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Tag: veterans

Joni Ernst’s Idiotic Lie About Biden And Veterans Ripped Down Live On Air

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa was clearly playing to the Republican Party's MAGA base when, during a September 1 appearance on CNN, she falsely claimed that President Joe Biden has never thanked U.S. troops who served in Afghanistan for their service. But CNN's Jake Tapper fact-checked the GOP senator on the air, and that segment was followed by additional fact-checking from Tapper's colleague Daniel Dale.

Ernst told Tapper, "What I have not heard from this president is a thank you to those veterans who have served in the Global War on Terror. Not once has he expressed empathy and gratitude to the men and women who have put the uniform on and have fought so bravely overseas the last 20 years to keep our homeland safe. And I feel that by not acknowledging his gratitude for them, he's diminishing their service."

Tapper, however, responded, "I have heard President Biden express gratitude and praise veterans…. Just as a factual matter, I have heard him talk about this."

Ernst, however, tried to claim that while Biden had "acknowledged those that are doing service or had done service at the Kabul Airport during the evacuation, but not over the greater Global War on Terror."

In an article published on CNN's website on September 3, Dale explains, "Ernst's claim is not even close to true. Biden has thanked troops who have served in Afghanistan and Iraq over and over again — explicitly saying 'thank you' and explicitly saying the nation is grateful to them and indebted to them. Biden has also spoken empathetically about the sacrifices made by these service members and their families."

Dale adds, "Biden's public words as president so clearly contradict Ernst's assertion that, for fact-checking purposes, we don't even need to go into detail about his eight-year tenure as vice president — during which, he repeatedly expressed his appreciation for troops who had served or were still serving in Afghanistan and Iraq…. Ernst and her office are entitled to argue that Biden's words about the troops have been insufficient or insincere; that's a subjective claim beyond the scope of a fact-check. But on CNN, Ernst asserted something else: that Biden had never uttered such words at all. And that's plain false."

Dale goes on to cite specific examples of Biden thanking U.S. troops. During an April 14 speech Biden praised the "valor, courage and integrity of the women and men of the United States armed forces who served" in Afghanistan.

Biden, on April 14, said, "I'm immensely grateful for the bravery and backbone that they have shown through nearly two decades of combat deployments. We as a nation are forever indebted to them and to their families. You all know that less than one percent of Americans serve in our armed forces. The remaining 99 percent of them — we owe them. We owe them. They have never backed down from a single mission that we've asked of them. I've witnessed their bravery firsthand during my visits to Afghanistan. They've never wavered in their resolve. They've paid a tremendous price on our behalf. And they have the thanks of a grateful nation."

Dale also notes that during a May 28 speech for Memorial Day, Biden told a major deployed to Afghanistan, "I want to thank you so much — your entire family's service to our country. You're all incredible. You so underestimate how important you are."

Biden, during that May 28 speech, went on to say, "I know that many of you deployed yourselves, probably more than once. Over the past 20 years, our volunteer force and our military families have made incredible sacrifices for this country…. To all the Gold Star families across the country: We will never, ever, ever, ever forget."

Only three days later, during a May 31 speech, Biden spoke at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia outside Washington, D.C. and spoke of "7036 fallen angels" killed in Afghanistan or Iraq and said, "On this Memorial Day, we honor their legacy and their sacrifice. Duty, honor, country — they lived for it, they died for it. And we, as a nation, are eternally grateful."

Dale quotes a July 8 speech on Afghanistan withdrawal in which Biden said of U.S. troops, "I want to thank you all for your service and the dedication to the mission so many of you have given, and to the sacrifices that you and your families have made over the long course of this war. We'll never forget those who gave the last full measure of devotion for their country in Afghanistan, nor those whose lives have been immeasurably altered by wounds sustained in service to their country. We're ending America's longest war, but we'll always, always honor the bravery of the American patriots who served in it."

Danziger Draws

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

Will America's Elected Veterans Ever End Our ‘Forever Wars’?

