Connect with us

Politics

Exclusive: EXCLUSIVE: Sky-High Inflation Crushing Veterans, Says Code of Vets Founder Gretchen Smith

Published

on

EXCLUSIVE: Sky-High Inflation Crushing Veterans, Says Code of Vets Founder Gretchen Smith

#EXCLUSIVE #SkyHigh #Inflation #Crushing #Veterans #Code #Vets #Founder #Gretchen #Smith

Soaring gas prices, increasing grocery costs, exploding utility bills, and housing costs have affected Americans across the country. Unfortunately, as usual, those who raised their right hand to serve seem to be affected at an increasing and alarming level.

I recently reached out to Gretchen Smith, founder of the nonprofit organization Code of Vets, to find out just how bad it is for at-risk veterans in this current economic environment from a boots-on-ground perspective.

Code of Vets was born from Gretchen’s experience of losing her father to PTSD. A veteran of the Vietnam war, SGT Danny Smiley lost his battle with PTSD at age 57.

Gretchen herself, like me, is an Air Force veteran. 

A Perfect Storm For Disaster

The pandemic was difficult for all Americans, including our veteran community. Like many Americans, veterans lost their jobs, had to live off of their savings accounts, and took lower-wage jobs to make ends meet.  

In many ways, the current inflation is worse for veterans than the pandemic. For example, the April consumer price index (CPI) reported an 8.3% rise in prices for food, housing, gasoline, utilities, and other items over the past 12 months. 

Gretchen and her team, which consists of only about ten people who assist veterans nationwide, receive about 38 applications for assistance from veterans per day. These are requests for financial aid to pay bills, find work, and get help with benefits, and one of their most recent surges, according to Smith, is assistance with evictions.

RELATED: Female Veterans And PTSD: Forgotten Victims?

The Path To Homelessness

As the pandemic depleted the savings of many American veterans and inflation on the rise, many have found themselves unable to make their rent payments. And as any of us who have rented are familiar, if you miss one rent payment, it is grounds for eviction.

The Code of Vets team found that, on average, most rent has gone up to keep up with inflation to about $200 more. Real estate firm Redfin reports that the average rent has increased 15.2% from last year.

How many people have gotten a 15.2% raise during that time to keep up?

While adjusting some household expenses like groceries may be plausible, rent is a fixed cost that comes knocking on the door every month.

Inadequate Support

Veterans have access to HUD-VASH vouchers to help with housing issues. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development webpage, the program:

“…combines HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) rental assistance for homeless Veterans with case management and clinical services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).”

A concerning trend that Code of Vets has found is that the program is not making adjustments to keep up with the inflationary rent increase, exacerbating the veteran eviction crisis. This has been an issue since at least 2020. 

VA officials claimed in 2020 that essentially they didn’t have enough people to process the paperwork for veterans to receive the vouchers.

Advertisement

However, officials from HUD did acknowledge that another part of the problem was some regions federal calculations not keeping up with rising housing costs. Congressman Gus Bilirakis from Florida put it well:

“Part of the reason these vouchers aren’t being used is they aren’t helpful.”

It gets worse, according to Gretchen. The Code of Vets team has run into situations where state officials reach out to them asking for help for veterans facing evictions.

However, when prompted why they aren’t utilizing the vouchers earmarked by Congress for veterans, they have been told that they were reallocated once given to the state. So now the veteran must wait on a waitlist like everyone else.

RELATED: VA Hiring Spree Added Over 100,000 More Staffers, Is Increased Spending Helping Veterans?

A Vulnerable Population

The number of veterans who live with PTSD is staggering. According to the VA, 30% of Vietnam veterans, 12% of Gulf War veterans, and 11% – 20% of those of us who fought in the War on Terror experience PTSD. 

PTSD can exacerbate an already difficult situation for many veterans facing financial stress and possible homelessness. As Gretchen put it to me:

Sometimes the medications that veterans who seek help get placed on make them erratic and create difficulties with employers.”

This can lead to problems maintaining jobs which spirals into, you guessed it, homelessness.

Still other veterans don’t get the help they need out of fear of losing the security clearances that could help them gain and retain employment post-service. 

