Friday, November 11, 2005

Congressman Harold Ford Jr: Standing Up For American Veterans

Happy Veterans Day everyone!

Lets all be sure we take a moment out of our day to thank all the brave men and women who have served our nation proudly and defended our rights and liberties over the years.

We owe everything we have to these honorable men and women who put themselves on the line for each and everyone one of us.

And for that, I salute them and say thank you.

In 2006, as you may know, we have a very important U.S. Senate race here in Tennessee.

As voters and grassroots supporters, we must insure that our next Senator is a strong supporter of veterans--both on the battle field and on the homefront.

That is why Harold Ford Jr. must be our next U.S Senator.

Over the years Congressman Ford has shown time and time again how much he respects our veterans by standing up and strongly supporting veterans' rights in the Congress.

For instance, in July 2004, Congressman Ford introduced the Enhancement of Veterans Mental Health Services Act, which would help combat service members and veterans deal with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Describing the need for the legislation Ford said, "Many of our brave men and women serving in combat zones in the Iraq and Afghanistan theaters are under tremendous psychological and emotional stress. As more of our troops return home, it is vitally important that the Veterans Affairs and Defense Departments have the resources and expertise to diagnose and treat those who may be suffering from PTSD."

In June 2005, Congressman Ford once again came to the aide of veterans when he helped provide health benefits for almost 2,400 veterans in Tennessee and some 150,000 veterans across the nation who were set to lose their benefits.

Speaking on the issue of veterans benefits Ford said, "Our country's men and women in uniform refuse to leave a brother or sister on the field of combat, and we in Congress should refuse to leave even one of our nation's veterans behind – behind on medical bills, behind on access to prescription drugs or behind on needed hospital care."

"We must not stop short of making good on our commitment to the Americans who've fought from Baghdad to the Beaches of Normandy. We must leave no veteran behind."

Also in June 2005, Congressman Ford called on President Bush to address the shortfalls in veterans' healthcare.

In his letter to the President Ford said, "The current shortfall in veterans care funding would leave more than 4,000 Tennessee veterans and nearly 200,000 veterans nationwide without healthcare benefits. We owe it to the millions of brave men and women who have served our country – more than a half million of whom live right here in Tennessee - to make good on the debt our country owes them," Ford said. "We should not welcome the thousands of veterans from our state and nation returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan by slashing their healthcare and prescription drug benefits."

In addition, The Amercan Legion, Disabled American Veterans, AMVETS, Paralyzed Veterans of America, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars all backed the Ford/Blue Dog Coalition budget over both the Bush and House Republican budgets.

Rick Jones, the National Legislative Director of AMVETS, wrote:

"On behalf of the co-authors of the Independent Budget, AMVETS, Disabled American Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, we are writing to offer our appreciation for introducing the Democratic Alternative to the Budget Committee's Budget Resolution, H. Con. Res. 95.

Although this Alternative Budget Resolution does not provide all the resources for veterans' health care that we feel are necessary, it does recommend $1.1 billion in additional discretionary spending in FY 2004, and $17 billion more over the course of 10 years. In addition, and perhaps most importantly, the Alternative Budget Resolution does not include the draconian cuts to Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) mandatory programs that are contained in H. Con. Res. 95.

To require deep cuts in VA mandatory programs, $463 million in FY 2004 and $15 billion over ten years, that are called for in H. Con. Res. 95 is unconscionable. We do not consider payments to wartime-disabled veterans, pensions to the poorest disabled veterans, burial benefits and G.I. Bill benefits for soldiers returning from Afghanistan to be ``fraud, waste and abuse.'' These would be the very programs directly affected by the Budget Resolution approved by the Committee. In addition, we note that H. Con. Res. 95 provides fewer discretionary dollars in FY 2004 than was recommended by the Administration. We are all on record as recommending close to $2 billion in additional funding, above the $1.3 billion recommended by the Administration, for VA health care, and we find it difficult to see how H. Con. Res. 95 can even match the President's inadequate request.

Again, we applaud your efforts to negate the cuts in VA mandatory programs and provide $1.1 billion in discretionary spending above H. Con. Res. 95 in FY 2004, and $17 billion more over the course of 10 years. Although not meeting The Independent Budget recommendation for VA health care, the Democratic Alternative Budget Resolution represents a solid step forward in meeting the very real needs of veterans, and those who will soon be veterans."

Congressman Harold Ford Jr. is willing to stand up and fight for our nation's veterans. He understands the importance of leaving no veteran behind.

As our next U.S. Senator, I am confident he will continue his fight for all veterans across this great nation.

More: Read about how Congressman Ford is supporting our troops in Iraq by putting forth new ideas and solutions and fighting for much needed body armor! (1,2)