Veterans

Dan Crenshaw, Navy SEAL Mocked by ‘SNL,’ Wins Big in Texas

Dan Crenshaw, the retired Navy SEAL mocked by Saturday Night Live for wearing an eye patch, beat his Democrat rival by eight points in Texas’s Second Congressional District. The retired lieutenant commander, who served five overseas deployments, two after an IED blast in Afghanistan robbed him of sight in his right eye, replaces retiring Republican Ted Poe. President Trump won that district by 9.3 points in 2016, which means Crenshaw did better than many in the GOP, as some saw big declines compared to 2016. During the weekend, Crenshaw became a household name after performer Nick Davidson mocked his war wound on NBC’s Saturday Night Live. During a Weekend Update segment on the left-wing show, Davidson showed the audience a photo of Crenshaw wearing his eye patch and said he looked like a “hitman in a porno movie,” adding, “I’m sorry, I know he lost his eye in war, or whatever.” The backlash was immediate. Crenshaw was praised for his measured response. In a tweet, he said, “I try hard not to offend; I try harder not to be offended. That being said, I hope @nbcsnl recognizes that vets don’t deserve to see their wounds used as punchlines for bad jokes.” He later asked for Saturday Night Live to donate $1 million to veterans groups. So far, NBC has had no comment on the offer.

Shame on SNL for their brazen mockery and disrespect of this great veteran for his war injury.  That’s beyond disgraceful.  Shame on NBC for not issuing an immediate apology.  In addition, they should fire Nick Davidson immediately.  What a nauseating tool..  That said..  How great is it that Dan has the last laugh?!?   Congrats to Dan on his victory last night in the great state of Texas!  And we thank him for his service and personal sacrifice as a former Navy SEAL.   Outstanding!!      🙂

Suicide rates up among younger veterans, VA says

The number of suicides among younger veterans has increased “substantially,” according to a report released Wednesday by the Department of Veterans Affairs. (VA). The latest statistics show that 45 of every 100,000 veterans ages 18-34 committed suicide in 2016 – up from around 40 a year earlier. “These findings underscore the fact that suicide is a national public health issue that affects communities everywhere,” the VA said in a statement obtained by The Wall Street Journal. “Our goal is to prevent suicide among all veterans — even those who do not and may never seek care within VA’s system.” The VA found that there were more than 6,000 veteran suicides each year from 2008 to 2016. Veterans accounted for 14 percent of all suicides in the United States in 2016, yet veterans comprise just 8 percent of the population, the report said, according to the newspaper. In the report, the VA described veteran suicide as an “urgent crisis” that it can’t address by itself. Still, some advocates say the department has not devoted enough resources to this issue. “If any other population of 20 million people were exposed to these threats, it would be considered a public health priority,” Paul Rieckhoff, chief executive of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, told the newspaper. “There has never been a national call to action.” Last year, the VA’s inspector general found the department’s suicide hotline had routed a high percentage of calls to backup centers, a major flaw the department says it has resolved. On Tuesday, the inspector general also released a report after a veteran killed himself less than 24 hours after his departure from a VA facility in Minnesota. The report accused the facility of not providing followup care for the veteran, who was taken into the hospital over suicidal ideation. “Because many veterans do not use VA services and benefits, we must build networks of support, communication and care across the communities where veterans live and thrive,” the report states. The data was released a day before a scheduled hearing by the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. At the Thursday hearing, lawmakers are to discuss veteran suicide prevention efforts. The VA’s confidential Veterans Crisis Line is open 24/7 for vets and those concerned about them. The telephone number is 1-800-273-8255.

