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Monthly Archives: October 2009

By JOHN M. BRIDGES, Mattoon

I was a US Army soldier from 1977 to 1981. I did not serve during a declared war, but nevertheless, I did serve with heroes.

I enlisted to preserve the security of the United States and the NATO alliance. We served during a trifle and all but forgotten spot in American history known as the “Cold War.” I served on a Pershing 1A missile base in the then-Federal Republic of Germany.

We carried live ammunition 24/7 and it was our responsibility to safeguard 18 nuclear missiles known then as the “nuclear deterrent” to a Soviet invasion of Western Europe.

For those who have never been told about this poignant time in history, the threat was very, very real.

From the cessations of action in Vietnam and until the Berlin wall came down, at least 62 Americans were Killed in Action, hundreds were Wounded in Action, 18 are still Missing in Action, and an estimated 5,000 died in American military operations, exercises, missions, and support activities.

The Cold War in Europe was a real war, fought with real weapons, with real ammunition. An actual military theater of operations existed.

Five million US military members teamed up with NATO allied nations military forces to prevent the USSR-Warsaw Pact military forces from invading Western Europe.

It’s kind of ironic that I and my brothers in arms that served then can’t become a real member of the VFW. We “didn’t count as war veterans.” The fact is that many thousands of American War Veterans never served a second of combat, nor did they ever leave American soil.

We still died in uniform, were routinely shot at and did in fact kill insurgents that jeopardized the security of Europe. Go tell thier loved ones they served and died for nothing.

Any veteran has my utmost respect. I wholeheartedly revere the respect and love finally shown to our returning heroes.

I as well as a lot of my fellow returning soldiers were spit on in airports, preyed upon by everyone from Hare Krishna’s and panhandlers to unscrupulous cab drivers. There were no USO volunteers, no bands playing, and never a thank you from anyone; in fact, there was no eye contact likened to what the public now shows to the homeless. We still served our country with pride.

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by Nathan Koskella

October 30, 2009

Brandeis hosted both a pro-democracy official and a unique German Cold war Hero, Tuesday at the event “Twenty Years After,” a remembrance of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, sponsored by the Center for German and European Studies.

Marianne Birthler, the German federal commissioner in charge of the records of the former Communist regime’s secret police force—the Stasi, as well as Wolf Biermann, a famous singer-songwriter and critic of the Communists in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) were the main commentators.

Their speeches were focused on Germany’s past both before and after the war, and the repercussions these events have had on today’s world.

While introducing the event with her department colleague Prof. Melanie Sherwood, Professor Sabine von Mering (GRALL) explained to the audience that she and her fellow professor had grown up on opposite sides of a divided Berlin.

“Twenty-one years ago, this would have been impossible,” von Mering said.

Bither explained to the audience the Stasi mindset, as a way of explaining what German life was like under the Soviet Union.

“The Stasi were by design meant to keep the whole of society under its control,” she said. “They were the shield and sword of the party—it is interesting: they were not the shield and sword of the people or constitutional rights.”

Birthler then discussed with the guests the role her agency has taken in bringing the long-repressed former GDR in unity with West Germany and incorporating it into the world of Western democracies.

“[The commission] informs the public about the structure and methods of the Communist dictatorship, educates on the conditions [of the regime], ”she said.

“We give every citizen the right of access to their files, and also, a right to know information about informants on them[selves],” Birthler said.Over 1.7 million people have availed themselves of this opportunity, and Birthler said the records commission is expecting there to be 100,000 requests this calendar year.”

Birthler indicated the importance this can then have on academia.

“All students, from all countries, can gain experience from the primary documents” in the Stasi archives, she said.

She left the crowd with a notable point “Living with history and coming to terms with your past is very important to a free, democratic society,” Birthler said.

Biermann agreed with Birthler also expressing his passion for keeping an accountable record of a dark time in German history.

“I was one of the first allowed to see the files in 1992—[the Stasi had] 8,000 sheets of paper on ‘Biermann,’” he said. “You see that you are [apparently] very important to people,” Biermann said, but that in itself can be frightening.”

Biermann, whose parents died in the Polish Nazi prison camp Aschwitz during World War II, is a veteran citizen of not one but two totalitarian regimes.

