OK

Chet Edwards of TX may have voted against Health Care Reform but that doesn't mean he isn't working for the Democrats AND the well-being of all our citizens, especially including our veterans.

Edwards is Chair of the House Military Construction and Military Affairs Appropriations subcommittee and he took offense when the VFW came out and said that the Democrats had betrayed veterans because of language not included in the health care law--it feels really good to type "law."  He let the representative from the VFW know exactly how he felt.  I don't want Chet Edwards ever to be angry with me.

Find the tongue lashing and more below the fold.

I'll spare you the suspense--the VFW apologized.  

"I apologized for using too harsh of a word," said Thomas J. Tradewell Sr., a combat-wounded Vietnam veteran from Sussex, Wis., in a statement to reporters, describing the apology he had offered. "I also wanted to assure them that the VFW is well aware and most appreciative of their strong support of America's veterans, servicemembers and their families."

And the VFW should apologize for saying the the Democrats betrayed them.  Below find some the the things the Democratic Congress has done for our veterans while Chet Edwards has been subcommittee chair:

The $23.1 billion increase in the V.A.'s discretionary budget, that is a 60 percent increase in the baseline. And I do not think there--perhaps even in any decade in American history that would match that increase in the V.A. baseline.

A 55 percent increase in the Veterans Health Administration, resulting in over 3,300 new doctors, 14,000 new nurses, 145 new community-based outpatient clinics, and 92 vet centers.

The first time since 1979, we through this subcommittee increased the travel reimbursement to veterans from 11 cents a mile to 41.5 cents a mile. The first time since the Bush administration froze enrollment, income thresholds for Priority 8 veterans, we increased that by 10 percent last year.

We more than doubled the amount provided for the homeless grant and per diem program. We added 8,300 new claims processors, more than the Bush administration ever asked for, and we plussed up the Obama administration request last year. Thank goodness we did it, given the massive increase in the number of the veterans filing for claims.

In addition to all this in our subcommittee, through the Congress and other committees, we passed the new G.I. Bill, providing $63 billion over the next 10 years for tuition assistance for our veterans. We increased V.A. research that had been frozen for a number of years by 28 percent.

We provided funding for a new polytrauma center, the fifth one and the only one in the southwestern part of the United States, and we provided, working with the VFW and other veteran service organizations, we provided advanced appropriations for the first time in V.A. history for three medical accounts.

Is there anything in that record of accomplishment, Mr. Hilleman, that would suggest to you that anyone in the present congressional leadership would ever want to betray America's veterans?

Apparently, the VFW was upset because the legistlation as it was proposed did not specifically state certain things in a certain manner....I'll let Chet Edwards explain, as he tries to clarify the VFW's position during subcommittee hearings:

I would like to ask you--I would like to ask you, the concern of VFW about the health care bill, as I understand it, was not that there was anything directly in that bill intended to hurt veterans. In fact, as someone who voted against the bill, one could well argue that many of the millions of veterans--out of the millions of veterans who do not have access to V.A. health care, with only 8 million being enrolled out of 23 million, one could argue that this new bill could actually provide health insurance to hundreds of thousands of veterans that do not have it. But let's put that aside for a moment.

I want to be sure I understand the VFW's position. Your concern is that--not that there was anything written in the bill to intentionally harm veterans, but that the minimum standard that is set for health insurance programs might at some future date, by some future unnamed person in the executive branch, might possibly be defined as saying TRICARE or V.A. health care programs do not meet that minimum standard? Is that a correct summary of the VFW's concern about that?

Mr. Hilleman. Mr. Chairman, if I might, the VFW's opposition and concern with the national health care bill is rooted in the fact that TRICARE was not perceived to be a protected entity in the health care bill, as well as certain programs under V.A.

I believe there are three programs--

Mr. Edwards. And by protected, you mean that at some future date, some future person in the executive branch might possibly interpret minimum standards as not having been met by TRICARE or V.A. programs, is that correct?

Mr. Hilleman. That V.A. or TRICARE would not meet the minimum standards for health--

Mr. Edwards. So there was nothing in that bill that was specifically going--there was nothing, no specific provision that said we are going to exclude veterans, harm veterans, not support veterans, or reduce commitment to veterans? There was no specific provision there you were concerned about, is that correct?

There is more at Huffington Post  It is worth the read and kudos to Edwards.  He voted against health care but it seems like he is still a Democrat.

Originally posted to gloever on Thu Mar 25, 2010 at 06:10 PM PDT.

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