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July 30th, 2009
08:43 AM ET

Costs and Benefits for Veterans

The New GI Bill takes effect this Saturday. 90% of veterans will see their education benefits either double or triple, according to one veterans' organization. And for the first time, veterans will be able to transfer their GI benefits to family members. It's said to be the best GI bill for troops since World War II.
This is an example of benefits for veterans. But we all know the heavy costs they pay. Severe physical injuries, PTSD, trouble finding jobs, emotional adjustment issues - the list goes on.
Tomorrow on Newsroom with Heidi, we're going to focus on veterans. What they need, what they get, and what's being left out.

We'd love to include your stories in our coverage.
Click on the comments button below - and tell us about your experience as a veteran – or the experience of a veteran you know well.


Filed under: Heidi Collins
soundoff (69 Responses)
  1. Sandy

    How comes CNN does not fact check statement like "80%" of Americans not wanting changes to their health plan? Are those of us without health insurance not Americans? Is there not defacto rationing already very widespread? what percentage of Americans do have a choice?

    July 30, 2009 at 10:00 am |
  2. Natalie

    I think that this Bill Should also cover some medical expenses because i have a family member who is still currently enlisted in the military, and he complains about not being looked after properly, and i've also noticed so so many physical and emotional changes he's also started to show. He's started to have severe mood swings and he tends to go into a little zone and starts to talk like a character and he'll sit in the corner and stay there awhile. It hurts so bad to see a loved one go through such, but right now, there's nothing that can be done.

    July 30, 2009 at 10:03 am |
  3. Jerry

    As a Vietnam vet (army medic) and Veteran Service Officer, I'm shocked to see new vets with PTSD and TBI given dishonorable discharges for behaviors associated with self-treatment strategies such as using illegal drugs to self-medicate or behaviors that could be caused by the TBI. This is a medical problem, not a discipline problem. They don't go from being heroic soldiers to "evil" drug users for no reason--they're not being properly diagnosed & cared for! Their medical records often don't indicate that they've been evaluated properly or treated by mental health professionals. We don't want yet another generation of soldiers becoming "homeless vets"!

    July 30, 2009 at 10:06 am |
  4. Eric L. Sessions Jr.

    Good Morning Heidi,
    I am currently serving in the United States Navy. Recently returning from the War On Terrorism in Afghanistan, the Life of the average day to day sailor significantly changes once they are faced with a Life like that of a soldier in Harms way. I was one of five Navy personnel on a (FOB) Forward Operating Base of over 50 New York National Guard Soldiers. We all learned to get along quite well and we all stuck together on each mission that we executed. I really am grateful to have served Boots on the Ground and have returned to my family safe and my heart and prayers go out to all of the soldiers, sailor, airmen and Marines that are still out there saving american lives from Terror on foreign Land.

    July 30, 2009 at 10:07 am |
  5. Jamal

    I like your morning news, Heidi, since we talking about veterans those days. I would like to mention a story of a war veteran. Farid El Azzouzi is a US Army soldier, who gave the ultimate sacrifice in 14 June 2007 in Karabala Iraq. He is a Moroccan born with no independent here in the US. My request is some little recognition in your show for this soldier, who never hesitates to serve his host country. In fact just few months after his death, his citizenship ceremony was held in Balad Iraq, which I was one of the Army member who became a citizen.

    July 30, 2009 at 10:09 am |
  6. Michael

    American veterans are still waiting to receive the comfort and care they deserve for ensuring Americans can live free.

    Here is a good example: Since the Gulf War began almost ten years ago, more than 45 percent of those serving the same amount of time in the war zone are guard and reserves. However, upon retirement, guard and reserves do not receive the same benefits as active duty members.

    Some of the simplest things Obama can do to fix this may not even cost a dime. Another example, Grey Area Retirees (Guard and Reserve who have more than 20 years service and retired but not age 60 yet), are severely limited as compared to active duty retires in using benefits such as Space Available travel on military aircraft, or medical insurance (Dental insurance is authorized).

    Guard and Reserve members are dying just as fast as the active duty counterparts, yet receive far less benefits for doing so.

    It's time to equal the playing field. Policies and procedures (and benefits) that are outdated because in the "old days" guard and reserve did not play such an important role, should be revised to reflect the new missions guard and reserves now play in our national defense.

    I could see in the future that if the U.S. continues to not take care of it's veterans appropriately, there may not be any veterans to take care of because people would see little benefit in joining the military.

    Michael

    July 30, 2009 at 10:12 am |
  7. al

    Heidi thank you so much , my son served two tours in Iraq and a possible tour in Afghanistan soon. The stress is crazy on us back home. Heidi love your hair , think you are the hottest anchor in the world.

    July 30, 2009 at 10:15 am |
  8. Sgt Watts(medically retired)

    The new G.I. Bill is a good start for our troops coming home but it still alot of work to do for or Vets and our hospitals and care. Its been over 10yrs since i've been out and I been to war on two occasions in the Army and I still to this day have severe issues with adjusting to civilian life and having dreams and nightmares about being in combat.

    All soldiers should be catered to especially when they come home from a war torn country. America should be like heaven to our troops when they come home. Not hell. Compensation and health benifits should be granted to all soldiers. I can say here in Milwaukee Wisconsin you can see goverment dollars put to work at our V.A. Its get'n a whole new makeover and new equipment. I see this when I go for my treatments.

    HOOOOAH!! 82ne Airborne all the way...GO ARMY!!!

    July 30, 2009 at 10:19 am |
  9. Annie Matthews

    My name is Annie I served in the military, Alabama National
    Guard this is going to be a short summary of how I was treated. After I arrived in Iraq a started my tour I got sick I was medivac to Gremany form Germany back to my mob. station where i started treatment for my illiness. My mission was hauling fuel, on my first mission I had an accident hurt my knee. I'm a insulin dependent Diabetic, I have high blood pressure, none of which i had when i was deployed. I stayed at Fort Bragg North Carlonia for over a year, the medical provider that I was assigned too found me unfit to be in the military, I was schedule to go to the Army Medical Board they found me fit for duty sent me back to my national guard unit for them to take of me. I started back going to drill, my unit decided they wanted to send me back for the Medical Board a second time they said as long as i can hold a penical i'm able to stay in the National Guard this was a decesion made by Regular Army Officers, Because I had 30 years in the Guard they would not retire me out now my unit want to kick me out because i am non-deployable. These are some of my problens that I developed on Active Duty: Torn patella in knee, Rotater cuff partially seperated, insulin dependent diabetic, Depression. It goes on and on if you nedd to talk to me please call me at (910-964-8891) My penmenship is not that well.

    July 30, 2009 at 10:32 am |
  10. Marla S. Dean

    My son is a Marine veteran of the Iraq war. He joined the Marines at the age of 17, delaying college and planning to use the GI Bill. When he earned a bonus, he even rolled it into his GI Bill funds.
    After returning home, thankfully safely, he entered college. He soon found that the GI Bill was extremely slow at paying the university, often angering their billing dept. It seemed that the GI Bill did everything possible NOT to pay his check every month. If he did not "verify" correctly every month, the check would be delayed, or not come at all. When Winter break came, he was very shocked. Because he was out of classes from Dec. 15 to Jan 14, the GI Bill sent half of the usual monthly amount in his check both months. Sadly, his apartment rent and his truck payment were not cut in half those months. A s a full-time student, he was working part-time and depending upon the monthly GI Bill check to make up the difference in his living expenses.
    Because of this, he took a full-time job and still tried to keep up a full course load. When he found that it was too much to keep up, he dropped one class. Unfortunately, this caused him to drop below 12 credit hours, so the GI Bill refused to pay for his tuition that semester.
    My son was then offered a much better job, so he gave up on college. Unfortunately, he never paid the bill to the university, which he is now responsible for. He has now suffered the consequences of this, since he can't get a car loan.
    My son had been told that he had over $50,000 in funds in his GI Bill, which included the bonus that he had rolled into it. My question is this: Is this not his money? Should he not be able to use it for classes as he wants, whether he desires to go to school full-time, or to just pay for a class or two each semester? Sadly, my son has decided that it is not worthwhile to deal with the hassles of using his GI Bill, and probably will never use "his" money. Was this the government's goal all along? Will the "new" GI Bill treat our veterans the same way?
    Thank you,
    Marla S. Dean

    July 30, 2009 at 10:48 am |
  11. Tom

    In February I became aware that if you served in Vietnam and have diabetes the government acknowledged that Agent Orange could be responsible. All Vietnam veterans with diabetes can file a claim for diability without proving it was directly related to Agent Orange. I just started receiving $236 a month, which is considered a 20% disability.

