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Why Bonus March II Is Important

Copyright © David Burnett, Time Magazine

      Dear My Country, 'Tis of Thee...

Medical Care, Overall Benefits

I am a retired sailor in a family of retired sailors and Marines and I have become so frustrated with how veterans are treated and neglected that I will never recommend that any young man or woman ever join the military of this country. The federal government has taken away everything they promised my Father and Uncle, me and all of my cousins. They have just taken away my right to have free medical care for life. The commissaries are going down the tube as well is my retirement pay... I will never ask any young person to get nothing the way I and every one else gets nothing.

From: B. R.

Retirement Benefits, Recruiting Incentives

I served in the Air Force for 9 years. I wanted to stay in the Service but I chose to get out because many of the benefits the retired vets were receiving were being cut and the government was even taking away privileges active duty vets were receiving. Too many of our lawmakers who have never served in the military were the ones making these cuts.

Leaving the Air Force was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. I felt I had no choice though. If I stayed in, I may not have any benefits when I get out. I knew if I got out, I still had a chance to make it in the civilian world. Luckily, I obtained my degree while in the service.

I now work in law enforcement. Most police departments understand how valuable a veteran is and snatch them up quickly... but not everyone wants to be in law enforcement,

I think the veteran benefits to be advocated in Bonus March II is a fabulous idea! It would help increase our troop strength and once again, make Americans proud to serve their country.

Uncaring Lawmakers

But the major obstacle in the way is those law makers who never served.

From: S. P.

Disability Assistance Needed

I am a Korean War POW, I am now 65 years old and I can't get a single cent of any kind of pension, compensation or anything. First I was told that my military records were destroyed by fire, but now it appears that is a common excuse being quoted by the Military Records and Personnel Center. Because I can't get my records the VA says I am not eligible for any kind of help. I am 100% disabled, can't hardly walk, have been wounded five times and legs broken by a North Korean Army man while a POW. But, according to the VA, I am not eligible for any kind of help. I live in a converted garage that my daughter owns and am lucky to eat once a day as she charges me most of my welfare check for rent. I had to destroy my old dog as I did not have money enough to buy him any dog food so he could eat. My dog was my constant companion. I miss him. He was my best and only friend.

From: W. C.

Education and Employment Needs

I am a (wounded) Vietnam Veteran who wholeheartedly agrees that we Veterans have been "dumped" on long enough. A person who willingly served in the Armed Forces, and put his life on the line for his country and helped defend the rights and freedoms that ALL Americans enjoy, should be compensated in a lot of ways. All veterans deserve much more than they are entitled to at the present time. I served, while a lot of the guys my age got deferments and attended college. They landed all the good paying jobs. At the same time a lot of others "ran" to Canada or elsewhere to escape being inducted into the military to serve their country. But after they got pardoned the skills they learned while I served kept them years ahead of me.

From: E. H.

"God Bless America"

Veteran Neglect

I am a Vietnam veteran, I have no faith in our politicians. They sent me and many others into a no-win war and wasted the lives of 58,000 young men and women. I vow this will not happen to my son!! How can we have an army if the soldier is killed defending his country, his spouse and family are removed from the base and not cared for? How can you go into battle knowing that if you are killed your family will not be helped out by the people of this country you fought to protect and defend? When our troops suffer from disease, our government gets wishy-washy on what they will do for us. I am disgusted with the way we are treated. Freedom isn't free but our government sure doesn't seem to appreciate the price veterans paid for it.

From: J. H.

Reneged Benefits

I am 70 years old and I spent the first half of my life fighting for this government to keep it free. I am now spending the last half of my life fighting our government for the benefits they promised me for my service. Our leadership in Washington keeps changing the rules of fairness when dealing with our fighting forces. If we happen to have a war, they can't do enough for us and will offer us the family jewels if we will just go out and face death and keep them free. On the other hand, if our country is not being threatened they have very little need for us. We are forgotten. That's the way it has always been in America and will continue to be that way until we make our Washington leadership understand the needs of the broken soldiers once we have served there purpose.

From: C. E.

Disability Assistance Needed

I am currently struggling with the VA trying to get my disability rating increased. It is a miserable process.

From: C. H.

Medical, Education Assistance Needed

I am a WWII vet and consider medical programs to be important to me. Can't afford long term care medical insurance, and would like to relieve my family of the responsibility of caring for me if I am no longer able to do so.

The GI bill gave me a college education but raising a family while I attended college, put me at a severe disadvantage. I would attend classes, work part time and when I ran out of money would interrupt the procedure to work until I had enough money to go back to college. It took me until 1952 to graduate! At the age of 29 I found myself out in the work force competing with people who were years ahead of me. I never recovered. I would not like the same thing happen to any young person who has served our country. I am grateful for the GI bill but it simply was not enough.

From: A. H.

Reneged Benefits

The problem is veterans are not getting what they are promised. I can only speak after discharge. The VA is a disgrace and should be replaced with some office that cares for vets and their problems. Their only job appears to be to turn down veteran claims at all cost. Do you want to hear more?