Medical marijuana bill would let veterans obtain weed with VA’s approval

Democrats have proposed legislation that would let the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs recommend marijuana to patients receiving treatment in states that have legalized the plant for medicinal purposes, eliminating obstacles caused by its status as a federally controlled substance. Introduced by Sens. Bill Nelson of Florida and Brian Schatz of Hawaii, the bill would allow “veterans to use, possess or transport medical marijuana and to discuss the use of medical marijuana with a physician of the Department of Veterans Affairs as authorized by State law,” according to a copy of its language released Wednesday. “Federal law prohibits VA doctors from prescribing or recommending medical marijuana to veterans,” Mr. Nelson said in a statement. “This legislation will allow veterans in Florida and elsewhere the same access to legitimately prescribed medication, just as any other patient in those 31 states would have.” While most states in the country have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes or recreational purposes, the plant is considered a Schedule 1 substance under federal law, effectively prohibiting VA physicians from even discussing its potential health benefits with veterans seeking treatment through the government. In addition to letting VA physicians recommend medical marijuana to veterans, the proposed Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act would direct the VA to research its impact and any potentially reduction of opioid abuse among veterans. Opioids account for about 63 percent of all drug deaths in the U.S., and previous research found that veterans are twice as likely to die from an accident opioid overdose than non-veterans, according to the bill’s sponsors. Marijuana proponents have argued that its benefits offer a non-lethal alternative to opioids, and states that have legalized the plant for medical purposes have subsequently experienced a drop in annual fatal opioid overdoses by nearly 25 percent, lawmakers said in support of the bill. “VA has not taken a position on the bill,” VA Press Secretary Curt Cashour said…

This could be a potentially bad bill..  Trading one drug (opiod) for another (pot) is could be potentially very dangerous..  We’ll keep an eye on this one..

Senate Confirms Robert Wilkie as Veterans Affairs Secretary

The Senate on Monday evening confirmed Robert Wilkie as the next secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) in a largely bipartisan 86-9 vote. President Donald Trump said in a statement: ” I applaud the United States Senate for confirming Robert Wilkie as the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Mr. Wilkie has dedicated his life to serving his country with honor and pride. He has displayed great patriotism and a commitment to supporting and empowering America’s armed forces and veterans. Under his leadership, I have no doubt that the Department of Veterans Affairs will continue to make strides in honoring and protecting the heroic men and women who have served our Nation with distinction.” Wilkie currently serves in the Air Force Reserve and was previously in the Navy Reserve. Trump first nominated Wilkie as undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness last July. Prior to that, he served as an adviser to Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC). Before that, he served as vice president for strategic initiatives for CH2M HILL, one of the world’s largest engineering and program management firms. He served during the George W. Bush administration as assistant secretary of defense for legislative affairs and as a special assistant to the president for national security affairs at the National Security Council. He also served as counsel and aide to Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS). During his confirmation hearing last month, Wilkie pledged to try to improve morale at the VA and to make it more adaptive in the face of long-time bureaucratic struggles. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), a senior member of the Armed Services Committee, said he is “confident” Wilkie will do an excellent job.

Let’s hope so!  The VA is a total mess..  So, Mr. Wilke has his work cut out for him.  We wish him success.

Veterans, not NFL, to be focus for many fans this Sunday

Veterans Day weekend seems to have inspired a new round of fan activism against the National Football League in response to player protests during the national anthem. A Facebook page called “Boycott the NFL,” boasting more than 227,000 followers, is asking football fans to skip watching Sunday’s games “in solidarity with veterans around the country,” the Washington Times reported. In New Jersey, a bar in Farmingdale called Woody’s Roadside Tavern plans to hold a fundraiser for veterans and their families, instead of showing NFL games on the bar’s 20 television screens, NJ.com reported. In Colorado, a decorated local veteran recently turned down an invitation from the Denver Broncos to be honored during Sunday night’s game against the New England Patriots, Fox 31 reported. And a conservative watchdog group called 2ndVote is asking fans to “stiff-arm the NFL,” according to the Washington Times. “We’re sending the National Football League, its corporate sponsors, and the television networks a message this Veterans Day weekend!” 2ndVote told the newspaper. “Americans are sick of the disrespectful National Anthem protests that the NFL has not only allowed to continue, but has institutionalized in pregame ceremonies.” The league and its players union announced Saturday there would be “no change” in league policy regarding the on-field protests, which began last season with a one-man effort by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who said he wanted to draw attention to police mistreatment of African-Americans across the U.S. The protests broadened across the league in September, after President Donald Trump told an Alabama crowd that any player protesting during the anthem should be removed from the field. The president and other critics argued that the playing of the national anthem was the wrong time for protests, regardless of the reason, because the song represents U.S. national unity and respect for those who serve in the military. Rob Johnson, a co-owner of the New Jersey bar, told NJ.com that their anti-NFL event was inspired by a regular customer who served in Vietnam and felt disrespected by NFL players taking a knee during the anthem. “While it’ll probably cost us some money, we thought it was more important to stand with our veterans,” Johnson told NJ.com. About 22,000 people have pledged on Facebook that they plan to turn off the television during Sunday’s games, the Washington Times reported.

