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Congress Passes Veterans Recovery Bill April 14, 2007

Posted by chuckwh in Barack Obama, John McCain, McCain, News and politics, veteran aid, veterans.
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“Now, many people might say that the war in Afghanistan was won at little cost. But I say that whenever there is a cost in American lives, then it comes to us at great expense.”

With those words, President Gore today signed the 2007 Veterans Recovery Act, which will guarantee housing and medical care for life to any American war veteran. The bill does exactly what it says, without loopholes, and was the talk of the town (DC) when it was introduced.

With a dominant position in both the House and Senate, Democrats were able to easily guide the bill through both houses of Congress, despite a firestorm of protest from a small minority of Republicans, who derided the bill as being too expensive.

Chuck Hagel (R-NE), a co-sponsor of the bill with presidential contender Barack Obama, hailed it as an important milestone. “We can decry the inefficiencies of bureaucracy all we want,” Hagel said in a statement lauding the bill, “but we can never forget the men and women who have served our country.”

Barack Obama, in another eloquent campaign speech, this time in Orange County, said, in reference to the bill, “How many times have we walked past a homeless man holding up a cardboard sign reminding us of his service to this country during the Vietnam war? How many stories have we heard of neglect? Have we grown tired yet of the red tape a vet receives just to find out what ails him?

“Is this bill a form of welfare? I say it is most certainly not. I say that if you must think of it in a cold and calculating way, then consider it a tax upon this country. Because this will not be an inexpensive program unless we stay out of wars we never should have been in in the first place.”

The bill was originally initiated as part of a huddle between Obama, Senator Hillary Clinton, and Senator John McCain(R-AZ) to discuss the problem of homelessness among war veterans, particularly those who had survived the Vietnam War. It was also, of course, partly a reaction to the massive influx of studies showing the powerful effects of post-traumatic war syndrome on Vietnam Vets, which has entered the public consciousness recently.

The subject of veteran care entered the mainstream media, however, only after a V-22 Osprey crashed as a result of a computer glitch on the craft during a mission in Afghanistan, wounding, but not killing, 22 Marines who, having been airlifted out of Wiesbaden, Germany, were transported to Walter Reed Hospital in Washington D.C., where 9 of them died from infections.

The event opened up congressional inquiries but also helped create public support for the bill.

When asked how Gore felt about the easy legislative victory, White House press spokesman Charlie White said, “I’m not sure how politics enters into this. Really, this important legislation is about, first, a group of heroic men who died, and should not have. President Gore simply believes, as do, obviously, the American people, that maybe the cost of war should be measured in a way that affects all of us, so that we’ll tread lightly in a world that believes we are the only superpower.”