Transition Is Not Easy

My conversation with Gretchen affected me to my core. As a fellow veteran, I am lucky that my transition to the civilian world was as smooth as it was. 

Advertisement

But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that it has had its challenges and still does, less than a year from my retirement date. The programs in place for veterans are antiquated and poorly managed. 

I get my monthly emails from the VA advising me of all the benefits and programs available. But, unfortunately, most links are either to websites that no longer exist or to other program sites that send me to other program sites… that often don’t exist.

I was lucky. I had done considerable research on my transition before retiring. I had amassed mentors who told me what worked and often didn’t work for them, and I had a family support structure to rely on in the event things went south.

However, that isn’t the story that most veterans have. Many don’t have a family to support them. Still, others leave the service young with little life experience under their belt other than the uniqueness of combat and service to a nation. 

RELATED: White House Claims ‘The President’s Economic Plan is Working’

Heroes Lost In The Noise

Gretchen says in today’s divisive climate, it sometimes feels like every group but veterans come first. As a result, they get “lost in the political vitriol.”  

Read about San Francisco Mayor’s plan to eradicate Transgender Homelessness

Gretchen told me heartbreaking stories, to include the single mom of a one-year-old and four-year-old who had been homeless for months that Code of Vets helped.

Or the veteran with a 13-year-old who was experiencing food insecurity, which is just a fancy way of saying going hungry. 

Advertisement

Far too many organizations and programs pass veterans off to other organizations instead of taking them on and securing claims, benefits and assistance. So really, what Gretchen and her team do is secure hope for these veterans.

Hope that someone cares about them. That they, too, are seen. Hope that the next day will be better than the last. 

For veterans who do need assistance, you can contact Code of Vets here.

Now is the time to support and share the sources you trust.
The Political Insider ranks #3 on Feedspot’s “100 Best Political Blogs and Websites.”


Politics

Exclusive: The end of Roe is only the beginning for Republicans – TalkOfNews.com

Published

on

By

The end of Roe is only the beginning for Republicans

#Roe #beginning #Republicans

Republicans are celebrating the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade as a win for the anti-abortion movement that was decades in the making.

After a draft version of the opinion was leaked to Politico in May, Republicans expressed optimism, but largely withheld expressions of triumph. They didn’t hold back on Friday, reveling in the immediate shift that began taking place after the decision, as red states invoked laws to further restrict abortion and as congressional Republicans began planning new anti-abortion policies.

“What an historic day this is and what a great victory for life. And it’s not just a victory for life. It’s a victory for millions of people who have been part of this pro-life movement for decades, who have gone to state legislatures, who have gotten involved in the political process, who prayed … The decades of work [are] celebrated today,” House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) said during a press conference on Friday.

For most Republicans, the decision presented an opportunity to tout their party’s ability to deliver on long-running campaign promises as they head into the midterms. But for Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) — who supported the confirmations of some of the conservative justices who joined the opinion based on the assumption that they wouldn’t overturn Roe — it was a moment of reckoning.

“This decision is inconsistent with what Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh said in their testimony and their meetings with me, where they both were insistent on the importance of supporting long-standing precedents that the country has relied upon,” Collins said in a statement.

Most Republican lawmakers didn’t share Collins’s frustrations, and have made clear that the end of Roe is a launching pad for the anti-abortion movement, not an endgame. For months, they’ve been outlining a longer-term goal of imposing new restrictions on abortion nationally if they retake control of Congress.

How far they actually go could be limited by public opinion: Gallup’s tracking poll has found 85 percent of voters think abortion should be legal in some or all circumstances. Former President Donald Trump reportedly predicted that the decision could ultimately hurt Republicans politically, especially among suburban women who helped propel him into office in 2016.

For now, however, those fears aren’t stopping red states and national Republicans.

Red states immediately started moving to further restrict abortion

At least 13 states have “trigger laws” that were designed to outlaw abortion after the Supreme Court overturned Roe. Some of them activated those laws in the immediate aftermath of the decision on Friday.

