Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Veterans

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Veteran's Land

What’s a retirement dinner without boasting about your accomplishments?

For employees of the National Park Service, the retirement stories weren’t what you would expect.

There were no tales of saving an endangered bird or the joy of providing a place of recreation of millions of Americans.

Instead, a speaker at Mojave Preserve Superintendent Mary Martin’s dinner retold a story of how she “stole money for Washington” to purchase a coal mine worth $40 million from “two little guys” who were WWII veterans.

Unfortunately for these vets from the Greatest Generation, they were forced off of their land for a measly $2.5 million according to the speaker.

The speaker, who appears to be a government employee in charge of acquiring land, went on to sarcastically say, “we’re the ‘bank’, we’re the bad guys. We come in and we take this land and we always take it for less than it’s worth.

The two-minute video of the speech is here:

To see the impact of your tax dollars at work to steal land from humble Americans, watch the interview of this coal miner who had his home taken by the government, only to have it resold to developers years later:

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Vulgar profanities were spray-painted on a female veteran’s home in Evanston, Wyoming, over the weekend—but what she did next will reaffirm your faith in the brave men and women defending our country.

Phrases like: “Home of a soldier, die for what?” and “F*** the military” covered the entire front of Cassie McEuen’s house. McEuen currently serves in the Army Reserves, and was apparently shocked that such a crime could happen in such a small, close-knit community like Evanston, Wyoming.

The entire town, too, was collectively shocked by the behavior.

“This makes no sense,” said Evanton’s mayor, Kent Williams. “It’s something we can’t get our minds around right now. I’m without words.”

“It’s absolutely out of character for our little community,” Williams continued. “I’d like to believe we’re as patriotic as any community can be. This kind of thing just isn’t us.”

Word spread quickly—and, thankfully, McEuen’s friends, neighbors, and fellow community members in Evanston stepped up to the plate. That very day, they helped paint over the graffiti and get McEuen’s house back into great shape. They donated paint, supplies, and their time to make it happen so fast.

Local businesses, too, did their part: providing food for the volunteers.

By the end of the day, McEuen’s neighbors helped make sure there was no sign of the horrendous vandalism.

“That is what I would hope shows what Evanston is all about,” said Mayor Williams. “They came out in numbers, and that’s what Evanston is.”

But the most amazing part was McEuen’s response to the crime itself.

The victims of other crimes—especially ones that make national headlines, like McEuen’s—might use their newfound celebrity to raise money. But rather than take pity on herself, McEuen’s using this as an opportunity to help other female veterans, like herself.

After Americans across the country offered to send McEuen money to help pay for school and Bills, she instead posted on Facebook:

“There is no GoFundMe account, and that’s ok. I am able to work and eventually I will earn the money I need. There is a donation fund for a reward to capture the vandal and once donations have met the limit of the reward, the extra money collected will go to a charity I picked called Grace After Fire. The charity helps women veterans help themselves.”

Grace After Fire is a non-profit that, like McEuen describes, help female veterans get back on their feet.. According to their website, they “provide the means to women Veterans to gain self knowledge and self renewal.” In other words, help female veterans get a hand up, not a hand out.

Another person might’ve used this attack to get donations for themselves, but McEuen—true to her role as a member of the U.S. Armed Forces—only thought of how she could use her personal tragedy to serve other servicewomen. A kind of dignity and self-respect the vandals in Evanston, Wyoming, would do well to learn.

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Two hearse drivers lost their jobs in Florida for parking at a Dunkin’ Donuts shop last week just before 9:00 am with the American Flag draped coffin of Lt. Col. Jesse Coleman – a Korean and Vietnam War veteran – waiting for burial in the back.

A New Port Richey man, Rob Carpenter, who couldn’t believe what he saw, stopping long enough to take photos and videos with his cell phone, which he shared with the group “Veteran Warriors” who posted them on Facebook.

Carpenter asked one of the drivers to confirm if there was “really a body in here?” and “He says, ‘Yes’”. Then I said, ‘So you have a dead soldier in the back of your hearse and you’re stopping to get coffee?’ And he didn’t say anything.”

Lauren Price, who works with Veteran Warriors and has done funeral detail before, called the funeral home that employed the drivers. Price said:

“I’ve been on funerals where we had to travel four hours to do a funeral in full uniform in the dead of summer in Florida and we didn’t stop to get coffee…”

Veterans Funeral Care president Jim Rudolph, which prepared the hearse and counts veteran care as his core business said the drivers’ showed “a lack of respect” for the deceased:

“What could they have been thinking?” “I haven’t got the foggiest idea.” “That’s absolutely terrible.” “It’s not what we do. That’s absolutely a total lack of respect.”

According to Kaitlan Collins, writing for The Daily Caller:

“When Rudolph called the widow to tell her what happened, she said she was saddened by it but didn’t want the two men fired.” Rudolph fired them both anyways, despite the two having years of experience. “I think if they had the ability to turn back the day, they’d do things different”, Rudolph said.

According to the Veterans Funeral Care website, Lt. Col. Coleman served a tour in Korea and two tours in Vietnam and received honors for his service including two Bronze Star Medals and two Army Commendation Medals.

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McClellan Toxins

Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs Elizabeth L. King – appointed to the post by President Barack Obama in 2009 – says the cost of notifying soldiers of possible exposure to toxins at Fort McClellan, Alabama is too high following the bases closure in 1999.

In an e-mail obtained by The Washington Times, King told Congress and the Pentagon that it would be a waste of money to alert hundreds of thousands of soldiers who served at the army base that they might have been exposed to toxins including chemical weapons and Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there is evidence that PCBs may cause cancer in humans.

In explaining her 2013 written recommendation to a House staffer, Ms. King wrote:

“Considering that virtually every service member will have been exposed to something… during their stationing at the former Fort McClellan, it is unclear what benefit such an open-ended survey would provide…

The cost of attempting to identify all these individuals, including the cost of media advertising, would be a significant burden on the Army’s budget and at a time when the Army is furloughing personnel due to a shortage of funds,”

In other words, Army veterans who served at Fort McClellan – veterans that might have been gravely injured by exposure to chemical weapons testing and PCB’s – were not worth the price of a postage stamp.

According to The Washington Times, the memo “was written in response to unsuccessful efforts by Rep. Paul Tonko, (D-NY), to get legislation passed in the last Congress that would require notification to veterans who were stationed at Fort McClellan, in Anniston, Alabama, before it was closed for widespread contamination 15 years ago.”

Pentagon officials confirmed that the Defense Department doesn’t know how many soldiers served at Fort McClellan during the years it was being contaminated by chemical weapons or a nearby chemical plant.

Rep. Tonko said the government must do what is right by informing veterans of their possible exposure and offering them health solutions, regardless of the costs.

In a statement, Rep Tonko said:

“We plan to introduce our McClellan bill containing the same language as last Congress, but I have always been open to amendments, and I’m happy to have any discussion that moves this process forward for our veterans and their families.”

For the record, the EPA closed the base in 1999 declaring it a high-priority cleanup site because it “generated solid and liquid wastes that contaminated soil and ground water” and that a flyover of former base grounds at the time identified a hot spot where radiological materials had been buried.

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