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July 3rd, 2009
09:48 AM ET

Defending the defenders of America

It's the 4th of July weekend. We will celebrate America's independence. There will be fireworks, barbecues and likely some quality time by the pool. And that's all good.

Here's a little food for thought while you're firing up the grill and slathering on the sun screen this weekend.

This week on CNN NewsRoom we've been focusing on the men and women who have sacrificed a lot to protect our freedom-America's veterans. Is enough being done to help them deal with health care, PTSD and other issues?

Watch as Kyra Phillips interviews Department of Veterans Affairs Assistant Secretary Tammy Duckworth who is herself a wounded veteran.

soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Larry

    Kyra, I can't believe how young men and women who lay down their lives for this country get treated when they return.

    Instead of being treated like the heroes they are they're treated like second class citizens. There should be distinct procedures for returning vets to follow to get reacclimated in society and look how many are ending up homeless because they don't know what to do.

    It's pathertic and sad the way oure heroes are treated. President Obama, we need your help with this!!!!!

    July 3, 2009 at 10:38 am |
  2. Dominic

    Vets should get their resumes posted on
    This site has thousands of jobs. Vets also gets special preferences in hiring. The jobs are in every field you can imagine and all over the U.S. (and sometimes oversees). There is a link on that page just for vets.

    July 3, 2009 at 2:36 pm |
  3. Freida Forst

    Hello Kyra, I've never contacted a news show, so I hope this will be appropriate and that I'm send this to to correct page. Today you featured a young woman Navy Veteran, I apologize for not writing her name or direct e-mail address so I could send this directly to her, I'm hoping my comment here could be forwarded to this woman. First, I want to thank her for her service to our country. And I'd like to direct her to the Department of Correction, State of Idaho webpage. On the right side of the page is a link for "employment" that will take her to the current job openings. There is now an opening for a "Psychiatric Treatment Coordinator". I heard the veteran's 30 second speech, and I believe she mentioned she had experience as a Psych Tech, and was seeking something in a field including recreational activities. The job duties on this notice include, Idaho has excellent benefits, and does give Veteran's Perference in their hiring process. The State of Idaho has many other job openings, I hope some of your featured guests might check these and consider making Boise, Idaho their home.
    Thank you, Freida Forst

    July 3, 2009 at 2:59 pm |
  4. Mary

    I am a 67 year old senior and Unemployed...I have read about all the "Bail Out Money" passed on to business (all kinds, cars, credit cards and the banks that fund them). Every where you turn some other business is belly up. How many Billions have been spent, given away to help out these companies? These funds were going to help the public – so far the public has not seen this help. Here is a thought.
    If all the bail out dollars, the billions, had been divided amoung the "public" think of the "trickle down affect" Bills would have been paid, credit card companies, auto dealers, banks, food stores, clothing stores, etc. Jobs would have been retained since companies would need them for business as usual. John Q would have his job could pay his bills, bail out money would allow John Q to keep his house therefore foreclousers would be down, auto owners could keep their cars, auto dealers would still be in business and on and on. If the PUBLIC had received a share of the billions just handed over to save these companies then the public paying their bills would have taken care of the rest. Now it is compounded, money gone, no jobs and business's everywhere shutting their doors. It was handled backwards. The public supports the economy, why did we not get some support?????