    July 30, 2009 at 10:55 am |
  12. Domonick Weaver

    I am a 4th generation service member. Even though being a Navy airmen, you're only exposed to so much actual combat, I have to look at my mother, her father, and her brothers who all have gone to live action combat at least 2-4 times in their careers. My grandfather, now 70 years old, still has nightmares and flashbacks despite his medication. My mother and her brothers, the same. I feel un-affected, but living around them makes me relive my own battles in the Navy. yet, the VA only prescribes more or different medications and counseling. We are combat veterans. We need something more active, more involving. Help us! Help us to finally sleep at night without thinking of those lost, killed, or missing in action. From the Korean Incident to the Middle East Conflict we have existed for the sole purpose of fighting and survival. Give us peace of mind. We've done our part in making peace in the world.

    July 30, 2009 at 11:01 am |
  13. sonnyrice

    My Fellow American’s, Sgt. Crowley And Prof. Gates,

    Please listen before you alter fates. Do not let one’s pride, Restart this great nation to divide. Look at what is happening in such a short time, What this is undoing is really the crime. All across America people are upset, Now I ask each of you what good will all this get? A learning lessons already taught, So many people’s mending has been for naught.

    A man has risen to lead us all, Do not be a part of America’s fall. This is the year of our lord, two thousand and nine, So please do what you all know to be divine. One planet, one race, as one beating heart, The world may end some day, please do not be the start. We lead the world with freedom first, Do not let racism quench it’s undying thirst. To not enslave us all at last, Lets look forward away from our past. The mistakes we make and continue to do, Could spell the end of more then me and you, by bringing down our great nation, All of this for the sake of sensation. I ask you not to let our enemies see, such things may still live in the land of the free.

    Yes America there is a change across our land. People are Worried that nothing is going as planned. I know it looks as if everything is turning out wrong. America has endured hardships before and again became strong. We have an advantage over the rest of the world, our nation stands side by side with our arms curled. As one we breath the air others can smell. Our freedoms a tale no other land can tell. Our strengths in unity given with free will. For though its forbidden , to protect it we will kill. In self defense only throughout our proud history. So why others seek to harm us is a true mystery. We open our boarders to all who exist. We die in their lands helping others to resist.

    We have always supplied aide to those in need. America grew from an idea that all of its people should be freed.. Tyranny and oppression belong in the past. For to fight against freedom no enemy could last. No chains in the womb, our path to life. So let no one be able to cause another strife. No nation stands as America for freedom. Proven to our enemies as we soundly beat em. The light of America may flicker in some eyes, to them truth and justice, are nothing but lies.

    Our fore fathers brought forward a race unseen on this planet for all time. One that believes that to deny freedom is a universal crime. So no matter the troubles that may come our way, The flag of America will gallantly lead the way. Together we stand, never to fall, so remember we are the greatest nation of all.

    I love the different colors of man, We were created according to plan. So different and the same, All of us with our own name. Man and woman free to combine, To create new life is so divine. Able to mix and mingle, No one has to be single. Banding together to survive, I for one am happy to be alive. If we all looked alike it would not be nice, I’m so glad to be the only Sonny Rice.

    Ernest Rice – Port St Lucie, Florida 34952,

    July 30, 2009 at 11:08 am |
  14. Marianne O'Hare

    Sara & Heidi,

    Amid all the difficult stories of soldiers not recieving the care and attention they need, there is a positive story to note: POST UNIV.
    in Waterbury, CT has developed a special Accelerated Degree Program for Active Duty Military who can earn their degrees on-line
    WHILE they are serving. There are currently 400 GI's working on their
    undergraduate or graduate degrees while stationed in bases around the world. The best part is, POST Univ. has specially priced the program so that there are NO out of pocket costs to the soldier. We have some GREAT spokespeople who could talk about this special program. We also have b-roll of soldiers in fatigues doing their coursework. Please let me know how I can assist!

    GREAT WORK!

    Marianne O'Hare

    July 30, 2009 at 11:13 am |
  15. Robert D. Hammond

    I am a Viet Nam Vet, I am also retired Navy. I have to finance my VA disability because, I recieve Navy retirement. The VA added my two disabilities, 30% + 20% and came up with 40%. I live in Knoxville, Tn. amd the nearest Va Hosp. is over a hundred miles away, making health care from the Va, a real problem. I have seen some of our toops, injuries from Iraqui and heard the stories on how the Va has dealt with them. The returning Vets. treatment is crimal. The politicans promises are great, if you believe in the tooth fairy. Thank you, kindest regards, Robert D. Hammond CPO USN Ret.

    July 30, 2009 at 11:16 am |
  16. Arthur Farward

    Dear Heidi,
    I am afraid my story is not a pleasant one. I recently retired from the military after 33 years. I am what is called a "Vietnam Era Vet". I had my son Aaron develop meningitis while I was in the United States Marine Corps. Aaron later passed away. I was discharged from the Marine Corps with a hardship discharge, because of this I was denied a good conduct ribbon worst my son Aaron passed away at 7 years old with multi-handicaps and was deemed a ward of the state of Pennsylvania. I continued my military career in the Air Force reserve. I had my credit rating go from excellent to bad because a credit card company vendor placed a bogus charge off on my credit rating. I had a lein placed on my home while serving at the Pentagon in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom supporting my Military brothers and sisters who returned home in either body bags or physically and mentally scarred for life. I recently returned to work for a major air line (US Airways) and have been denied medical coverage until 2010. As far as the new GI Bill I have been told I may or may not qualify for the benefit. My understanding it is the decision of the VA. In closing may I say as far as medical benefits; I have none. My military retirement benefits do not start until my 60th birthday. I am presently 54. I don't understand how I can be expected to live until 60 without any medical benefits. All because I am a reservist. Please keep in mind the majority of the troops serving today are reservists. I would love to speak to you or anyone at CNN who could help me and see that none of this happens to my Military counterparts or any other American. This is not the country or benefits I faithfully served for 33 years. I can be reached by cell phone at (724) 513-2713 please feel free to contact me by phone or email as I can not begin to place all the military operations and all the sacrifices/consequences I have experienced in this single email. Please allow me to say I have in excesss of 17 ribbons which prove I have supported conflicts from Vietnam to Kosovo to the Gulf in my 33 years of service. Thank you and God bless you and your staff.

    Arthur Farward (Recently retired Master Sergeant USAF)
    I

    July 30, 2009 at 11:18 am |
  17. Tom Blankenship

    the common combat veteran is no match for the VA in the battle that that we must fight long after we return from war. If we return it is with a preconceived notion that we will be afforded the rights afforded in the VA motto. As time passes with little or no benefits, reports of record shredding and fraudulent reporting from the very entity that continues to profess its allegiance to the veterans, the VA becomes the adversary.
    The strategy of the VA is to first become your friend and protector in the new battle for earned rights and privileges. This strategy allows a token few to get their deserved rights and the VA submits to Congress how well and timely they are doing their jobs. The VA does not seek out veterans in need and follow up on their requests as the US government has done in war time with selective service and punishment for any individual that did not comply. The VA is content to conceal and confuse in order to deny the benefits from veterans who are unable to understand their privileges. The VA has no objection to hiring individuals that will prolong or frustrate veterans into homelessness, suicide or other anti social behavior. It is my opinion that the individuals hired by the VA or not to blame for doing their assigned jobs, but I do believe the VA policies, procedures and standard of operations continue to be detrimental to the veteran.
    As a combat veteran I have learned enough anti social behavior from one end of the spectrum to the other in order to survive. Now I would be content with help and assistance to live without additional battles that I will face in dreams and guilt for the rest of my days. I have been fortunate to have Charley Parnell to locate and verify my personal combat stressor an act not done by the VA some 23 years ago. The VA would like to take credit for locating the military records that verified the stressor but I will not allow that. Also Bev Sondag has helped me confront the battles I brought home with an expertise to keep me from giving up on my self and other veterans.
    Other veterans will not have or know there is a Charlie Parnell or Bev Sondag out there to help them but through a Congressional Inquiry into the workings of the VA they will have a better chance of finding them.
    I know you are aware of my personal dealings with the VA and the many and continued frustrations that I have encountered. Multiply that by the many other veterans out there and still to come and that is why I would ask for a formal inquirey into the proposed and actual functions of the VA.
    Respectfully
    Tom Blankenship

    July 30, 2009 at 11:23 am |
  18. Matthew Merricks

    FULL TIME SAILORS LEFT OUT OF NEW GI BILL.

