VFW’s Tradewell Betrays Veterans … Again

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Thomas J. Tradewell Sr., a Republican flack who heads the Veterans for Foreign Wars (VFW), has an unusual give-away when he’s lying. His mouth moves.

Now, Tradewell is lying about TRICARE, “the health care program serving active duty service members, National Guard and Reserve members, retirees, their families, survivors and certain former spouses worldwide.”

Lying isn’t new for Tradewell. Tradewell betrays veterans every day as his organization is joined at the hip with the neocon elements embedded at the U.S. Dept of Veterans Affairs who as any veteran or advocate besides Tradewell and his corrupt ban of cronies know: Screws veterans. [There is hope that this state of affairs at DVA is changing, just don’t mention this to veterans attorney Bob Walsh for example, or any other veterans’ advocate who are liable to explode at the suggestion.]

Now, Tradewell is bashing President Obama’s health care reform with the same enthusiasm that he betrays other veterans, saying TRICARE will be undermined by the health care reform legislation.

Asked about the lies being peddled by Tradewell and the Republicans that somehow the Health Care Reform bill that was passed yesterday hurts veterans who have long been neglected and actively targeted by Tradewell, Veterans for Common Sense (VCS) executive director, Paul Sullivan, said, “Look, Sarah Palin lied about death panels. These are lies by people who don’t like health care reform. Essentially, we [at VCS] believe that health care is a basic human right, especially for our veterans. However, there some who believe there should be no health care reform and that insurance companies should continue to reap enormous profits by denying coverage resulting in premature and unfortunate and preventable deaths.”

Such straight talk is in short supply over at the VFW where Tradewell penned his Republican talking points that are on a par with Sarah Palin and her death panels.

Said Sullivan in an e-mail statement, “Veterans for Common Sense applauds the efforts of President Obama, VA Secretary Shinseki, and Congress to pass comprehensive healthcare reform.  We hope they will now focus on reforming the Department of Veterans Affairs, especially the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA).  Currently, one million veterans wait an average of six months for an initial disability claim decision.  About 200,000 wait an average of four to five years for an answer from VA about an appealed claim. 

“VCS agrees with VA Secretary Shinseki’s comment: ‘Fears that Veterans health care and TRICARE will be undermined by the health reform legislation are unfounded. I am confident that the legislation being voted on today will provide the protections afforded our nation’s Veterans and the health care they have earned through their service.’”

VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki has the definitive knockdown of Tradewell’s malarkey. Shinseki’s statement is reproduced below. As is the statement of the Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Rep. Bob Filner’s statement on Tradewell’s lies. See also VFW Lies for the GOP, Attempts to Kill Health Care at Daily Kos.

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As Secretary of Veterans Affairs, I accepted the solemn responsibility to uphold our sacred trust with our nation’s Veterans.  Fears that Veterans health care and TRICARE will be undermined by the health reform legislation are unfounded.  I am confident that the legislation being voted on today will provide the protections afforded our nation’s Veterans and the health care they have earned through their service.  The President and I stand firm in our commitment to those who serve and have served in our armed forces.  We pledge to continue to provide the men and women in uniform and our Veterans the high quality health care they have earned.

President Obama has strongly supported Veterans and their needs, specifically health care needs, on every major issue for these past 14 months – advance appropriations, new GI Bill implementation, new Agent Orange presumptions for three additional diseases, new Gulf War Illness presumptions for nine additional diseases, and a 16% budget increase in 2010 for the Department of Veterans Affairs, that is the largest in over 30 years, and which has been followed by a 2011 VA budget request that increases that record budget by an additional 7.6%.    

To give our Veterans further assurance that health reform legislation will not affect their health care systems, the Chairmen of five House committees, including Veterans Affairs Chairman Bob Filner and Armed Services Chairman Ike Skelton, have just issued a joint letter reaffirming that the health reform legislation as written would protect those receiving care through all TRICARE and Department of Veterans Affairs programs.

From Rep. Filner:

Health Care Reform Will Not Jeopardize VA Health Care Services
March 21, 2010

Washington, D.C. – House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Bob Filner (D-CA) released the following statement regarding legislation to reform America’s health care system:

“Now that the President and Congress have laid out a strong plan for reforming the current health insurance system, I would like to take the opportunity to remind America’s veterans that the plan will not affect the VA health care system. I continue to work in concert with leaders in the House of Representatives to ensure that veterans receive the world-class health care services they have so bravely earned.

“As a result of these efforts, I am pleased to sign a letter with House Armed Services Chairman Ike Skelton, House Ways & Means Chairman Sander Levin, Education and Labor Chairman George Miller, and Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman affirming that current health care reform legislation does not undermine or change the Department of Veterans Affairs mandate to provide comprehensive health care to veterans. Enrolled veterans meet the individual responsibility requirements under the bill to maintain quality health coverage.

“Under the leadership of Speaker Pelosi, the House maintains an aggressive agenda to ensure that the promises made to veterans are kept. Over the last three years, Democrats have worked to secure landmark veterans’ health care budgets, provided a G.I. Bill for the 21st Century, revamped the VA home loan program, and improved health care and benefits for veterans.

“I firmly believe all of our citizens should have access to health care. I am proud that Congress has crafted a plan to bring stability and security to Americans who have insurance today, and affordable coverage to those who do not. This plan, however, will not jeopardize the current health care services and benefits provided by VA. We will keep our promise to our Nation’s heroes of the past, present, and future.”

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