- Page 2
An opportunity for Congress to Train UnEmployed Vets for Border duty - Tell your Congressmen to make it happen
Court Upholds Broken Promise To Veterans
[ Then Clinton appealed the ruling and killed the promise - I do not have enough denigrating adjectives to describe the feelings of veterans for this draft dodging jerk and his power hungry wife Ed. ]
By Henry Mark Holzer FrontPageMagazine.com | December 5, 2002
The Canadian poet Robert W. Service wrote in his The Cremation of Sam McGee, "A promise made is a debt unpaid." To that I would add: A debt unpaid is an ongoing moral obligation. All the more so when it is the government that breached a promise to its veterans.
From the early days of World War II and all through the Korean War, our government desperately needed men who were committed to military service. To get them, the services sent out the word to their worldwide recruiters: Offer a deal to every eligible civilian, and to every soldier, sailor, airman and marine: Serve 20 years honorably, and when you retire, the government will provide free lifetime medical care for you and your dependents Serve your country, and it will care for you and yours.
No fine print, no equivocations, no catches, no lawyer-like parsing of words.
Thousands upon thousands of American men accepted the government’s offer and performed their end of the bargain. One was William Schism, a 36-year veteran of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. Another was Robert Reinlie (now 81 years old), a 25-year vet, who survived more than thirty bombing missions over Europe and later served in Korea and Vietnam. Today, Schism, Reinlie, and countless other veterans of World War II and Korea, are fighting another battle – not against the Axis Powers but, ironically, against their own government.
For years, the government lived up to its promise to our World War II and Korean veterans. Until Bill Clinton. As George Washington Law School professor Jonathan Turley has written recently, "[I]n 1995 the Clinton Administration was looking for things to cut out of a budget to fund [his] greater priorities, like politically popular subsidies and transportation projects." So, to help tobacco farmers, to build even more bridges in Robert Byrd’s West Virginia, and to fund similar boondoggles, the Clintonistas reneged on our Nation’s solemn promise of free lifetime medical benefits to the men who served and fought for their country in time of war. Henceforth, all World War II and Korean vets over age 65 (virtually all of them) would have to rely on Medicare – which, because of the premiums, deductibles, and co-pay requirements, is not "free." Many of the veterans, now in their 80s and 90s, cannot afford these payments. Nor was it economically feasible for any of them to sue the government in an effort to enforce their rights.
Not until a champion appeared in the person of retired Air Force Colonel George E. ("Bud") Day. A veteran of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, Col. Day is the only American to have escaped from North Vietnam into South Vietnam. Recaptured after ten horrific days on the run, Bud Day would spend 67 months as a POW in the infamous Hanoi Hilton, and would return to the United States to become the most decorated living American. Col. Day wears the highest medal our country can award: the Medal of Honor. (His exploits are recounted in his forthcoming autobiography, Duty, Honor, Country).
Bud is also a lawyer. In the late 1990s, on behalf of Schism, Reinlie, and the uncountable veterans who had fulfilled their part of the bargain with the US government, Col. Day commenced a class action under a federal statute called the Little Tucker Act. Bud’s theory was straightforward. Military recruiters had offered free lifetime medical care in return for 20 years’ service. The veterans had accepted that offer by serving a minimum of 20 years. The government, by forcing the vets into Medicare, had breached its contract. Thus, the veterans were entitled to the promised medical care, and to damages.
The government’s first line of defense was to deny that their military recruiters had made any such promises. But in the face of incontrovertible evidence to the contrary, the Department of Justice lawyers backed off, resorting to a fall-back position: Sure, okay, the promises were made, but our recruiters had no legal authority to make them.
This argument was patent nonsense. It defies common sense that thousands of recruiters, worldwide, wholly on their own and with no directives from the top, came up with a "free lifetime medical care" ploy in order to lure men into a 20-year hitch.
The trial judge bought the argument and threw the veterans out of court. Col. Day appealed, and a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed the lower court, holding that the promises were authorized; that the government had breached its contract. Now on the defensive, the Department of Justice asked all the court’s active judges to rehear the case in an en banc review. Because of the importance of the issue, the court agreed.
By then, I was acquainted with Col. Day, who had just contributed the introduction to "Aid and Comfort": Jane Fonda in North Vietnam, a book I co-wrote with my wife, Erika Holzer. When I learned about Bud’s class action lawsuit, I volunteered to help – being a veteran myself, and having specialized for over forty years in appellate law.
