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AO, TE & a Dog and Pony Show

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This column could be one of the most important I’ve ever written. It features two topics of immense concern to veterans everywhere. They are personal to me and should be front page news for everyone that knows someone that has served.

The first item on the agenda is Toxin Exposure. Since the term ‘Agent Orange’ has been become old news it is now called ‘AO’ or, more recently, ‘Toxin Exposure.’ At long last our government is starting to accept some responsibility for the aftermath of our wars. We have thousands of veterans, their children and their children’s children that have long suffered from unusual illnesses and diseases. Now, things are finally starting to move, albeit four decades too late.

If you think that you are an AO or Dioxin affected veteran, are the spouse of one, the child of one, or know someone that may be AO or Dioxin affected, I encourage you to sign the petition online at http://signon.org/sign/equality-wrt-vet-dioxin. Yes, the sponsor of this petition is MoveOn.org, but in this case I believe that they are on the side of angels—supporting veterans. We must get our government to ‘pony up’ and do what is right for veterans. I believe that I know at least two veterans here in North Idaho that have been affected by this toxin exposure and it is way past time the problem was dealt with.

Additional information can be obtained by following the links below.

www.veteranprograms.com/id1071.html  (Agent Orange Presumptive Disabilities)

www.vva.org/Guides/AgentOrangeGuide.pdf (Very good guide)

http://makeagentorangehistory.org/agent-orange-resources/background/health-effects-of-agent-orange-dioxin/ (Good background information)

www.congressmerge.com/onlinedb/ (Contact your Congressional representative)

To Call your Representative: 202-225-2305.

To call your Senator: 202-224-3841  or  202-224-3553.

To call different members of Congress: 202-224-3121. (Toll FREE Number: 866-272-6622.)

Next on the list is an item that is also extremely important to every veteran: getting the support and help veterans need from the VA and the veteran’s elected officials. I fully expect and encourage our elected officials to intervene when government bureaucracy adversely affects any veteran in getting the help and services they’ve earned. Championing their constituents is part of what these representatives were elected to do.

What I take umbrage at is when an elected official, at any level, uses the problems of any veteran for that official’s personal and/or political agenda. The advancement of any politician should never be at the expense of our veterans. Trying to make news and get sound bites into the media on the back of a veteran is a motivation that is suspect at best. No veteran should be used for political gain.

This, in my opinion, is exactly that happened on August 6 in front of the Priest River home of Navy veteran John Arnold. This is the second time this year that Representative Scott has used the problems of others to promote her views and agenda regardless of any real connection to the problem involved.

Mr. Johnson’s problems were created by an emergency room physician at Newport (Wash) Community Hospital shortly after his stroke last year. A box was checked on a form immediately after his stroke. This form indicated that he was incapable of handling his personal finances. That form was duly forwarded to the VA in Salt Lake City. This form may very well have been accurate when submitted, but was no longer accurate when Salt Lake City VA made the decision to act on certain provisions of the Brady Law. It was a bureaucratic error pure and simple. 

That error was exacerbated, over-blown and over-shadowed through the efforts of Rep. Scott (R) Idaho LD1, Rep. Shea, (R) Washington District 4 [What the hell was he doing there?], Bonner County Sheriff (R) Daryl Wheeler and several Second Amendment Rights supporters that really only wanted to rail against ‘the government.’ Not one of the previously mentioned ‘officials’ were (IMHO) there to help solve a veteran’s problem. They were there to promote their agenda.

Washington State Rep. Matt Shea of Spokane Valley—who described the event as a “defiance against tyranny”— later told reporters that, “The event ended peacefully after a representative of the VA arrived at Arnold’s home and said an inspection wouldn’t occur Thursday.” What Shea was bloviating about was the VA acknowledging the fact that they’d made a mistake and the problem would be dealt with. The promoters of this ‘Tempest in a Teapot’ had no real role in the solution.

One would think that after all the bad press Representative Scott got at the end of the last Idaho Legislative session she would be a little more circumspect in choosing which windmills she tilts at.

I would suggest that Rep. Scott, Rep. Shea and Sheriff Wheeler should look for real problems that they can help with. Don’t just grandstand. We don’t need more Dog & Pony shows here in North Idaho. We need real solutions to the real problems we face. These solutions are best done quietly, in discussion with all parties concerned, not by blasting out inflammatory rhetoric with little basis in fact. 

Here’s another suggestion for Rep. Scott and Rep. Shea. You are state Representatives. You should involve yourselves with state issues. Any problems with the VA, a federal agency, should be handled by elected federal officials. For a state representative to get involved in federal issues smacks of delusional behavior. Or, an even worse view, inserting oneself into a situation merely to promote one’s own agenda.

Lastly but by no means least I’d like to mention that on Wednesday, November 11th ‘Golden Corral’ is holding their 15th Annual “Veterans Appreciation Day” from 5 to 9 pm. Until next month, take care of yourselves and each other.

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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:

veterans, agent orange, Toxin Exposure, dioxin, Vietnam Veterans, John Arnold, Representative Heather Scott, firearms

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