2 posts from Armed Forces


Veteran questions Toomey's voting record

I'm a Vietnam War veteran and a Past President of the PA State Council of VVA.  I would like to respond to your report of Senator Pat Toomey's news conference in which he discussed new legislation called the VA Accountability Act.  I understand that the bill would include several items to make people in the VA accountable by, for example, providing remedies for those veterans harmed as a result of willful VA misconduct.

While I think it's nice he wants to question VA practices, I question how substantially effective his action will be.  I wonder if he, in fact, may be a bit politically opportunistic. His record of support for veterans is woefully inadequate.  He has had many opportunities to demonstrate his support for veterans and has repeatedly failed to deliver.

For example, Toomey voted against every veterans' funding bill (13 of them) in the 10 years he has served as a Congressman from 2000-2005 and as a Senator from 2011 until now. He only voted for one in his career, in 1999. In addition to his votes against Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) appropriations bills, he voted against every other bill that would fund veteran programs, such as the Veterans Jobs Act and the recent Health and Benefits bill for our veterans.

Let me just point out what his votes against those bills mean to our veterans. When he filibustered the Health and Benefits bill for veterans, he voted against increasing assisted living services for veterans who have traumatic brain injuries. That bill also would have expanded care for women veterans through various programs such as occupational counseling and stress reduction therapy.  When Toomey filibustered the bipartisan Veterans Jobs Act, he blocked efforts to help our Iraq and Afghanistan warriors get jobs in their communities after deployment -- even after he voted to send them to war.

While it's good Toomey is paying attention to the issues at the VA hospitals, I wish he would have stood with us veterans in the past -- when we really needed his votes.
Very respectfully,
Larry Holman, MS, MBA
Past President, PA State Council, Vietnam Veterans of America
Past President, PA War Veterans Council


Don't forget military deaths

By Ron Titus of Phillipsburg, NJ

For the last two days all news media has been non-stop 24/7, reporting on the tragic incident at the Aurora Mall Movie Theater in Aurora, Colo., where 12 people had been killed with 58 injured. Big black newsprint appeared in headlines with size comparable to when the bombing of Pearl Harbor occurred. Now don't get me wrong, I am not without feelings of sadness for the senseless killing. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and the families of those impacted by this event. But my thoughts and prayers are also with others the mass media chose not to report.....

On Saturday, 7/15/2012, it was reported that Sgt. Michael E. Ristau, 25, of Rockford, Ill., died July 13th in Qalat, Zabul province, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when his vehicle was attacked with an enemy improvised explosive device.

He was assigned to the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

On Tuesday 7/17/2012 it was reported that Staff Sgt. Carl E. Hammar, 24, of Lake Havasu City, Ariz., died July 14, in Khost province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered from enemy small arms fire. Hammar was assigned to 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Airborne Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.

Sgt. Erik N. May, 26, of Independence, Kan., died July 14, in Ghazni province, Afghanistan. May was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan.

Two soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom died July 16, in Wali Kot District, Afghanistan, from injuries suffered when their vehicle was struck by enemy rocket propelled grenades. The soldiers were assigned to the 81st Troop Command, Indiana National Guard, Indianapolis, Ind. Killed were Spc. Sergio E. Perez Jr., 21, of Crown Point, Ind., and Spc. Nicholas A. Taylor, 20, of Berne, Ind.

On Thursday 7/19/2012 it was reported that two soldiers died July 18, in Ghazni City, Afghanistan, when their vehicle was struck by an enemy improvised explosive device. The soldiers were assigned to the 548th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 10th Sustainment Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y. Killed were Sgt. Daniel A. Rodriguez, 28, of Baltimore, Md., and Sgt. Jose J. Reyes, 24, San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico.

On Friday 7/20/2012 it was reported that two sailors died in a helicopter crash July 19 in Oman. They were Senior Chief Aviation Warfare Systems Operator Sean P. Sullivan, 40, of St. Louis, Mo., and Naval Air crewman (Helicopter) Second Class Joseph P. Fitzmorris, 31, of West Monroe, La., were declared deceased following an extensive search of the wreckage and the surrounding areas of the crash.

There you have a week's worth of death in our military and no big black print. Not even little print, just no print. By the way one sailor was injured and one, known to have been at the theatre that evening, is currently unaccounted for. Two airmen were also injured at the Aurora Mall Movie Theater in Aurora, Colo. And no print.