Reprinted with permission from TomDispatch

If you still follow the mainstream media, you're probably part of the 38 percent of registered voters who knew something about the op-ed Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) published in the New York Times early in June, exhorting the president to use the Insurrection Act to "restore order to our streets." This was in response to what he called "anarchy" but others saw as peaceful Black Lives Matter protests. And yet that op-ed was actually less incendiary than an earlier tweet of Cotton's demanding "no quarter for insurrectionists, anarchists, rioters, and looters" or his Fox News call to send the 101st Airborne onto the streets of America.
Well!

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Reopening Of VA Hospitals May Endanger Nurses

Reprinted with permission from DCReport

Nurses warn of needless sickness and death if Veterans Affairs hospitals reopen without enough personal protective equipment.

The VA employs 342,000 workers, more than a fifth of the government's civilian workforce. If nurses and other healthcare workers contract COVID-19, the coronavirus will spread to others, including veterans.

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Why 73 Veterans Died In Understaffed Soldiers Home

Reprinted with permission from ProPublica.

On March 10, trustees of the Holyoke Soldiers' Home in Massachusetts heard a glowing review of the facility's operations. For the third year in a row, the home's superintendent reported to the board, the 247-bed nursing home met or provisionally met the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs health care standards.

We “are happy to report a 'three peat,'" Superintendent Bennett Walsh told the board, according to minutes of the meeting.

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How ‘Pirates’ Caused Supply Delays That Led To VA Deaths

Reprinted with permission from ProPublica.

Before embarking on a 36-hour tour through an underground of contractors and middlemen trying to make a buck on the nation's desperate need for masks, entrepreneur Robert Stewart Jr. offered an unusual caveat.

“I'm talking with you against the advice of my attorney," the man in the shiny gray suit, an American Flag button with the word “VETERAN" pinned to his blazer, said as we boarded a private jet Saturday from the executive wing at Dulles International Airport.

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Veterans Denounce Trump’s Attacks On Vindman

President Donald Trump’s attacks and retaliation against impeachment witness Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman are an “an affront to the Constitution,” according to an open letter from a group of more than 1,1000 veterans made public today.

“The President’s actions and insults towards LTC Vindman are not only wrong, they carry dangerous implications,” the group said. “The dismissal of LTC Vindman and his brother, also an Army Lieutenant Colonel, from the National Security Council staff appears to be motivated by nothing more than political retribution and deprives the White House of expertise necessary to defend our collective national security. The manner of these dismissals suggests that the Commander-in-Chief has prioritized a personal vendetta over our national security.”

Vindman provided important testimony during the impeachment proceedings as a witness to Trump’s infamous July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Vindman was disturbed by Trump’s effort to induce Ukraine into launching and announcing investigations of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son.

Trump and his allies have since lashed out at Vindman and tried to undermine his credibility. The president claimed Vindman didn’t accurately report the contents of the July 25 call, though no evidence has been presented that contradicts the witness’s testimony. (The president, of course, never testified under oath in his own defense nor did he permit any witnesses to do so.) Trump also called Vindman “very insubordinate.”

The letter continued:

The President’s slander of LTC Vindman, moreover, further undermines military discipline and public trust in an institution for which there are few more precious commodities. The President’s attacks and suggestion that the Defense Department should investigate him take aim at the long-standing military code of conduct that demands that service members report wrongdoing and illegal acts through proper channels. LTC Vindman did just this. That these attacks come on the heels of President Trump’s pardoning of — and campaigning with — war criminals, his public threats of war crimes, and his minimization of Traumatic Brain Injury, a debilitating scourge on so many veterans, only compounds the implications.

Read the full document here.

Military Times first reported on the letter.

Fox News’ Hegseth Lobbies Trump For Profit-Making Colleges

ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox.

Pete Hegseth, the Fox News personality who urged President Donald Trump to pardon service members charged with war crimes, is trying to influence the White House on another military-related cause.