    Why did the VA leave out FTS Sailors.

    I served full time. Recieved the Southeast Asia service medal and Kawati Ribbon for my service during the Gulf War. I retired in 2005 with no GI BILL. I have spent my career full time USNR training our reservist so when the country calls them up they are ready. Sailors who were called up and have served at least 90 days of active service are now being awarded a full GI BILL.

    I recently was laid off from my job. No formal education to compete in today's work force. I feel like my 22 years of service is not being valued. I asked myself and my country why is 90 days of service more valuable than 22 years of continue faithful serve FULL TIME.

    Who will fight for us? We maintain the reserve ships and naval stations full time, so that in time of war our reserve forces are ready to fight.

    I need my country to help me in my time of need, but the VA told me that I have insufficent active duty service to qualified for a GI BILL. A technical classification the GI Bill coversUSN designation, not the USNR Full Time Service. Guess what I don't qualifiy for the reserve GI Bill because I am not a part time (week end) sailor.

    Navy Full Time Support (FTS) sailors ae members of the Navy Reserves who perform full-time active duty, receiving the same pay, allowances, and benefits as active duty members.

    The purpose of the Full Time Support (FTS) program is to train and administer the Navy Reserve. It is open to both male and female personnel. Enlisted FTS personnel serve in demanding billets both at sea and ashore, providing the support necessary to prepare Navy Reservists to deploy when needed. The primary advantage of FTS over regular active duty is that FTS folks generally spend longer at a single location (they are not re-assigned as often), and there are Navy reserve bases available to be stationed at that are not normally available for active duty sailors.

    Enlisted FTS personnel may be assigned to operational units (such as Navy Reserve Force ships and Reserve air squadrons), shore activities (like Navy Operational Support Centers), and majore shore commands (such as the Chief of Naval Operations, Navy Personnel Command, and the Navy Reserve Forces Command)

    July 30, 2009 at 11:25 am |
  19. Brian in Virginia

    Everyone who’s ever served in the military should contact the Veterans Administration (VA) and apply for educational benefits.

    My Chapter 30 Success Story!

    I served in the U.S. Navy from the late 1990’s – 2002 and received gracious financial support to attend a 4 year college. I earned a Bachelors Degree.

    Later in life I used the balance of my education benefits to attend vocational training in effort to change careers. I recently received reimbursement from the VA for exam fees I paid to acquire a professional license.

    Having, served 12 months of my tour on active duty after Sept, 11, 2001 I’ve been advised that I may be eligible for additional educational benefits.

    Maybe I’ll try studying overseas this time around?

    Oxford, Technical University of Munich, and the University of Haifa are all pre-approved with the VA!

    July 30, 2009 at 11:34 am |
  20. Arthur F. Gomez

    I would like to share my story. I'm a Navy veteran who served 15 years of service and have written everyone from my senator to the President. I have been dealing with Post Traumatic Stress since I was in the service and unfortunately like most veterans I used alcohol to cope. The military knew this. I had never been in trouble with the law until after I came back from my 2003 deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Soon after I got in trouble for DUI's and have since served two months in jail for my third DUI. Thanks to God I have now been sober for one year but it was no thanks to any help from the government. In fact the Navy kick me out after serving for 15 years the depression I felt after they got rid of me was almost unbearable especially after serving my country for 15 years. What was worse was that I learned while I was in jail that there are many veterans in jail who have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD) and are not getting any help. In fact we're just looked at as common thugs and not given any chance. There are some programs to help those with addiction problems but for a veteran dealing with PTSD these programs often don't work. I just want the country to know that there are many veterans dealing with addiction problems because of what they've gone through. We served for the love we have for this great country of ours and when some of us returned home we couldn't cope correctly and our country through us away. Some of us upon return home chose to go homeless, others turned to drugs, while some of us still made the ultimate sacrifice by taking their own lives. The President talks about health care reform but it seems that the health of many veterans is at the bottom of the list especially since a lot of us are ending up in jail for addictions that we most likely wouldn't have if we had never served but if you were to ask any of us we would glady do it again because we love this country. I don't know what to expect from this letter since I've written so many trying to bring attention to the problem of veterans going to jail instead of getting the help the so badly need and deserve. I've pretty much lost hope that any one cares about the veterans in jail who really need help. One county in Illinios offers veterans a chance to clear their record if they enroll and can stay sober in VA programs. But that's one county in one state. I live in San Diego, CA where there are many veterans and no such program to help us but there are a lot of a us in jail. If there is a program tohelp veterans it's not being told to us. I love this country and would glady grow through every thing I've gone through again. I've been battling with my PTSD since 2003 and after the Navy kicked me out because of my alcohol abuse in October of 2007 my struggle was made that much harder but as I've mention earlier thanks to God I've now been sober for just a little over a year. I'm just hoping to get help for many of the veterans dealing with addictions do to their PTSD so that many of my brother veterans don't have to suffer any more. My road to sobriety hasn't been easy and I will always have my nightmares and sleepless nights to deal with but no matter how badly I feel I've been treated by the Navy, judicial system, or the gorvernment I still know this is the greatest country in the world. Sorry for my rambling I tend to do that.

    Sincerely,
    Arthur F. Gomez
    U.S. Navy Veteran
    Operation Southern Watch Veteran
    Operation Iraqi Freedom Veteran

    July 30, 2009 at 11:37 am |
  21. 2LT Wallace

    Hi, Heidi!
    I just wanted to take this opportunity to share my pride in service and my thanks to all of those who have and are serving. I have been in the National Guard for nearly six years making it to the rank of Staff Sergeant in the Military Police Corp. Thankfully, my fiance took the same path, and we were able to meet at Fort Knox, KY at a military school. Now I am an officer awaiting flight school while my youngest brother fights in Afghanistan as an active duty soldier.

    My best friend, SGT Trisha Wyatt and her fiance leave for Iraq this month with my former MP unit. My father is a Vietnam vet who flew his Huey heroically through any mission, and my grandfather was also an MP in WWII. I have met some of my closest friends, and known some of the greatest people just through my six short years of service.

    It is my honor to serve this country and alongside every soldier I meet. I think it is important that soldiers are aware of their benefits, as I was not throughout my college years. Since this war has begun, many soldiers have had to put their education on hold as they enter into a war zone. The GI Bill is one way to reduce financial stress while soldiers fight to improve their lives with an education. My prayers are with the soldiers who are overseas and their families who await them here at home.

    Mindy

    July 30, 2009 at 11:39 am |
  22. Ernie

    Please forward to Heidi. "WHEN DOES A VETERAN STOP BEING A VETERAN?" He was 89 yrs old and diagnoses with dementia and diabetes; a father of 10; veteran of WWII who served in Germany; he returned from the war and worked in security for the US Gov. at White Sands Missel Range for 32 years; he was a grandfather and a great grandfather; and He was so loved and respected and needed by his family. We checked him into the VA hospital in El Paso, Tx. for observation because he had fallen and bumped his head. They released him without notifying his family. He went missing. The Hospital would not search for him although we asked them to repeatedly. He was found 5 days later, 100 yards from the hospital on hospital property. He had just died. No food, no water, no meds.for 5 days. All they had to do was look out their window. The would have seen an old man wandering around lost and confused but they never did and they would not let us search for him. So, my little sister Irma asked, "When does a veteran stop being a veteran?" Careless care when they arrive home from war and little or no care as time goes by. I am a vietnam vet. My brother joe is a vietnam vet, My sister tony is a vietnam vet. All My fathers brothers are veterans of WWII....Thank You, Heidi. I have to stop here.........e.

