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How Veterans Were 'Sequestered'

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Our long road trip is over. Six weeks and approximately 7,200 miles later we are back in Bonner County and enjoying some of the best late October weather I’ve seen in my 33 years here. During our trip we stayed at various military bases across the country from Utah to Florida. We spent no less than one night at each facility and two or three nights at a couple. We got to see firsthand what the Sequester did to our military.

Last month I wrote about the possible root cause of how security cutsbacks enabled the shootings at the Washington DC Navy Yard. The draconian cuts created by the Sequester’s implementation back last spring caused reductions in security forces and other services throughout the military establishment. Now that we’ve returned from our road trip I can amplify on the impacts that both the Sequester and the recent government shut down had.

First off, let me make this perfectly clear. The President did NOT shut down the government. A handful of Far Right ideologues—approximately 45 of them—are directly and completely responsible for the $24 BILLION lost to our economy. I don’t care how much those ideologues shout their lies, it was their fault that the American people had $24 BILLION sucked out of an already weak economic recovery. How does this apply to veterans? Let me count the ways.

Number one: With the government shut down an already overloaded VA claims resolution process was slowed to a halt. As ‘non-essential’ VA personnel were furloughed, the claims process ground to a shuddering halt. How long do you think it will take to restart the process and catch up on resolving the backlog?

Number two: With the government shut down hundreds of private sector projects were delayed or closed. Many of these jobs had been contracted to companies owned and/or operated by veterans. During our cross country trek we had the privilege of staying at military lodging facilities in nine states—in one state twice. On base after base I saw construction projects empty of workers due to either the Sequester or the government shut down. One base—Hill AFB outside Ogden, Utah—made the decision back in March to cut the base’s cable TV service to save money for other readiness or security funding. This may have had some effect on base morale but it was a lot less impact than closing the Commissary or Exchange for another day or two per week. I applaud this base Commander for spreading the pain so that it was easier to bear by all.

Number three: Hundreds of WWII and Korean War veterans had made travel arrangements to visit memorials in Washington DC. These plans had been made months before and at great expense by many groups before the government shut down occurred. What did they find when they arrived in Washington DC on or after October 1st? All the memorials and monuments were closed. What did the Congressional ideologues do with these understandably upset veterans? They lied to them. These baboons had the gall to try and blame the government shut down on the President. 

I was in Washington DC during the first few days of the shut down and was sickened by the perfidy, duplicity and hypocrisy of people like Sarah Palin trying to say that these closures were the fault of the President. I saw one Congressman—Representative Neugebauer of Texas—try to berate a National Park Ranger for simply doing her job. Congressman Neugebauer was drawn up short by the Ranger and another passerby. The passerby told the Congressman that the real problem was that Congress wasn’t doing its job. To their credit many of those listening had the grace to look a little embarrassed by these tirades against Park Service employees who were just doing their jobs. Apparently those listeners know lies when they hear them.

The list goes on. I know that most, if not all, of the furloughed federal government employees will get back pay (though I don’t know if anyone they owed money too is foregoing the late fees). But what about all the small business owners and concessionaires that depend on our National Parks and Monuments nationwide who can never recoup the money they lost? There are thousands of businesses nationwide that depend on tourism and travelers that lost tens of thousands of dollars because a small recalcitrant group of Far Right Republicans threw a temper tantrum to try and get their way. Those small businessmen and businesswomen will never recoup that lost revenue. They will never be given those two weeks of earnings back. 

What was the result of this horror show? Nothing! The Congressional temper tantrum did not gain them a thing. The Affordable Care Act is still alive and will continue in spite of the current bugs and glitches. The Congress has been given another 90 days to get its act together before we start this entire farce all over again. I hope that a few of the participants in this travesty learned something. My fear is that they did not and we’ll be treated to act two of this Kabuki drama come January. 

The biggest losers in this whole thing are the American people. The entire world looks to America for strength and steadiness. What has America given the world over the past month? Nothing! Congress has become a dysfunctional body that is controlled by a very small group of ideological bullies. They should be ashamed of themselves but they aren’t. They brag about how they fought the good fight and will do it again if the opportunity presents itself. They do not deserve to maintain the positions that they currently hold. 

The timid and gutless majority of the GOP quake in their boots at the very idea that they may be ‘primaried’ out of a job if they stand up to these bullies. I say shame on them too. They need to have the courage of their convictions and let the voters decide who they want to represent them. Every candidate should make their case to the best of their ability and let the voters decide. 

Veterans Day is fast upon us. As has been their habit the folks at ‘The Sub Shoppe’ at 32211 Hwy 200 in Kootenai, next to Squeeky’s, gave out a free lunch and coffee to all veterans and active duty military on Monday, November 11 and Tuesday, November 12, as this magazine was being delivered. Show your support not just of our military, but of those businesses who continue to do what they can to make the lives of military veterans a little bit brighter. 

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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:

Congress, Veterans News, sequester

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