From: Chris

Reneged Benefits

The government has lied so long to veterans it is hard for anyone to believe anything they say anymore. Every retiree was told that they would be taken care of if they put in 20 years. But once we did that our leaders in government changed their minds. I think we need to give retirees what they so justly deserve. And then maybe the young men of today will see that it is good to be a part of the service and be glad to serve.

From: J. L.

Disability Assistance Needed

I am a Vietnam vet. I get 100% disability. I was wounded twice. I have 3 children. I have decided to discourage all 3 from serving in our military, and I would not recommend the military for anyone else's kid. Of course I don't have to tell you what they did to my generation in Vietnam. Before us there were the Atomic Veterans of WW2, the uranium and chemical-exposed veterans of the Gulf War and who knows what other veterans were exposed to toxics in non-hostile situations we have yet to learn about? Face it, servicepersonnel are used and used-up by cowardly lawmakers and then thrown away like used condoms when there done with us. I totally support all efforts to ensure all veterans have a safety net.

From: S. C.

Reneged Benefits

What good are promises from a Government that doesn't care or out right lies? I joined the service in 1953 and retired with over 20 years service in 1974. Every time I came up for re-enlistment, I was told of the benefits of staying. Like lifetime medical benefits for myself and my family. Now our government denies this was ever promised. Medical treatment at a military bases or at the VA are being curtailed everyday and will be nonexistent soon. Our government doesn't give a damn about veterans. I for one don't believe our government anymore.

From: V. L.

Education Assistance Needed

I was beginning to think no one realized that majority of the people in higher paying jobs or positions are people who never served. But, really, the rest of the American people don't realize what happened in the 60's. I don't begrudge my classmates whose parents had the money to send them to college but I didn't expect to fall years behind them. I enlisted with the thought that I would serve my country and then go to college afterward. What I didn't realize was my classmates would be so far ahead of me there was no way they would let me catch up.

From: P.

Better Education Assistance Needed

I spent 13 years in the US Army and I got out shortly after I served in Desert Shield/Storm. One of the first goals I undertook was to finish college. It took me more than 3 years of working dead-end jobs during the day and going to school at night, but I finished my degree. A goal that most of my high school friends had finished 15 years earlier. Now I have to repay the college loans, and my military service doesn't count for anything. I got no benefits from the old GI Bill or the new GI Bill. I joined the National Guard in order to pay some of my monthly bills. Still I will have to use my monthly pay to cover other expenses. I do believe that the right thing to do is for our vets to be compensated for their duty to our country, but like most vets I am a very proud person and don't want to appear that I am crying to the American people for a handout. After being out of the army for over five years I finally have a PART-TIME job as a letter carrier. I want to work and provide for my family, just like every other American, but it has always been a up-hill battle for veterans trying to catch up, even to get the little things... like Christmas presents for our children.

From: J. W.

Insufficient Veterans Benefits

I served, my dad served as did his dad. Vets have gotten a pretty raw deal in this country.

From: S. C.

Limited Qualification Standards

Americans, (for the most part that I can see), really don't care anymore about Veterans. I was born a military brat (USAF) and when I became of age (17) I joined the US Navy because I believed in "America" and her freedom; I still do. I believed I was obligated to serve my Country to the best of my ability and I chose the USN and the USN-R to serve in that capacity. I did my best under the circumstances.

When I was "penniless" and "hungry" I went to the appropriate government offices but I was denied any type of benefit because they said I didn't "qualify". So, swallowing my pride, I went to strangers for help. Fortunately, with their help, I survived. In 1997 I was involved in a serious automobile accident. After a week I was released from the hospital and faced uncertainty about my basic survival. Again I went to the appropriate Government offices seeking assistance and again I was disqualified to receive any help (food stamps, unemployment, Social Security was at least a 6 month wait, and job placement). I was very fortunate that my family was able to support me during this time. At this time I am now able to return to work.

Yesterday I went to our State Employment Agency for assistance in finding employment. I was given an application for a position at a local penitentiary as a guard. On the application concerning the hiring of "veterans" it states:

    10. VETERAN'S PREFERENCE IN HIRING -- (Item 20) To claim veteran's preference on this application, please check "Yes" on Item 15, page 1. Five-point veteran's preference is granted to veterans who receive passing scores and were discharged honorably or under honorable conditions from the U.S. Armed Forces after serving during the following wartime periods. September 16, 1940 Through July 25, 1947; June 27, 1950 through January 31, 1955; -- July 1, 1958 through May 7, 1975. OR -- served in a peace-time campaign or expedition for which campaign badges or medals were awarded.

The best that I can understand from the above statement, I don't qualify as a "veteran".

I am now at the point that I don't care too much any more about our government or it's policies, statutes and laws. I really have a tough time answering my own questions about what I will or would do in defense of my Country now.

From: R.

The VA operates under a policy that if an ailment or injury is not in your "medical records" you don't have a case. That, in itself is wrong because many of us were treated in war zones but our treatment wasn't documented. The VA's 'we don't really want to be bothered with you" policy tells me that Congress and White House officials have a total disdain for our needs.

The military accepts us because we are in better physical condition than many Americans. But when we leave the military after doing all that was asked of us we are in worse physical condition than most Americans.