    July 30, 2009 at 11:52 am |
  23. Ashley

    I think that it is racesist from that police stopped a African-American just because he is young and saw him in a Porshe. Just because he has a nice car and is young and black does not mean he stole that car it is very racesist I think that police officer should be held with charges with Racesism (if the can do that)Also Im saying this I dont favor any type of race but I just dont think this is right.
    Well, I just wanted to share my opinion with everyone and I think they should do something about that.....

    July 30, 2009 at 12:02 pm |
  24. Selene

    My husband is Marine Vietnam Veteran. I am so disappointed in this countries treatment of it's vet's. Being a teenager during the Vietnam War I have always been of the mind set that if one put's his (and now her) life on the line for this country there is nothing that should be denied them. Health Care and all that it encompass should be unlimted to all war vets. In other words there should be nothing that we as a country or government not give them. As a wife of a war vet. all should know that the memories never go away. There are very long term problems that do not show up until much,much later in life. There are personnality changes, phyiscal pain, fear, distrust of everyone. They feel quility for making it back home when so many of their friends did not. There are good days and sometimes some very bad days. It is heartbreaking. We as the families of these veteran's form any war have to deal with this on a daily bases. And believe me it is not easy, but out of love we struggle to asure them. This government finds some of the sadiest reason to deny. The families and the VA doctors know that there is a problem with these vets. Question? Why does a veteran have to be sent out to an outside doctor to be evaluated? Are the Doctor's at the VA not competent enough to evaluate the patients. They see the patients, these outside doctors know nothing about these patients or their problems. But by their word a veteran can be denied compensation. The powers that be say certain things will be acknowledge and certain things won't. The Pentagon and Government know what weapons (chemical or other wise) are being used around and by the soldier. No the may not know at the time the long term affects of these weapons but over time it becomes very clear. Denial is not any help to any of these vets. They all should be made a 100% when they make it back home. In other words if they make it back home from battle they should be paid for the rest of their life. And those of you who are against war for what ever your reasons, thats fine. But, it is the governments that go to war. I don't know of one solider who makes it out who really wants to go and possibly die for any reason.

    July 30, 2009 at 12:25 pm |
  25. Dane Washington RA18617761

    My Fatherinlaw Benjamin James Yarbrough, a world war II hero that was awarded two bronze star medals for uncommon bravery in Berlin Germany. Made master motor sg/t in less than three years in the segregated US Army. Benjamin Yarbrough threw away his bronze stars in protest of a klan hanging, where a soldier who served with him was hung on his way home, with a purple heart still on his uniform, for saying he was a man to the klan police. Benjamin James Yarbrough was president of the NAACP in West Memphis Arkansas in 1949 when your life was on the line. His daughter Deloris Yarbrough of Deloris Yarbrough vs the Hulbert West Memphis school system was the first to intergrate the West Memphis schools. His oldert daughter is Col Olivia Yarbrough US Air force retired.

    July 30, 2009 at 12:39 pm |
  26. B

    There is so much that needs to be done involving the VA. The main thing is medical/health. My husband was med. discharged from service in 05', and where we live, we have to travel a long distance to the VA hospital, wait in line for hours all to see not the same doctor you saw last, and most of the time that doctor is a foreigner waiting to get a lic. to work at a regular hopspital. With this health plan tring to get pushed, is there anything out there for us veterans? I would like to make a couple of suggestions. 1. if you signed that dotted line for service, was honorabley discharged from service, you should have free medical for the rest of your life along with direct family memebers (spouse and kids). 2. A veteran should be seen at any local office/hospital that they choose and not have to travel over 100 miles to see someone that can hardly speak english.

    July 30, 2009 at 12:48 pm |
  27. Shannon Patrick, DC

    My grandfather was a WWII veteran. He had two purple hearts and over half-a-dozen other medals I can't keep track of. He was so scarred by the damaging affects of war that he was virtually unable to speak about any of his experiences. His household was run like a military camp and he was ceaselessly ill-at-ease. My grandfather cared a 90-pound grown man out of Auschwitz. The soldiers returning from Iraq have it as bad or worse. They deserve everything they get and more.

    July 30, 2009 at 12:55 pm |
  28. Marty Stahl

    I am a Vietnam Veteran. I appreciate the VA since I got over not wanting to ask for help. I am especially happy that the IRAQ /Afghanistan veterans are getting help sooner than those from our war did.

    As mentioned in the story lead, the benefits being offered are good and not quite what WW II veterans received, so this is not beyond precedent.

    My only issue with the bill is that some of the relief / benefits offered are only offered to the most recent vets. The extension of education benefits covers recent vets, even those who did not take advantage of them within ten years. For those of us who are older vets, this is not offered. Now that many of us are expecting to work past traditional retirement age, I would like to see that extended to all of us.

    Thanks for your attention and for the story on this topic,

    Marty

    July 30, 2009 at 1:22 pm |
  29. Marty Stahl

    Having read the other comments and remembering what I have heard in vet groups, I want to clarify that while recent war vets are getting assistance somewhat faster than Viet vets did, they are not automatic not easily gotten. The situation has improved, it is not great, just better than it was.

    Marty

    July 30, 2009 at 1:28 pm |
  30. "Gun Bunny"

    Hi Heidi
    Thanxs for this opportunity to help other veterans.
    I have been laid off for seven months.
    In '66 I was drafted because I was not in college or did not have other reasons not to be drafted. When I completed my tour in Veitnam and returned home I was unable to afford further schooling. I started work in the construction field and now laid off, I am unable to find work in my field.
    Last week on a routine visit to the state unemployement bureau I met with a counselor, a veteran himself, that had just completed special training to assit veterans to find employement. Most of the jobs that I have responded to have requirements only achieved by futher education. I was enformed of soo many benefits available to veterans. One of them is the "Veteran Tuition Awards". I am now enrolled in school because of the V.T.A..
    This new bill will further help veterans in need.

    Thank you again

    RAM

    July 30, 2009 at 2:00 pm |
  31. Charlie Erickson

    For Natalie, Being that your family member is still in the service, you should contact your Congressional representative or Senator. Explain in detail, in writing, everything you are aware of concerning his behavior changes. Your elected officials will do something, and if at all possible, try to deliver the letter in person and try to get a sit down with someone in the elected official’s office. The military can make things difficult, due to the strict chain of command. If you go directly to the military, you will have to begin with his CO. It’s not a good idea, and could create problems if you start going over heads to avoid the chain So, going outside of and avoiding that military hierarchy, might be a good place to start.

    I agree with Michael that changing times require changing rules and regulations.

    As far as Sgt Watts and others like him are concerned, the VA has inpatient PTSD programs. You need to get yourself into one. I’ve been in two of them. You don’t have to live near any particular VAMC to get into their program(s). I suffered for 33 years before I knew of these inpatient programs. In addition to my other problems, the demons of the night have been dancing in my dreams for so long now, that it’s hard to remember a time without them. The problem is that the VA is not allowed to advertise their services. It’s mostly accomplished through word of mouth, which is how I found out. I still suffer and probably always will, but at least I now know what to do and where to go, if things get really bad. Hopefully they won’t. It’s extremely difficult for a novice surfer of the VA’s website, to find the information on in-patient PTSD programs. You need to speak to someone with that knowledge and experience. I have been hoping for years, that the news media might pick up this ball and run with it, and start publicly doing (in the way of special reports, soundbites, and what have you) what the VA is forbidden to do. So far I’ve seen nothing, but I’m still hopeful. You, Sgt Watts need to get into one or more of these programs; preferably two of them. By design, the first program will deal with the traumas themselves, and can be very intense at times, While the second program, which may be a longer one, is directed towards life in the now, and coping with things of all manners. The “protected environment” provided by these in-patient PTSD programs, and the natural camaraderie between Veterans, allows us to open up, expose, and understand our most inner workings. These programs are great. They need to be publicized, because they work (in varying degrees, with each individual), and they need to be expanded to more VA’s. It can be done now, cause the money is (or will be) finally out there. This information needs to be easily available. The VA should set up a PTSD hotline, with information on all of the in-patient and out-patient programs. I somehow doubt that this will happen though.

