Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Republicans Object To Bill For Homeless Veterans (VIDEO)

After you read the article (which I'm assuming you probably won't... but I embedded the video anyway), take a look at Sen. Coburn's (R-OK) letter. (These are the comments McConnell was referring to in the video.) As much as I dislike Coburn's usual comments, I have to say I actually agree with him on this - not on objecting to the bill (as I find it difficult to find reasons not to support it...), but to many of his suggestions for cutting wasteful spending so that this bill is paid for. I'm a bit surprised actually-- his ideas would be wonderful, earth-friendly changes that I think Congress should implement regardless of how how it effects the passage of this bill or any other.
Coburn suggests:
- eliminating nonessential government travel, which he believes will save $10 billion over the next 10 years (saves gas, reduces pollution, and saves wasted time AND money. Sounds like a plan to me, as long as we can establish that Palin leaving the confines her house and/or her usage of any form of media counts as nonessential government travel -- and just for this, we can pretend she's a part of the government.)
- reducing unnecessary printing which would save $4.4 billion (again, over the next 10 years... that's a lot of wasted paper!).

Other money-saving/raising suggestions he mentions that I think are probably worth exploring:
- collecting $3.4 billion in unpaid federal taxes from gov't employees (how he knows that, I'm not sure, but frankly, I wouldn't be one bit surprised if it were true);
- disposing of unneeded, unused government property (I'm assuming he means land moreso than items, but either way, land could be opened up to organic farming or clean energy development a.k.a. solar & wind farms, and items = recyling! YAY, SENATE YARD SALE!!!);
- & finally, eliminating bonuses for government contractors who go over budget or are behind schedule. (Maybe I've only taken 1 formal HR class, but I could've sworn my professor said that most bonuses were supposed to be based on merit, which includes timeliness and staying within one's allotted budget... If they do a great job, by all means go ahead, but I'd like to see maybe just a little discretion here. So from a business standpoint, this one is kind of a given. Bonuses are supposed to be earned-- hear that, Wall St?!)

It's a rare day when I stand up for a Republican, especially one I don't particularly like. But I think in this case, it's really worth hearing what he has to say (which again, so surprising, after his comments on the health care legislation...). He also suggests cutting spending to government programs; perhaps some, however I adamantly believe that the Pentagon's budget should be the first to get cut. I do believe that we should get this bill passed, and it would be an auspicious gesture indeed if Democrats and Republicans would work together to do something great to help out our vets in need.

Why is this bill important? Well, let's see- vets are far more likely to develop PTSD and other stress & trauma related disorders. (Imagine reliving the worst thing that you've ever experienced, every day, causing a complete mental breakdown. And even if you think you're "cured," even decades later, any memory, any trigger, can send you right back to that point at any time.) Add to that the high rates of substance abuse among vets, plus coming back from war and attempting to jump back into the job market, and you have all the makings for a lifetime of misery, homelessness, poverty, and poor health. As many of us know, homeless shelters and programs can only do so much, and millions of people (vets and civilians) are often without any help at all. Vet programs in our country attempt to give our servicepeople mental health & substance abuse counseling, health care, employment assistance, housing, and food. It takes quite a lot of help for many to be "reintegrated" into civilian society.

This bill seeks to enhance and expand these programs, prevent veteran homelessness, expand a grant fund for veterans with special needs (including having dependents), assist veterans with obtaining housing, extend eligibility for health care for vets with disabilities, etc.

For more information about the bill, veterans services, or what you can do to help veterans (or get the bill passed...), check out these links:
S.1237 - Homeless Veterans and Other Veterans Health Care Authorities Act of 2010

United States Department of Veteran Affairs
National Coalition for Homeless Veterans
Senator Coburn's Letter to Minority Leader McConnell (pdf)

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