Archive for May 2nd, 2010

May 2, 2010

Veterans Win One. Mojave Cross To Remain

by lewwaters

America’s Veterans had cause to rejoice this past Wednesday, April 28, 2010 as a divided US Supreme Court found for us in the long ongoing Mojave Cross case, where one disgruntled man deemed it offensive to his senses to know there was a cross erected in 1934 by World War One Veterans to honor their fallen comrades 11 miles from the nearest highway.

Lower courts ruled in favor of the ACLU and the cross has been hidden in a plywood box for some time now. Now, by a 5 to 4 decision, the simple white cross can be freed and displayed for any who desire to venture far into the Mojave Desert to see it.

We need to be vigilant as you will notice; I said it was a 5 to 4 decision. We barely won it and rest assured, anti-Veteran forces will not stop in their quest to deny us the use of such a symbol in honoring our fallen brothers and sisters.

You may download and read the 71 pages of opinion HERE if you wish.

As to the cross being solely a religious symbol, my friend Rees Lloyd, himself a former ACLU attorney who now fights for Veterans causes explained the symbolism of the Cross in veterans Memorials thusly,

“Symbols have meaning in collective life. People die for them. For instance, the Flag. The Cross manifestly has a religious aspect. But, equally manifestly, it conveys a secular meaning — the meaning of selfless service and sacrifice for others, and is so understood, universally, beyond language barriers. In fact, there is not other symbol so universally recognized as representing selfless service and sacrifice for others, including the ultimate sacrifice of one’s life. That is how it is understood at veterans memorials, and why it is the symbol so often chosen to honor the war dead.”

He continued,

“The Cross, too, has acquired a secular meaning–the meaning of goodness, of self-sacrifice for others. Tear down the Cross and you are left with the absence of any symbol adequate to honor the serve and sacrifice of veterans.”

As you can see, a Cross used to honor Veterans has far more symbolism attached to it than merely religious.

Congressman Jerry Lewis (R.Ca) added his praise by saying,

“Congress has repeatedly voted overwhelmingly to protect the Mojave Cross as a memorial to veterans and those who have died to defend our nation, never intending it to be preserved as a religious symbol. I am gratified that the Supreme Court has upheld the right and authority of Congress to seek these solutions in memory of our veterans.”

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor agreed with retiring Justice John Paul Stevens who spoke in dissent,

“The government has good reason for honoring all those who have rendered heroic public service regardless of creed, but it should avoid endorsement of a particular religious view in doing so.”

Clearly these 4 just don’t get that we don’t choose symbols based solely upon a religious view. Would they adopt the same attitude if the American Red Cross were challenged on their chosen symbol and force them become something like the American Red Box?

This should also be an eye-opener to us all as with Stevens retiring and left-leaning Obama desiring to stack the court with liberals who only fall back on our constitution should they be able to distort a section to deny us of another liberty, we could have lost this case just as easily and knowing the ACLU, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see some other challenge mounted to finish the destruction of one of our Memorials.

The ACLU has been accused of desiring to destroy crosses used as headstones in National Veterans cemeteries and they continue to deny that allegation.

With the over 10 year battle to destroy this simple Memorial out in the middle of the desert, I’m not too sure I trust that denial.

May 2, 2010

Now They Worry About PTSD Fraud? Where Is Patty Murray?

by lewwaters

I guess it was inevitable with the dire situation of the economy and realization that Obamacare would end costing considerable more than expected, that fraudulent PTSD claims would cross someone’s mind. And as always, Veterans Healthcare falls under the microscope.

MSNBC posted a story by the Associated Press, Tide of new PTSD cases raises fears of fraud that contains the sudden realization, “Some veterans have learned to game the system to get disability payments,”

After years of pandering to Veterans and Veterans Groups who were outraged during the Bush administration at efforts to review PTSD claims for fraud, Democrats, now that they have control and have ruined the economy for generations to come, suddenly realize such fraud is a real possibility? Or, do they think such fraud could only happen once they have all responsibility in their soiled hands?

Either way you look at it, such fraud is not new. Veterans, like any group of people, have a small number that seek ways to game the system. Many have been found to have never even served in the Military, much less a combat zone, as was outlined in several pages of the 1998 book, “Stolen Valor” by B.G. Burkett & Glenna Whitley.

During the Bush years, the Veterans Administration announced it would be conducting a review of some 72,000 PTSD claims after a random sampling of 2,100 claims found about 25% “lacked adequate proof of a service-related stressor.”

Two questions were raised by Veterans advocate Larry Scott at the time. “How can a claim be awarded if the veteran doesn’t meet the standards set for that claim?” And, “If the VA didn’t note the documents, how could the PTSD claim have been awarded?”

Larry, who was an enlisted man serving as a “Broadcast Journalist at AFKN HQ, Seoul, Korea and AFN Lajes Field, The Azores, Portugal and a stateside tour as a Broadcast Journalism Instructor at the Defense Information School” and who claims “VA compensation for a service-connected disability” receives VA Healthcare from the same facility as I do, located in very left-leaning Portland, Oregon. In my visits there I have been treated with everything from pity to disdain for having served in Viet Nam.

My first visit, for a vesting physical a few years ago, I was asked a few questions such as, did I ever see blood? Did I ever see wounded soldiers of either side? Was I ever subjected to rocket or mortar attack? Was I ever sexually harassed? Do I suddenly become angry? Do I jump at sudden unexpected noises?

From those questions and a few others, I was told that I too displayed symptoms of PTSD, although I have yet to pursue any compensation. But, that was what it took. No documentation, no dates, no specifics, just answer yes to those few questions and bingo, you got it.

No one even asked for me to sign an SF 180 to review my Military records to see if I was even in Viet Nam, it was just accepted by my say so.

That, Larry, is how a claim could be made without the Veteran actually meeting such standards.

As I have said many times before, PTSD is a very real condition and can be very debilitating, leading too many to suicide if not treated. It is not a laughing matter nor is it something to be taken lightly or marginalized.

But neither is fraud. Fraudulent claims divert much needed resources and funds away from those truly in need to someone seeking easy money. That is wrong. And, as far as I am concerned, such fraud is criminal.

In 2005, thanks to the efforts of Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and then excessively junior Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), those filing fraudulent claims gained a reprieve as an amendment was inserted into the Fiscal Year 2006 VA budget which would stop this review.

Murray crowed about the effort stating, “Veterans should not be punished for mistakes the VA has made, and that’s what my amendment ensures.”

I fail to grasp how someone filing a fraudulent claim with the Veterans Administration is somehow the VA’s mistake.

Now, here we are, 5 years later, still engaged in a war that must be fought and was long over due when we entered it, Trillions of dollars deeper in National debt, an economy in shambles with raging unemployment and still we hear, “Some claims are built on a foundation of fake documents; in other cases, the right medals — plus a gift for storytelling — secure unearned benefits.”

Ms. Murray, Barack, I await your magic wand approach to just make this one go away as you did before. I wait your boasting of how you protected fraudulent filers of PTSD claims in 2010 as you did in 2005.

Just remember, now that you control all the purse strings, every case of fraud is not only wasted tax dollars going to someone undeserving of such care, it denies a truly deserving Veteran in real need of much needed care.