    Every Veteran should join a service organization. They will/could be of enormous help in your quest. Most, if not all VA hospitals have an office/offices for them on premise. I’m a Vietnam Veterans of America life member myself. I’m planning on joining the DAV also.

    I too, come from a family of those who have served their country. From what I know and from what I’m gathering, I’ve had family serve in every conflict from the American Revolution to Vietnam. Oddly enough, I am the last war/combat Veteran, in that line. My father and my uncles were in WW2, and me and my brothers were in Vietnam. That must’ve been really though on my Mom.

    I’m happy for Brian’s success story. There should be so very many more.

    I want to thank all of those who have served, and all of those still serving. It’s an honor to be in such company.

    I’ve had a lifetime of doing volunteer work. It is so rewarding. I just wish I could help everyone, but these days I sometimes can barely get out of bed, let alone out of the house.

    Charlie. (Sgt, US Army, 1968-71)

    July 30, 2009 at 2:09 pm |
  32. Rob

    I`d just like to say that I`m a honorably discharged vet from the US Navy during Desert Storm. I signed up for the old Montgomery G.I. Bill in which for the first year you contributed $100 per month for a year and then when discharged were guaranteed $10,800, a far cry from what it is today. The problem I have is when I got out I had to support my family and college had to go to the back burner only to have the Government write me a letter about 5 years later telling me I had forfeited my college money because I didnt use it in their timeframe! So to the vets out there getting something for their service take full advantage of it because dont believe for one second your guaranteed for life, not when it comes to our grateful government!

    July 30, 2009 at 2:20 pm |
  33. Nickles4Me

    I would like to tell my story, a victom of crime and abuse, have proof of false information given to VA by ex-wife and local county, which resulted in benefits with held while I tried to raise two children. This is theft by deception, for other person did benefit from my lose. I have proof but no money for attorneys. I need help to tell whole story, for I don't write to well. If someone fronm CNN would contact me I would love to tell story and beg for someones help. I have not seen my daughter in nearly 3 years, I cry nearly everyday, no one helps. Was a day I would fight for any mans child no questions asked. Why wont nobody help me, I got proof. But disabled, and already having benefits previosly with held, dont have any money. I like to ask America just for chance to tell whole story, and plead for help, if not for me for my daughter, pray she dont hurt as I do? Some one wish to help please contact me.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  34. Charles Thornton

    I served 20 years in the USAF and suffered an injury early in my military career that has worsened over the years. As a result, I am now disabled. I retired in 1995 and applied for 100% VA disability benefits in 2001. The VA had all the information they required to approve the request. By that time, I had already been declared totally disabled and was receiving Social Security beneftits. The VA deferred the decision pending receiving a request for information from Soc Sec to determine if my disability was for other than service connected reasons. Though they received nothing to support it was other than service connected, they closed the claim before completing the review. This was in 2004, 3 years after the initial request. I did receive a 40% disability.

    I asked the VA to reopen the claim and submitted the previous test results along with identical, but updated medical test results. This time the VA approved the 100% disability but they were silent on my request to make it retroactive to the original request date. No reson was given because they improperly closed the previous claim. The test results were identical to what they received ind the original submission. But they approved the claim based on the later date and just did not acknowledge the claim which clearly demanded they address the claim from the original date.

    The VA has not been supporting our veterans. The claims have been reported as stacked in file cabinets with a huge backlog of open claims. The answer can't be to ignore valid claims submitted by veterans which causes additional paperwork, delays in claim approval, and in my case, 8 years of frustration.

    July 30, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  35. MASTERSGT McCLAIN J L USMC RETIRED

    I HAVE BEEN DIAGNOSED AND I AM BEING TREATED FOR PTSD BY VA DOCTORS OVER 3 YEARS AND I HAVE BEEN DENIED BENEFITS CAUSE THEY SAY THAT THEY CANNOT LOCATE THE STRESSOR ARE WERE IT HAPPENED. BUT 7 MARINES HAVE WROTE LETTERS ON MY BEHALF STILL KNOW BENEFITS. I SERVED MY COUNTRY FOR 22 YEARS , AND NOW MY COUNTRY HAS TURNED ITS BACK ON ME. THERE ARE OTHERS LIKE ME BUT NOONE LISTENS.

    July 30, 2009 at 6:46 pm |
  36. Oscar Bluitt``

    I am a 76 year old veteran who served 7 years in the Army. I am 100% disabled with a service connected disability determined by the VA, which means I received a check from them every month. The VA Regional Office in New Orleans was very helpful in getting me to the right people so that I could get my benefits.

    The Alexandria VA Medical Center took care of me and has always been ther for my medical care. They provide me with the medication I need for medical care I receive in my home town. Last month I had two bypass surgeries on my legs. The VA provided me with 6 pairs of compression stockings which would have cost almost $500. They provided me with a wheelchair and funds to renovate my home to make it more wheelchair accessible. Whatever medical care I have needed they have done their best to take care of, from my teeth to my feet.

    I now receive services home health care services 3 days a week. I am also provided with someone to keep my many medications in order. The VA has done so much for me and I am glad to see them extending services for all veterans. One of the things needed is more people to handle outreach services, to let Vets know what services are available. So many don't know and thats why they don't get what they need.

    Oscar Bluitt
    ruff8338@bellsouth.net
    630 Auburn Dr
    DeRidder, LA 70634
    337-460-0767

    July 30, 2009 at 9:48 pm |
  37. SPC.Rudolph Holloway

    As a soldier in the reserves,and active duty I am proud of my service. I hope to continue serving under President Obama.I have applied for the Post 911 GI Bill,and I am using it at a Georgia Technical College. A school administrator told me if I use the Montgomery G.I. Bill,that was older I would get more money. So, the new G.I. Bill needs to be evaluated by soldiers before using it. Thank You R.H.

    July 31, 2009 at 12:17 am |
  38. Charlie Erickson

    For Arthur Gomez, I suggest contacting the San Diego VAMC (located in La Jolla). They do have an outpatient PTSD program. Just walk in, find out exactly where the PTSD clinic is located within the facility, go there and speak with anyone in the unit. Don’t just call to set up an appointment. They will be able to determine as to whether an inpatient program will benefit you. There is an inpatient program at (I believe) either the Menlo Park, or Palo Alto facility. As I’ve previously said, it is very difficult to discover exactly what the VA offers, and where it is offered.

    There must be more openness concerning these inpatient (and to a much lesser extent, their outpatient programs. It seems like the Dep’t of Veterans Affairs is directed to bury the existence of these programs, as much as possible. Even the website of the National Center for PTSD (NCPTSD) is seemingly designed to hide this information.

    I can understand why the Dep’t of Veterans Affairs is forbidden from advertising, because of the huge amount of money that would be needed to be redirected to it. Still, there must be some sort of way that the VA, community outreach groups, state Veterans divisions, Veterans service organizations, the news media, and disaster relief organizations, can form some sort of partnership to efficiently get the word out to Veterans and to others who suffer from PTSD and related disorders. Think of it as a part of healthcare reform. Those who can get help as close to the traumatic event(s) as possible, will ultimately fair far better and therefore save costs on the treatment of the long term debilitating effects, which inevitably will show up. It will also save lives. PTSD kills. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

    As far as Ernie’s post about the Veteran who got lost and died on the El Paso VA Grounds go, The VA police should have been contacted directly, if the administration at the facility had dropped the ball and or refused. The VA police are a separate entity from the administrative parts, and if they feel your request has merit, they will override or ignore any directives given to them from the VAMC’s administration.

    Where “B” is concerned on her husband’s travel distance; just go to the VA facility nearest you. Just tell them that this facility is more convenient. I’ve never had a problem in that respect. I’ve used Manhattan, Brooklyn, Lyons New Jersey, and Martinsburg West Virginia VAMC facilities, along with their community based outpatient clinics.

    Someone who can help, really needs to reach out to “Nickles4me”.