“I was interested in how [the Stasi period] relates to the Nazi times,” he said, “and I compared.” Biermann noted that the Stasi had an average stockpile of 50 times more information compared to that of the Nazi Gestapo.

He said the comparison says something about the strength of the occupied German people.

“The Communists needed more [secret files] because so many people resisted,” he said.

Biermann then sang several self-written songs regarding the German resistance.

“The power of the [soviet] regime was our fear,” Biermann explained. “The function of my songs in this time is to diminish the fear.”

To von Merring, who grew up listening to Biermann’s songs, his preformance was “powerful and inspiring.”

“I grew up with [listening to] him [Biermann],” von Mering said. “He represents to us a symbol of the Cold War and that it’s over. It’s a big deal for me.”

Putin Recalls Fall of Berlin Wall in New Documentary

The St. Petersburg Times

1985 KGB photo

Vladimir Putin in 1985

MOSCOW — Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has publicly recalled how he personally contributed to this turn in history as a Soviet spy in East Germany.

Putin told veteran NTV reporter Vladimir Kondratyev in a half-hour interview how he managed to calm down an angry crowd of East German protesters outside the KGB headquarters in Dresden in late 1989.

Putin rose from obscurity to the country’s most popular politician in 1999, serving as president from 2000 to 2008 and subsequently becoming prime minister.

Kondratyev said Wednesday that Putin had gladly recalled fond memories from his days in Cold War Germany and acknowledged the inevitability of the German Democratic Republic’s demise.

“He was very relaxed and smiled a lot, yet he expressed a very clear opinion about the fall of the wall — that what happened was bound to happen,” Kondratyev told The Moscow Times.

Kondratyev would not reveal how many minutes of his upcoming documentary film “Stena” (“The Wall”) would be devoted to Putin, but he denied that the prime minister was its main theme. “It is about the fall of the wall. Putin is just one of many characters who will appear,” he said.

He said, however, that he would travel to Dresden later this week to shoot the introduction.

Putin’s interview will be aired as part of the 50-minute film at 7:25 p.m on NTV on Sunday, Nov. 8 — one day before the 20th anniversary of the fall of the wall.

Putin served as a KGB officer in Dresden, which was then a provincial outpost so remote that locals could not receive West German television, from 1985 to 1990. His only brush with history there occurred on Dec. 5, 1989, almost a month after the wall fell.

After storming the nearby local headquarters of the East German Secret Police, or Stasi, protesters gathered outside his office building.

Public information about Putin’s ­service in East Germany is scarce, and the only reliable account is in “First Person,” a series of autobiographical ­interviews published in 2000. Here, Putin recalled how he met the crowd personally and told them in German that this was a Soviet military organization. When people replied suspiciously that he spoke German too well, “I told them I was a translator,” he said.

Kondratyev said Putin gave no new account of those events, but the prime minister made it clear that he understood at the time that the Soviet-inspired division of Germany had no future.

“He said that the wall was all unnatural and that he thought that its fall meant the end of the GDR,” Kondratyev said.

In “First Person,” Putin expressed his deep frustration about Moscow’s waning power when he called Soviet military headquarters for help against the protesters. “I was told that nothing could be done without orders from Moscow. And Moscow is silent,” he said.

Eventually, he said, military personnel did come and the crowd dispersed, but the words “Moscow is silent” remained with him. Putin said he got the feeling then that the Soviet Union had disappeared.

German media have reported that one Soviet official threatened to shoot at protesters, saying he was “a soldier until death,” and the quote was later ascribed to Putin, although Putin never mentioned it and it was never verified.

In the NTV interview, Kondratyev said Putin suggested that the protesters understood that the Stasi and not the Soviet Union should be the prime target of their anger.

“He spoke very positively about these events and stressed that German-Russian relations subsequently achieved a new quality and included a feeling of gratitude,” he said.

Under Putin’s eight years as president, relations with Berlin flourished, with Germany becoming both a key foreign investor and foreign policy ally. That privileged partnership, as dubbed by the Kremlin, was conceived under the close personal friendship between President Putin and German Chancellor Gerhard Schr?der, and continues under their successors, Dmitry Medvedev and Angela Merkel.

