Friday, October 06, 2006

GOP Broken Promises Hurting Our Troops

NEW POLL SHOWS GOP BROKEN PROMISES HURTING OUR TROOPS Washington, DC - At a time when our nation is asking great sacrifices of our brave men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, a new poll indicates that too many have not received the resources they need and were promised.

According to a poll released this week by Action Fund, 42 percent of the veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan reported receiving sub-standard equipment while on duty.

Close to two-thirds believe the wars have left the Army and the Marine Corps overextended at this time.

This follows the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, which found that the President's approval rating has fallen three points to 40 percent and "46 percent of registered voters believe the war in Iraq has hurt the United States in its ability to win the war on terrorism." [MSNBC, 10/3/06]

The Action Fund poll also makes clear that, for many of the men and women fighting to defend our freedoms, their service has come with great sacrifice for their families. It found that 32 percent of National Guard and Reserve veterans said their families experienced economic hardship as a result of their service, while 79 percent of all veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan said that National Guard and Reserve veterans should receive the same access to Tri-Care as the men and women serving on active duty. Instead of expanding the program, the Bush Administration's budget cuts would drive a million veterans off Tri-Care by hiking premiums and co-pays.

"Despite the President's rhetoric about supporting our brave men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Bush Republicans in Washington have not kept their promises to them or their families," said Don Fowler, co-chair of the Democratic National Committee's Veterans and Military Families Council.
"With so many giving so much in defense of our freedoms, the President and Congress have a solemn obligation to keep our promise to the to our veterans and military families. It is time for a new direction for America, one that honors our soldiers and veterans by fully funding veterans health care programs, and making a commitment to never again send troops into harms way without proper body armor."

The following is a fact sheet on the Bush Administration's failure to stand up for our veterans:

THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION: BAD FOR AMERICA'S VETERANS HEALTH CARE AND LONG TERM CARE Bush Proposed $10 Billion in Veterans Health Care Cuts Over Five Years. Over five years, the budget cuts funding $10.0 billion below the level the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates is needed to maintain purchasing power at the 2006 level. Almost all appropriated funding for veterans goes to provide medical care and hospital services. [House Budget Committee, Democratic Staff; 3/21/06]

Bush Tried To Impose New User Fees and Double Prescription Drug Co-Payments For Veterans -- Driving 1 Million Veterans Out of the System - For Fourth Year in a Row. For the fourth year in a row, Bush's proposed 2007 budget would more than double the co-payment charged to veterans for prescription drugs and would require some to pay a new user fee of $250 a year for health care. Bush would also increase the co-payment for a month's supply of a prescription drug from $7 to $15. Veterans' groups said that at least 200,000 veterans would be driven out of the system entirely, and this would cost veterans remaining in the system more than $2 billion over five years. [Budget of the US Government, 2/06; House Budget Committee, Democratic Staff; 3/21/06]

Bush Blocked Access to VA Health Care For Some Veterans For Third Year in a Row; Over 500,000 Locked Out of System. In 2003, the Bush Administration also suspended new enrollments by veterans in Priority Group 8, the one with the lowest statutory priority. This group includes veterans who are not being compensated for a military-related disability and who have "higher incomes," generally about $30,000 or more. The Administration estimates that 522,000 veterans will have been turned away by the end of Fiscal Year 2005 as a result of this ban. [Defense Link, 1/24/03; Senate Democratic Policy Committee, 3/17/05]

Bush 2007 Budget Cuts Medical and Prosthetic Research. The budget cuts medical and prosthetic research by $13 million below the 2006 enacted level. Among the R&D activities within this program are efforts to help new war veterans - to improve treatment of post traumatic stress disorder, blast-related injuries, and Gulf War related illness. [Budget of the US Government, 2/06; House Budget Committee, Democratic Staff; 3/21/06]

Bush 2007 Budget Cuts Funding For Nursing Homes; Leaving 28,000 Veterans Without Care. Despite growing demand for extended care in VA nursing homes, the Administration's budget request cuts $351 million from nursing homes by serving 28,000 fewer veterans. It also would significantly limit assistance to states, by cutting state nursing home grants from $114 million to $12 million. This cut would place the burden of extended care almost completely on resource-starved state governments. [Senate Democratic Policy Committee, 3/17/05]