    All Veterans and the public needs to know that within the Department of Veterans Affairs, there are two distinct entities. They are the Veterans Benefits Administration and the Veterans Healthcare Administration. Don’t confuse the two. The Veterans Benefits Administration is responsible for all eligibility requests for healthcare, disability compensation claims, disability pensions, educational and housing benefits, and anything else the VA has to offer. They are notorious in their quest to deny claims, and even to stall and wait out claims if a veteran is suffering a life threatening illness/injury and may be near death. If a Veteran dies before, or even on the day a claim might be approved, then the case is closed and nobody (not even the Veteran’s family) will get a dime. The VA healthcare system, on the other hand, though you will always find screw-ups and complaints, is about the best there is. Especially being, by far, the worlds largest.

    It looks like Robert D. Hammond has discovered something called “VA math”. When anyone is given a disability percentage which becomes final, and then gets any other disability awards, then the percentage given is applied to the remainder. In other words, you were granted 20% of the remaining 70%, granted from the first disability award of 30%. That’s how 30% + 20% = 40%. Theoretically, you could be granted an infinite number of disability awards, at any percentage, and never get to 100%. That’s another of the VA’s dirty little secrets. The key is to have 100% granted on just one disability, or on multiple disabilities, in the initial award. After that, VA math kicks in. You can get to 100% through a process called “unemployability”, but that comes with it’s own potential hazards.

    In Charles Thornton’s claim, once an initial claim is completed and closed. Additional claims cannot be retroactive to the date of the initial claim. The key here would have been to not let the initial claim close. Once you were awarded the initial 40%, you should have immediately filed a grievance, and gone through the many appeals processes. Never let any claim close until you get what you feel you deserve, or the U.S. VA Court (yes, there is actually one) decides what is appropriate.

    MSG McClain, you need to get professional representation for your case. That’s what the Veterans Service Organizations do. Join one immediately, if not sooner (an old military expression like “hurry up and wait”). I did my own claim and got what I deserved, after about 3 years. I do not recommend that others do it by themselves.

    To all Veterans out there, who are looking for looking for help; when you go to a VA Benefits Administration regional office, or a VA Hospital for the first time, bring your DD-214. Don’t ever leave home without it. It is one of the most important documents that you will ever have. Don’t lose it. Make copies and give them to different family members, so one will always be available. If you’ve been out for awhile, and don’t have one, then contact the records division of the military branch you were in, or possibly the National Archives.

    I hope I was of some help.

    Charlie. (again)

    July 31, 2009 at 1:38 am |
  39. Charlie Erickson

    Another thing for Robert D. Hammond, is that there is an outpatient clinic in Knoxville, at 9031 Cross Park Drive. You can do most primary care things there. These outpatient clinics are like small hospitals, but operate only from 8-4:30. If you need something that the clinic can't provide, then they will refer to to the nearest facility that can provide it, and electronically set up an appointment for you.

    The VA Healthcare system is completely electronic, and your complete records can be accessed from any facility, anywhere, in seconds.

    Anyone can go to http://www.va.gov, and click on "locations" in the heading, then follow the instructions. You will locate any facility, hospital, outpatient clinic & vet center in the VA Healthcare System.

    Wow, I know that sometimes I post a lot, with occasional long ones; so I hope that CNN isn't tiring of me.

    Charlie.

    July 31, 2009 at 2:22 am |
  40. Charles E. Williams

    Yes Heidi, I am a AF disability veteran servering in excess of 24 yrs. I was hurt having "staring seizure" back in (66-67 at Da Nang, Viet Nam. After retiring from the Air Force, I was ask4ed to return back to my last base of record England AFB, LA., to serve in the accounting field I left ( grade GS-9). Things went very nice for me and my family I purchased a new house. Then suddenly, President Bush (Bush 1) closed the base. I was given 1 one option as a place to go and that was "MISSISSIPPI". Since I was black, I tried everything to get out of it, and the second problem I was going to a NAVY Organization – something I had no knowledge of. Thus, in Feb 1992, I was reassigned to NAVY Dept of Supervisor of Shipbuilding, Accounting Section.
    I Worked in the Headquarters building . My job was to keep account of all all ships being built in every manner and by category. Upon my 1st day arrival another black gentleman stoped me and stated where are you going? I told him "this was my first day at warking within the accounting section", he stated good luck-because you will need it, and I will be coming to your office to drop off varios accounting papers.
    Within the section, I had the 2nd highest rank, the remainder was 5 or 6 females, and my supv. (GS-11). Upon meeting {...}, she had a very nastyattitude with me from the very beginning. I also noticedshe didn't know very much about accounting , althoughshe was very young for her position. Her immediate supv was a young Lt. whom she was very friendly with. As time progressed and I stayed late awaiting for my wife, I always noticed (the) Lt going to her office. One day her door was cracked opened, I don't think they knew I was around, I passed her office, and the two of them were having sex. Of course, I am not the only one in the organization that knew about this. Then one day the secretary came to work with a very moody attitude toward me, and I told her not to be nasty, just don't speak at all. Well the Supv. heard the conversation and really tried to create something. (This part that was created I did not know about, until later when I was given my personnel records, upon dissmisal. Mrs {...} had gotten 4 or 5 of her friends to state they witness me attempting to rape the secretary (the only person I can remember from the witness group was the supv of personnel section. At that time I never knew what was going on, and no one never told me, I only know I was in some type of trouble. Continuing to read my pertsonnel folder "the only person to save me was the SECRETARY herself", she refuse to state I attempted to rape, then she knew she had to leave this organization, The Commander of this NAVY Org let all of this happen did nothing to the Accounting Supv, and all of the witnesses. In fact my supv. was promoted to GS-12, not from her knowledge and work accomplishment, but from her sexual prowessness with Lt {...} her supv. Her racial actions goes very well with Ann Coulter, the sad part is Mrs {...} is working for the US NAVY. I got demoted and transfered to a lower position as a Barracss Inspector. There I inspected barracks rooms cleamed by various maids. I was giver a large office to share with other section workers. One female middle-age superviiory- type would follow me around every where I would go. I thought she was following the gentleman that was accompaying me, but it was me. One dayas I sat in my office waiting for my wife to pick me up, she ask me step out side. At that momentI began having a "staring seizure", and I must not went along with her intentions. The next morning, I was once again accused of attempted rape, this time I went and found me a lawyer, while I was placed on temporary duty. She investigated myentire case all the way back to LA., (the only that were hid from both of us was information and knowledge about the 1st rape case).
    Ms. {...} proved that I did not attempt to rape/touch that woman. Then, Jan 1995-I accepted disability retirement, because I knew I could not work under these conditions anymore. Once again, the 2nd female working for thre U.S. GOVT was able to lie, get away with iit. But , I was requested to accept a disability retirement, due to getting hurt serving my country, with only 9yrs civil service (not of my own free will). Thank you

    July 31, 2009 at 4:04 am |
  41. Tom

    Hi Heidi,
    Perhaps if I were African American instead of Native American or a Police Officer instead of a Combat Veteran I could use my discharge (signed by Nixon) and five dollars I could have a cold beer.
    Respectfully,
    Tom

    July 31, 2009 at 9:09 am |
  42. bob wyatt

    As a vietnam vet i am glad --gratified to hear the regognition these young men are getting.

    July 31, 2009 at 9:36 am |
  43. Evelyn - 20 year military spouse

    What this new Veteran's GI benefits package really means is now we can send our son to school. My husband, John, is an officer and already had a degree and never used his benefits. Those would have gone to waste but now we can use them to send our oldest to college.

    Raising four kids took all of the resources we had and there was no money for college. This gives us the opportunity now – that we are earning much more money – to save for the next group of kids to go to college.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for making the benefits transferable to dependents!!

    July 31, 2009 at 9:47 am |
  44. bob wyatt

    I worked for most of the past 40 years with homeless veterans most like me were in Vietnam. I want to thank CNN for its focus on the current successes and continuing problems of returning veterans. If we had been willing to accept our returning Vietnam Veterans with the same dignity we would not have lost so many of my friends to suicide, and the ills of homelessness. I for one am glad to hear of the recognition this generation is getting. The recognition in a small way feels like recognition of the mistake the nation made by turning its back on us 40 years ago. However, I must let you know your reporting hurts in two ways:
    1. I am having recurring flash backs following the dramatic stories, not of the war but of the treatment of the veterans at home.
    2. By your not mentioning Vietnam and how the VA recognizes the need to improve after its treatment of the Vietnam Vet I again feel ignored.

