Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis: So who REALLY suppports Veterans?

Friday, April 25, 2008

So who REALLY suppports Veterans?

Here's a big press release from Ted Stevens office:

Senate Passes Veterans Benefits Legislation with Provision Championed by Senator Stevens

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United States Senate today passed the Veterans Benefits Enhancement Act of 2007, an expansive, budget-neutral bill that provides much deserved benefits to veterans, their families, and their survivors.

The measure contained a provision championed by Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), and Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) that provides benefits to Filipino World War II veterans inducted into the U.S. Armed Forces. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) also supported the legislation.

“America must not forget how crucial the efforts of Filipino veterans were to the success of the Allied forces in World War II,” said Senator Stevens. “Their resistance of Japanese occupation tied down our enemy’s forces in the islands and prevented them from deploying elsewhere. Today, the Senate has finally shown our nation’s gratitude for the role Filipino veterans played in our history, fighting alongside American soldiers and helping us secure victory over tyranny. This recognition and the extension of the veterans benefits contained in this bill is long overdue.”

This bill provides "Veteran's Benefits." Yet, these benefits don't seem overly beneficial nor are they addressing needs that are particularly dire:

- to "grant level-premium, term life insurance to each veteran less than 65 years old who has a service-connected disability and who seeks such insurance, with a maximum coverage amount of $50,000. Reduces the coverage amount by 80% once the veteran turns 70 and prohibits charging a premium in such a case."

This is "level-premium, term life insurance." This means:

1) They are paying for it - as a matter of fact: "premiums do not change for the entire duration of the policy. The amount of a level premium is higher than needed for the protection given in the early years of the contract but less than needed for protection in the later years.

2) The insurance is only $50,000 (which is the max, not everyone gets it) That's pretty paltry. Plus it gets whacked by 20% after age 70.

3) This only benefits them after they are dead.

- " Deems certain service performed before July 1, 1946, in the organized military forces of the Philippines and the Philippine Scouts as active military service for purposes of eligibility for veterans' benefits through the VA."

(This is the piece Stevens is taking credit for)

1) FINALLY allowing "certain" Filipino WWII veterans to be entitled to benefits...

2) ...after most of them are already dead.

- "Burial and Memorial Matters" (sensing a pattern here?) "Authorizes and directs the Secretary to pay a supplemental benefit for the burial and funeral expenses of veterans. Makes such benefit an additional: (1) $900, in the case of a non-service-connected death; or (2) $2,100, in the case of a service-connected death."

Yes, there are other "benefits" included in this bill for disabled Veterans and any additional benefits are a good thing. However, most of them 1) target a small group of Veterans and/or 2) provide benefits that are inexpensive or require the Veteran to cover part of the cost.

Also, note the designation in the Bill summary which says it's "budget neutral." In order for it to be "budget neutral" the bill would have to save as much money as it spends. So, within this bill that "increases benefits" to Veterans, it also cuts somewhere else to make up for it. (I'll bake cookies for the person who reads through all this and figures out where and what.)

However, the folks in this Bill who were especially taken care of didn't appear to need it much:

- Title V: Court Matters - (Sec. 501) Eliminates the 180-day per-year limit on service of retired judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (Court) who voluntarily return to such service. Establishes a three-tiered retirement pay structure for Court judges appointed after the enactment of this Act. Requires recalled judges to receive the pay of current judges during the period of recall, less the amount of any applicable annuity.

Ahhh, these poor needy judges in recall status, like Donald Ivers...

Who had a median annual earnings in May 2006 of $101,690.

Don't misunderstand, every benefit a Veteran receives is important. However, it seems strange that the kind of Veteran's Legislation that Ted Stevens supports makes disabled Vets pay a high premium for life insurance that totals $50,000.00 while they give retired judges a 3-tiered retirement package and a guaranteed income of over $100,000.00 a year.

Yet, returning Vets still face "fewer jobs and lower pay," homelessness, a health care crisis and many other pressing problems.

When he has the glowing opportunity to "champion" the bipartisan 21st Century GI Bill and positively change the lives of thousands of young Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans...


This is one area where Sen. Murkowski and even Congressman Young have diverged from Sen. Stevens. Both of them are supporting the GI Bill and one has to wonder why anyone wouldn't.

I have it on good authority that several of Ted Stevens aides will be attending The Gathering in Wasilla tomorrow. I suppose SOMEONE could ask them that question.


Blogger kodiakgriff said...

I am a veteran. While I was happy to hear about the benefits finally awarded to our Filipino brothers I also believed it to be more gesture than anything else. After all there just aren't that may of the WWII Filipino vets left around.
Is it coincidental that this is an election year and Alaska has such a high voting, Filipino population? Come to think of it so does Hawaii.
The last section (501)is a real face slapper. I wonder if Ray Metcalfe knows about this one?
Thanks for shining a light on this one!

4/26/2008 12:51 PM  
Blogger CelticDiva said...

It's definitely not a coincidence, the Alaska Filipinos put a huge amount of pressure on Ted to do it.

4/26/2008 9:48 PM  

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