Veteran Charities in Context

Active Duty military personnel that I know generally despise being used as “poster-boys (or girls)” for political campaigns.  In fact, anyone who has served in the Armed Forces is well aware of DoD Directive 1344.10 which prohibits members of the Armed Forces from engaging in “partisan political” fundraising or actively campaigning on behalf of a political party, candidate or political cause.

While these regulations do not apply to Veterans, it has been my experience that most Veterans tend to avoid the limelight of partisan politics and, instead, pursue causes to support fellow Veterans that do not tend to attract much media attention.   Like Active Duty personnel, Veterans tend to avoid serving as “props” for political campaigns.

Donald Trump Veterans

As SFTT and others reported earlier when a Donald Trump fundraising event was announced during the Republican primaries:

. . .several Veteran groups accused Donald Trump of using Veterans like political pawns in his dispute with Fox News over the moderators of the last debate.    In many respects, I agree with Veterans that don’t want to be used as pawns in contentious posturing by politicians.  Sadly, every four years or so, most politicians tend to embrace Veteran causes as they might disingenuously cuddle a puppy dog to encourage voters to look favorably on them.

While it is completely understandable that some, many or all Veterans may not wish to be seen to embrace the policies of Donald Trump, it is most disingenuous – read dishonest – for the media to skew fund-raising efforts by anyone (including Donald Trump) to support Veterans.  

Yet, that is precisely what happened.  In a ridiculous article published on June 2 in the New Times entitled “Putting Donald Trump’s $1 Million to Veterans in Context,”  the author, Peter Eavis, argues that Mr. Trump’s contribution “to veterans’ charities is small compared with those of some fellow billionaires . . .” and that, “Mr. Trump’s $1 million gift to veterans not only came later than some expected, but it is also small for the plutocrat class.”

How silly to judge the merit of candidates on the amount of money they donate to charitable causes, but this is the insane world of partisan politics that dominates media channels rather than constructive solutions to the many issues faced by Veterans.

Last week, I noted Sebastian Junger‘s hope that we have a more united country to deal with  this nation’s many problems.   Even though SFTT has no political affiliation, it is very discouraging to see both the media and our politicians engage is such polarizing propaganda.  Mr. Junger clearly has his finger on the pulse of a huge adjustment problem facing returning Veterans when they see such a dysfunctional society.  It is certainly not comforting.

ZVets

Should the VA be Privatized?

With its colossal $180 billion annual budget, the Department of Veteran Affairs (the “VA”) is in the focus of those who say this giant institution should be privatized.  Everyone knows the VA is not functioning properly and there have been countless GAO studies suggesting that something be done to address these problems.

When issues like the privatization of the VA surface during an election year, it immediately becomes politicized.  SFTT doesn’t have an answer let alone a position on this issue; however, SFTT has seen enough to know that the VA does not provide adequate care to a large number of its constituents on a timely basis.

The Libertarian Party and several others are suggesting that the VA should be privatized.    Why not take off our partisan political armbands and have a look at the implications.  Maybe some elements now administered by the VA could be handled more competently in the private sector.  If so, it could be a major benefit for underserved Veterans?

If charitable contributions to Veterans can become politicized, imagine the outcry in entrenched political sectors when the VA comes under serious scrutiny.   From the perspective of the SFTT, if it ain’t working properly we might as well look at different approaches; however unappealing they may be to certain entrenched interests.  After all, it is the Veteran who is the focus of our attention and these brave warriors deserve better than what they are receiving

SFTT News: Week of June 3, 2016

Found below are a few news items that caught my attention this past week. I am hopeful that the titles and short commentary will encourage our readers to click on the embedded links to read more on subjects that may be of interest to them.

Drop me an email at info@sftt.org if you believe that there are other subjects that are newsworthy.

Donald Trump Announces Contributions to Veteran Organizations
On Tuesday, Donald Trump announced that he’d given away the last of the $5.6 million that he raised four months ago, at a benefit for veterans’ causes in Iowa. In a bitter, combative press conference, Trump made clear that he’d been pressured into giving up these details by the news media, including The Washington Post.  Read more . . .

special forces

US Special Forces Wage Secret War
President Barack Obama is increasingly calling upon Special Operations forces to carry out so-called “small wars” across the Middle East and Africa to challenge both ISIS and al Qaeda in places where the U.S. maintains a footprint beyond Syria and Iraq.  Read more . . .

Why is the U.S. Arming Vietnam?
President Barack Obama’s announcement Monday that he was lifting the ban on the sale of weapons to Vietnam sent one message to the former U.S. wartime foe and another to the region. By ending the ban, the U.S. is signaling its desire to leave behind decades of tense post-war relations with Vietnam and start a new phase of closer economic and military ties — one facet of the “rebalance” toward Asia that’s central to the president’s foreign policy legacy.  Read more . . .

Homeless Veteran with PTSD

Work to Help Homeless Vets Continues
In 2010, federal officials launched an unprecedented plan to end veterans homelessness by late 2015. Now, six months after that deadline was missed, advocates are working to make sure the goal isn’t forgotten altogether.  This week, more than 500 community leaders joined with state and federal leaders to discuss progress and challenges in getting veterans off the streets as part of the annual National Coalition for Homeless Veterans.  Read more . . .

Justice Department Backs Fired VA Official
The Justice Department is siding with a legal argument by a fired Veterans Affairs Department official at the center of a nationwide scandal over long wait times for veterans seeking medical care and secret lists covering up the delays.  Sharon Helman, the former director of the Phoenix VA Health Care System, is suing the VA to win back her old job. Helman argues in court papers that a key portion of a 2014 law passed in response to the wait-time scandal is unconstitutional and denies her an important step to appeal her firing.  Read more . . .

New Study Finds More Veterans Suffering from PTSD
In a new study published today in the Journal of World Psychiatry, researchers from Yale say an alarming number of veterans are suffering from PTSD and specifically examines a condition known as sub-threshold PTSD.  Researchers studied 1,484 U.S. Veterans. Of those, 8% were diagnosed with PTSD. Another 22% met criteria for sub-threshold PTSD.  Read more . . .

Libertarians:  Congress Should Privatize the VA
Libertarian presidential and vice presidential candidates Gary Johnson and Bill Weld into which MSNBC interjected a telephone interview with Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. Clinton protests (starting at 4:20) that Congress should not privatize the VHA, while Bill Weld, a former two-term Republican governor of Massachusetts, gives one of the best explanations I’ve seen of why it should (10:00).  Read more . . .

Feel you should do more to help our brave men and women who wear the uniform or our Veterans? Consider becoming a member of Stand For The Troops.

Equine-Assisted PTSD Therapy Study Seeks Veteran Volunteers

The New York Presbyterian Military Family Wellness Center at the Columbia Veterans Research Center is currently conducting a Trauma-Focused Equine-Assisted Therapy for Veterans with PTSD study.  See details below:

equine2

Through the NYP Military Family Wellness Center we offer veterans and family members evidence-based treatments at no cost in the context of a research study. Essentially, patients are periodically assessed during and after treatment so that we can learn more about the needs of the veteran population.

Equine Therapy Program

In the equine study we’re investigating the efficacy of an alternative treatment for PTSD that has not been thoroughly studied in the past. The treatment does not involve riding horses, but instead focuses on ground activities such as grooming and leading horses.

It is a group treatment with each group consisting of 4-6 veterans. Treatment sessions will take place at the Bergen Equestrian Center in Leonia, NJ (about 15 minutes away from our office in Washington Heights).

Veterans or their loved ones who seek more information, please contact Anne Hillburn at (646) 774-8042.

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