We, of course, will not be watching any NFL games this weekend, and encourage those who are as equally disgusted with Roger Goodell, and the rest of the NFL leadership to boycott the NFL til it pulls its collective head out of its ass.

Trump signs bill to fund veterans medical care program

President Donald Trump has signed an emergency spending bill that will pump more than $2 billion into a program that allows veterans to receive private medical care at government expense. Trump, who made improving veterans care a central campaign promise, signed the VA Choice and Quality Employment Act while at his New Jersey golf club on Saturday. The bill, which addresses a budget shortfall at the Department of Veteran Affairs that threatened medical care for thousands of veterans, provides $2.1 billion to continue funding the Veterans Choice Program, which allows veterans to seek private care. Another $1.8 billion will go to core VA health programs, including 28 leases for new VA medical facilities. “Today is another milestone in our work to transform the VA where we’re doing record-setting business,” Trump said. The Choice program was put in place after a 2014 wait-time scandal that was discovered at the Phoenix VA hospital and spread throughout the country. Veterans waited weeks or months for appointments while phony records covered up the lengthy waits. The program allows veterans to receive care from outside doctors if they must wait at least 30 days for an appointment or drive more than 40 miles to a VA facility. VA Secretary David Shulkin has warned that without legislative action, the Choice program would run out of money by mid-August, causing delays in health care for thousands of veterans. The bill will extend the program for six months. Costs will be paid for by trimming pensions for some Medicaid-eligible veterans and collecting fees for housing loans. Veterans groups applauded the bill being signed, though some criticized the delay and the cost. “We’re grateful President Trump is taking decisive action to ensure veterans using the Choice Program won’t see lapses in their care due to a lack of funding,” said Dan Caldwell, policy director for Concerned Veterans for America. “Unfortunately, this bill took far too long to get to the president’s desk and is $1.8 billion more expensive than it needed to be.” Leaders of the House Veterans Affairs Committee said the six-month funding plan was urgently needed and would give Congress more time to debate broader issues over the VA’s future. While the bill may avert a shutdown to Choice, disputes over funding may signal bigger political fights to come. During the 2016 campaign, Trump criticized the VA for long wait times and mismanagement, saying he would give veterans more options in seeing outside providers. Shulkin announced the budget shortfall last month, citing unexpected demand from veterans for private care and poor budget planning. To slow spending, the department last month instructed VA medical centers to limit the number of veterans it sent to private doctors. Currently, more than 30 percent of VA appointments are in the private sector, up from fewer than 20 percent in 2014. The VA has an annual budget of about $180 billion.

Some great news that the dominantly liberal mainstream media isn’t even reporting.  Kudos to President Trump for signing this bill!  Outstanding!    🙂

VA has fired 500 employees since Trump took office, report shows

The Department of Veterans Affairs has fired more than 500 employees since Jan. 20, when President Trump took office, according to a list of job categories of employees recently disciplined or fired. The list, released by the VA July 3 and updated weekly, has been a way for the embattled agency to be more accountable and transparent about its employee disciplinary process, said U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs David J. Shulkin. The VA is the first federal agency to make this data on employee status public. “Veterans and taxpayers have a right to know what we’re doing to hold our employees accountable and make our personnel actions transparent,” said Shulkin. The VA has been under fire for shuffling controversial and problematic employees and managers instead of firing them, even after the widely publicized VA “wait list” scandal that rocked the agency. So the number of recent firings is surprising to many VA reform advocates. “In the past, the VA was not straightforward on who they were disciplining and who they let retire,” said Dan Caldwell, director of policy for the Concerned Veterans for America, a grassroots veterans’ advocacy organization. “Often the VA would say someone was fired, and we’d find out later that employee was not fired, they were actually just suspended, demoted or had been allowed to retire before they could be fired.” “Very few employees were terminated for the ‘wait list’ scandal – less than a dozen that we know of – even though hundreds or even thousands of people were involved,” Caldwell said.

There is a new sheriff in town, and he’s draining the swamp!