Today is our 2,141st day in Iraq.
We'll start this morning as we always do, with the latest casualty figures from the 'war on terror', courtesy of Antiwar.com:
Since war began (3/19/03): 4236
Since "Mission Accomplished" (5/1/03): 4097
Since Capture of Saddam (12/13/03): 3775
Since Handover (6/29/04): 3378
Since Election (1/31/05): 2798
Other Coalition Troops - Iraq: 317
US Military Deaths - Afghanistan: 641
Other Military Deaths - Afghanistan: 421
Contractor Deaths - Iraq: 446
We find this morning's cost of war
passing through: $ 591, 782, 200, 000.00
In this first post-Bush week....little has changed except for some posturing, so we here at "Ask a Vet" will continue to soldier on.
To that end, our friends at IAVA have penned a letter
to the new president...and they're asking all of us to sign on.
In the coming months, President Obama has a unique opportunity to make a series of critical decisions impacting Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. Sign the open letter urging him to enact these four critical policies in his first 100 days:
· Ensure that veterans don't have to fight for funding for hospitals and clinics.
· Prioritize veterans in the economic stimulus package.
· Implement GI Bill transferability.
· Aggressively address troops’ mental health injuries.
Of course, the new president and Congress are overwhelmed with the economy, and President Obama plans on meeting with the Republican leadership today to try to move things forward. That doesn't mean the veterans are on the back burner; in fact, there's things in the stimulus package that may help.
"A summary of a Senate draft stimulus package released Jan. 23 includes about $11.6 billion in defense, homeland security, and veterans-related projects, about $1.1 billion less than the amount included in the House stimulus plan.
The summary indicates that the Senate draft bill would provide at least $5.6 billion for the Defense Department, compared with about $8.8 billion in the House draft.
Of the amount included in the Senate bill, approximately $2.4 billion would be allocated for military construction projects and about $3.3 billion for refurbishment of existing Defense Department buildings, health facilities and other infrastructure.
The Senate summary also indicates that at least $3.4 billion would be allocated for construction of new Veterans Affairs Department hospitals and modernization of treatment centers.
That money would also pay for long-term care facilities and improvements at VA national cemeteries.
The House measure would provide the VA with at least $1 billion, with $950 million of it going toward improvements at existing medical facilities and roughly $50 million for repairs at veterans’ cemeteries."
Lastly this morning, I'll leave you with one veteran's take on the administration just past. Seems like some in uniform
are pretty happy that Bush has gone back to Texas, too.
He's leaving the same way he arrived eight years ago: Clueless and somehow unable to discern up from down, right from left and right from wrong.
George W. Bush, who famously styled himself as The Decider, said a formal farewell to America in a nationally televised address from that bully pulpit, the White House.
It was largely a paraphrasing of Frank Sinatra’s rendition of My Way:
"Mistakes there've been a few, but too few to mention . . . ."
The eminence gris of his administration, Dick Cheney, was front and center.
The cowboy president from Crawford, Texas, ticked through his many accomplishments and a few small failures, working diligently to write a first draft of history his way.
He kept America safe somehow, even though he's leaving us with two ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq where American troops and innocent civilians continue to die.
He kept us safe ever since 9/11, the President told us with pride. But what about 9/11 itself, when more than 3,000 people were murdered in their offices or on four airliners?
On whose watch did that assault on Americans, on American soil, take place? Who was it that ignored repeated and specific warnings of an imminent attack on us?
Who was it that spent most of that fateful day getting to and hiding in a subterranean bomb shelter in Omaha, Nebraska?
The departing president informed us that he created jobs and a vibrant economy for most of his time in office. But who is it who's leaving us an economy in dire straits, with more than 3 million home foreclosures in the past year and more than a million American jobs lost in the same period?
He told his audience how proud he was of those who've borne the brunt of service and sacrifice in his wars, the military and their families, and how proud he was to be their commander-in-chief.
But whose administration was it that pinched every penny when it came to pay raises, increased benefits and medical care for those who're serving today and those who sacrificed for us in the past?
He told us that the mission during his eight long years in power was to spread the light of democracy and freedom to the benighted and downtrodden around the globe.
But who was it that told him the best way to do that was with soldiers, tanks, bombs and napalm? Who counseled this man that the best way to spread freedom and democracy abroad was by trampling on individual rights at home and shredding the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights?
He belligerently challenged any notion that his actions abroad have damaged our reputation among the nations of the world. Not true, he declared. America is still the shining city on the hill, still a beacon of democracy and freedom. Where did he get that idea?
We'll keep an eye on the new President and what happens with our veterans. He's certainly started out well, but these things will all take time to accomplish. Patience will serve us well these first months of Obama's term.