However, Putin’s record as a democratic leader has been debated in Dresden just as much as anywhere else in the West.

Wolfgang Sch?like, head of the city’s German-Russian Culture Institute, said Putin’s KGB background makes relations with him more complicated for East Germans than for West Germans.

Since the democratic upheaval of 1989, any record of employment or cooperation with Communist security services is seen as an utter disgrace, Sch?like said by telephone from Dresden. “The Stasi here is the ultimate whipping boy,” he said.

He noted that in today’s Germany it is unthinkable for people who once worked for the secret police to take public office like Putin has done in Russia. “Even kindergarten workers lost their jobs after it was revealed that they had links to the Stasi,” he said.

Sch?like said he credited Stanislav Tillich, prime minister of the local state of Saxony, for striving to improve local relations with Moscow.

But there was considerable outrage in local and national media when Tillich handed a medal of honor to Putin in Dresden in January, at the height of the gas war with Ukraine.

“And next year the medal will go to Colonel Gaddafi,” Antje Hermenau, a local leader of the Green party, said at the time.

n?Nearly a quarter of Russians believe that there is a personality cult of Putin in the country, according to a new poll by the independent Levada Center. A total of 23 percent of respondents said they saw evidence for this, an increase from 22 percent last year.

In a sign that such tendencies can spill over as far as the United States’ West Coast, a media report said the Russian Bodybuilding Federation was planning to present a bust of Putin to Californian Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Alexander Chernoshchyokov, a St. Petersburg-based sculptor, told Agence-France Press that the bust was being created as a gift for the former Hollywood bodybuilder and would be delivered in March. “Putin is such a complex personality. He’s left no one indifferent,” Chernoshchyokov told AFP.

Ontario county N.Y. approves Cold War property tax exemption second time around

Ontario gives vets tax break

Ontario County lawmakers voted Thursday to give a property tax exemption to veterans who served during the Cold War period but did not qualify for exemptions applicable to those who served during times of war. The Board of Supervisors approved the measure by a solid margin. A similar bill had been rejected by lawmakers a year ago.

Under the new law, an estimated 3,100 veterans will typically lower their assessment for county taxes by $4,000.

Ontario County Cold war vets granted tax exemption

Canandaigua, N.Y. — .Cold war veterans in Ontario County have been granted a property-tax exemption.

By a vote of 13-8, the county Board of Supervisors approved the measure at its meeting Thursday. Voting against the exemption were: Wayne Houseman, R-Bristol; David Baker, D-Canandaigua; Rocky LaRocca, D-Geneva; Bill Eddinger, D-Manchester; Frank Duserick, R-Naples; Norm Teed, D-Phelps; Don Marshall, R-Seneca; and Dan Marshall, R-South Bristol.

Votes at the county level follow a “weighted” system under which at least 2,047 votes are needed to pass a majority decision. In the vote at Thursday night’s meeting, 2,598 “yes” votes and 1,494 “no” votes were cast.

Mary Green, D-Hopewell, was one of the 13 supervisors in favor of the exemption.

“I believe we already give exemptions to veterans in general, but that was the one group that never received it, so I’ve always been in favor of it,” she said.

The board first voted down the exemption last year.

A conservative estimate indicates there are about 7,800 veterans in the county, according to Robin Johnson, director of the county’s Real Property Tax office. Currently, about 4,700 of those veterans receive exemptions for serving during war time, she said.

Cold War veterans would qualify for only one veterans’ exemption, she said, and would not able to receive both a Cold War exemption and one for serving during war time.

Veterans with disabilities would be eligible for an exemption based on their condition that could be as high as $20,000. For example, a veteran who is considered 10 percent disabled could receive a reduction for half that amount, or a 5 percent reduction on their property assessment, said Johnson, though the exemption could not exceed $20,000.

Houseman said while he believes Cold War veterans deserve some recognition for their service, the time is not right for another tax exemption.

“At this time, with the economic situation and the overwhelming burden placed on the property owners, I do not believe it would have been advisable to grant this exemption at this point,” Houseman said.

At last night’s meeting, he said East Bloomfield Supervisor Dorothy Huber “offered a long list of exemptions” that the county already offers. While the Cold War veterans exemption “will only be slight,” Houseman said it could be the “proverbial feather that breaks the back of the taxpayers.”

