Stan Spangle Sr.: Veterans ranks in Congress decline
Now Hear This! Attention to Orders! Listen-Up!
First let me say, it’s getting close to that time, again. Our next quarterly get-together will be three weeks from Saturday, on Jan. 5, 2013. We now have the new “Federal Benefits for Veterans” books to examine. We meet at Highland United Methodist Church, 1015 Mill Avenue in High Point. The meeting starts at 11 a.m.; we’ll have a light lunch at 12 sharp, and break-up around 2 p.m. or later if need be.
The Army Times reports that nine veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan wars are heading for Congress next year. The number of veterans in Congress is still in decline, a trend that started in the 1980s. This year had 107 veterans seeking congressional office, 60 Republicans, 47 Democrats. The number of veterans serving in the House will drop from 92 to 83 or 86. The number of veterans in the Senate will drop from 26 to 20.
Two weeks ago, the House passed H.R.6328. It’s a bill that directs the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to give unclaimed clothing recovered at security checkpoints to groups that would distribute the items to homeless veterans. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Kathy Hochul, D-N.Y. She was defeated in her attempt to be re-elected. It is estimated there are about 75,000 homeless veterans on any given night in the U.S. Also, about 20,000 veterans of Iraq/Afghanistan have been homeless within the last five years. A similar bill by Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee and co-sponsored by 38 members from both parties, would require the TSA to give any money it recovers at airports to the USO to help fund its activities.
In 2005, Congress passed a law known as the Stolen Valor Act. That law made it a federal crime to lie about having been awarded a military decoration or medal, and could be punishable by up to a year in prison if the offense involved the military’s highest honors. A lawsuit was brought against the new law, claiming it violated First Amendment free speech rights and last June the Supreme Court ruled the law unconstitutional. In reaction to the Supreme Court’s ruling, Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., and Scott Brown, R-Mass., co-authored a second Stolen Valor Act to meet the Supreme Court’s concerns and still deal with those who falsely claim that they received a military award or decoration.
In a victory that was supported by The Retired Enlisted Association (TREA), the Webb-Brown measure was added as an amendment to the National Defense Act (NDAA) on Nov. 27.
“I am a strong believer in the First Amendment, I believe it is sacrosanct in our society. At the same time, our very special reverence for the First Amendment should be measured against the equally special place that our society holds for military service,” said Sen. Webb, who served as a Marine rifle platoon and company commander in Vietnam and is a former Secretary of the Navy. “Profiting from the misrepresentation of military service or awards undermines the value of service and is offensive to all who have stepped forward to serve our country in uniform.”
TRICARE has awarded a new contract to Delta Dental (Delta is the current contractor) with several coverage improvements including: an increased annual maximum, an increase in lifetime orthodontic, and additional yearly dental cleaning or periodontal maintenance for diabetics.
Marines, join the Marine Corps League. Help us help Marines.
Semper Fi. Pray for the families of the fallen.
Stan Spangle Sr. is a 21-year veteran of the Marine Corps, serving in Korea and Vietnam. He’s a member of numerous veterans organizations. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.