AS KILLER BARRY O WAS ROUNDING UP VARIOUS VICTIMS FROM VARIOUS CRIMES WHILE HE'D BEEN IN OFFICE TO SIT AS PROPS FOR HIS STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS, THERE WAS 1 GROUP OF PEOPLE HE DIDN'T ASK: THE HEROES WHO STOPPED NIDAL HASAN'S FORT HOOD MASSACRE.
AS THEY EXPLAINED TO ABC, KILLER BARRY O HAS BETRAYED THEM. HE USED THEM AS PROPS IN HIS 2010 SPEECH TO THE NATION AND NOW, THREE YEARS LATER, HE REFUSES TO HELP THEM OR EVEN ACKNOWLEDGE THEM.
WHEN THESE REPORTERS REACHED KILLER BARRY O, HE WAS BUSY PREPPING A NEW JOKE, THAT HE WAS GOING TO BE MORE TRANSPARENT ABOUT HIS DRONE WAR. "THEN AGAIN," HE SAID, "MAYBE I SHOULD JUST STICK TO KNOCK-KNOCK JOKES?"
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
Moving over to the United States . . .
Dr. David Rudd: I've included in my testimony the tragic suicide of Russell Shirley. I spoke with Russell's mother over the course of the last month. I've spoken with one of his dear friends. And I think Russell is probably typical of the problem -- the tragic problem which will occur over the coming years. Russell was a son, a husband, a father. He was a soldier. He served his country proudly and bravely in Afghanistan. He survived combat. He came home struggling with PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury. With a marriage in crisis and escalating symptoms, he turned to alcohol. He received a DUI and, after ten years of dedicated service, he was discharged. And part of the rationale for the discharge was the increasing pressure to reduce the size of the force. I think we're going to see more and more of that over the coming years. After the loss of his family, the loss of his career and the loss of his identity, Russell shot himself in front of his mother. Having spoken with Russell, I would tell you -- or having spoken with Russell's mother -- I would tell you that a part of the tragedy is that we knew that Russell was at risk prior to his death. We recognized, identified him as an at-risk soldier prior to his discharge, but yet there were not adequate transitional services in place that allow a clean connection from an individual to an individual. And I think those are the sort of things we need to start talking about, we need to start thinking about. How do we connect at-risk soldiers -- once we identify them and they're being discharged -- particularly if they're being discharged against their -- against their wishes -- into the VA system and how do we connect them with an individual and not just with a system? How do we help them connect in a relationship that can potentially save a life? I've included a picture of Russell with his two children at the end of my [written] testimony. And the reason I've done that is I think it's important for all of us. When I read the Suicide Data Report, the one thing that is missing in the Suicide Data Report are the names of the individuals, the names of the families, the names of the loved ones that are affected and impacted by these tragedies. And I think it's important for all of us to remember that.
Rudd was speaking before the House Veterans Affairs Committee yesterday as they explored mental health care issues. He was on the first panel along with the Wounded Warrior Project's Ralph Ibson, the Disabled American Veterans' Joy Ilem and Connecticut's Commissioner of Veterans Affairs Linda Spoonster Schwartz. Rudd spoke of Russell Shirley's forced discharge and the loss of identity that took place as a result. Linda Spoonster Schwartz picked up on that theme.
Linda Spoonster Schwartz: The President's message last night [Barack Obama's State of the Union address] that we're going to have all of these people coming down. He [Rudd] mentioned a very important point -- some of these people who have joined, you have an all volunteer force who has joined. They intended to make this their career and now you have a drawdown and that is a loss of identity. As a disabled veteran, I had to leave military service and I had a long time finding a new identity.
What she went through, what Russell Shirley went through, is happening for a number of veterans right now and is about to happen for even more. Dr. Rudd portrayed Russell Shirley as someone the military knew, prior to the discharge, would be someone who would struggle with the discharge. If they knew ahead of time and still couldn't tailor some program for him, what does that say about their ability to help those whose problems emerge at a later date?
Chair Jeff Miller: Last night the President announced that 34,000 service members currently serving in Afghanistan are going to be back home. The one-size-fits-all path the Department is on leaves our veterans with no assurance that current issues will abate and fails to recognize that adequately addressing the mental health needs of our veterans is a task that VA cannot handle by themselves. In order to be effective, VA must embrace an integrated care delivery model that does not wait for veterans to come to them but instead meets them where the veteran is. VA must stand ready to treat our veterans where and how our veterans want to be treated -- not just where and how VA wants to treat them. I can tell you this morning that our veterans are in towns and cities and communities all across this great land. The care that they want is care that recognizes and respects their own unique circumstances, their preferences and their hopes.