Advertisement

Within minutes of the Supreme Court’s decision, Missouri’s Republican attorney general issued an opinion that “triggers” parts of a 2019 law to effectively end abortion in the state. That law bans abortion after eight weeks of pregnancy unless there is a critical medical reason, with no exceptions for rape, incest, or human trafficking. It also explicitly bans abortions for fetuses that might have Down syndrome and requires minors to notify their parents or guardians before getting an abortion in most cases.

Texas has yet to trigger its own law, though that will likely happen in about a month. But Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton warned Friday that prosecutors could start seeking criminal charges against abortion providers immediately based on old state abortion bans that were enacted before Roe and that were never repealed by the legislature. The few remaining abortion providers and funds in the state consequently announced that they would be shutting down for fear of legal repercussions.

“Although these statutes were unenforceable while Roe was on the books, they are still Texas law,” Paxton wrote. “Under these pre-Roe statutes, abortion providers could be criminally liable for providing abortions starting today.”

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, a Republican, also announced Friday that he had enlisted state lawmakers to craft legislation that would ban most abortions after 15 to 20 weeks of pregnancy with exceptions for when the pregnant person’s life is endangered and in cases of rape and incest. He told the Washington Post that his preference would be a 15-week cutoff, but that 20 weeks might be a feasible compromise in the split state legislature.

“The truth is, Virginians want fewer abortions, not more abortions. We can build a bipartisan consensus on protecting the life of unborn children, especially when they begin to feel pain in the womb, and importantly supporting mothers and families who choose life,” he said in a statement.

Republicans are already calling for a nationwide abortion ban

Republicans have also started to build a foundation to further restrict abortion access in the US, especially if they retake control of Congress.

“Having been given this second chance for Life, we must not rest and must not relent until the sanctity of life is restored to the center of American law in every state in the land,” former Vice President Mike Pence tweeted Friday.

House Republican leaders — including Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Republican Study Committee chair Jim Banks, and Judiciary ranking member Jim Jordan — are already lining up to support legislation that would impose a nationwide ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, CNN reported.

That ban could pass the House if Republicans recapture the majority in this year’s midterm elections, as they are widely expected to, but it probably wouldn’t win support from a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, even if the GOP regains control of the chamber. It is possible that Republicans could choose to eliminate the filibuster to pass the ban, but so long as a Democrat remains in the White House, they would veto any such legislation.

Republicans have also indicated that they plan to reintroduce the “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act” if they recapture the House majority. That bill would put in place requirements for the care of infants born after failed, late-term abortions and could send doctors to prison if they fail to comply. Reproductive rights and physician groups have previously opposed the legislation on the basis that it could criminalize doctors and is duplicative of existing laws that already support infants in these very rare cases.

And those plans appear to be only the beginning of their ambitions.

Advertisement

“In the days and weeks following this decision, we must work to continue to reject extreme policies that seek to allow late-term abortions and taxpayer dollars to fund these elective procedures,” McCarthy said in a statement Friday. “As we celebrate today’s decision, we recognize the decades of advocacy from the pro-life movement and we acknowledge much work remains to protect the most vulnerable among us.”


Continue Reading

Politics

Exclusive: Midterms go to the party out of power, but as Roe decision shows, Democrats aren't actually in power – TalkOfNews.com

Published

on

By

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 24: (EDITORS NOTE: Image contains profanity.) Abortion-rights activists demonstrate in front of the U.S. Supreme Court after the Court announced a ruling in the Dobbs v Jackson Women's Health Organization case on June 24, 2022 in Washington, DC. The Court's decision in the Dobbs v Jackson Women's Health case overturns the landmark 50-year-old Roe v Wade case, removing a federal right to an abortion. (Photo by Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

#Midterms #party #power #Roe #decision #shows #Democrats #aren039t #power

Meanwhile, this same Supreme Court makes it harder to vote, makes it easier to suppress the vote, and allows partisan gerrymandering that makes a mockery of equal representation. The Senate is so breathtakingly undemocratic that five of the six Republican-appointed justices were confirmed by Republican majorities having earned fewer votes and representing fewer people than the Democratic minority.

x

There are ways to mitigate the inequities in our system: statehood for Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico if they want it, Supreme Court expansion and term limits, a federal ban on partisan gerrymandering, etc. But none of that will happen if historical trends maintain and Republicans take control of the House or Senate.

