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Archive for the ‘national guard’ Category

This week, the U.S. Senate took an historic vote and passed (75-22) the Webb-Hagel 21st Century GI Bill. The GI Bill passed the House of Representatives earlier this month so now once the two legislative bodies reconcile any differences it will go to President Bush for his signature, signing it into law.

Or maybe not!

Bush along with his clone, McCain, is opposed to this particular legislation and has threatened a veto. Minnesota’s Senator Amy Klobuchar and Senator Norm Coleman both voted for the GI Bill. Only 2 of our representatives in the House voted against this legislation (Bachmann and Kline). 1st CD Congressman Tim Walz, my representative, voted for the legislation and delivered this speech in support on the floor of congress.

 

This legislation recognizes the sacrifice of ALL the women and men who have served, including our national guard and reservists who have paid a heavy price in Iraq and Afghanistan. It has strong non-partisan support in Congress and has the support of many veterans organizations, including the VFW and the American Legion. Senator McCain’s legislation is not as generous, would not treat the guard and reserve as equals and would require longer service times to be eligible for full benefits. Some may complain about the cost of this program but if we end our occupation of Iraq we will have plenty of extra cash on hand.

Peace & solidarity,

CHC

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Meanwhile, Minnesota prepares to send more men and women to Iraq. Video here.
UPDATE: Minnesota National Guard press release.
Peace & solidarity,
CHC

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UPDATE: 05/01/2008 #1 son points out in the comments that now 7 of 8 of Minnesota’s congressional delegation have signed on to this legislation. The only holdout is Michelle Bachman. As of this date 261 members of the House of Representatives have signed on as cosponsors. END UPDATE

As hundreds of thousands of men and women return from serving their country in the military they are finding that the current G.I. Bill is woefully inadequate. Senators Jim Webb(D) and Chuck Hagel(R), hope to change that with the “Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act” (S.22/H.R. 5740). The current list of cosponsors include 58 in the Senate and 250 members of the House. Both of Minnesota’s senators have signed on to the bill. Six of Minnesota’s eight representatives in the House have signed on, including my congressman, Tim Walz. This legislation has bipartisan support and has been endorsed by the following veterans and educational groups:   

The Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act has been endorsed by the Veterans of Foreign Wars(VFW), Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), The American Legion, the Military Officers’Association of America (MOAA), Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA), AMVETS, the Air Force Sergeants Association (AFSA), the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States (EANGUS), the Student Veterans of America (SVA), the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges (NASULGC) and the Partnership for Veterans’ Education, a consortium of military, veterans, and higher education associations such as the American Council on Education (ACE) and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU).

Democratic presidential hopefuls Clinton and Obama are cosponsors. Republican presidential candidate John McCain has introduced alternative legislation which is a slap in the face to our veterans and especially to our national guard and reservists. VoteVets.org issued a press release last week in which they repudiated the McCain-Graham-Burr bill. Here is and excerpt from the press release:

The veterans stated that the McCain-Graham-Burr bill falls flat in its key differences from the Webb-Hagel Bill, which has the support of 57 members of the Senate, from both sides of the aisle.

1) The McCain-Graham-Burr legislation creates a flat education benefit, not taking into account the cost of state colleges where veterans live. This would mean veterans in states where the cost of education is higher than the benefit would have go to into debt to get an education, or uproot themselves and their families to move to a place where the benefit would cover college. The Webb-Hagel Bill determines the education benefit based on the highest state college tuition in a veterans’ home state, allowing veterans to come home and attend college, without upheaval in their lives.

2) The McCain-Graham-Burr legislation creates second-class veterans, by offering those who serve in the military for 12 years the chance to transfer their education benefits to their children. This says to a veteran who serves for two years and loses both of his legs in combat that his service isn’t as valuable as someone who has served for longer.

3) The McCain-Graham-Burr legislation leaves the National Guard and Reserve out in the cold. In the current conflicts, the National Guard and Reserve have served faithfully alongside their active duty compatriots, and deserve equal benefits. Yet, the McCain bill does nothing to reward our Guard and Reservists for their cumulative service. Under the McCain bill, over 160,000 members of the Guard and Reserves who have done more than one tour in Iraq or Afghanistan would get no credit towards an education for their additional sacrifice. 