Spoonster Schwartz noted that veterans sought care that was closest and that might mean skipping the VA if it was sixty miles away. She also noted that veterans had more access -- outside the office -- to a private sector doctor than to a veterans doctor
"Something somewhere is clearly missing," House Veterans Affairs Committee Chair Jeff Miller observed at the start of the hearing. US House Rep Mike Michaud is the Ranking Member on the Committee.
Ranking Member Mike Michaud: Over the years we have held numerous hearings, increased funding and passed legislation in an effort to address the challenges of our veterans from all eras. VA spent $6.2 billion on mental health programs in Fiscal Year 2012. I hope to see some positive progress that this funding has been applied to the goals and outcomes for which it was intended and the programs are really working. We all know that mental health is a significant problem that the nation is facing now -- not only in the VA but throughout our population. In the broader challenges is an opportunity for the VA to look outside its walls to solve some of the challenges that they face rather than operate in a vacuum as they sometimes have done in the past. One of the most pressing mental health problems that we face is the issue of suicide and how to prevent it. Fiscal Year 2012 tragically saw an increase in military suicides for the third time in four years. The number of suicides surpassed the number of combat deaths. Couple that with the number of suicides in the veterans' population of 18 to 22 per day and the picture becomes even more alarming.
Still on the issue of health care and veterans, Senator Patty Murray is now the Chair of the Senate Budget Committee and her office issued the following today:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, February 14, 2013
CONTACT: Murray 202-224-2834
Murray, Tester Introduce Bill to Expand Health Care for CHAMPVA Children
Would raise maximum age for CHAMPVA eligibility to 26 to bring program into parity with Affordable Care Act
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Jon Tester (D-MT) introduced legislation to adjust current eligibility requirements for children who receive health care under the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA). Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act a child may stay on a parent’s health insurance plan to age 26. However, children who are CHAMPVA beneficiaries lose their eligibility for coverage at age 23, if not before. The legislation introduced today by Sens. Murray and Tester would raise the maximum age for CHAMPVA eligibility to age 26 in order to bring eligibility under the VA program into parity with the private sector.
“As more and more servicemembers return home from Afghanistan, CHAMPVA will continue playing a vital role in caring for veterans’ loved ones,” said Senator Murray. “In our ongoing commitment to keep the faith with our nation’s heroes, this bill ensures CHAMPVA recipients, without regard to their type of coverage, student status, or marital status, are eligible for health care coverage under their parent’s plan in the same way as their peers.”
"Allowing young folks to stay on their parents' health insurance until they turn 26 gives them a chance to finish school or start their careers without worrying what happens if they get sick,” said Senator Tester. “This bill makes sure that the children of our most selfless citizens have access to the same care as the rest of the country."
“MOAA strongly supports VA-sponsored health coverage for eligible adult children of CHAMPVA beneficiaries,” said VADM Norb Ryan, USN-ret., President, Military Officers Association of America. “Such coverage is mandated in law to be made available for every other qualifying adult child across the nation and only a technical adjustment to the VA statute is needed to extend it to the grown kids of our nation’s heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.”
“The DAV applauds Senators Murray and Tester for introducing legislation we strongly support, which would grant adult children of beneficiaries of the Civilian Health and Medical Program of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA) eligibility for continuing health benefits through age 26,” said Disabled American Veterans National Commander Larry Polzin. “DAV believes children of severely disabled veterans and of veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation should be able to enjoy the same comfort and peace of mind of having health coverage into their young adult years as every other child in our great nation.”
“This legislation is critical to ensure that dependent children of severely disabled veterans are afforded the same health care protection as all other children,” said Paralyzed Veterans of America President Bill Lawson. “It is simply unacceptable that the only children who do not have the benefit of extended health care coverage are those children of the men and women who have sacrificed the greatest.”
CHAMPVA is a VA health insurance program that provides coverage for certain eligible dependents and survivors of veterans rated permanently and totally disabled from a service-connected condition. CHAMPVA is a cost-sharing program that reimburses providers and facilities a determined allowable amount, minus patient copayments and deductible. Once a veteran becomes VA-rated permanently and totally disabled for a service-connected disability, the veteran's spouse and dependents are then eligible to enroll in CHAMPVA.
Press Secretary | New Media Director
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
Mobile: (202) 365-1235
Office: (202) 224-2834Get Updates from Senator Murray
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