What’s worse: Holding our ground isn’t enough. We have to gain seats to break the Senate logjam and disempower Send. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. We also need the cushion, because the 2024 map is tough, and unless President Joe Biden can turn his approval ratings around, a Republican trifecta would be the end of whatever rights we have left. They wouldn’t even need a Supreme Court at that point. 

So yes, it’s hard to argue for voting as the solution, when voting has proved so impotent to this point. And therein lies something else I feel viscerally: the disempowerment of our supposed majority. In fact, it feels like we’re in the minority. Because functionally, we are. And I can sense that permeating through—not just from the politically engaged, but even among the kinds of people who only perk up around presidential election time. I’m even sensing it among the apolitical

It feels like November 2016, when Trump “defeated” Hillary Clinton despite receiving three million fewer votes. 

We all know what history says about midterm elections—the party that controls the White House usually gets walloped, particularly during a new president’s first term. There are several reasons for that, such as a president’s inability to deliver campaign promises through our broken Congress. But the biggest reason is quite simple—the minority motivates. The Tea Party movement emerged after Barack Obama’s election. The Resistance emerged after Donald Trump’s selection. QAnon hit the big time after Joe Biden won, fueling school board protests over masks and the “CRT” boogeyman. 

Meanwhile, those in the majority become complacent. “We won, mission accomplished!” That, along with dissatisfaction with the pace of accomplishments, led to a double-whammy situation where the opposition party is highly motivated and mobilized, the party in power is moribund. More often than not, a wave election sweeps the opposition to legislative power. 

Advertisement

Who is in the minority today? 

Republicans, sure. Democrats control the presidency, House, and nominally, the Senate. 

But who is really in the minority today? We are.

Every liberal who cares about gun safety, about abortion, about core privacy rights, about keeping the conservative theocratic agenda out of our lives. We can’t even safeguard public health during a pandemic because of these conservative ideologues. We may not even be done this Supreme Court term, as the court may literally strip the Environmental Protection Agency of the power to protect our environment (in a decision that would gut the federal government’s agency power). 

Even if we gained Senate seats and got rid of the filibuster next year, would the Supreme Court allow D.C. statehood? Would they allow a genuine voting rights bill? Of course not! This is a renegade Court, literally inventing nonsensical rationales to push their unpopular agenda on all Americans. Somehow, the Second Amendment’s plaintext “well-regulated militia” has morphed, thanks to a supposed “originalist,” into a perverse blanket right for all gun fetishists to threaten society.

It viscerally feels like we’re in the minority because we are, in fact, in the minority.

Thus November puts us in uncharted territory. Yes, Joe Biden is unpopular. Yes, inflation and gas prices are high. Yes, history says the party out of power gains seats. But it’s the party out of power that is currently winning. The rules are being rewritten. 

Republicans have gotten big mileage out of their single-issue abortion and gun owners. Evangelicals may love Trump today, but they were originally unhappy with the amoral philanderer crook who ripped off his own charity and had sex with a porn star while his wife was at home with their baby. That didn’t stop them from voting for him, because abortion. Nothing else mattered. Meanwhile, liberals love to complain about all the ways a candidate fails us, and it costs us. 

But now, we may now be seeing the birth of the single-issue liberal voter. Kerry Eleveld wrote about an intriguing poll of the Pennsylvania governor and senate races. Respondents were asked their top priorities. 

PA SEN/PA GUV: TOP ISSUES FOR PENNSYLVANIA WOMEN
WOMEN MEN ALL VOTERS
ABORTION (SEN/GUV) 24%/16% 4%/3% 14%/10%
ECONOMY (SEN/GUV) 16%/24% 29%/28% 22%/26%
GUN CONTROL (SEN/GUV) 16%/18% 18%/15% 17%/16%

Women respondents were more apt to cite abortion as their top priority in the Senate race, clearly not yet understanding that abortion is explicitly on the ballot in their governor’s race as well. That’ll come, undoubtedly. 

