05
Feb
08

112. Homeless Veterans, Politics and the Media

Dear Friends:

Again I am stumped by our elected government officials in both the House of Representatives and the United States Senate. I am baffled by a lot of things that I see our elected officials use to get on the news. What is even more bizarre is what those Senators and Representatives who are not running for the White House have decided to get on the television and radio about.

Senator Arlen Spector R-PA, is babbling on the networks about the National Football Leagues Antitrust status over destroying video tapes of hand signals. I am not sure that spying on the other team is such a critical matter that we need a Senator to spearhead this.  

I do believe that it is a matter of importance. It’s not going to displace the stimulus package or the Iraq war, but I think the integrity of football is very important, and I think the National Football League has a special duty to the American people — and further the Congress — because they have an antitrust exemption.

–Sen. Arlen Specter

Integrity of Football? Oh For Craps Sake, Arlen! Between baseball and football we as individuals realize that the sports “hero” is overpaid, pampered, socially irresponsible and that those that promote and manage them undoubtedly need more than congressional assistance.

On the other hand our real “heroes”, those men and women that have served their country on a field besides a ball field are consistently ignored by our Congress. Our congress as usual pays lip service to its veterans at any parade or ceremony honoring veterans,  or during an election year, and then when the cameras are off its back to the bottom of the promises list for the vets.

I have some issues for congressional oversight. The Whole Veterans Administration, Why is PTSD now a hot issue after thirty years of ignoring it, Gulf War Syndrome, Agent Orange, Homeless Veteran Issues, Delays in Pension and Compensation Funding, VA Overabundance of Red Tape, Municipalities “cattle driving” the homeless out of their city limits using or while accepting HUD Funding, the vagaries of Traumatic Brain Injury compensation ratings per VA Region, the delays in medical treatment, the erroneous VA reporting, and the list is endless.

But instead, we get steroids in baseball and a football spy case. A lengthy CSPAN televised oversight hearing starring names like Rep. Waxman, Sen. Specter, and Rep. Stupak. I wonder when the House of Representatives will be selling their own team jerseys next and wear them to the hearings.

The fact this is complete nonsense, irrational, does not affect the American public, and is not a social issue that we as the constituents elected these people for. I want to hear from anyone that feels that professional sports oversight hearings are more important than any of the topics listed above. Maybe I am too simple, sports players that have taken steroids (which we know have been illegal for years..) need to be prosecuted and possibly incarcerated. That is a Department of Justice and Drug Enforcement Agency issue, agencies that are charged with these things to deal with and report on to congress, not the other way around.

When I read the congressional reports from all the non profits and Veterans Administration that are testifying before congress the last five years, it is the same regurgitated numbers and understated facts on this issue. The one thing that is clear is that there have NOT been any changes that are recordable of any note on successes. It is amazing to me that the Committee on Veterans Affairs that deals with Veteran Homelessness, among other issues, cannot remember what the statistics are, or wonder how they have not gone up or down according to VA reporting? How about a hearing on why the VA cannot for some reason, create permanent housing solutions for homeless veterans?

There are many issues that congress can be exercising their oversight on. It is a shame that they are seemingly wasting their oversight on issues about people who are being paid millions of dollars already. It sometimes makes me wonder though, with campaign financing so expensive these days, what is going on in the “back channel” here that so many investigations are now beginning to ensue in professional sports, that other longer term issues are allowed to be back burnered by our representatives in congress.

As I had written six months ago, homeless veterans are used by politicians during election years. I am not amazed that it is happening again with presidential candidates. Personally I admit I am not impressed in hearing these candidates talk of the homeless veterans to again leave them with nothing once the candidate is in office. That these candidates are Senators, Governors and Representatives currently, that they have had a sudden “epiphany” during an election campaign while not having sponsored much of any legislation for the subject, is debatable to their sincerity and credibility, as well as to that of their colleagues who are endorsing them. That they are further squandering their time elsewhere is infuriating.

Time and time again, the homeless veterans of this nation have heard how much they are going to be helped. After the balloons, bands and inauguration balls are finished, they still have the same zero support from politicians as well as nothing changing on their behalf.

The fact that there are more homeless veterans than there are eligible voters in the State of Vermont and that the homeless veterans are given zero representation other than by advocates should be noted. We also know that the VA has failed in its mission, and the fact that Congress has failed to enforce their own mandate regarding veteran homelessness is well established. That the candidate pool is from these lawmakers, who have been charged with dealing with these issues for years, presents a gloomy forecast for any sweeping changes or meaningful strides being made toward assisting homeless veterans, let alone in ending veteran homelessness.

Wanderingvet

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