CARTER: Wicker, Cochran turn backs on veterans in time of dire need

October 26, 2012

Politics

 

Forgive Mississippi’s veterans if they don’t return the insincere salutes rendered this Veterans Day by senators Roger Wicker and Thad Cochran.

Veterans returning from a decade of conflict face unemployment in numbers at least 10 percent higher than the rest of us. They need help. The $1 billion Veterans Jobs Corps Act was designed to provide it.

Over its five-year life, the jobs bill would have hired veterans who served in the military since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to work on federal public lands projects and would have established a network of job training centers.

The bill was to have paid for itself with new revenue over 10 years. Republican senators say the bill allowed for more spending at the Department of Veterans Affairs than what was agreed to in the Budget Control Act, which is why they raised a point of order that killed the measure on Sept. 17. Passage would need a waiver that Wicker, Cochran and company refused to grant.

Let’s try to understand this: These same senators had no problem funding two wars and keeping the trillion-dollar cost off the budget books. But today, they are born-against budget fundamentalists with little interest in helping the men and women who fought those wars get civilian jobs.

Why no swipe at Senate Democrats here? The simple answer is that each and every one of them supported this bill. Republican senators Scott Brown (Mass.), Susan Collins (Maine), Dean Heller (Nev.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Olympia Snowe (Maine) were the only Republicans who voted for the waiver, in a 58-40 vote. Had Wicker and Cochran possessed the courage to put veterans ahead of party politics and vote with the majority, the measure would have achieved the 60 votes needed for passage.

How to explain the votes of the 40 other senators? That answer is simple as well: Voting for the Veterans jobs Corps Act would make the GOP senators look as though they were cooperating with the other side of the aisle.

Further, Republican Senate hardliners like Jim DeMint of South Carolina argue that special treatment of returning veterans creates a class of citizen granted benefits others won’t receive. DeMint’s position is a belief that is catching on among Libertarians and far right conservatives. It fits nicely into their ideological disdain for government.

They’ll argue that government’s role should be limited to protecting its citizens. However, somewhere along the line they’ve failed to connect the dots that military personnel do precisely that.

A popular item on the Internet these days is a well- said explanation of what our veterans did when they took the oath of service:

A veteran — whether active duty, retired, National Guard or reserve — is someone who, at one point in his or her life, wrote a blank check payable to “The United States of America,” for an amount of “up to and including my life.”

Veterans Day is Nov. 11. If you encounter Wicker and Cochran doing their pro forma appearances that day, take a moment to remind the two of them that freedom is not free.

Here’s a list of the senators who turned away out veterans in their time of need:

Alexander (TN)

Ayotte (NH)

Barrasso (WY) – up for reelection

Blunt (MO)

Boozman (AR)

Burr (NC)

Chambliss (GA)

Coats (IN)

Cochran (MS)

Corker (TN) – up for reelection

Cornyn (TX)

Crapo (ID)

DeMint (SC)

Enzi (WY)

Graham (SC)

Grassley (IA)

Hatch (UT) – up for reelection

Hoeven (ND)

Hutchinson (TX)

Isakson (GA)

Johanns (NE)

Johnson (WI)

Kyl (AZ)

Lee (UT)

Lugar (IN)

McCain (AZ)

McConnell (KY)

Moran (KS)

Paul (KY)

Portman (OH)

Risch (ID)

Roberts (KS)

Rubio (FL)

Sessions (AL)

Shelby (AL)

Thune (SD)

Toomey (PA)

Vitter (LA)

Wicker (MS) – up for reelection

 

 

 

 

, , ,

3 Responses to “CARTER: Wicker, Cochran turn backs on veterans in time of dire need”

  1. Jerrell Strawn Says:

    $16 trillion in debt and still trying to spend. The $1 billion block grant to states and agencies to give “priority” to hiring veterans does not ensure the hiring of a single veteran. Block grants to hire police and firefighters give priority to the veteran between two equally qualified applicants. However, if the non-veteran applicant is seen by the local hiring officials as more qualified than the veteran applicant, the more qualified is hired using the Veterans Jobs Corps Act funding.

    Read the bill. http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-112s3457pcs/pdf/BILLS-112s3457pcs.pdf

    Jerrrell Strawn
    USMC Retired

  2. Mark Says:

    Bad form….Wicker helped me get INTO this program when an uncooperative VA would not. I will shake his hand, and you people can believe what you would like to.

  3. Julian Carroll Says:

    As a recently retired Navy Reservist, with multiple, post 9-11-01, deployments, that included Iraq, Bahrain, Africa, and Afghanistan (twice), I look at this issue with mixed emotions. The project that currently employs me will be ending in early 2013, potentially placing me in the ranks of recently returned and unemployed, and preferential hiring would be helpful at that point. What I cannot accept, however, is preferential treatment at the expense of the thousands of veterans who served this country with honor, in conflicts and at home, during the years prior to 2001, both of my parents included. While in airports departing and returning from OIF and OEF deployments, we passed through lines of Veterans, their families and other supporters, waving flags, cheering, clapping, hugging and praying. I was humbled by Veterans of Korea, Vietnam, and other conflicts, who were never given the same send-off or welcome home, yet felt obligated to make sure we were made to feel appreciated. Every Veteran should receive preferential hiring. Guard and Reserve members already have the added benefit of receiving our retirement pay early: 3 mos. early for every 3 mos. served in support of OIF or OEF, according to the distorted interpretation of the DoD. Unfortunately, this benefit does not begin in 2001, but in 2008. Fixing that wording could directly benefit more than 600,000 Guard and Reservists mobilized between Sept. 11, 2001 and 2008.
    As to Senator Wicker, he traveled to Afghanistan during my last deployment. He spoke with every Mississippian at our camp and traveled throughout the Kabul area. He did not stay sequestered in safety, assaulted only by powerpoint presentations, but visited several Afghan Army and Police training sites, along with several other members of a Congressional delegation. Those men and women, Republicans and Democrats, exposed themselves to great danger in order to see for themselves where our tax dollars were being spent. This was not a photo op, as civilian media were absent. Without question, Senator Wicker continues to have my respect and support.

Leave a Reply