Pentagon and Senate target veterans and their families

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Pentagon and Senate target veterans and their families

Organizers of an upcoming March and Rally in Washington, DC next month are extremely disappointed in recent decisions rendered by the Department of Defense and the U.S. Senate concerning veteran’s health care and services.  

Operation Firing For Effect – The Veteran’s March is the bipartisan, grassroots collaboration of two combat tested U.S. military veterans, Gene Simes and James North. Last year Simes and North teamed up on a project to unite veterans nationwide in a common cause. Over the past year, Simes and North have generated a great deal of interest and support from veterans and civic organizations nationwide for The Veteran’s March on DC.  

Recent revelations made by the DOD to dramatically increase health care enrollment fees and co-payments for retired military personnel and their families has not gone over well with the national veteran community. The new TriCare plan will hit retirees under 65 years of age especially hard, and will result with health care coverage cost eventually tripling for these veterans. The DOD proposal is meeting strong opposition from the nation’s veterans and this issue will be a focal point of a veteran’s march in DC on the 25th & 26th of April.

The most recent blow to veterans’ affairs came last week when the Senate voted down…

     

an Amendment which would make veteran’s health care funding mandatory and assured. The failure of the Amendment was determined by a mere eight, (8) votes, 46 YEA  / 54 NAY.

In a recent Firebase Network interview with Operation Firing For Effect committee members, Simes and North addressed several issues including mandatory funding for the VA. The simple fact that 46 U.S. Senators thought mandatory funding was a good idea speaks volumes to the feasibility of the concept. The sad part is, it only took 8 Senators to deny millions of veterans guaranteed and improved health care and services, Simes stated. All one has to do is look at the list of NAY votes as evidence both democrats and republicans are playing political football with veterans’ affairs. That is simply unacceptable, Simes added. 

James North commented of the TriCare increases. TriCare increases will not only directly affect over one million-plus veterans, but their family members as well. In other words, our retired personnel are not only going to pay increases for themselves, but their spouses and dependants too. That will multiply the financial burden on the veteran and their family dramatically, North said. 

Both Simes and North view veteran’s affairs as a set obligation our country has to our men and women in uniform, not a special interest which depends on political lobbying and/or budgeting restraints.

James North said mandatory VA funding and TriCare increases are just two of the issues the April Rally will address. We have submitted a formal request for a DOD representative to address the adverse affect base closures (BRAC) is having on our retired military families, North said. We have also invited all 48 Congressionally Chartered Service Organizations to participate in uniting this country’s veterans under this single movement. We have expert guest speakers on a wide variety of issues; from Depleted Uranium exposure, to delays in VA claims processing, to homeless veterans, to protection of veteran’s benefits from third party awards in civil courts. We are providing the American military veteran and their families the opportunity to address matters of importance to them, James North said.

Barbara Wright of Pendleton Oregon is the project Research Officer. There is an old saying that rings very true, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. We are going to DC to do some squeaking’ in support of our men and women in uniform, Wright said.  

Veteran’s rights advocate Jere Beery is the project’s Public Affairs Officer. Beery is well known for his advocacy work with veterans’ issues. The organizers of this March are not obligated to any political party, nor are they associated with any government agency, or Congressionally Chartered Veterans Service Organization, Beery stated. The April March and Rally is one element in a much bigger grassroots movement to improve and protect the state of veterans’ affairs in this country. We are predicting a very large grassroots turnout for this event, Beery added.

All of the March organizers agree the timing of this March is crucial to the future treatment and services we offer our veterans. Right now, we have young Americans recuperating from battlefield injuries at Walter Reed Hospital and Brook Army Medical Center. These are great Americans that have earned fair and legal treatment by our government. These are the veterans who will truly benefit from our efforts next month, Jere Beery said.   

Operation Firing for Effect The Veteran’s March is planed for April 25th on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol. Thousands of veterans and their families are expected to attend. For more information, visit: WWW.VetMarch2006.COM Opening ceremonies will begin at 9AM sharp.

In a related story, late Wednesday the House Republican leadership turned down an amendment from Rep. John Salazar, (D-CO)., to add $650 million to the Veterans
Administration’s health care budget. Salazar, who recently joined the House Veterans Affairs Committee, said the additional VA money is needed because the Army’s own studies have shown the VA system is treating more veterans of the wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan than projected.

Below is a list of Senators that voted against mandatory funding for veteran’s health care.

Alabama: Sessions (R-AL), Nay – Shelby (R-AL), Nay
Alaska: Murkowski (R-AK), Nay – Stevens (R-AK), Nay
Arizona: Kyl (R-AZ), Nay – McCain (R-AZ), Nay
Colorado: Allard (R-CO), Nay
Florida: Martinez (R-FL), Nay
Georgia: Chambliss  (R-GA), Nay – Isakson (R-GA), Nay
Idaho: Craig (R-ID), Nay – Crapo (R-ID), Nay
Indiana: Lugar (R-IN), Nay
Iowa:  Grassley (R-IA), Nay
Kansas: Brownback (R-KS), Nay – Roberts  (R-KS), Nay
Kentucky: Bunning (R-KY), Nay – McConnell (R-KY), Nay
Louisiana:  Vitter (R-LA), Nay
Maine: Collins (R-ME), Nay
Minnesota: Coleman (R-MN), Nay
Mississippi: Cochran (R-MS), Nay – Lott (R-MS), Nay
Missouri:  Bond (R-MO), Nay – Talent (R-MO), Nay
Montana: Burns (R-MT),  Nay
Nebraska: Hagel (R-NE), Nay – Nelson (D-NE), Nay
Nevada: Ensign (R-NV),  Nay
New Hampshire: Gregg (R-NH), Nay – Sununu (R-NH),  Nay
New Mexico:  Domenici (R-NM), Nay
North Carolina: Burr (R-NC), Nay Dole (R-NC),  Nay
Ohio: DeWine  (R-OH), Nay Voinovich (R-OH), Nay
Oklahoma: Coburn (R-OK), Nay Inhofe (R-OK),  Nay
Oregon: Smith (R-OR), Nay
Pennsylvania: Santorum  (R-PA), Nay
Rhode Island: Chafee (R-RI), Nay
South Carolina: DeMint (R-SC), Nay – Graham (R-SC), Nay
South Dakota:  Thune (R-SD), Nay
Tennessee: Alexander (R-TN), Nay – Frist  (R-TN), Nay
Texas: Cornyn (R-TX), Nay – Hutchison (R-TX), Nay
Utah: Bennett  (R-UT), Nay – Hatch (R-UT), Nay
Virginia: Allen (R-VA), Nay – Warner (R-VA), Nay
Wyoming: Enzi  (R-WY), Nay – Thomas (R-WY), Nay