    July 31, 2009 at 9:53 am |
  45. nancy

    No one talks about TINNITUS (loud continuous 24/7 ringing in the ears after blasts and gunfire which is permanent) which thousands of our soldiers and veterans have...and there is no cure. However there are FDA approved Neuronomics retraining treatments which cost $5000 each. Our veterans deserve this treatment at no cost to them...(involves ipod like device that imbeds the exact customized tinnitus sound into music the wearer listens to for 6 months to a year). The military insurance (TRICARE) refuses to pay for it because of the cost.
    This ringing brings back flashbacks and makes it nearly impossible to concentrate or sleep. Some have linked it to suicide.
    Please bring PUBLIC ATTENTION to Tinnitus and the new treatments so our soldiers can regain their concentration, sleep and move on with their lives. Thank you.

    July 31, 2009 at 10:03 am |
  46. Marilyn Edmonds

    My son-in-law served in the Marines for 16 years and in the National Guard for 4 years. After this service, he and my daughter looked forward to purchasing a house using a VA loan. Unfortunately, last week their hopes were dashed when the VA appraisor appraised the house $25,000 lower than the offered price. Ironically, our local newspaper had a front page story of VA appraisors lowballing the price of the house. The story told of a veteran who lost two prospective homes because of this. Further investigation shows that this is happening throughout the country. Public awareness of this practice needs to happen. Our hard-working troops deserve better than this.

    July 31, 2009 at 10:04 am |
  47. William Shearer

    I served in Iraq from march 04- feb 05 in an Airborne Infantry unit in the Army. While serving I had the honor of forming a strong friendship with SSGT Ryan Maseth. I named my daughter after him as he was her godfather. The little time he got to spend with her was priceless and now forever gone. I miss my friend and think the government should look more at how our funds are being used to fund the war instead of throwing it around like druglords slinging money living like rockstars.

    July 31, 2009 at 10:04 am |
  48. Csrmela Sansone, Ph.D.

    2 years ago I wrote and coproduced a documentary on how PTSD effects veterans and their families...it was seen on ALN...a station not available to many I sent the documetary to The First Lady along with the suggestion to have a President's Commission to investigate the needs of veterans and their family.
    President Carter did that during his administration with the focus on the mental health needs of American. As a psychologist I was fortunate enough to be a part of it.. As a mental health professional I believe it as very effective.
    I sent the same letter to several senators and congressman....I have received not one response.. Are they really interested in assisting the vets and their families or is it a lot of talk?

    July 31, 2009 at 10:05 am |
  49. Tom

    Why is that US troops can and are tained and sent into combat after 16 weeks and the Iraq troops aren't trained after 6 years. Let's get real.

    July 31, 2009 at 10:16 am |
  50. Andy Williams

    Heidi,

    I am a veteran of both wars and is now disabled. The GI Bill benefits is just one aspect of how benefits of service menbers who has paid so much and still is with pyhsical and mental challenges. I want to say that the largest and most under deserve benefit now being overlooked by the President and congress is compensating Reserve and national Guard service members with a reduced retirement plan (55 years old), so taht theu may actullaly take advantage of thier beneftis before they die or become so sverely limited from their disabilities in most cases that it is not worth it to serve unitl age 60. Reserve personnel are paying a very heavy cost to have to wait that long before seeing benefits while thier counter parts are getting them at the age of 38-40.

    July 31, 2009 at 10:16 am |
  51. Louis S

    As long as the liberal (socialist) media continues whining about the losses and the traumatic effect of war on the soldier, the US will not be able to win any war.
    Technology alone is not enough to win a war.
    We need men on the field, I said men not women or homosexuals.
    If the US can not do this an option would be to outsource the military like we are outsourcing everything else.
    For example offer a citizenship to any Mexican willing to fight for us
    They do not have PTSD or any other stupid excuse to avoid fighting

    July 31, 2009 at 10:17 am |
  52. Les Bradley

    I fully support the new G.I.Bill and the well deserved multi-generational benefits included.There is no doubt all of our service members,no matter where they serve,deserve our thanks and material support.My question is why was the Vietnam Era and post Vietnam era Vets (up until 1991) G.I.Bill taken away?Many of us need the type of assistance the old G.I.Bill provided to "retool" or fulfill educational dreams.No difference from today's service member.Where is the appreciation of America for all of her Veterns?

    July 31, 2009 at 10:20 am |
  53. Doug Ramsdell

    I just [got off the phone with Congressman Posey's office and guess what they were watching you. I told the Congressman that the VA and the care for our Vets must be addressed this year and much more user friendly and consider the needs of the families.

    July 31, 2009 at 10:24 am |
  54. Jack Stites

    I quit school in 1953, during the Korean Conflict , and joined the Navy,
    where I got my GED. In 1957, after my discharge, I used my G.I. Bill benefit to get my Bachelor Degree in Education. Later, I got my Master's Degree and taught for 31 years. The G.I. Bill also helped my wife and me
    finance our first house. It was a great benefit.

    July 31, 2009 at 10:27 am |
  55. Paul B.

    I served on active duty from 1979 to 1983 and then in the active reserve until 1985. The total educational assistance I was eligible for was $7200 under the Veterans Educational Assistance Program. Americans who served during this period are also ineligible for Veterans Preference in government hiring in many instances–especially at the state and local government level. I am truly grateful for the assistance I received, and I am proud to have served my country, but I can't help feeling that I and others who served during this period are a forgotten generation.

    I returned to school in 2005 to earn a PhD in public administration so that I could change careers and go into public service. I will soon graduate and begin my new (lower-paying) career with more than $60,000 in student loans. I wish this bill had addressed this disparity in benefits for former service members of my generation.

    July 31, 2009 at 10:29 am |
  56. James Kizer

    Being a 22 year Active Duty Air Force veteran, and having been retired about 15 years ago, I find that this new G.I. Bill amazing. I only remind the young troops, and those who might be thinking about becoming young troops, IF IT SOUNDS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE IT PROBABLY IS. What congress gives congress can take away, as long as it doesn't affect what they get or give to themselves.

    I was discharged with multiple 'minor' disabilities, 10% + 10% + 10%=10% (new math I guess). I even have to pay for my own disabilities as every dollar I get from the VA is deducted from my monthly retired military pension. I never got to use my Vietnam Era GI Bill as I had to immediately find a job to support my family. Then when the 10 year mark had passed it was too late to use it.

    And as for someone's comment about expecting the public to CATER to the the veterans of this country; exactly what pipe-dream have you been brain-washed with? History has shown that the veterans are usually put on the back shelf and then when 40 years or so passes the government might admit that the old vets were actually entitled to be taken care of. Of course by then most of the affected veterans were dead. Remember the atomic test veterans, Agent Orange, Gulf War (Syndrome). The Vietnam War only ended abut 34 years ago, how many of those vets who are still suffering are even heard about? Does anyone even remember Panama, Grenada, Hondorus, Somali and on-and-on. There are still plenty of us vets out there who do, but our own government doesn't.

    It is a new generation now, us old timers don't count I guess. History will continue to repeat itself because newer generations will tend to ignore what the old-timers went through.

    Old-Timer; Illinois

    July 31, 2009 at 10:30 am |
  57. Dottie

    My son,a USNA grad, and his freinds were so different after their two tours in Iraq that it really tore at my heart. They give so much and can never be adequately compensated for their service. They have to fight so hard for Veteran benefits which I have seen first hand as a home health nurse. Even while serving away from home just look at what they recently and currently are missing such as all of the lost votes during the last election and how can cash for clunkers help our troops serving away from home. Yet they continue to serve so that other Americans can benefit only concerned with the safety of those they are serving with and that of citizens of foreign countries and at home.