52,000 Veterans on Waiting Lists Nationwide; Veterans Groups Believe Number is Understated. As of third quarter 2005, VA reports that 52,000 veterans are waiting to receive care at VA facilities. However, independent groups believe that ".the accuracy of reported veterans' waiting times and facility wait lists is undermined by variability in VA's compliance with outpatient scheduling procedures." [The Independent Budget, FY2007]

Facilities Are Falling Apart And Veterans Must Wait Months For Appointments. While Nicholson said VA health care has not diminished, critics say otherwise. They point to a system already in disrepair in which veterans must wait months for appointments or surgeries. At the White River Junction VA Medical Center in Vermont, three operating rooms were closed June 27 because of a broken heating, ventilation and air conditioning system that had not been repaired because maintenance funds were used to cover the budget shortfall. San Diego VA Medical Center has delayed filling 131 vacancies on it staff. The VA medical center in Portland, OR,, is delaying non-emergency surgery for at least six months. "Right now, medical facilities are literally falling down around their patients," said Rep. David Obey of Wisconsin. [Navy Times, 7/18/05]

TAX HIKES FOR MILITARY FAMILIES Bush Budget Refused To End The Disabled Veterans' Tax. The President's budget fails to repeal the Disabled Veterans Tax, which forces disabled military retirees to give up one dollar of their pension for every dollar of disability pay they receive. The budget continues to require nearly 400,000 military retirees with service-connected disabilities to continue to pay the Disabled Veterans' Tax. [Office of House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, 2/06]

Bush Budget Failed To End The Military Families' Tax. The Survivor Benefit Plan penalizes survivors, mostly widows, of those killed as a result of combat. These individuals lose their survivor benefits if they receive Dependency and Indemnity Compensation benefits because their spouse has died of a service-connected injury. The President's budget forces these 53,000 spouses to continue to pay this unfair tax. [Office of House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, 2/06]

Bush 2007 Budget Increased Health Care Tax on Military Retirees. The President's 2007 budget also increases health care enrollment fees and deductibles for military retirees under the age of 65, saving $735 million for 2007, and $11.2 billion over five years. Over two years, this proposal triples fees for retired officers and doubles them for senior enlisted retirees. For junior enlisted retirees, fees will increase more than 40 percent over two years. [Budget of the US Government, 2/06; House Budget Committee, Democratic Staff; 3/21/06]

BOTCHED RESPONSE TO DATA THEFT Officials Kept Worst Breach of Government Data Ever Secret for 19 Days. Authorities waited almost three weeks to alert the public that personal data on more than 26 million U.S. veterans had fallen into the hands of thieves, a government source said Tuesday. The computer disk [that was stolen] contained the names, Social Security numbers and birth dates of every living veteran from 1975 to the present, Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson said Monday. The theft has been described as the worst breach of government data ever. [CNN, 5/23/06; New York Times, 8/6/06]

Veterans Administration Offers to Monitor Credit; Then Renegs. Initially, VA Secretary Nicholson said the credit monitoring was part of his agency's effort to atone for the ''terrible, unfortunate, regrettable'' data loss that appears certain to cost taxpayers much more than $20 million. However, once the data was recovered, the VA dropped the service. ''We are outraged that the administration would renege on its offer,'' said Bob Wallace, executive director of Veterans of Foreign Wars. ''There is no 100 percent assurance that the laptop was not compromised.'' [New York Times, 6/22/06; New York Times, 7/19/06]

Second VA Laptop Missing. "The VA reported that a desktop computer had disappeared [containing] unencrypted information on up to 38,000 patients at the medical centers, including their names, addresses, Social Security numbers, insurance information and claims data. Local police, VA officials and the FBI were investigating the disappearance, which Unisys had reported to the VA August 3. In recent weeks, the VA has also acknowledged losing sensitive data for more than 16,000 veterans in at least two other cases in Minneapolis and Indianapolis. [Facts on File, 8/10/06; AP, 8/9/06]

### Paid for and authorized by the Democratic National Committee, This communication is not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.

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