If this is an example of John McCain’s leadership and support for the troops, then we don’t need him. He is proving once again that he is out of touch with reality.  If we are going to go to war then we must consider all costs, and that includes education.

A fact sheet on S. 22 is available here.

Watch the video from VoteVets.org. 

Peace & solidarity,

CHC

   

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Early Saturday morning, a minivan with Rock County DFL delegates set out to Albert Lea to attend the 1st CD convention. Despite the blustery winds and icy conditions on I-90 we arrived safely to join the other delegates from across the 1st CD to take care of business. Listening to speeches, electing officers, filling committee spots, etc. is par for the course for conventions. Tedious but necessary. The delegates to the national convention that were elected truly represent the makeup of the 1st CD. Of those chosen were party regulars, an 18 year old first time delegate, and a 75 year old delegate.

The best part of the day of course was the nomination of Tim Walz to represent the people of the 1st Congressional District. The congressman has done an outstanding job in his first term and has worked very hard to restore trust in the people we send to Washington D.C. I have been cynical and often disillusioned with our elected officials. Not so with Tim Walz. I am proud to claim him as my representative. His work ethic, openness, intelligence, values, and manner of speaking are just some of his attributes. He understands the challenges that I face. He understands my wants and my needs. He understands my dreams.

After several nominating speeches from delegates, Gwen Walz, the Congressman’s wife, gave a rousing introduction for her husband which really got the crowd pumped up. Prior to taking the stage, I was lucky enough to capture this moment with the Congressman getting last minute advice on his acceptance speech from his son, Gus.

His daughter Hope, joined him on stage while Gus worked the crowd. Congressman Walz gave a great speech and talked about building the largest grassroots campaign the 1st CD has ever seen. There is one thing about his message today that stuck with me. This campaign is not about Tim Walz.  It is about us taking our democracy back. It is about our hope for the future. It is about the people of the 1st CD. He is one of us and that is why we will send him back to Washington D.C.

 

 

Delegates conducting business

As always, you can find the latest news and views about Tim Walz and the 1st CD at A Bluestem Prairie.

 

Peace & solidarity,

CHC

 

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Goodbye 2007

 

Hello 2008

Well, I could ruminate about the past year like thousands of others but one thing about December 31 that is constant with me and my spouse is our oldest daughters birthday. Of course it was a special New Years Eve for us. She was a beautiful baby (aren’t they all?) and as I held her in my arms I imagined all sorts of wonderful things that she could and would experience. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would someday watch her march off to war. As a parent it was a very difficult moment. Anger, anxiety, fear, and sleeplessness were part of my daily routine. I also felt pride knowing that the Army had a hard working, honest, liberal woman (yes, liberals also fight the war on terror) in their midst doing a great job representing her state and community. We were happy to see her return safely and were proud but not surprised that she received an Army Commendation medal for her actions in Iraq.

She is moving forward with her life as thousands of others like her are, but this war, this occupation, continues to linger on and on. If I were to pick a top story for 2007 it would have to be war in Iraq. While the mainstream media is tired of it and the presidential candidates choose to make up their own top issues it continues to sap our resources and Americans and Iraqis continue to die.

Our New Year’s Resolution this year, as in years past, is to do what we can to bring all the soldiers home!

d47.jpg

 

Peace & Solidarity

CHC

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Thanks to MinnesotaCentral for the link to new information on PTSD. The number of reported cases has increased by 70 per cent. Read the USA Today article here.

Peace & solidarity,

CHC

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Max Blumenthal’s video, Generation Chickenhawk: With The College Republicans, filmed at the College Republican national convention show us their true colors. All of the National Guard members who put off their college to fulfill their obligation should see this. Former Texas Congressman Tom Delay (what a role model) spoke at the convention and has some interesting ideas about abortion and immigration plus there is a hilarious conversation about being gay with an almost gay republican.

Watch the video below:

Peace and solidarity,

CHC

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