Friday, June 19, 2009

This is How You Support The Troops

Had your fill of yellow magnets and empty pledges of "We support our troops" with the implied, "Don't you? Where is your magnet, sticker, flag pin or any of the other superficial accoutrements that pass off as somehow magically giving aid to our military?" My peace sign somehow doesn't count.

Now - thanks to Paul Rieckhoff (who wrote the article below) - Exec. Director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), Huffington Post readers and countless other Americans who pressured their representatives in Congress, every servicemember who has been held beyond their enlistment contract under the military’s controversial stop-loss policy is a presidential signature away from their overtime payments. More than 170,000 troops have been forced to postpone their retirements, education plans, new job opportunities or family dreams since September 11th, and each could receive on average $5,000 in back-pay as compensation. That’s real money in their pockets at a critical time. Finally, more than lip service is being paid to our men and women in uniform.

Also part of the war supplemental bill, Congress is honoring the families of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice by ensuring that all children of those killed in the line of duty since 9/11 will be able to afford a college education. This “Fry Scholarship” is named after Marine Gunnery Sgt. Jon David Fry. He was killed in Iraq in 2006, leaving behind three children. While nothing can replace the loss of a parent, the very least we can do is make sure that these Gold Star children have the opportunity for a bright future available to them. And it’s important that we invest in the future of veterans’ health care as well. This week, the House of Representatives began this process by approving a landmark budget for the Department of Veterans Affairs. The proposed 2010 VA budget represents a 15 percent increase over 2009 levels. If passed, this budget would set the stage for the 21st Century VA that the President and Secretary Shinseki have promised. We also saw movement on IAVA’s top legislative priority for this year: advance appropriations. By funding the VA a year in advance, we can finally put an end to the late budgets that have crippled the VA’s growth and maximize existing VA funding to provide the greatest quality and quantity of care possible. This is the legacy we will leave for generations of veterans to come—no matter what President or party is in charge. More here.

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