“I hope my negative feelings are not realized,” he said. “I hope this will not greatly effect the taxpayers.”
The tax break would apply to an estimated 3,100 veterans in the county who served in the military between Sept. 2, 1945, and Dec. 26, 1991.

a national day of remembrance on October 30, 2009, for nuclear weapons program workers

Designates a national day of remembrance on October 30, 2009, for nuclear weapons program workers.

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
May 14, 2009

Mr. BUNNING (for himself, Mr. ALEXANDER, Ms. MURKOWSKI, Mr. BINGAMAN, Mr. UDALL of Colorado, Mr. KENNEDY, Mr. VOINOVICH, Mr. REID, Mr. CORKER, Mr. GRASSLEY, Mrs. MURRAY, Mr. MCCONNELL, Ms. CANTWELL, Mr. UDALL of New Mexico, Mr. NELSON of Florida, Mr. BROWN, and Mr. SCHUMER) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary
May 20, 2009

Committee discharged; considered and agreed to
RESOLUTION

Designates a national day of remembrance on October 30, 2009, for nuclear weapons program workers.

Whereas hundreds of thousands of men and women have served this Nation in building its nuclear defense since World War II;

Whereas these dedicated American workers paid a high price for their service and have developed disabling or fatal illnesses as a result of exposure to beryllium, ionizing radiation, toxic substances, and other hazards that are unique to the production and testing of nuclear weapons;

Whereas these workers were put at individual risk without their knowledge and consent in order to develop a nuclear weapons program for the benefit of all American citizens; and

Whereas these patriotic men and women deserve to be recognized for their contribution, service, and sacrifice towards the defense of our great Nation: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Senate–

*
(1) designates October 30, 2009, as a national day of remembrance for American nuclear weapons program workers and uranium miners, millers, and haulers; and

*
(2) encourages the people of the United States to support and participate in appropriate ceremonies, programs, and other activities to commemorate October 30, 2009, as a national day of remembrance for past and present workers in America’s nuclear weapons program.

For information on remembrance near you go to Coldwarpatriots.org

By CHRISTINIA CRIPPES

ccrippes@thehawkeye.com

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MIDDLETOWN — Friday will be the first of many National Day of Remembrances, recognizing the unsung heroes of the Cold War.

Today will not only honor the veterans of the Atomic Energy Commission — who sacrificed their health, and sometimes their lives, to protecting the country — but it will give them a chance to share their stories over coffee and doughnuts.

Former workers, their families and supporters of former workers are invited to the event, which will be from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. today at the Machinists Union Hall in Middletown, 16452 Highway 34.

A formal declaration of the National Day of Remembrance, which is Oct. 30, will be made at 11 a.m.

“This is actually the first time that this industry has been acknowledged by the public,” said Barbara Escajeda, a representative from the non-profit Cold War Patriots that petitioned to Congress to pass a resolution recognizing the people who worked with nuclear weapons or as uranium miners, millers and haulers.

Escajeda will be at the Middletown event today to talk about some other projects her group has planned to honor former workers, including a couple of time capsules and a memorabilia tour next year.

“With the day of remembrance, it’s our intent to help educate the public about who this population is and was,” Escajeda said, adding that it’s also meant to acknowledge their efforts in protecting the nation.

A representative from Congressman Dave Loebsack’s staff will be at the event to make a statement on behalf of the 2nd District Democrat. Representatives of Iowa’s senators also may make statements, though their appearances were not confirmed to the Burlington Atomic Energy Commission Plant-Former Worker Program at the University of Iowa.

Loebsack made a statement on the House floor Wednesday to acknowledge specifically the former workers from the Iowa Army Ammunition Plant and urge support of a resolution recognizing the day of remembrance.

“For decades during the Cold War, hundreds of thousands of Atomic Energy Commission employees, including thousands of workers at the Iowa Army Ammunition Plant in my district, labored in hazardous conditions at our nation’s nuclear weapons facility,” Loebsack said on the House floor. “In the end, many of these workers sacrificed their health for the security of our nation, working with beryllium, asbestos, uranium and radiation, without knowing the impact these materials would later have on their health.

