Why Blame Republicans for the Shutdown?

Readers of Tom Philpott's Military Update Column Sound Off

I just read your article on the government shutdown and was amazed, by an ill advised comment blaming the partial shutdown on Republicans.

You aren't considering all the facts, to include the many separate bills Republicans had passed only to be rejected by Senate Democrats.  I understand Republicans need to put forward a bill to fund the government.  And they have done this, only to be repeatedly rejected by the Senate.

I don't know why you would take sides as you report on military matters. You should be an unbiased individual if you're going to support the men and women in the armed forces.  Report what is going on and how it affects the armed forces and please omit your personal opinions.

MIKE STEPRO Master Sergeant, USAF-Ret.

Your recent article, "Pay protected, but shutdown stings dependents multiple ways," was well done except a couple of items.

Your first sentence -- "As House Republicans prepare to close down a large part of the government in their latest attempt to gut the 2010 Affordable Care Act…" was a misstatement.

The latest Republican move regarding the Affordable Care Act is to defer the individual mandate for one year, like the President deferred the employer mandate, and to eliminate the exemption being provided to members of Congress, their staffs and White House personnel.

What could be fairer than that?

But the President will not negotiate on either of these points.  Thus the shutdown continues.  Whose fault is that?

You question why the Department of Defense closed the commissaries in conjunction with the current shutdown and didn't in previous ones?

May I suggest it is part of the Obama's administration's plan to penalize all that it can to take advantage of the main line media's blaming Republicans?

ROBERT GORDON Williamsburg, Va. 

House Republicans have passed several dozens bills to try to stop or to alter the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).  These efforts have failed because Democrats continue to control the Senate and the country re-elected Barack Obama.

This fall, frustrated House Republicans chose a different tactic.  They would try to kill Obamacare by attaching language to defund it to the continuing budget resolution, or CR, that Congress needed to keep the government open beyond September.

Without a CR that the Senate would agree to, and that President Obama would sign, the government, as expected, shut down.  The Senate had passed a "clear" CR to avoid this.  But House Republicans refused to put it to a vote, fearing it would pass with bipartisan support.  So the government stayed closed.  

That isn't opinion; it is fact.  The Republican maneuver was unpopular, as it impacted hundreds of thousands of federal employees and many services provided to the public.  Realizing this, House Republicans began immediately to pass separate bills to reopen the most popular parts of government.  Senate Democrats, encouraged by the President, rejected this piecemeal approach, with some exceptions including a special bill to protect the pay of the active duty military and most defense civilians.

I didn't have room in a 900-word column to detail the ping-pong of various face-saving moves surrounding the shutdown.  I needed to explain to military folks why parts of the government were shuttered and what that means to them.  Politicians who choose to disrupt government operations, whatever the reason, must believe their effort is worth the heat they will feel. 

Military communities and overall readiness have been battered by long wars and, more recently, by the automatic cuts of budget sequestration.  The added pain inflicted on them by a minority in Congress, because the elected majority will not yield, shouldn't be praised or ignored. – Tom Philpott

DISABILITY PAY RUN AMOK

As a current serving member of the military, and veteran of two Iraq deployments, I wish to thank and commend Michael T. Webster for shining a spotlight on what he and I believe is the rampant abuse of disability claims by fellow military personnel filed with Department of Veterans Affairs.

I have and am seeing a variety of claims by service members whom I know personally that are, in my opinion, blatantly false or for medical conditions that shouldn't be compensated for by American taxpayers for the life of that individual.

I realize that this may come across as mean spirited.  Well, so be it.

Example 1: A friend of mine retired from the Army National Guard Technician program after more than 20 years. He automatically began drawing retirement, which is fine, but also compensation for a 60 percent disability rating from VA.  That included a 50 percent for sleep apnea.

I've known him for years. He's a good soldier. But he's always been overweight.  Long before he joined the military he snored and quit breathing while sleeping.  I know this because he told me.

Am I jealous or being vindictive? Absolutely not.

Should taxpayers have to pay him for this for the rest of his life?

Hogwash. 

Example 2: One soldier in my command was on my first Iraq deployment with me.  Good soldier.  Hard worker.  But he didn't see much action. He was never shot at, never encountered an improvised explosive device and never killed "bad guys."  He did respond once to an IED, where Iraqi civilians were killed.

When he got home, he filed for and began receiving 100 percent disability compensation from VA for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Hogwash. He's just sucking the government's you know what.

Example 3: Another soldier in my command had the same experience as the soldier above, with one exception: A close friend of his was killed in a firefight. This soldier was not in a firefight!  He too came home and began drawing 100 percent for PTSD. Hogwash!

I'm so sick of this crap!  There's more but I have to quit before I punch the computer.  Maybe I have PTSD?  I was shot at. I shoot back. I saw dead soldiers and civilians.

I do draw a 10 percent disability for my back, the result of various deployments, airborne jumps and training schools. I wish to be as objective and opened minded as I can.  However, I believe the VA system should only cover serious injuries – amputations, head trauma, severe wounds and injuries such as burns and gunshots.  But not PTSD or carpal tunnel syndrome or sleep apnea.  Don't pay them pay them a stipend for the rest of their life. The U.S. can't afford this!

I know some will tear me to shreds. Go for it.  I was at a VA appointment a few years ago.  At the front desk I saw a list of names and medical conditions/problems.  It looked a mile long.  The only condition I saw next to each name was "PTSD." I couldn't believe it.  It appeared to be 100 individuals with this "illness." Really?

This has to stop.

DAVID C. ANDREWS Via email

Letters may be edited for clarity or length.  Write to Military Forum, P.O. Box 231111, Centreville, VA 20120-1111, send e-mail to militaryforum@aol.com or visit www.militaryupdate.com

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