Many of the VA hospitals in our nation are in areas where families have to deal with great hardship in terms of travel. Patients should be close to their families and respective communities. We have in our nation built thousands of group homes for the disabled. We have built none for veterans. Some VA hospitals work with volunteers because they don't have money to pay staffers. But most of the time the volunteers show up only when they need a free lunch. If they get fed somewhere else they don't show up to help us. Some VA centers have become grounds where drug trafficking is taking a toll. In several VA hospitals we have been a rash of suspect homicides. 17 in one hospital alone still under investigation by the FBI. This to me is not medical care.

From: J.

Reneged Benefits

The military retiree has lost annual cost of living, had cost of living postponed and/or reduced, lost medical and dental care. It's only a matter of time before disabled vets are cut off. Bitter? You got that right! I am not disabled- except I have five numb toes, a damaged nerve below my right knee, I have to watch that I don't catch my drooping toes on a step and throw my self on cement. I have plastic in my aorta and femoral arteries, everything was torn apart in my left shoulder and I have 45/60 percent loss of hearing in my ears. Am I bitter over a broken government promise for needed medical care "for life"? Darn right!

From: G. F.

Veteran Neglect

In America the veteran is treated: "Go away. I don't want to hear your problems." We have become the lowest class in America.

From: M. E.

Limited Qualification Standards

VA policy is if you show no signs of a problem documented on the day you leave the military you are ineligible for treatment if a problem originating during military service later develops. Everyone knows that some problems don't show up for years. Even today we're hearing about how Hepatitis C takes years to be diagnosed. The man or woman who needs a new kidney because of Hepatitis C they contracted in the military is out of luck according to VA medical policy.

Men and women who served in the military are exposed to unique situations. For our government to turn people away from medical care and benefits in a disgrace. And that policy does not encourage young who might otherwise seek a military career to go anywhere near a military recruiting office.

From: J. K.

Reneged Benefits

I am a 100% disabled veteran who was given a medical retirement from the Army in 1968 for injuries received while in Viet Nam. For the first years of my return to the United States I received quality medical care and benefits. That was a period of time when the War, or Conflict as some would call it, was still in progress. In the years following the end of the Viet Nam war, services provided both by the VA and the Military have suffered a gradual and steady decline. Now I have extreme difficulty getting required appointments with physicians and can not receive all of the medications that my doctors think I might need. I am told that some of those medications are not available to retired personnel, but are available to enlisted men. My question is why? Enlisted men being led to believe that they will receive only the best when in reality one day will be just like the rest of us, subject to dismissal and inferior care. I have to be dependent on government facilities and services. I can not qualify for private insurance because of the degree of my disabilities. I am limited in income to that which is provided through the VA because I have not been able to hold a job, again because of my health issues... service connected... for the past 20 years. I have raised a family on inferior care medically, and on a noncompetitive income level. One daughter is out of college and another one has yet to attend. My entire life has been affected by the physical and mental effects of my military service. Not one single day goes by that is not affected by the results of my past service to this country. We didn't hold back when our country called. Now, when our country doesn't need us, they hold back on us.

From: W. D.

Limited Qualification Standards

I joined the Marines to try to better myself, to learn a skill, and above all else to serve in the defense of my country. When I registered with my local VA I was informed that the only benefits I was entitled to was a federal VA home loan. The reason, I was told, was since I did not serve in a wartime/conflict period. I entered the service at 17. (I turned 18 during my bootcamp training at San Diego MCRD). Initially I joined the reserves, but after 11 months of finding only minimum wage jobs I decided to go active duty for a 4-year tour. During one of my training periods I fell. When examining me the doctors discovered I had a heart-murmer. I was then given the option to be discharged as soon as the paper work was complete or be discharged at the end of my enlistment. Having decided to re-enlist for another 6 years previous to this discovery, I felt very discouraged. Not knowing, or being informed of any other option, I decided to take the discharge as soon as the paper work was done. I was very involved and prosperous in my military career and looking forward to a future in the military. But, after my discharge I was left with no help or entitlements to get started in the civilian world, help me get a job, and no money to help me get a start on life. I was worse off then before I joined the service. Since that time I had several dead-end jobs and lots of hungry, cold nights. I'm sure there are many more vets out there who have been neglected by the very country who we were willing to make the supreme sacrifice of our lives for. Any improvements in entitlements would be a great achievement in rights of all veterans.

From: Anonymous

Veteran Loan Guarantee Needs

I obtained a veteran preference Small Business loan. My company did well, showing a growth for several years. Then came the Gulf War recession. Hundreds of thousands of small businesses went under while America waited hopelessly for President Bush to do something to restore faith in our economy. Eventually, my business failed. I was forced to file bankruptcy and default on my Small Business loan. Later, when the economy started to improve, I went back to the SBA. I asked for a new loan, one that would include my default. I wanted to re-start my business, which as I have said was growing before the war, and make good on my last loan. I was turned down. The SBA held me accountable to not being able to survive when so many others were losing their jobs and businesses were failing. I think this was unfair. I agree with a need to help veterans who helped America.

From: A. G.

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