deserved concurrent receipt of their retirement and disability pays.
UPDATE: While we're at it, let's take a look at Sherrod Brown's record on issues that veterans care about:
BROWN VOTED AGAINST THE PATRIOT ACT, A CRITICAL TOOL IN THE GLOBAL WAR ON TERRORYeah, that's what I thought...
· Brown Voted At Least TWICE AGAINST The Original Patriot Act, Just A Month After September 11th (H.R. 2975, CQ Vote #386; H.R. 3162, CQ Vote #398)
· Brown Voted At Least TWICE Against Reauthorizing The Patriot Act In 2005 (H.R. 3199, CQ Vote #414; H.R. 3199, CQ Vote #627)
· Brown Would Not Even Vote For Amendments To The Patriot Act Designed To Ensure Protection Of Civil Liberties (S. 2271, CQ Vote #20)
BROWN VOTED REPEATEDLY TO CUT FUNDING FOR INTELLIGENCE BEFORE SEPTEMBER 11TH
· Brown Voted At Least TWELVE Times To Cut Funding For Intelligence During The Time Between The First Attack On The World Trade Center And September 11th, 2001. (H.R. 1555, CQ Vote #129; H.R. 3694, CQ Vote #137; H.R. 1775, CQ Vote #255; H.R. 1775, CQ Vote #253; H.R. 3259, CQ Vote #188; H.R. 3259, CQ Vote #187; H.R. 3259, CQ Vote #185; H.R. 1655, CQ Vote #654; H.R. 2126, CQ Vote #643; H.R. 4299, CQ Vote #333; H.R. 2330, CQ Vote #393; H.R. 2330, CQ Vote #391)
BROWN FREQUENTLY VOTES TO CUT VITAL WEAPONS SYSTEMS AND DEFENSE SPENDING
Brown Voted Against Funding For Troops In The Field In Iraq And Afghanistan
o Brown Voted At Least TWICE Against The $87 Billion Supplemental Funding For Operations In Iraq And Afghanistan (H.R. 3289, CQ Vote #601; H.R. 3289, CQ Vote #562)
· Brown Has Voted For Years To Cut Defense Spending
o Brown Voted At Least FOURTEEN TIMES To Cut Or Freeze Defense Spending. (H.R. 4205, CQ Vote #194; H.R. 1664, H.R. 1141, CQ Vote # 118; H.R. 1119, CQ Vote #214; H.R. 3610, CQ Vote #244; H.R. 2126, CQ Vote #721; H.R. 2126, CQ Vote #644; H.R. 889: CQ Vote #153; H.R. 889: CQ Vote #152; H.R. 2118, CQ Vote #186; H.R. 2266, CQ Vote #337; H.R. 3610, CQ Vote #245; H.R. 5010, CQ Vote #269; H.R. 3610, CQ Vote #243; H.R. 2401, CQ Vote #420)
· Brown Has Voted To Cut Funds For Missile Defense Since His First Year In Congress
o Brown Voted At Least TWELVE Times To Cut Funding For Ballistic Missile Defense. (H. Con. Res. 95, CQ Vote #85; H. Con. Res. 393, CQ Vote #88; H.R. 4546, CQ Vote #157; H.R. 4546, CQ Vote # 145; H.R. 3610, CQ Vote #246; H.R. 3230, CQ Vote #173; H.R. 1530, CQ Vote #384; H.R. 1530, CQ Vote #374; H.R. 4301, CQ Vote #179; H.R. 3400, CQ Vote #610; H.R. 2401, CQ Vote #414; H.R. 2401, CQ Vote #412)
· Brown Voted Frequently To Cut Vital Weapon Systems
o Brown Voted At Least FOUR Times To Cut Funds For Producing Or Procuring B-2 Stealth Bombers (H.R. 2266, CQ Vote #336; H.R. 1119, CQ Vote #228; H.R. 2126, CQ Vote #639; H.R. 1530, CQ Vote #370)
o Brown Voted At Least FOUR Times Against Funding For The F-22 Fighter (H.R. 2658, CQ Vote #335; H.R. 5010, CQ Vote #270; H.R. 4576, CQ Vote #241; H.R. 2561, CQ Vote #494)
o Brown Voted At Least TWICE To Cut Funding From The F-22 Program (H.R. 3610, CQ Vote #242; H.R. 2126, CQ Vote #640)
“Sherrod Brown’s comments about Mike DeWine and veterans are absolutely laughable,” said Ohio Republican Party spokesperson John McClelland. “Senator DeWine has an impeccable record of support for our military and veterans, from funding military operations to approving military pay raises. But just like his recent complaints about gas prices, Sherrod Brown is a “Johnny-come-lately” who has a 14 year record of voting against the very things veterans are concerned about, most notably the defense of our country. Once again Sherrod Brown proves that he doesn’t share the same mainstream values of Ohio voters.”Even PAUL HACKETT knows this guy is bad news...PAUL HACKETT!
Even Paul Hackett, Brown’s former opponent in the Democratic senate primary, knew that Sherrod Brown was weak on defense and that Brown’s record was “proof that Mr. Brown could not win in November.” According to Hackett campaign documents acquired by the Toledo Blade, a consultant hired by the Hackett campaign said Brown’s votes on defense and national security issues are “toxic in today’s political environment.” (“Hackett’s research targeted Brown,” Toledo Blade, 2/20/06)