“But for far too long, their service and sacrifice have not been properly honored.”

In Iowa, the commemoration is going on all week. The Ames Laboratory held a national day of remembrance open house Tuesday.

Laurence Fuortes, project director for the former worker program, said despite the meager turnout at the Ames event, the University of Iowa staff were regaled with many tales.

“They were actually still educating us again,” Fuortes said, adding that he expects a larger turnout in Middletown.

Norman Treadway Tireless Advocate Passes Away


Norman Treadway

It is with great sadness and regret that I report on the passing of Norman Treadway. An American Hero.

Norman enlisted in New Jersey and was assigned to several Military Police (MP) units during his tour in Korea. He faced danger many times and served with honor and distinction.

It was through his tireless and never flagging fight that on 3 Feb 2004 the Secretary of Defense
approved implementing instructions and criteria for the Korea Defense Service Medal (KDSM) for
members of the Armed Services who have served in the Defense of Korea.

Authorization was retroactive from 28 July 1954 to a date to be determined. Bringing about recognition for the “Forgotten War”, and all who served in defense of our friends in the Republic of Korea (ROK).

He was still fighting to have the US recognize a medal that the ROK had designed and manufactured to honor their American friends and helpers. The Republic of Korea Service Medal. Due to some arcane law, a medal from another country can only be awarded to US military if the same award is made available to that country’s military. This medal was made solely for Americans and was not offered to South Koreans.

I never met Norm, but I feel he is a brother in arms, a fellow veteran; and a man among men.

My deepest sympathy and personal condolences, as well as all those of the American Cold WAr Veterans, to his family and many friends. He will not be forgotten.

Jerald Terwilliger
National Chairman
American Cold War Veterans, Inc.
“We Remember”

“Bloomberg Spends $85 million, Vets get a Breakfast!”

By Joseph A. Bello
October 29, 2009

At the beginning of October, Mayor Bloomberg’s campaign held a catered breakfast for veterans, complete with photo-ops and a 10 minute speech from the Mayor at an American Legion Post in Queens. They brought along some current and former elected officials; as well as the CEO of the Intrepid Sea-Air Space Museum to fire up the audience. Mayor Bloomberg’s voice filled as he said: “Thank you for your service.” “We must never forget.” “We owe you so much.”

But these words, from this Mayor – over eight years, are both too familiar and ring false to the majority of New York City’s veterans.

The breakfast was put together at the last minute by the Bloomberg campaign as political cover to provide a photo/video opportunity after a September 27th New York Daily News article showed that of Bloomberg’s 400+ endorsements, not one of them was from a veteran’s organization. The only such endorsement, as the article noted, was from a fake veterans group.

With Election Day less than one week away, Mayor Bloomberg is pulling out all the stops, having spent over $85 million (so far) to both re-brand and re-introduce himself. His campaign is using the slogan – “Progress. Not Politics.” To borrow Tom Robbins’ line from the Village Voice – “The first word is a debate worth having. The next two are simply lies.”

Many veterans, including myself, have been writing over the past eight years how Mayor Bloomberg’s record on veterans’ issues shows he doesn’t practice what he preaches. My friend Luis Carlos Montalván and I noted in an article, just as the campaign season was beginning, some major discrepancies with Mayor Bloomberg’s veteran’s record, most notably with his Office of Veterans Affairs.

However, as the fight for votes continue, the Bloomberg campaign is trying to re-define Michael Bloomberg as the Mayor who cares for the troops and for this city’s veterans.

Like Social Security and Health Care, supporting the troops and respecting veterans has become a political third rail issue over these past eight years. Even though most people are no longer engaged in what is happening overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan, they nevertheless believe that veterans are being taken care of when they return home. For the majority of people, that starts and ends with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

However, the VA cannot do this alone. This is why we have a State Division of Veterans Affairs and a local government veteran’s affairs office run by the Mayor. But what happens when the local government agency designed to help veterans can’t help? For veterans in New York City that’s exactly what’s been happening over these past eight years.

In early September, Mayor Bloomberg publicly stated that he was running on his record. With the October 3rd breakfast the first sign of outreach to the veteran’s community during this election season, let’s look at the actual record:

The Bloomberg campaign’s website touts the Mayor’s record on veteran homelessness. Notably absent is his record on the Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs; the Extended Benefits issue; the Disabled Veteran Vendors issue; the Cold War property tax exempt issue; Veterans Employment and Training; St. Albans; and a host of other issues. Most importantly, it doesn’t state what his plans are for veteran’s issues over the next four years if re-elected. Let’s break down Mayor Bloomberg’s veteran’s record:

“Mike has repeatedly said, “No veteran should be sleeping on the streets or in the shelters in New York City.” To help make sure no veterans end up on our streets, Mike has created a joint Task Force to end veteran homelessness, opened the first ever veterans-only homeless shelter in the United States, and forged an agreement with the Federal Department of Veterans Affairs to secure a grant that will be used to house more than 1,000 homeless veterans in NYC.”

Reality: The joint Task Force was built from members/groups that came from outside New York City, and included only those major non-profit groups that had money, ensuring little to no input from the local community who serve homeless veterans. In addition, the group has not met since late 2007! According to the Task Force’s own report the city was to achieve its goal of ending homelessness for veterans in New York City by December 31, 2009. This obviously will not happen as media reports show that the number of homeless adults (and children) in New York City has actually risen.

Mayor Bloomberg did not open the first ever veteran-only homeless shelter in the United States. It was former Mayor Ed Koch who did, creating the Borden Avenue Veterans Residence (BAVR) in the 1980’s after working with Vietnam veterans who were concerned about the large number of homeless Vietnam veterans in New York City.

Mayor Bloomberg did not bring 1000 section 8 vouchers to New York. They are part of a national program that has distributed section 8 vouchers throughout the country. The program was active for many years in NY. New York’s money ($9.4 million) was part of $75 million being set aside to provide permanent housing for an estimated 10,000 homeless veterans across the country. And just because “vouchers” have been distributed, that should not be equated with vouchers actually being “used” by veterans!

“Adequate healthcare for veterans is critical, and Mike has worked hard to ensure that veterans have access to the specialized health services they need. He started a joint venture with the V.A. to create a homeless intake center specifically designed for veterans that offers additional healthcare, mental health treatment and substance abuse treatment and other assistance with issues important to veterans.”

Is this true? Well…the opening of the Intake Center at Chapel Street in Brooklyn has mainly assisted those homeless veterans who meet the VA’s definition/eligibility criteria. New York City’s definition of a veteran is different than the federal government’s – many vets in the shelter system may have honorable service, but don’t meet the definition of continuous service that the VA requires. Many veterans also question why the Bloomberg administration made homeless veterans go to Brooklyn’s Project TORCH when there’s one at the Manhattan VA Medical Center, located only blocks away from the 30th Street Bellevue Intake Center, even with statistics showing that nearly 60% of all homeless men are in Manhattan. Yet the city has closed the intake center on E. 30th Street to make room for a luxury hotel.

“Mike recognizes the unique needs and contributions of Veterans. That’s why he created a one-stop shop multi-service center for vets at Veterans Memorial Hall and established the Veterans Advisory Board, which advises the Office of Veterans Affairs about issues impacting the veteran community to help local officials become more aware on how to better serve America’s heroes.”

This could be furthest from the truth.

Aside from the Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs (MOVA), there is no real one-stop multi-service center for veterans at the Veterans Memorial Hall. If you were to visit the Veterans Memorial Hall at 346 Broadway (8th floor) you can see this for yourself. It is, as most veterans know, a silent hallway of darken offices with MOVA offering little to no programs and relying on so-called “partnerships” to refer veterans for help.

Mayor Bloomberg did not establish the Veterans Advisory Board; it was in the City Charter for years before he became Mayor. In fact, the board’s meetings over the past several years have been so sporadic that they have not done any outreach nor held any meetings outside of 346 Broadway to help any local officials become aware of the issues. The members themselves have been hampered by administration officials who consistently tell the board what they can and cannot do. On top of this, the board often violates New York State’s “Open Meetings Law.”