Women then preferred the Democratic candidate in the Senate race by 23 points, and in the governor’s race by 16 points. In other words, the more abortion mattered to women, the stronger their support for the Democratic candidate, overriding concerns over the economy that would normally be front and center in a midterm election. 

Advertisement

To be clear, this is a single data point, so we need more information, but it certainly supports my gut feeling that traditional dynamics have been upturned. Why else would Democrats be leading in Wisconsin as well? If Democrats are leading (if slightly) in two of the most evenly divided states in the union, that certainly suggests that we’re not in business-as-usual territory. And note, both those polls were conducted before this decision hit with the force of a neutron bomb. 

One more anecdotal data point is this dynamic: 

x

My apolitical, hyper-religious, large Latino family group chat is on-fire angry about this decision. My partner reports the same, with women realizing that even their fertility treatments are at risk. You might be seeing the same on your social media feeds and group chats. Keep an eye on people you considered apolitical, or even Republican-leaning. If you’re seeing what I and others are seeing, chime in the comments. I’m really curious to learn, even anecdotally, what others are experiencing. 

In a perfect world, this outrageous conservative overreach galvanizes progressive (and even non-progressive) turnout on behalf of Democrats, who take advantage of the moment by campaigning heavily against the Supreme Court, promising reforms to restore balance and strengthen our democratic right to vote. 

Add votes on contraception, too, and that’s a real solid plan heading into November. 

Today, we saw Nancy Pelosi read some stupid poem, House Democrats sing “American the Beautiful” on the steps of Congress, and House Whip Jim Clyburn claim the decision to end Roe was “anti-climactic.” We need better leaders, and a better approach these next few months, to maximize our chances for victory. We need fire. 

But it may not matter in the end, just like Evangelicals voted for Trump. With abortion on the ballot, in every state, red or blue, we may see the kind of mobilization we’ve never seen before, especially in a mid-term election. It’s either that, or we start a countdown for the next cherished right on the chopping block. 


Advertisement
Continue Reading

Politics

Exclusive: Video Of Atlanta VA Clinic Employee Mercilessly Beating Vietnam Veteran Is Latest In Horrific VA Abuses – TalkOfNews.com

Published

on

By

Video Of Atlanta VA Clinic Employee Mercilessly Beating Vietnam Veteran Is Latest In Horrific VA Abuses

#Video #Atlanta #Clinic #Employee #Mercilessly #Beating #Vietnam #Veteran #Latest #Horrific #Abuses

Justin Gray of WSB-TV Atlanta released a disturbing video this week that shows an Atlanta VA clinic patient advocate pummeling a helpless Vietnam veteran.

The attacker, reported as Lawrence Gaillard, who appears to be still employed by the VA, is seen viciously beating 73-year-old Phillip Webb.

Mr. Webb was at the Fort McPherson VA clinic for some pre-surgical appointments. Unfortunately, his beating resulted in a brain bleed and a three-day stay at a nearby hospital. 

The disturbing video is below, if you have the stomach for it:

Mr. Gaillard was arrested for assault on April 28th and released on a $10,000 bond. He is suspended without pay and “only allowed on VA property for work-related purposes.”

This incident alone is enough to make your blood boil. Still, the sad truth is it isn’t an isolated incident of VA clinic mistreatment.

Putting Administrative Work Above Patient Care In Florida

An Office of the Inspector General (OIG) report shows emergency room staff at a Florida VA clinic violated policy by refusing to care for a veteran dying from heart failure in 2020.

The reason behind their denial? Their inability to confirm his veteran status. 

The delay in his care led to valuable time wasted. The 60-year-old veteran was transferred to another hospital and died ten hours later. 

Perhaps more disturbing is that the report goes on to say that the administrators of Malcom Randall VA center went with an “inadequate response” to the report’s findings. The original report recommended that the nurses involved be removed from emergency care. 

The administrators opted for written warnings. 

RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Sky-High Inflation Crushing Veterans, Says Code of Vets Founder Gretchen Smith

Lack Of Urgency And Compassion In Nevada

Another leaked VA clinic video, this time from Nevada, shows an 88-year-old Marine Corps veteran collapsing in the lobby. The video is below; the lack of urgency and care is disturbing.

