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Legislators Attempt to Head-Off Veteran’s March on DC


By Staff Writer: Rick Townsend



March 17, 2006,


Lawmakers in our nation’s capitol are attempting to pacify this country’s veterans and supporters of an upcoming grassroots veterans’ affairs demonstration planned for Washington, DC next month.


On April 25th & 26th Operation Firing For Effect – The Veteran’s March will kick off a March and Rally in opposition to proposed future cuts in veteran’s services, and increases in retired military health care cost. The demonstration will be held on the U.S. Capitol steps and will address a wide variety of issues which affect the future of veterans’ affairs in this country. Thousands of veterans and their family members are expected to attend the Rally, which will begin at 8 am at the West Lawn of the Capitol building. 


Over the past 90 days there has been a groundswell of Bills and Resolutions introduced addressing several veteran and retired military issues. From real legal representation for veterans filing claims with the VA, to efforts to block TriCare health coverage increases, our elected officials are scrambling to defuse growing anger and discontent within this country’s former military community.


The Military Retirees’ Healthcare Protection Act, H.R. 4949, if passed, would prevent increases in TriCare enrollment fees and pharmacy co-pays. This single Bill would affect over 3 million military retirees and their families. H.R. 4914, if passed, would permit veterans to hire an attorney when they disagree with a benefits claims decision of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Currently, veterans are not allowed to hire an attorney until the end of the administrative appeals process, specifically, after the Board of Veterans Appeals has rendered a decision. In addition, there is a 72.4 billion VA supplemental funding bill in Congress. And yet another Bill would define veteran’s health care funding as a “Cost of War” to be addressed in the Department of Defense budget. In short, the word “veteran” has been mentioned more times in the past 3 months, than the past 3 decades.


Organizers of Operation Firing For Effect – The Veteran’s March are convinced their efforts to unite this country’s veterans has resulted in this recent flurry of activity and posturing on The Hill.


Vietnam combat veteran, Gene Simes is the Chairman of Operation Firing For Effect – The Veteran’s March. Simes said, “The introduction of these new Bills is not a coincidence. Our elected officials are very aware of our plans and they know we are coming”.


Event Co-Chairman, Gulf War One combat veteran, James North explained The Veteran’s March and Rally this way, “Our objectives are very simple and straight forward. First, we want to draw public awareness and media attention to serious problems facing our former military personnel and their families. Second, we want to send a message to our Congress and Senate demanding Veterans’ Affairs issues take precedence over special interest issues. Third, we want to send a message to our deployed troops that we support them and they can count on us to fight for the protection of their earned benefits and services. Forth, we want to improve the State of Veterans’ Affairs in this country in an effort to increase enlistment and improve retention in the U.S. military, thus preserve our all volunteer military. Fifth, we want to provide our former military personnel and their families a voice in matters that affect them,” North said.


Vietnam combat veteran and noted veteran’s rights advocate, [Name Omitted] is Public Relations Director for the Rally. “I really don’t think many Americans will be pacified or fooled by the recent and sudden pro-veteran activity on Capitol Hill. We have to influence the overall mindset of the entire Congress and Senate, and that will take a great deal more than a couple of showboat Bills,” [Name Omitted] stated.


Jim North agrees with [Name Omitted]. “The problems facing our veterans will only be solved when the American people demand our government provide and protect the benefits and services earned by our troops. If we can find billions of tax dollars for Mars exploration, surely we can find adequate funding for our veterans,” North said. “It’s a simply matter of priorities,” North added.


Gene Simes and James North are very confident of a good turn out in DC. “We are providing an opportunity for the American people to voice their concerns about the future of veteran’s affairs. Our April 25th Rally will be merely the beginning of a much bigger movement to insure veteran’s issues take precedence over all special interest issues. This is the message we are taking to Washington, DC,” Simes stated.


In a related story, yesterday the U.S. Senate voted down Stabenow Amendment 3141 requiring mandatory funding for veteran’s health care. (46 YEA votes, to 54 NAY)


For more information on Operation Firing For Effect – The Veteran’s March visit; WWW.VetMarch2006.COM   


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