Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis: The New GI Bill: Why haven't Lisa Murkowski, Ted Stevens and John McCain signed on?

Friday, April 04, 2008

The New GI Bill: Why haven't Lisa Murkowski, Ted Stevens and John McCain signed on?

Here is the list of Bill supporters from the House and Senate. Conspicuously absent are the two Senate names at the top of the state alphabet, Murkowski and Stevens. Also missing is one candidate for President, John McCain, while both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have signed on.

Conspicuously present for the House is the numero uno name, Don Young. (I am sending him a brief thank you email today. No matter who they are, they should get support when they do the right thing.)

The "21st Century GI Bill" is a bi-partisan effort co-introduced by Sen. Jim Webb D-Virginia, Sen. Chuck Hagel R-NE, and Sen. Frank Lautenberg D-NJ. A "key co-sponsor" is WWII and Korean Veteran, Sen. John Warner R-VA who was a recipient of the original GI Bill...the one the new Bill is modeled after.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski's website lists "Veterans" as one of her "Issues/Priorities":
For the current fiscal year, Congress has appropriated $37.2 billion in funding for veterans health programs which was $2.6 billion above the Administration's request for FY2008 The amount appropriated for VA medical services included an additional $125 million to increase the beneficiary travel reimbursement mileage rate to 28.5 cents per mile.

Yup - it was up $2.6 billion but NOWHERE NEAR what is needed to deal with the huge influx of returning Veterans, especially the injured and disabled. Plus, the VA is forced to put aside the issues of an aging Veteran population from Vietnam, Korea and WWII to deal with the Iraq and Afghanistan Vets.

And about the mileage reimbursement, 28.5 cents - HA - this year the IRS reimbursement mileage rate is 50.5 cents

My favorite line from Lisa's site:
"While the VA has enjoyed healthy budgets in recent years,"

What? Healthy as in "on life support but not dead," maybe.
"...Alaska veterans continue to face challenges in obtaining access to VA healthcare services in the state."

Holy crap! THAT'S the understatement of the year! Only 11% of the over 80,000 Alaska Veterans are presently being served by any sort of Veterans organization. I just got a call yesterday from Mo at the VAO and he wants to take me with him when he flies to Nondalton - to see if we can find a 90-year-old WWII Veteran that the VA has ignored for a year. This guy has been suffering alone for a long time (we're hoping he's still alive) and he's also a tribal chief.

Sen. Murkowski talks a good game but what has she done to fix this? And how can she claim to support Vets yet not co-sponsor legislation that will clearly benefit the newest Veterans?

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE call or write Senators Murkowski, Stevens and yes, even Senator McCain and tell them you support the troops...why don't they?

Senator Lisa Murkowski (email on the website)

Washington, D.C. Office
709 Hart Senate Building
Washington , DC 20510
Main: 202-224-6665
Fax: 202-224-5301

Senator Ted Stevens (email on the website)
Washington, DC
522 Hart Senate Office
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: (202) 224-3004
Fax: (202) 224-2354

Senator John McCain (email on the website)
Washington Office:
241 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Main: 202-224-2235
Fax: 202-228-2862


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