By Joe “Ragman” Tarnovsky STAFF WRITER

Veterans are patriotic to a fault. Even when we see and hear politicians and bureaucrats in Washington, DC licking their chops looking for ways to cut ENTITLEMENT’S we earned by wearing the military uniform of the United States, we will curse, rant and rave but we continue to sit idly by letting those that never served slither around looking for ways to cheat us. Many of these CAPITOL HILL pigs that feed at the public troughs are non-veterans and a good percentage of those are from the baby boomer generation that went out of their way to avoid serving in Vietnam.

The veteran services organizations that turned us away and/or welcomed us with “closed arms” after our service in Vietnam, give only “lip service” to these politicians and bureaucrats because lets face it, once you cross over the beltway into the land of “milk and honey”, Washington, DC, people seem to forget where they came from, who they are there to represent and jump right into bed with those in the government that like to change the rules on veterans once we complete are enlistment contracts. I recently emailed the President of the Vietnam Veterans of America, John Rowan, and respectfully suggested to stop using the word, BENEFITS and instead, ENTITLEMENTS, his reply was swift and said he would take my suggestion into consideration. The VVA website still uses the word BENEFIT and I am willing to bet that will be the only reply I receive from President Rowan. I also emailed Glenn Beck and asked him where he stood on this subject and thus far, NO REPLY.

I am respectfully asking Gordon from VETERANS TODAY, all staff writers and any veterans that agree with me, if you have not done so already, from this day forward to do what I have done for many years, start calling what we receive from the Federal Government in terms of disability compensation, education payments, medical care and any other item we receive in return for our faithful and loyal service, ENTITLEMENTS and NOT BENEFITS! We have to start somewhere so why not here and now!

The word BENEFITS, ladies and gentlemen, is a word the public uses and regards in the same way that it does WELFARE, something given to citizens at taxpayer expense for doing nothing; as the song by Dire Straights goes, MONEY FOR NOTHING! I do not know about any other veteran out there but everything I receive from the Federal Government is an ENTITLEMENT, an extension of my salary for serving in the United States Army by agreeing to fulfill my service contract obligation for low pay, to be sent anywhere in the world at the whim of those in charge, to be away from home for long periods of time, to eat lousy food, to get shot at, to do the killing for those that sit safely and snuggly behind desks in Washington, DC and if need be, to give my life for the United States Of America.

I am sure there are many, many veterans out there that have done far more than I have and yet continue to call what they receive in terms of compensation, education, etc., BENEFITS and they need to stop doing this today and call them what they are, ENTITLEMENTS. We are ENTITLED to those extras after our active duty service, it was written in the contract when we signed up, as I said above, a continuance of our low salary because of what we all had to endure and those ENTITLEMENTS have been paid in full by our service.

When we are young and naïve and can do the killing and dying for the politicians and bureaucrats we are assets but when we become old and collect compensation, health care and other ENTITLEMENTS that are guaranteed by law when we signed our enlistment contracts, we become liabilities. The suits and ties in Washington, DC like to change the rules on us after they have used us for the dirty work and wash their hands of us and whitewash our signed service contracts to “white out” what has been promised and already PAID for by serving honorably in the United States military.

We need to stop people like Alan Simpson from even making a ludicrous statement that disabled veterans would be helping the budget deficit by giving up their disability compensation. If such a statement was made about African-Americans, Hispanics, Muslims, Christians or any other group, there would be an outcry from that assembly and politicians would be scurrying around like rats for damage control and to get votes, but we veterans just seem to take it in stride and those in Washington, DC take us for granted. Not any more though! If my memory serves me correctly, it wasn’t too long ago that David Stockman, another anti-vet suit and tie from the Reagan Administration, was complaining about veteran ENTITLEMENTS and was trying to reduce the costs to the government. Of course, Stockman never served a day in the military. It is people like Stockman and Simpson, he served two years during the Cold War, that would wipe the slate clean of any debt the government owes is veterans for their faithful, loyal and honorable service to the nation after veterans have fulfilled their part of the enlistment contract.

Make no mistake about it, fellow veterans, many people in this country will get out and wave their little American flags and clamor how much they support the military and veterans, a valuable lesson that was learned from the treatment given to returning Vietnam Veterans, but if the politicians and bureaucrats start to cut Veterans ENTITLEMENTS, many of these same people would not utter a word in protest because many of them have never thought it important enough to serve America in a military uniform. As veterans we must remain eternally vigilant and always be ready to call formation and confront those in charge that would like to belittle our service by taking away what has been promised and paid for already as ENTITLEMENTS! If need be, we must be ready to assemble and march on Washington, DC and call out the career politicians and bureaucrats that avoided military service any way possible during the days of the draft and others that followed and failed to volunteer like our brave men and women in uniform today, but found a home at the public troughs and tell the rest of us how patriotic they are for serving in the government and not the public sector where they can make more money! HOGWASH!

The war in Iraq is winding down, like all veterans, I will be so glad when the rest of our troops can come home, and withdraws from Afghanistan are supposed to start in the next couple of years. When those wars become a page in the history books for the American public and for the politicians and bureaucrats in Washington, DC because they did not have to fight them, be vigilant, be aware and be alert because it is then the talk of cuts to ENTITLEMENTS already paid for by the veterans will surface, especially from those that never served. The war is not over when the last shot is fired, it continues in the form of ENTITLEMENTS, a written contract between the veteran and the government and often times signed in the blood of the veteran! Unite, veterans, from this day forward we receive ENTITLEMENTS and NOT BENEFITS!

Joe Tarnovsky


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Joe is a Vietnam Combat Veteran, having served 26 months in the Republic Of South Vietnam, 10 months with Company A, 27th Combat Engineers, 28 August 1968 to June 1969, and 16 months as a crewchief/doorgunner with the 240th Assault Helicopter company on UH-1C Hueys, the Mad Dog Gunship Platoon from July 1969 to 22 October 1970. Joe graduated from Cuyahoga Community College in 1982 with a Associate Of Arts Degree and from Cleveland State University in 1986 with a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology; he also accumulated 12 hours of graduate work at Cleveland State. He lives with his best friend, his wife, and they have 34 rescued cats, 7 rescued dogs. Joe has spoken at high schools and colleges for 25 years about PTSD, war and how not to treat returning veterans when they come home to America after fighting for their country.