    July 31, 2009 at 10:39 am |
  58. Debbie

    I well tell you as a mother of a veteran that was shot and left blind in one eye the Army to this day has never contacted us our son was the one who called us. THey kept him in a Wunded Transitionl Care munit and neve4r once offer us to come to his side to help him instead they fed him drugs and all this did was mad things worse for him. The Military Police are not trained to detect whether somone is on medicine or they are drunk. So right away they are given tickets for being drunki. I find that the neglect on the Armies part as far as these soldiers are concern should be looked into but when e-mailing anyone that has soething to do with the wounded it falls on deaf ears. My son did not come back the same as I sent him but he fought for his country and what is his country doing for him not a darn thing.

    July 31, 2009 at 10:50 am |
  59. mindy Harris

    What is connection between VA cutting therapy time down to 20 minutes per 4-6 weeks as new protocol and the pr mission you support for the Intrepid Center for Excellence. Is the governement outsourcing med care for vets?Might be a different angle to explore. Not every veteran will survive on 20 minutes of therapy. I can provide a source for verification that is employeed by the VA in NJ.

    July 31, 2009 at 10:57 am |
  60. Linda Stevens

    Please stop referring to this as something new this war! My father is a 93 y/o WWII B-17 pilot. For most of my life he never spoke of the war and his part in it. When he did respond his response was usually to cry. As a kid I never understood. As I got older, I asked my Dad about his response. He lowered his head and said " I killed 50,000 men, women and children." To this day when the subject is brought up, he lowers his eyes and finds it difficult to find the words to respond. I had dinner with his last night. When the subject came up, he lowered his eyes and said was, " I was the one who dropped the bombs." Then he was quiet. I am a Vietnam Era veteran and I took care of young soldiers who suffered the same symptoms. Some were quiet, some cried, some were angry and some resorted to drugs and alcohol.I am into genealogy and have obtained pension records of many of my ancestors who fouhgt in the Civil War. I can't count the number of times I read eye witness statements, "he was never the same after returning from the war. Please, as long as there is war, the trama to the soldiers will continue!

    July 31, 2009 at 11:05 am |
  61. storm

    "The best solution! "give all illegals full benifit and their of springs. from so call American men! "LOL" give all city hoslital unlimited insurance to all illegals, "Then I'd will bring more in across the boarder and other make-up Nations, have more fatherless children's, and our Tax payer will take care the bill! "LOL" my jobs is do every iilegal from around the world, and abandon their asses, just like the niger Obama :LOL" no pride father!

    July 31, 2009 at 1:29 pm |
  62. Karen Christensen

    As a sister of 2 Viet Nam vets who came back from war with deep scars that required more than a surgery, I am encouraged by this bill.
    Both of my brothers are uncounted casualites of war who could have greatly benefitted from the educational and emotional support this bill will provide. Unfortunately, they both self-medicated with drugs and alcohol which lead to their early deaths. The pain from the horrors of war was just too much. They are buried side by side in Bay Pines Veterans' Cemetary in Florida. Hopefully this bill can save lives in their honor.

    Sincerely,

    Karen Christensen

    July 31, 2009 at 1:56 pm |
  63. Arthur F. Gomez

    To all veterans I was just enrolling in college courses under the 9/11 plan as a full time student but what I just found out is if your are taking all your classes online your not entitled to the BAH portion of the BAH. You have to at least go to one class on the campus to receive the BAH. Which I don't understand. The program I found with the Univ of Phoenix works great for me but I'm not entitled to BAH because I'm taking all the classes online. It doesn't make sense when I'm paying rent. Can any one out there tell me if they've ran into this problem?

    August 5, 2009 at 8:23 pm |
  64. Byron Carlson

    I work for a living and do not look for occupations that welfare me to prosparity. This is just another example of people trying to get something for nothing and having everyone else pay them.

    August 6, 2009 at 10:40 am |
  65. Debbie

    I can not believe that Bryron Carlson can write some thing like he works for a living, well those soldiers fighting for your freedom tho write what you did was working for a living as well till it got taken from them. I hope that you enjoy your freedom everyday and that you sleep well at night.
    These wounded soldiers are not asking for something for nothing and you are one of the tax payeers that sent them to war so yes you are going to pay so grow up and get over it. Cause if it was your son or daughter you would be doing everyrhing to get what should be coming to them.

    August 6, 2009 at 1:08 pm |
  66. david

    There they go again. The Republican Machine stopped the recount with disruptions in Florida (remember them storming into the building), and now they are stopping all discussion at town meetings with their screaming and attacks on congressmen. When they can't get their way they throw hissy fits like spoilded brats. When will we learn? The party that brought us the S&L Scandal, HUD Scandal, Enron, Junk Bonds, the bank meltdown, unbridaled greed on wall street, tax cuts for the rich that put is back into the red, and two wars, will now once again stop health care for everyone. Their goal was to get to the recess so they could release their storm troopers which will stop heath care just like they stopped the recount. We will never even get to see the bill that all the Republicans are saying their against without seeing, and they will win again. I hope true Democrats who love thier country will talk to every Republican they know and go to the town meetings to counter all the lies and distortions. I know they are hard to talk to but we have to try or the republican machine will use them again. Whay can't the Republicans let the Democrats try to straighten out the mess they created and if they don't like the result, vote them out.

    August 10, 2009 at 10:24 am |
  67. Nona R Carroll

    My husband of 66 years (wwII black vet) is in need of long term nursing facility care, but although he was deployed in war zones, from New Gunea to Toyko, was in Toyko when bomb was dropped on Japan. The troops was segerated, he is not considered combat. The Japs had no color on the bombs dropped every night by "Bed Check Charlie" A leg wound treated in a field hospital for my spouse PFC Arthur Carroll service # 37416979, his being temporaly parylized, the hernia operation soon after returning home in 1946, although he was clasified as a Longshoreman, he was still shot at, shot back and saw his friends killed, he slept in fox holes almost every night on the Phillipines did not matter to the enemy that he was black. Before he was drafted he tried to enlist in the Army, The Navy, The Marines, The Air Force and the merchant marines, he was turned down reason no room for colored. Six months when WWII broke out he was drafted and sent to boot camp and then overseas for 36 months. When he came home the following occured:
    I awoke one night with a gun in my back (he was dreaming and fitting Japs). later he tried to run me thru with a Japanese saber. he had nightmares, he drank a lot. I was able to have him seek mental health treatment, he was not like this before he went to war. Did not know about PTSD, now I am convinced he has been suffering for a long time, he is now a Alzheimers diagnosed patient, but he is not considered combat so he is not eligible for the same benefits as a white WWII vet. He need to be in a Veterans Long Term Nursing Facility, but we must pay$101.00 per day plus supplies.

    September 7, 2009 at 1:10 pm |
  68. Anonymous

    i am a nam vet with 20% service connection for agent orange. in a month i will be homeless. my ss is 1200 a month. i am paralized from the waist down also an incomplete quadraplegic. my wife and i are divorceing.she is leaving in a month. i need to get hud house or i will be homeless. no one seems to be interested in helping. wv is a bad state for disabled vets. issues from viet nam still haunt me in 1983. in 83 i put a bullet in my chest. the nightmares would not go away. they are still with me only now i have the wheelchair to deal with. iknow you can not help, guess i just needed t vent.. the wheelchair, nightmares,chronic pain,divorce are with me 24/7. thanx for listening. i know it will get better. please don't use my full name. CHARLES

    September 13, 2009 at 11:26 am |
  69. Bill Pultz

    I am from Bakersfield California,I am a 66 year old Veteran.from Viet Nam era. This on that progressive Senator on Rick Sanchez show today.The only Insurance I had at the time was the VA,I am sorry for our soldiers coming home thinking they will get the best health care available.Well they will have a rude awakening .The VA almost killed me because the Dr.'s were so lazy they wouldn't even look at their computer screen to see what medication they had already prescribed to me.I have had 5 Dr.'s and 1 nurse practitioner,and 2 of the Dr.'s were neurologist from the Bakersfield Clinic to L A and San Diego VA had prescribed the wrong medication to me I could not move. my mussels were deteariating .I would have died if wasn't for my wife researching the meds I was taking.That progressive Senator said every Vet he talked to said the love the VA.And I think they should talk more about the Bacteria the soldiers are getting in Irac,they call it Iracabaka I think that's what they call it.It has been spread through out the VA hospital's.signed a Disgruntled Veteran

    February 23, 2010 at 4:51 pm |
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