 

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Although Jere Beery only served 4 years in the U.S. Navy, he has an impressive military history. Twenty-seven months of that service was in the combat waters of Vietnam. His first duty station in 1965 was aboard the USS WESTCHESTER COUNTY, (LST-1167) as a Seaman. The WESTCHESTER COUNTY was involved in many operations within the combat waters of South Vietnam and received many awards and accolades for her service. The WESTCHESTER COUNTY was the recipient of 15 Battle Stars for her 19 years of service. LST-1167 was one of only 3 ships of her type to earn 15 Battle Stars (out of over 1200 LSTs built since before WWII). Beery's second duty station in 1967 was with the legendary PBRs of the Brown Water Navy. As a volunteer, Beery saw combat on a fairly routine basis with this elite group and their high-speed patrol craft. On March 1, 1968, Beery's patrol was ambushed by a sizeable force of NVA and Viet Cong. The boat Beery was aboard took two direct RPG hits to her starboard side badly wounding four members of the boat's crew. Seaman Beery was the most severely wounded and not expected to live. The first RPG had exploded right where Beery was standing as he manned his 50 caliber machine gun. To this day, Beery contributes his survival to the life-saving actions of his patrol officer, LT. RICHARD GODBEHERE and his other crew members. Beery spent the next year and a half hospitalized and recovering from his wounds. THE GODBEHERE PATROL On November 1, 1968, while Jere Beery was recuperating at NAS Hospital, Jacksonville, Florida, USS WESTCHESTER COUNTY was attacked on the My Tho river. At 03:22 in the morning two very large mines were detonated on the ship's starboard side. 25 men were killed, 17 were the ship's crew. Several of the men killed that morning were friends and former shipmates of Beery's. This incident has gone down in history as the greatest loss of life by the U.S. Navy in a single attack during the entire Vietnam War. USS WESTCHESTER COUNTY In mid-1969, Jere Beery was medically retired from the Navy. His service record reflects 1 Bronze Star, 3 Purple Hearts, and 5 military campaigns in Vietnam. Beery was also rated totally and permanently disabled by the Veterans Administration. Over the years since Vietnam, Jere Beery has attempted to do some things many thought impossible for someone with physical injuries such as his. During the early 80s, Jere Beery, as a member of the Screen Actors Guild pursued a brief career in the motion picture business as an actor. Beery landed a few small parts in a number of movies and television programs. On several occasions, to the amazement of many, Beery even executed his own stunts. In 1986, Jere Beery gave up his career in the movies to crusade for his fellow veterans. Since that time, veteran's rights advocate Jere Beery has been a noted driving force in the Veteran's Rights Movement and effort to improve services for our veterans. Beery's efforts have been extremely well documented and many articles have been written about his quest. A few of these articles can be found on this page. You can also type the words "Jere Beery" into any search engine to find out more about Beery's efforts. www.google.com Jere Beery's multifaceted story is truly an amazing one. From his survival in Vietnam to risking additional injury executing stunts in the motion pictures, to fighting to protect the benefits earned by our troops, Jere Beery has forged his own trail and continues to amaze and baffle many. - Place and Date of Birth: Orlando, Fl - 03/13/48 - Raised: St. Augustine, Fl - Place & Date Enlistment: Jacksonville, Fl - 05/20/65 - Branch of Service: U.S. Navy - Highest Rate/Rank: E4/PO3/Signalman Third Class - Duty Stations: USS WESTCHESTER COUNTY, LST-1167 and TF116, River Patrol Force, River Section - 511, (PBRs), Binh Thuy, RSVN - Date of Discharge: 5/14/69 - Type of Discharge: Honorable, Medically Retired - VA Rating: 100% Totally and Permanently Disabled Military Awards and Medals: - 1 Bronze Star - w/combat “V” Citation - 3 Purple Hearts - (1/5/68, 2/14/68, 3/1/68) - Vietnam Service Medal - w/1 Silver Star - (5 military campaigns in-country, RSVN) - Republic Of Vietnam Campaign Medal - w/1960 device - Combat Action Ribbon - Meritorious Unit Commendation Ribbon - Presidential Unit Commendation Ribbon - National Defense Medal - Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation - Gallantry Cross Medal Color, w/Palm - Republic Of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation - Civil Actions Medal, First Class Color, w/Palm Military Training: - River Patrol Craft Training, (PBR), Mare Island, CA - Special Weapons Training, Mare Island, CA - J.E.S.T. (Jungle Environmental Survivor Training) – Cubi Point, Philippines - S.E.R.E. (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape Training) – Whidbey Island, Washington State - Vietnamese Language – Mare Island, CA.