    July 3, 2009 at 4:31 pm |
  5. FReynd

    Hello Ms Phillips

    I served 25 years in the Army and fought in Desert Storm. Since my retirement on September 1, 2007 I have come to know the true deception and the atrocious failures of the Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration when it comes to taking care of veterans, I wish that the only problems that veterans have were long claims processing times and whack medical treatment. But, no these failures and deceptions go far beyond these two purposely magnified issues, because these are the ones they want you to focus on, completely concealing the real horrors and failures and the inability, willful neglect, and selective ignorance to regulate, revise, and manage the agencies and people of the DoD and VA.
    Over the past decade we have all set in anger and frustration at the horrors that American veterans face on a daily basis. However, what is more agonizing is that after years and years of broken promises and billions or even trillions of taxpayer’s dollars, veterans are still suffering. For instance, it takes on average 4 to 6 months for the Veterans Administration to complete or adjudicate a claim, one would think with all the money and technology available for the VA they would have computerized this system by now, but no they still rely on employees many of which spend more time out of the office than in it. For instance, a rating specialist who is responsible for rendering ratings and is suppose to work a five day work week from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM only works maybe on a good week three days and then they wonder why it takes 4 to 6 months, and now they plan on hiring more people to speed up the process; it doesn’t matter how many people you hire the problem isn’t a shortage of personnel its mainly a failure of management and a lack of revisions to old and ineffective policies, regulations, and standard operation procedures.
    Much of the money given to the VA’s budget is sucked up by upper management and their failure and inability to manage their financial contracts and budget expenditures. For instance, I have been unemployed for 18 months and during this time I lost my home and had to file for bankruptcy; at the heat of my troubles I found out that the VA was and is an absolute failure, it didn’t provide me with no viable assistance, so I was referred to several agencies that were suppose to assist veterans. I explained my situation to them and told them I was requesting financial assistance $ 500.00 they all told me they didn’t provide that type of assistance, so I went online and found out that the VA had given each one of those agencies millions of dollars contributions last year and here they couldn’t provide me with a $ 500 dollar assistance loan. Then we wonder what and where all the money went its being sucked up by all the “LEECHES” agencies that claim to assist veterans but really don’t!
    Its amazing and disturbing that the American people are led to believe that they are failing the American veteran and that more money will prevent veterans from being infected with deadly diseases, which in all actuality was caused by some non-affiliated military business manager who has never served or had anyone in their family serve yet this person and many like him or her are making decisions on people who have spent more than a quarter of a century of their lives and some whom have had their lives drastically altered from war injuries defending this nation, and now they have to set their and suffer while some bureaucratic, corporate business person decides their entitlements and treatment, in which many time these people deny entitlements to veterans to save money and to pay for the ridiculous pay raises and salaries of upper managers and their “CRONIES.” I think its wrong for corporate business types who have NO! affiliation with military service be allowed to manage or make decisions about veteran’s entitlements.
    Another falsehood is how it is deceitfully portrayed that the biggest problem facing veterans is medical treatment and disability claims. I recently made my daily trip down to the homeless shelter and on this particular day I noticed several of guys standing off to themselves, so I went over and introduced myself to them; much to my surprise they were all veterans like me and all had retired from service over the past two years. After a few minutes of introductions and war memories and unit stories the conversation turned to our present situations; I was amazed to find out that all of us had served at least 25 years and we all had at least a bachelors degree and in my case I also have two MBAs in Management and Marketing and with this we all cannot get a job with the Department of Defense or the Veterans Administration; in all our cases we have been applying for jobs with these agencies for almost three years; most of the time we’re told we’re not qualified or we’re just flat-out overlooked or denied by selecting authorities many of which are non-military affiliated who refuse to hire veterans.
    The problem here is multi-leveled. First, the hiring policies, procedures, and regulations are desperate need of revision. For instance, right now in accordance with policies, procedures, and regulations selecting authorities can choose whoever they want and from whatever list they want and there’s really nobody to check them and they are covered by a 50 year old policy in a 60 year old regulation that to date is completely incapable of managing the employment problems that confront today’s veterans. The main problem is fact that DoD and VA officials act as if they are afraid to revise anything; instead they just keep adding memorandums and policy exceptions which do nothing but increase the corrupt power of selecting authorities, poor performing and qualified managers, and a failed “Whistleblower Program” and a complaint system that seeks to nullify and disqualify a veteran’s complaint before it can even be filed and many of the federal judges that do hear cases involving veteran discrimination in the workplace generally rule in favor of the DoD and VA 95% of the time, so even if you know that you’re being screwed-over there’s nobody or nowhere for you to get assistance.
    If I was an employee with either of these agencies I would be ashamed for it to be known that there are veterans out here living in the streets and their cars with bachelors and masters degrees and all I can say is “Its tough out there” “We got 200 people applying for every position;” what’s funny about that it wasn’t tough in 2006 or early 2007, because that’s how long I’ve been applying for these positions since August 2006 and to date have only gotten lip-service and lies from Washington to my local VA office, which nobody can explain why I cannot gain employment with these agencies.
    The DoD and VA’s biggest failure is that they think because they give you a two week course on a bunch crap that at best is a total lie and does not come close to preparing a soldier to transition back into a society that has three basic stereotypes or stigmas they brand on them: (1) You got PTSD and one day you’ll freak-out and kill everybody in the office or building, (2) He’s going to militarize everybody like a “DRILL SERGEANT’ and (3) Your too old! If the DoD and VA don’t hire veterans who will? Its funny I never realized that all those years I thought I was serving my country but in all actuality I was serving a prison sentence; is there really difference between a soldier entering society after 25 years and a criminal serving 25 years, I think the criminal has it better because he wasn’t made a promise so he has no expectations or hurt for him.
    The American people must wake-up and stop allowing their politicians, DoD, and the VA to continue to distort the truth and lay the blame on the American people and their wallets, when the real problem is their failure to revise regulations, policies, procedures, and to manage the fiscal budgets of the agencies responsible for the care and quality life of veterans.
    Over the last 30 years there has been trillions of dollars thrown at the VA problem and to date there are still monumental budget, administrative, managerial, operational, and infrastructure problems with the VA. And, given the fact that in the 1990s the DoD decided to change the criteria for enlisted soldier’s promotions, they decided to insert college education as a means of increasing competition in doing so it also changed the quality of veterans. For instance, in 1980 a soldier that retired had basically his or her 20 years of service and that was it; now, with the new promotion criteria enlisted soldiers are retiring with bachelors, masters, Phds. Unfortunately, the DoD and VA are still evaluating the employment of these veterans using the old obsolete regulations, policies, and procedures of the 1960s.
    Without you help and vigilance many of these vicious lies, deceptions, and atrocities will continue to be ignored and swept under the rug until some veteran who has reached his or her breaking point goes into a VA or a Civilian Personnel Office on a military base and kills everybody in it, then and only then will veteran’s unemployment and the horrors of the discrimination they face be dealt with until then I wonder how long its going to take before the failure and willful neglect of veterans begins to affect recruiting and the military’s ability to keep soldiers in the ranks for 20 years, if I were still in the ranks I sure as hell wouldn’t stay for twenty, for what when you get out society says your to old and crazy and DoD and the VA says your not qualified and you’ve out-lived your worth; my suggestion get out while you still have some value out here in society, because once you take that uniform off DoD washes its hands of you and the VA wants nothing to do with you!

