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What are you doing on Veterans Day? Taking the day off? Sleeping in? Catching a parade? Going shopping?

How about taking five minutes to make a difference in the lives of veterans wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan while making it less likely that US soldiers of the future will be sent into similar military quagmires?

Check out a very short film (less than 5 minutes) that has been released this Veterans Day that describes an idea whose time has come – the Veterans’ Trust Fund – and how you can make it a reality. Then declare your support by signing up at www.standwithvets.org.

What’s a Veterans’ Trust Fund? It will require Congress to take responsibility for the true costs of warfare whenever they vote to go to war or extend a war. That will mean appropriating funds upfront so that those injured or wounded in the course of their military service will be guaranteed proper care and support when they come home.

Why do we need a Veterans’ Trust Fund? Because when Congress votes for wars, like funding the invasion of Iraq or the escalation in Afghanistan, it doesn’t debate the true cost of those wars or take responsibility for the cost of meeting the future needs of those who are sent to do the fighting.  Caring for those injured in battle is pushed off until later. When later comes, wounded veterans find themselves competing in the political give and take of Washington DC. The result has been tragedy, neglect and a system overwhelmed with needs it is ill equipped to meet. Consider this:

•Last year, there were more than 1,800 suicide attempts by veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The VA is more than 1,000 short of the counselors, therapists and specialists needed to meet the mental health needs of veterans.

•565,000 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have filed disability claims for conditions directly related to their combat. The backlog for processing claims at the Veterans Administration exceeds 700,000, and despite robust efforts at the VA, that number continues to grow.

When I described the idea of a Veterans’ Trust Fund to a Member of Congress, he said: "Do you know how high this will drive the cost of going to war?" Precisely.  Going to war will become that much more expensive up front and therefore that much more difficult to support particularly by those who are worried about the ballooning federal deficit. Fact is, since 2003 nearly 25% of the federal deficit can be attributed directly to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The reason that creating a Veterans’ Trust Fund will increase the cost of going to war is because up to now Congress has been passing the buck for these costs to those who can least afford it – our wounded warriors and their families. It’s time we tell Congress:  If it is worth going to war, it is worth standing by those who are sent to do the fighting.

Major General John Batiste, who commanded forces in Iraq and now serves as the Chair of the New York State Veterans Affairs Commission, describes the Veterans’ Trust Fund as "a moral imperative". He told a Congressional hearing in September –

"Why are we discussing a Veterans' Trust Fund nine years into these wars? We might very well have decided if we’d done the strategy right that the ends, ways and means are not in balance and therefore this was not a good idea. That, at the end of the day, is the bottom line."

If you are looking for a truly meaningful way to observe Veterans Day, watch our short film and then visit www.standwithvets.org to declare your support for the Veterans’ Trust Fund.

Happy Veterans Day.

Originally posted to TOM ANDREWS on Thu Nov 11, 2010 at 08:08 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks, Rep. Andrews (4+ / 0-)

    Very appropriate that you've got Alan Simpson in that video after the draft recommendations they released yesterday. This is not the time to be cutting veterans benefits.

  •  It is a great idea that we all know will never (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jimstaro, Hedwig

    happen    Congress  does not even want to admit that  Dr Bilmes and J. Stiglitz's book the  3 Trillion dollar war  was an accurate assessment     myself I think it was too low    especially if they keep the Afghanistan War going until  2014  as they were talking about today

    I am glad they finally started doing the    biannual budgeting for the VA   instead of annual budgets so the VA will know  2 years ahead of time what assets will be available for which programs   which is a vast improvement over how Congress  has been doing it for the past 100 years

    will veterans  ever be really happy with how  the nation actually keeps  the  "PROMISE"  I doubt it  it takes to long to get claims processed, appeal time periods should make Congress ashamed   my appeal took 9 years

    I honestly tried talking my son out of enlisting in  the Army    he did it any way   my family has served in this nations Army since 1775   all his grand fathers, Uncles, me   etc   I think he felt he had to do it   I tried talking him into at least waiting until he graduated college and at least go in as an officer   instead of enlisted   nope  he wanted to go now  I think he wanted away from his mother, we divorced in 1992  and as soon as he turned 18  and graduated high school  he enlisted.

    I told him to make sure all medical injuries were reported and before he left the military to make sure he obtains  CDs with all of his medical records, X Rays  and all lab work  in case he has to file a VA claim down the road.

    I hope you  have a good Veterans Day     there are a lot of free meals out there today   Applebees, Outback, Golden Corrals  etc   those are the ones I know of  I am sure there are others    

    with over 24 million living veterans  there are a bunch of us     it wasn't   that long ago it was 26 million  so we are losing WW2 veterans quickly now I am wondering how that loss of veterans from WW2 and Korea will affect  the  use ratio's of VA facilities nationwide and how many  hospitals will they try and close?

  •  Keep Your Eyes on the House (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    testvet6778, Hedwig

    This coming next two years!!!

    Everything done in the 110th, mostly doing what wasn't in the 108th and 109th as they waged the wars and condemned everyone not walking in lockstep with them, in, Finally, Investigative Hearings and Issue Hearings as well as moving some issues forward, then in the 111th continuing and even Finally doing issues as to us older veterans Comes To A Screeching Halt!

    Oh there''ll be dog and pony shows but nothing of merit nor directly helping Veterans and blocking the minorities wants will be Par, and probably roll backs on some of what was accomplished, forty some tears of watching this as well as the Congressional Records will show the new dogs coming in in charge carry the same flea's, no change, no support, just words and lapel flag pins!

    "What is the difference between an al Qaida terrorist and a misguided American terrorist?" "The planes they fly!"

    by jimstaro on Thu Nov 11, 2010 at 09:13:33 AM PST

  •  This is really important (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    testvet6778, Hedwig, Kurt from CMH

    Ignoring the long-term costs of veterans care is a key way that the neocons have "low-balled" the cost of war.

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