19 October 2005

Letter from U.S. Senator Rick Santorum

I received this letter yesterday from my U.S. Senator, Rick Santorum about the department of Veteran's Affairs. After reading the letter, I was not impressed, but you can judge for yourself:




October 5, 2005

Dear Ms. Count-Wayt:

Knowing of our shared interest in ensuring that our nation's veterans are properly cared for, I am writing to make you aware of my recent efforts to ensure that the Department of Veterans Affairs (V A) has the necessary funding to provide the essential medical care and other well-deserved benefits to our veterans.

As the son of two Veterans Administration employees, and having been raised on the grounds of a V A facility, I understand the concerns of our veterans. Service to our country has entitled veterans to unique benefits that are available to no other single group of Americans. There are few Americans more deserving of our attention than our veterans who have courageously fought for the freedom we now enjoy. As such, I believe it is of the utmost importance for the United States Congress to provide our nation's veterans with the benefits and care the so deserve.

During my time in the United States Senate, funding for our nation's veterans has increased considerably. In fact, since Fiscal Year (FY) 2001, VA medical care funding has increased by 41%. Last year, Congress provided $68.1 billion for the V A, which included $30 billion for veterans medical care activities and $405.6 million for medical and prosthetic research within the V A.

During consideration of this year's budget I voted for an amendment that will increase money available for veterans benefits and services by $410 million. This year's final budget passed by the Senate specifies that the V A will have $68.9 billion to spend on veterans programs.

In June 2005, V A officials testified to the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs that the V A would not have sufficient funds to care for injured veterans this year - in fact, it was brought to light that there would be a shortfall of at least $1 billion for FY 2005. Following this hearing, I sent a letter to Secretary of the V A James Nicholson expressing my extreme disappointment in his inability to accurately plan for the needs of our nation's veterans.

In response to the V A budget shortfall, I sponsored an amendment to the FY 2006 Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act which added $1.5 billion in "emergency funding" for FY 2005, to be available immediately, to address the emergency financial needs facing the V A. I am pleased that the Senate unanimously passed my amendment by a vote of 96-0 on June 29, 2005.

This essential amendment to add emergency funding for the V A reflects my unequivocal commitment to supporting our veterans and active duty servicemembers and will ensure that our servicemen and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan receive the quality care they deserve. These additional funds will make it possible for the V A to meet the current health care needs of our veterans without having to divert funds from other purposes. On August 2, 2005, President Bush signed this important legislation into federal law [P.L. 109-54].

The men and women who serve and who have served in America's Armed Forces are our nation's true heroes. These heroes -- soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines who selflessly dedicate their lives to protect our freedoms and liberties -- are testaments to sacrifice and courage. These brave Americans -- ordinary people thrust into extraordinary circumstances -- deserve special recognition and benefits for their heroic service to our country.

As your United States Senator, I have reviewed many areas of concern to veterans. The care and medical treatment of our nation's veterans and the efforts to improve their health care delivery system remain important to me. I will continue to work to make sure that our veterans have access to quality health care. Our veterans - past, present, and future - are an indispensable part of what makes our country the greatest nation in the world. It is with deepest respect that I thank our veterans for their patriotism and heroism and for teaching us about sacrifice, fortitude, and valor.

Thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts with you on this important issue. Please know that I will continue to look for opportunities to improve the lives of our nation's veterans and the active duty members of our Armed Forces.

Sincerely,

Rick Santorum

United States Senate

RJS:mac




My take on this letter:

First of all, how in the world does being the son of two Veterans Administration employees (as far as we know, they could be anything from politicians to janitors) help Santorum understand the concerns of our veterans? Santorum was never a veteran, and neither of his parents were veterans. So where does he get this supposed understanding?

Secondly, "our veterans are ordinary men and women"? In our country, military service is a voluntary action. So for a person to volunteer to put their lives on the line, give up their rights, fight out of patriotic duty, makes them extraordinary to me.

Thirdly, if Santorum is ensuring the best health care for our returning servicemembers, then why in the world are they shutting down one of the best V A hospitals this country has: Walter Reed. If they really cared about the best health care for our soldiers, they would leave Walter Reed open.

And another point...Santorum stated $405.6 million for medical and prosthetic research within the V A. Lets put this in perspective please. Here is an article from the Washington Post about Haliburton's costs in Iraq (Haliburton is the company our Vice-President is highly financially connected to):
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A35138-2005Mar14.html

Notice:

$100 million in questionable costs in one section of a massive, no-bid Halliburton Co. contract for delivering fuel to Iraq

$82,100 for liquefied gas

$27.5 million to transport it

$61 million by buying more expensive fuel from Kuwait rather than from Turkey

$2.5 billion contract under which Halliburton was tapped to deliver fuel, fight oil well fires and repair oil facilities in Iraq after the U.S.-led invasion in the spring of 2003

$1.8 billion in "unsupported costs" in a $10.5 billion Army logistics contract that KBR won on a competitive bid. Despite those findings and a recommendation to withhold some of the payments, the Army decided last month to continue paying Halliburton in full, plus performance bonuses.

From these numbers, it looks like we care more about our corporations than our veterans. Probably explains why our president's daughters joined the corporate world instead of military service.

No comments:

Post a Comment