Friday, February 02, 2007

VA investigation coming...

From the Startribune

Finally, Congressman Kline and I agree on something.

"It's just unconscionable that you have a man that's identified by the system,
yet he gets to the point where he commits suicide," said Kline, a Marine veteran
who represents the district where Schulze lived.


Although, Congresswoman Bachmann has been notably silent on the issue.

Congressman Walz displayed his grasp of the situation, which I fully expected as he is a retired CSM from the National Guard.

"The hidden costs of this war are not being addressed," said Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn., a member of the U.S. House Veterans' Affairs Committee and a veteran. "I've been deeply concerned. I think there's been almost nothing done to prepare for this."

Schulze's death, Walz said, points to a looming problem as more veterans return to Minnesota from Iraq. "I'm anguished over this," he said of Schulze's death. "What's heartbreaking is that Jonathan had the foresight to reach out."

Exactly, according to most reports, this young Marine reached out for help and was met with a cold shoulder and an excuse.

I am anxiously awaiting the report of this investigation and the improvements that will be made at VA Hospitals across the nation. Suicide amongst veterans is an issue that gets swept under the proverbial rug in society.

Imagine the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington. Some 58,000 brave souls have their names etched in stone, forever enshrined in this moving tribute to Vietnam Veterans. If we accounted for the suicides of Vietnam Vets, the wall would have to be more than 4 times the size it is today.

Think about it...

1 comment:

TBN said...

Congressman John Kline expressed his ‘Great disappointment and concern’ last week to parents of his constituent, a young Marine Corps veteran of Iraq, following the young Marine’s death after he was unable to get treatment at two VA Medical Centers in Minnesota.

A Marine Corps veteran of 25 years, Congressman Kline (MN-2) serves on the House Armed Services Committee and the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

In the 109th Congress, (2005-2006), the House had several bills for improving health care to military veterans that were left behind when the Congress adjourned because the House leadership was unable to get the bills out of the committees and to the House Chamber for a vote.

Bills that might have improved VA services for veterans like the late Jonathan Schulze include House Resolutions 515, 1588, 1982, 2131, and most notably 1639, which would have provided for pre- and post-deployment mental health screening for troops.

In the 110th Congress, the House Veterans' Affairs Committee is working to enact legislation to improve benefits to military veterans. One of the bills, HR327, proposes to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to develop and implement a comprehensive program designed to reduce the incidence of suicide among veterans.

With wide support from 116 co-sponsors, the bill has nearly as many sponsors (133) as the bill to mint coins commemorating combat disabled veterans. Co-ponsors of the bill to reduce incidence of suicide include Betty McCollum (MN-4), Collin Peterson (MN-7), and Tim Walz (MN-1), a member of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee.

I placed phone calls to the offices of Congresmen Keith Ellison (MN-5) and Jim Oberstar (MN-8) on Friday, asking them to co-sponsor HR327.

Bills left behind in the 109th Congress: (2005-2006)

HR 515: Neither Gil Gutknecht, John Kline, Jim Ramstad, Martin Sabo nor Mark Kennedy cosponsored this bill; Reps. McCollum, Oberstar and Peterson did. The bill was to provide for assured adequate level of funding for veterans health care.
Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

HR 1588: Neither Gil Gutknecht, John Kline, Jim Ramstad nor Mark Kennedy cosponsored this bill; Reps. McCollum, Oberstar, Sabo and Peterson did. The bill aimed to improve diagnosis and treatment for those veterans suffering from PTSD.
Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

HR 1639: Neither Gil Gutknecht, John Kline, Jim Ramstad nor Mark Kennedy cosponsored this bill; Reps. McCollum, Oberstar, Peterson and Sabo did. The bill was to provide for pre- and post-deployment mental health screening for troops.
Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

HR 2131: Neither Gil Gutknecht, John Kline, Jim Ramstad, Martin Sabo nor Mark Kennedy cosponsored this bill; Reps. McCollum, Oberstar, and Peterson did. This bill aims to improve benefits for members of the Armed Forces, veterans, and their dependents and/or survivors.
Status: Referred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

HR 4949: Neither Gil Gutknecht, John Kline, Jim Ramstad, Martin Sabo nor Mark Kennedy cosponsored this bill; Reps. McCollum, Oberstar, and Peterson did. This bill was to prohibit increases in fees for military health care.
Status: Referred to the House Committee on Armed Services.

Note: HR 1982 had no Minnesota sponsors.
HR 1982, “The Welcome Home GI Bill Act of 2005,”was to increase the benefits for members of the Armed Forces serving outside the U.S. and its territories. Status: Referrred to the Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

The Subcommittee on Military Personnel, of which Congressman Kline is a member, seems to have been disappointingly ineffective in getting their bills out of committee to House Chamber for a vote in the 109th Congress.

It's time for We the People to put pressure on the 110th Congress to ensure they treat 'Supporting the Troops' as a legislative priority and not a public relations campaign. Exercise our citizenship by putting checks and balances on the Congress, as suggested by former Senator Mike Gravel (AR) during his speech at the DNC winter event this weekend.

Senator Jim Vickerman (DFL, SD22, Tracy), chair of the Senate Committee for Agriculture and Veterans, reported looking for additional funding for veterans programs through liaison with the staff of Congressman TIm Walz (MN-1) and the Senate Majority Leader, Sen. Larry Pogemiller (DFL, Minneapolis).

Congressman Tim Walz stated in a January interview with Kathy Wurzer of Minnesota Public Radio that the House Veterans' Affairs Committee was planning to recommend Congressional appropriations of $700 billion to $1 Trillion for veterans' legislation.

Information on House and Senate bills may be found at: www.thomas.gov