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Open Congress and concurrent disability

This will be the last article submitted from the Yucatan of Mexico. By the time you read this I’ll be back in Idaho trying to figure out why the hell we came back. We cannot reasonably expect the snow to be completely gone. Nor can we expect sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s to 80s so the question arises—Why are we here? The only good thing that will be happening after we get home is that I’ll be able to enjoy decent ale. 

After eight winters here in Mexico one would think that I’d have become accustomed to not having all the familiar things we have in the Good, Old USA. Not so—I miss cheddar cheese, Idaho baking potatoes and a good hoppy ale. Mexican beer is, for the most part, a light lager. While a lager is great after you’ve finished mowing the lawn on a hot August afternoon—just to quench your thirst—it just doesn’t do it when hoisting a couple with friends at your favorite bar. I’m looking forward to that first frosty pint with as much anticipation as a four-year-old at Christmas. Salud!

But I digress. The purpose of this article is two-fold. One to update you on the machinations of the 112th Congress and, two, to let you know about some things that effect area veterans on a local and regional basis.

The 112th Congress has been busy but not, in my opinion, in a good way. The House (both sides of the aisle but mostly from the GOP since they hold the majority) has spent more time on political posturing and finger-pointing than they have in accomplishing the People’s Business. The GOP majority has spent a great deal of time asking questions of this President that were NEVER asked of the previous one. For example earlier this week the question was asked of why we were we declaring war on Libya. I don’t recall that question ever being asked in reference to Iraq; at least, not from the GOP. The GOP seems to be willing to sacrifice the greatest good for the greatest number in favor of pleasing their corporate donors. 

One of my best ‘finds’ in doing research for my articles is a website called ‘Open Congress’ (www.opencongress.org). This website will get you a list of every bill introduced in either house on any topic. It will tell you the name of every sponsor, co-sponsor, supporting organizations and exactly who has received money from which supporting group... to the dollar. If you want to ‘follow the money’ I have found no better source. If you want the current status of any bill, in either house, all you have to do is enter the bill number and there it is. To a dedicated ‘Info Junkie’ like me this site is a gold mine. As Thomas Jefferson said, “Educate and inform the whole mass of the people ... They are the only sure preservation of our liberty.” Below is a sample of the kind of info found on that website.

“Concurrent Receipt Update:  Legislation has been introduced in both houses of the 112th Congress that would allow qualified military retirees to receive both their VA disability compensation and DoD pensions at the same time. Concurrent receipt of retirement pay and disability compensation has been expanded in recent years, but it still does not apply to military retirees with service-connected disabilities rated less than 50 percent. Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) (surprise, surprise) introduced the “Retired Pay Restoration Act of 2011 S. 344 on February 14, with 17 co-sponsors, to go along with a similar measure, the “Disabled Veterans Tax Termination Act” H.R. 333,  previously introduced in the House by Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-GA. H.R. 333 already has 105 cosponsors. Two other House bills also address lifting the ban on concurrent receipt, H.R. 303 and H.R. 186. The links above should allow you to contact your appropriate congressperson after entering your zip code. You can also check and see if your congressperson is currently a sponsor. If you feel this is a good thing to happen, then please let your congressperson know how you feel, even if you are not affected directly.”

As of today all the bills that deal with concurrent compensation are in the hands of various committees. The numbers of co-sponsors has increased so that is a good sign. In a previous article I mentioned that the number of co-sponsors is a good indicator of a bill’s viability and chances of passage. If Congress can ever decide to actually do something about any of this nation’s problems maybe we will see some positive action.

On the local front I’d like to list the meeting times and dates of all our various veterans’ organizations. It is only by becoming part of larger group that  we can hope to have our voices heard by those in the corridors of power. Membership in these groups is like adding a megaphone to one’s lonely voice. The voices of thousands are more often heard than the single voice in the wilderness.

MEETINGS / EVENTS:

2ND Wednesday - vet center bus will at the Sandpoint VFW post 0800 to 1700

1st Saturday - American Legion Post 147, 1100 220 Larch St. Priest River

2nd Tuesday - American Legion Post 146, 0900 Cabinet Mtn. Restaurant Clark Fork

2nd Tuesday - Marine Corps League 0930 Tango Café, Panhandle Bank Bldg., Sandpoint

2nd Tuesday - Vietnam Veterans of America  1800 1325 Pine St, Sandpoint

2nd Tuesday - VFW Post 3622, 1830 6035 Lincoln St., Bonners Ferry 

2nd Thursday - VFW Post 10320, 1800 115 W 4TH St, Clark Fork

2nd Thursday - American Legion Post 55, 1900 6416 Kootenai, Bonners Ferry

2nd Saturday - VFW Post 2909 1300 220 Larch St. Priest River

3rd Wednesday - VFW Post 2453 & Auxiliary, 1830 1325 Pine St. Sandpoint 

3rd Wednesday - DAV Post 15, 1830 1325 Pine St., Sandpoint

3rd  Wednesday - VFW Auxiliary Post 2909, 1800 220 Larch St., Priest River

4th Wednesday - American Legion Post 15 & Auxiliary,  1830 1325 Pine St., Sandpoint

I’d like to thank Bill Stevens for sending me this information. Bill is one of the real good guys when it comes to being proactive on issues of interest and concern for veterans. A sincere and heartfelt tip of my hat to Bill for all he has done and continues to do. If there are any errors in the above list they are solely mine. 

Until next month take care and let your elected representatives know your opinions on issues that concern you. There is some truth in the old saw about the squeaky wheel getting the grease.

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Author info

Gil  Beyer Gil Beyer A 21 year Navy veteran, lived in Bonner County for over 30 years, Past Commander of the Priest River DAV Chapter and admitted news junkie.

Tagged as:

concurrent disability, Open Congress, Congress, Bill Stevens

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