Col. Day forcefully argued the case in early March of this year  to a packed courtroom – veterans from all over the country had made the pilgrimage to Washington, DC. Two weeks ago, the Federal Circuit rendered its decision. The veterans lost. The 9-4 majority ruled that, yes, the recruiters had indeed made the promises "in good faith," and yes, the veterans – those who had managed to live through World War II and Korea – had fulfilled their part of the bargain by serving their country for at least 20 years. But because nowhere in our vast government hierarchy – neither in the Executive Branch nor in the Congress – could any statute, regulation, or other power be found that allowed military recruiters to fill their quotas by promising medical benefits, there was no contract to breach.
The Court of Appeals was wrong. There was authority – in the President of the United States in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief, as well as under at least one federal statute. Accordingly, Col. Day and I will seek review in the Supreme Court of the United States.
But review, being discretionary, is difficult to obtain. And even were we to succeed in invoking the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction, the case would not be decided until sometime in 2004 – at least two years from now. By then, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs estimate, nearly one million veterans of the Greatest Generation will have died; they are dying at the rate of 1,200 men a day.
Even if we were to prevail in the Supreme Court two years hence, too many veterans will have already gone to their graves bearing a tragic sense of betrayal, believing that their last battle had been a lost cause.
|Home Back Top|
Military Retirees, Victims of a Nation
|Home Back Top|
Study Links Vaccination to Gulf War Syndrome
By Patrick Goodenough CNS London Bureau Chief 19 May, 2000
London (CNSNews. com) - Vaccines are once again implicated as a potential cause of ill health in veterans of the Gulf War, with a new study saying servicemen who received multiple inoculations during deployment were five times more likely to suffer. Results of the study are published in the British Medical Journal Friday.
But it appears that differences over the "Gulf War Syndrome" phenomenon, including the question of whether indeed it exists, will not be put to rest, since experts are questioning the new conclusions. Since the 1991 Gulf War, when a U.S.-led military alliance reversed the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, some veterans have complained about chronic fatigue, infertility and mental illness
British troops serving in the Gulf were vaccinated in the months leading up to and during deployment, to protect them against the risks of biological warfare and infectious diseases - anthrax, whooping cough, plague, tetanus, cholera, hepatitis, polio, yellow fever and typhoid.
Researchers at the Gulf War Research Unit at the Guy's, King's and St Thomas' School of Medicine in London have now investigated claims that the vaccination program may be responsible for the symptoms. They found that servicemen who received multiple vaccinations during deployment were five times more likely to suffer from a range of health problems.
Curiously, those vaccinated before deployment did not appear to have been affected. One possibility is that troops' stress in the combat zone may have had some kind of interaction with the vaccines, although the researchers found no evidence of this. Neither was any interaction between vaccines and the use of pesticides discovered.
"Multiple vaccinations in themselves do not seem to be harmful but combined with the stress of deployment they may be associated with adverse health outcomes," Matthew Hotopf and his colleagues write in the BMJ. The study was limited to veterans who had kept their vaccine records.
Writing in the same edition of the BMJ, Guy's, King's and St Thomas' School of Medicine public health specialist, Dr. Seif Shaheen, warned that the research was inconclusive and said the results "demand cautious interpretation." Potential exposure to other agents was not taken into account, he noted.
Shaheen said it was possible that unaffected veterans may have given exaggerated information about vaccinations after learning from media reports that they may be eligible for financial compensation if the hypothesis was confirmed.
Whatever the case, he said, it would be wise to keep routine vaccination of armed forces personnel up to date during peacetime - before they were sent to warzones. Campaigners claim the "syndrome" affects some 100,000 veterans, about 2,700 of them in Britain. Some believe uranium used in weapons may be the cause.
"We are pleased that this research has found a link between multiple vaccinations and the syndrome," Shaun Rusing, chairman of the National Gulf Veterans and Families Association, said in a statement. "We were used as guinea pigs during the war. Our bodies were abused and we were let down by the Ministry of Defense," added Rusin, himself a sufferer.
The British Royal Legion, the UK's association for war veterans, says it will "continue to press for an independent public inquiry to identify the shortcomings in investigating health problems experienced by Gulf War veterans and recommend improvements in procedures for dealing with similar post-conflict situations."
U. S. tests
Blood tests on ill American Gulf War veterans last year showed that many produced high levels of antibodies against a substance used in vaccines, called squalene. Other veterans of the war, who showed no symptoms associated with the "syndrome," did not produce antibodies - which is considered a normal reaction. Researchers suggested that the symptoms suffered by veterans could be the result of the body turning its immune system against its own natural supply of squalene.
But at the time these findings were published, the U. S. Defense Department denied that squalene was used in its vaccines. (These bureaucrats are doing it over again just like out of Viet Nam -- When it comes to bastards, nothing ever changes.)
The study was conducted by virologists at Tulane University in New Orleans.
|Home Back Top|