It took two minutes for a nurse to arrive and another five minutes for staff to begin CPR, poorly. Unfortunately, the veteran did not make it.

William Caron, head of the VA healthcare system in Southern Nevada, told the local news that he believed the care was “sufficient.” But, of course, that was before he knew about the leaked video.

After news of the leaked video made it out, only then did his office send a lengthy statement admitting some issues with the care. Again, it shows this clinic administrator’s transparency, which is about as transparent as a brick wall.

Advertisement

Taxpayer Dollars Wasted On A Faulty Computer System 

It’s not just VA clinic employees causing harm to veterans. The computer systems that are employed even hurt veterans.

A report has revealed that a computer system utilized at a Spokane VA hospital caused varying levels of harm to 148 veterans. Doctors and nurses use the system to order labs, submit referrals for patients to see specialists, and various other administrative orders.

The report discovered that over 11,000 of these orders never made it to their intended destination, causing critical appointments, follow-ups, and other work to never be completed.

In one particular case, it was found that the system error directly contributed to a veteran’s heart failure. Due to medication information not updating appropriately, vital medicine was unknowingly inaccurately stopped, causing heart failure.

The system was developed by the Cerner Corporation, which was paid a staggering $16 billion for the electronic records system. Department of Veteran Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough claimed this Spring that he was unaware of any life-threatening issues with the system.

However, a VA patient safety team had briefed his deputy secretary in October. So it seems there is a severe communications problem at the top of this organization.

RELATED: Air Force Members File Suit After Being Rejected Religious Exemption From COVID Vaccine

A Familiar Deadly Trend In A Familiar City

The OIG has investigated a Phoenix VA clinic over a veteran who had been seeking mental health care and who eventually committed suicide. The investigation revealed that the veteran had been passed off to numerous people over many months, inevitably never to receive the care he was seeking.

An attorney for the family, Richard Lyons, said of this particular incident:

“From the day he asked for help, in January of 2019, for the next five months, he talked to eight different people at different levels of the VA.”

If Phoenix, Arizona, and VA clinic issues sound familiar, they should. The famous VA clinic scandal that rocked the nation in 2014 originated largely due to a CNN article that focused on wait times and wait lists at none other than the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care System.

Advertisement

The report found that 40 veterans had died waiting for appointments, to refresh your memory. However, the most infuriating part of the story is almost more to do with the cover-up.

The Phoenix VA had two waiting lists. The list they used to report to Congress was that everything was fine, and veterans received the care they needed in the appropriate amount of time. And the secret list contained between 1,400 and 1,600 sick veterans, some of who waited more than a year for appointments.

It doesn’t seem like much has changed.

RELATED: The Truth Behind Military Brass Incompetence And The System That Perpetuates It

Empty Words And Empty Promises

After the 2014 VA scandal broke, one of the developments to come out of the mess was allowing veterans to see providers outside the VA system in certain circumstances. Now the VA is discussing changing that rule due to increased spending.

When the trend seems to show that the VA system hasn’t improved, it doesn’t make much sense to make it harder for veterans to get the care they want and deserve. Watching these videos of our nation’s veterans who have given so much of themselves to their country be beaten, abandoned, and treated like a nuisance is enough to make my head explode.

Perhaps even more jarring are the police reports. For example, the police narrative of Mr. Webb’s beating in Atlanta reads as below:

“(Mr. Gaillard is seen) punching Mr. Webb in the face with both fists, moving him backwards until he was pinned up against the wall. Mr. Gaillard was seen placing his hands around Mr. Webb’s neck then proceeded to body slam him to the floor. Mr. Gaillard then kicked Mr. Webb in the head several times while he was on the floor.”

A VA spokesperson said of the incident:

“This disturbing behavior is contrary to our core values of treating Veterans with the dignity and respect they deserve.”

Is it, though?

Now is the time to support and share the sources you trust.
The Political Insider ranks #3 on Feedspot’s “100 Best Political Blogs and Websites.”

Advertisement


Continue Reading

Exclusive

Copyright © 2022 Talk Of News.