An Army veteran who talks to Trump periodically and has dined with him at the White House, Hegseth traveled to New Orleans in June to address leaders of for-profit colleges at their annual convention. They are pushing to enroll more veterans, a lucrative class of students — and Hegseth is the face of the colleges’ new campaign to defend a favorable carve-out in federal law.

Under the law, for-profit colleges can’t receive more than 90 percent of their revenue from federal education funds. The logic, according to the staffer who drafted the provision, was that the education should be good enough that at least some students are willing to pay. But veterans’ benefits, such as GI Bill stipends, don’t count as federal education funds (even though they also come from the federal government).

This “90/10 loophole” means that for every veteran enrolled, a school can admit nine more students using federal loans. Veterans advocates and congressional investigators say this loophole leads to predatory and deceptive marketing tactics that sometimes leave veterans with unexpected debt and useless degrees if schools lose their accreditation or go out of business.

Hegseth has pushed back on that criticism, framing the issue as protecting veterans’ freedom to choose where they go to school. Speaking at the Career Education Colleges and Universities convention in New Orleans, Hegseth pledged to use his relationship with Trump to fend off legislation to close the 90/10 loophole.

“Right now you’ve got a president that would veto the bad stuff,” he said in the speech, which was flagged at the time by Media Matters, a Democrat-aligned group that scrutinizes Fox News and other right-wing media. “And if he ever gave me a call — and sometimes he does — I’d tell him that.”

Trump has indeed dialed Hegseth into the Oval Office to discuss veterans policy and considered appointing him as secretary of veterans affairs. A frequent presence on the president’s favorite morning show, “Fox & Friends,” Hegseth has interviewed Trump on the air multipletimes and been the subject of several of Trump’s adoringtweets. Hegseth prominently encouraged Trump to grant pardons or other relief in high-profile war crimes cases, which the president he did on Friday.

Since June, Hegseth has given at least 11 speeches for CECU and related groups, according to posts on his Twitterfeed and the organizations’ websites. One of the appearances billed his keynote as “sponsored by Career Education Colleges and Universities.”

Hegseth declined to comment. “I can’t give interviews because I work for Fox News,” he said before hanging up. He did not respond to follow-up questions sent by text message.

Fox News and CECU didn’t respond to requests for comment.

While Hegseth and CECU would not discuss his compensation, he has in the past spoken to political groups that paid $5,000 to $10,000 to his agency, Premiere Speakers Bureau, according to campaign finance records compiled by Media Matters. Premiere did not respond to requests for comment.

CECU has paid another advocate, Callista Gingrich, at least $5,000, according to the financial disclosure she filed for her appointment as Trump’s ambassador to the Vatican.

In addition to the speeches, Hegseth published two op-eds, on the websites of Fox News and The Hill. The articles defend for-profit colleges and attack veterans groups that oppose the 90/10 loophole. Neither article disclosed Hegseth’s work for CECU. A spokeswoman for The Hill, Lisa Dallos, said Hegseth told the newspaper he doesn’t have a “paid relationship” with CECU and signed paperwork saying he doesn’t have a conflict of interest.

The White House didn’t respond to requests for comment about Hegseth’s advocacy efforts. (Trump’s education secretary, Betsy DeVos, has also championed for-profit schools.) But Hegseth’s suggestion that Trump would use his veto pen to protect for-profit colleges is looking less hypothetical than in June when he spoke in New Orleans.

On Thursday, four senators introduced the upper chamber’s first-ever bipartisan bill to close the 90/10 loophole. “This bill puts reasonable protections in place that are fair to veterans, taxpayers, and schools,” Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., one of the co-sponsors, said in a statement. “This bill is a bipartisan solution to put the best interest of our veterans first while also recognizing that the majority of for-profit post-secondary institutions, but unfortunately not all, offer quality programs that accommodate the needs and unique skill sets of our veterans and service members.”

The senators’ announcement for the bill included endorsements from the American Legion and Veterans Education Success, which were both called out by name in Hegseth’s most recent op-ed, as well as from seven other organizations representing veterans and service members.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore