CELEBRITY IN CHIEF BARRY O JUST PREFERS A FRENCH KISS AND FOR THAT REASON PREFERS HOLDING HANDS WITH NICHOLAS SARKOZY AND FRANCE WHILE DECLARING THAT HE'S CLOSER TO NO ONE ELSE.
ACROSS THE POND THE REACTION FROM ENGLAND WAS FURIOUS; HOWEVER, REACHED FOR COMMENT, BUCKINGHAM PALACE SAID, "HER ROYAL HIGHNESS WAS NEITHER AMUSED NOR SURPRISED AND HAS LONG KNOWN THAT PERSON LIVING IN GOVERNMENT HOUSING ON PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE COULD NOT DEAL WITH THE FACT THAT HER ROYAL HIGHNESS WAS THE ACTUAL QUEEN AND HE WAS A MERE PRETENDER."
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
US Senator Mark Warner is a Democrat. We're noting that party identitifcation for a reason that should become obvious after we deal with what Warner's done this week. Monday, he held a press conference to discuss a new report on female veterans' health. WTVR reports that the study found female veterans "more likely to suffer from mental health conditions than their male counterparts" and quotes Warner stating, "It became evident to me that this challenge was growing exponentially -- in this conflict, perhaps higher than any other in the past -- and that there was a particular concern in the changing nature in the conflict particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan, in terms of our women veterans." Corinne Reilly (Virginian-Pilot) quotes Warner stating, "Even if we continue to say that women don't serve in combat, the truth is they do. The claims rules need to reflect that."
The report is entitled [PDF format warning] "Review of Combat Stress in Women Veterans Receiving VA Health Care and Disability Benefits" and is from the VA's Inspector General's office and utilized "almost 500,000 male and female veterans who separated from the military from July 1, 2005 to September 30, 2006 for their experience transitioning to VA and using VA healthcare and compensation benefits through March 31, 2010." Among the findings were that women were more likely to be recognized as suffering from PTSD by the VA if they had filed paperwork for Military Sexual Trauma and they found that "VBA denied female veterans' disability claims for PTSD more often and denied male veterans' disability claims for other mental health conditions (excluding PTSD) more often." And:
Although female veterans generally were more likely to be diagnosed with mental health conditions after separation from active military duty, they generally were less likely than their male counterparts to be diagnosed with the specific mental condition of PTSD. The proportion of female OEF/OIF veterans who were diagnosed with PTSD (by VA or DoD) was 12 percent for active component and 16 percent for reserve unit, while the proportion for their male counterparts was about 17 percent for both active and reserve unit.
A problem that repeatedly pops up in the study is that women are not aware of the services available. Solutions in the report include postings at the VA listing available services and increasing the online listings of the services. In addition, Women Veterans Coordinators state that they need more training in MST -- the report notes that MST claims processing training currently is under the umbrella of PTSD claims processing, with no individual instruction for MST itself. The training the Womens Veterans Coordinators are asking for includes sensitivity training and that training specifically for claims processors. From the report:
At one regional office, the Women Veterans Coordinator is participating in a state-provided training program for victim advocates because VBA has not provided her with any training. This Women Veterans Coordinator told us that she has experienced difficulty in effectively managing conversations with veterans who were very distressed by their MST experience.
And we'll note this press release from American Women Veterans:
American Women Veterans Founding Member and Advisor, Kristen Rouse and Veterans' Advocate, Victoria Stattel, both very recent veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, are meeting with Senator Mark Warner this afternoon in Hampton and Richmond, Virginia to discuss the findings of the latest internal study on women veterans requested by Senator Mark Warner of Virginia. The findings show that women veterans were more often diagnosed with depression rather than evaluated for Post Traumatic Stress/Combat Stress, most likely due to the combat exclusion policy and the lack of understanding of servicewomen's increased role in combat.
In a meeting last year, Senator Warner met with women veterans representatives throughout Virginia and with their guidance, it was concluded that an internal review by the Veterans' Administration was the next best course of action. Due to the Senator's diligence, the VA conducted the review. These new findings have highlighted some of the misunderstandings about the nature of servicewomen's involvement early on in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. In the past, in order to be considered for diagnosis under Post Traumatic Stress, a servicemember had to have received a combat badge or Purple Heart. Many in the military understand that despite having served in direct combat, the combat badges/ribbons are not always awarded. Since the change in this policy, many more veterans are receiving the proper diagnosis and treatment however, those that were previously misdiagnosed have not. In an AWV supported letter from Senator Warner to Secretary Shinsecki, the Senator asked on behalf of all women veterans, that the VA reach out to those men and women and ensure that they know they can be re-evaluated.
AWV Founder, Genevieve Chase said, "It's important to have the appropriate diagnosis not only for disability rating purposes but also because combat veterans must receive relevant and timely treatment. The treatment for depression is not the same as treatment for Post Traumatic Stress and the latter, if addressed and treated quickly, will ensure that our veterans are better able to acclimate back into civilian society more quickly. The goal here is to prevent our combat veterans from spiraling downward to more serious issues like substance abuse, homelessness and even suicide."
As noted, Mark Warner is a Democrat. As noted many times before, I'm a Democrat. We avoided spending September and October demagoguing for partisan purposes and, in fact, called out the nonsense aimed at some Republicans -- including John McCain -- that really didn't have anything to do with anything except, "Let's get some blood and score one for the Dems!" The elections are over. In the House, the power switched to the Republicans who, by their own words, were going to be ready to govern from day one. When this month does day one begin?
There is no scheduled hearing for this month for the House Veterans Affairs Committee. This would not have happened -- and did not -- when Democrat Bob Filner was Chair. Republican Jeff Miller is the new Chair. In fairness to him, rarely does someone with his standing become Chair. He was the fifth ranked Republican on the Committee prior to the mid-terms. What happened? Steve Buyer (who was Ranking Member) stepped down and did not seek re-election. Next in line was Cliff Stearns who out ranked him and was re-elected but Miller ended up Chair. Jerry Moran is now US Senator Jerry Moran and Henry Brown did not seek re-election. All were ahead of Jeff Miller.
But the GOP claimed they were ready to lead. So where's the leadership? Forget holding a hearing, they haven't even scheduled any. If you're supposed to be demonstrating to the country how you hit the ground running, you're failing and the House Veterans Affairs Committee is one of the most followed Committees. Ways & Means? The Beltway cares about that and little else. Veterans Affairs is followed around the country by veterans, veterans families, veterans advocates. The only thing the GOP can currently point to with regards to this Committee is that they finally found a woman they could appoint to the Committee. In the 111th Congress, they had eleven Committee members and not one was a woman. In the 112th, they've found US House Rep Ann Marie Buerkle and that is something. The largest growing population in the veterans community is what? As the report we referenced earlier notes, it's the female veterans.
Last January alone, under Bob Filner's leadership, there were four hearings. Currently there are none scheduled for the month. Not one hearing scheduled in a month when the VA Inspector General's office issues a report. Not only is the House Veterans Affairs Committee one of the most followed Committees in the House, the US continues to fight two wars, producing new veterans every day. At a time of war, it really does not look good for the new leadership to be unable to even schedule a hearing. (As disclosed many times before, I know Bob Filner. I think the world of him. That's not what this is about. This is about the GOP making promises in the campaign and yet already veterans get tossed to the curb. Don't like the criticism, get off your butts and schedule a hearing.)
Yesterday Iraq and Kuwait were once again at odds. Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) reports that the incidnet involved an Iraqi fishing boat and Kuwait's Coast Guard, that the two exchanged fire and 1 Kuwaiti Coast Guard was killed. BBC News notes that Iraq's government maintains that 3 of their fisherman were injured and four are missing. The Kuwait Times includes that "HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah sent a cable of condolences to the family of [Lance Corporal Abdelrahman] Al-Wadi. The Amir lauded the virtues of the martyr and the great sacrifice he made in defending his country. He also expressed his deepest sympathies to the family of the martyr and prayed to Allah Almighty to bliss the deceased with mercy. HH the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah sent similar cables." John Leland and Omar al-Jawoshy (New York Times) observe, "The Iraqi and Kuwaiti authorities offered different accounts of the clash." Arab Times offers this account: "The boat refused to stop when ordered by the guards, leaving no option but the use of force and the Iraqi sailors returned fire. Sources disclosed that after the Iraqis were chased down, a senior officer ordered the martyred officer unto the Iraqi boat to conduct a search of the Iraqis as a precautionary measure. He said the Iraqis who were eight in number got hold of the officer, beat him and injured his head, forcing the senior officer to call for reinforcements from the air and navel forces. The boat was sunk after heavy shooting that ensued." AFP quotes Nouri al-Maliki's spokesperson Ali al-Dabbagh stating the two countries need to work together to provide security and that Iraq is investigating the incident.
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