    July 4, 2009 at 12:32 am |
  6. Milton Smith

    I have a feeling that Korea just might get some rocket luanching sessions going and won't stop. Then Korea will see a head strike threats in actual attacks. Missile defense systems fails causing a world wide war panic making the cold war looking like a picnic.

    July 4, 2009 at 8:12 am |
  7. Jean

    Is Kyra on vacation?

    Who is this politician who stated that Michael Jackson does not deserve all this publicity and undermining his name? As Our Lord Jesus Christ said: "Let he who is without sin caste the first stone." This man is the one who does not deserve the time of day. What have those politicians as himself done for America and the rest of the world? The economy is in a mess with loss of jobs, bankruptcies and home foreclosures. Can they ever do anything right and get it right? I would think not. Is this politician perfect? By no means. It is for this reason that people look up to Icons – celebrities as Michael Jackson and their music. They need someone and something to hold on to, to soothe their life's miseries and to make them forget their financial woes at that.
    Politicians have approved of the so-called same sex marriage and also allow abortions, the murdering of the unborn, their future citizens in their lands. I would not exalt them. Furthermore, they should take a look at their former lives and how they led those lives. This Includes how excellent do they nurture their children.
    It appears to me that absolutely no one is in a position to criticize MJ and to deny him the hours of recognition which he is entitled to. MJ may have done more for the world and in donating some of his time and funds to charity and promoting fundraising for worthy causes which have assisted many who are in need of. He has done much for the world and not only America than also this specific critical politician. I would not call MJ a pedophile. It was sad to hear and read of what he went through at that time he was lambasted by many people who were not present in his house. One should not judge or condemn if they were not present. Those who received all that money from MJ were just fame and fortune seekers. They used him.
    Michael, under whatever circumstances you lived and died, we love you. We are sad that your life came to such an abrupt and sad end at such an early age. Yes! We do feel that you could have lived longer. However, God has better plans for you and that is "Eternal Happiness and Peace" in His Blissful, Glorious Kingdom, something which this world will never afford. You are well on your way. May you rest in peace. Amen! The saying: " There is always something worst than death." We who are alive, at this stage in our lives are no better off than Michael Jackson. He very well deserves a good send-off. I will be viewing the proceedings on CNN.

    July 6, 2009 at 1:40 pm |
  8. Corafleerge

    I really like when people are expressing their opinion and thought. So I like the way you are writing

    February 16, 2010 at 4:01 pm |

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