As veterans have witnessed during those times when there has been any progress on a particular issue, it has been on a piecemeal basis. The administration starts programs with little to no input from the community and when there is input, it’s usually after the fact. And when the administration makes a decision on an issue, like the Extended Benefits Issue for City Employees, it is (in essence) forced onto the community – a business like, take it or leave it approach from a community that, like the eroding middle class, is unorganized.

As studies and surveys consistently show, veterans returning from active service often face an array of issues during their transition from a military to a civilian lifestyle. The sacrifice does not end when they return home to their families and communities. For many veterans, the hardest and most enduring sacrifice begins the moment they return home.

So as Mayor Bloomberg is now asking veterans to vote for him – based on his eight-year record on veteran’s affairs, then the answer should be no.

However, if Mayor Bloomberg does win re-election to a third term, the question will remain – What will he do for veterans over the next four years? Will he finally step to the plate, start reaching out and seriously deal with the issues or will veterans get more of the same – lots of thanks and free breakfasts? It has been said that part of the problem is that Mayor Bloomberg doesn’t understand veterans. He has had eight years to learn. With the arrival of Election Day in less than one week, and another catered breakfast planned for Veteran’s Day, the breakfasts are not getting it done. For veterans, there is something worse than being used as backdrops at a press conference and that’s watching those who use us, work and vote against us. That’s not progress. That’s politics.

—————–

Joe Bello served 11 years in the US Navy/Naval Reserve and is a veterans advocate in New York City.


http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NYMetroVets/


Attention Cold War Veterans

Hello Members,

I am expecting 2 big announcements by Nov. 9. I cannot go into details but we have 2 major pieces of Cold War veteran legislation to be introduced. I want everyone to be ready to write call fax and write and email, twitter and blog and bring pressure on your reps. We will not have another opportunity like this one we need to fire for effect and be heard.



Sean Eagan

————————————————————–
Sean P. Eagan
ACWV Public Affairs Director

WASHINGTON (October 28, 2009) — The national commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. recently returned from a 12-day trip to Europe to urge the Russian government to revitalize the U.S.-Russia Joint Commission on POW/MIAs, and to meet with American servicemembers stationed in Italy to discuss how VFW can better serve them and their families.

In Moscow, Thomas J. Tradewell Sr. met with members from both houses of the Russian Federation’s parliament, as well as the leadership of two prominent veterans’ organizations. His message was for them to urge their government back to the Joint Commission.

He said an exchange of diplomatic notes in July was a positive step forward, but Russia has yet to act.

“The diplomatic note was viewed as a sign that they would quickly revive their end of the Joint Commission,” said Tradewell, a Vietnam veteran from Sussex, Wis., “but Russia has yet to appoint a new co-chairman, and U.S. researchers are still barred from their central military archives, which hampers research efforts and further diminishes the hopes of American families everywhere.

“The Russian government needs to do what they said they would do,” he said.

According to U.S. officials in the Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office, Russia’s military archives are vitally important to the Full Accounting Mission because documents could help to determine the fate of some of the 88,000 missing and unaccounted-for Americans going back to World War II. Created in 1992, the Joint Commission had been the key to accessing those archives, until a reduction in the size of their government’s executive branch removed the Russian co-chairman. The U.S. was told it was an oversight, but the oversight has now kept American researchers out of the archives since October 2006.

Tradewell is the sixth consecutive VFW national commander to journey to Russia on a veteran-to-veteran initiative to help account for missing Americans. This trip followed one he made to the People’s Republic of China in September, where permission was obtained for VFW to visit their archives next year. According to news reports published yesterday, Chinese military archivists discovered documentation that could help locate 15 airmen who died when their B-29 bomber crashed on Chinese soil on Nov. 5, 1950. Other documents related to missing Americans were also reportedly found that could help determine the fates of some of the 8,100 missing Americans from the Korean War.

“I am proud of the VFW’s lead role in helping to account for missing American servicemen,” said Tradewell. “Our veteran-to-veteran initiative is bearing fruit because of the worldwide respect professional military men and women have in each other. We know the service and sacrifice that is inherent to our profession, and that mutual understanding helps to convince governments that the Full Accounting Mission is a humanitarian issue that transcends politics.”

For more on U.S. full accounting efforts, go to the Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office website at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/, or the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command website at http://www.jpac.pacom.mil/.