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#932469 --- 12/06/08 09:02 PM Rumsfeld nemesis Shinseki to be named VA secretary
Retired Soldier Offline
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Registered: 12/23/05
Posts: 12945
Loc: Rochester, NY
Rumsfeld nemesis Shinseki to be named VA secretary
AP WASHINGTON President-elect Barack Obama has chosen retired Gen. Eric K. Shinseki to be the next Veterans Affairs secretary, turning to a former Army chief of staff once vilified by the Bush administration for questioning its Iraq war strategy.

Obama will announce the selection of Shinseki, the first Army four-star general of Japanese-American ancestry, at a news conference Sunday in Chicago. He will be the first Asian-American to hold the post of Veterans Affairs secretary, adding to the growing diversity of Obama's Cabinet.

"I think that General Shinseki is exactly the right person who is going to be able to make sure that we honor our troops when they come home," Obama said in an interview with NBC's "Meet the Press" to be broadcast Sunday.

NBC released a transcript of the interview after The Associated Press reported that Shinseki was Obama's pick.

Shinseki's tenure as Army chief of staff from 1999 to 2003 was marked by constant tensions with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, which boiled over in 2003 when Shinseki testified to Congress that it might take several hundred thousand U.S. troops to control Iraq after the invasion.
Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, belittled the estimate as "wildly off the mark" and the army general was ousted within months. But Shinseki's words proved prophetic after President George W. Bush in early 2007 announced a "surge" of additional troops to Iraq after miscalculating the numbers needed to stem sectarian violence.

Obama said he selected Shinseki for the VA post because he "was right" in predicting that the U.S. will need more troops in Iraq than Rumsfeld believed at the time.

"When I reflect on the sacrifices that have been made by our veterans and I think about how so many veterans around the country are struggling even more than those who have not served higher unemployment rates, higher homeless rates, higher substance abuse rates, medical care that is inadequate it breaks my heart," Obama told NBC.

Shinseki, 66, is slated to take the helm of the government's second largest agency, which has been roundly criticized during the Bush administration for underestimating the amount of funding needed to treat thousands of injured veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Thousands of veterans currently endure six-month waits for disability benefits, despite promises by current VA Secretary James Peake and his predecessor, Jim Nicholson, to reduce delays. The department also is scrambling to upgrade government technology systems before new legislation providing for millions of dollars in new GI benefits takes effect next August.

Sen. Daniel Akaka, chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, praised Shinseki as a "great choice" who will make an excellent VA secretary.

"I have great respect for General Shinseki's judgment and abilities," said Akaka, D-Hawaii, in a statement. "I am confident that he will use his wisdom and experience to ensure that our veterans receive the respect and care they have earned in defense of our nation. President-elect Obama is selecting a team that reflects our nation's greatest strength, its diversity, and I applaud him."

Obama's choice of Shinseki, who grew up in Hawaii, is the latest indication that the president-elect is making good on his pledge to have a diverse Cabinet.

In Obama's eight Cabinet announcements so far, white men are the minority with two nominations Timothy Geithner at Treasury and Robert Gates at Defense. Three are women Janet Napolitano at Homeland Security, Susan Rice as United Nations ambassador and Hillary Rodham Clinton at State. Eric Holder at the Justice Department is African American, while Bill Richardson at Commerce is Latino.
Shinseki is a recipient of two Purple Hearts for life-threatening injuries in Vietnam.

Upon leaving his post in June 2003, Shinseki in his farewell speech sternly warned against arrogance in leadership.

"You must love those you lead before you can be an effective leader," he said. "You can certainly command without that sense of commitment, but you cannot lead without it. And without leadership, command is a hollow experience, a vacuum often filled with mistrust and arrogance."

Shinseki also left with the warning: "Beware a 12-division strategy for a 10-division army."

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#933191 --- 12/07/08 09:58 PM Re: Rumsfeld nemesis Shinseki to be named VA secretary [Re: Retired Soldier]
Brad ONeill Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 07/10/08
Posts: 567
Loc: Seneca Falls NY
I cant stand Shinseki only because it was his brilliant idea to have us wear these stupid black berets as the standard headgear.

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#933410 --- 12/08/08 10:00 AM Re: Rumsfeld nemesis Shinseki to be named VA secretary [Re: Brad ONeill]
Retired Soldier Offline
Silver Member

Registered: 12/23/05
Posts: 12945
Loc: Rochester, NY
Like hbt and ss, you're better off not posting anything because you show your stupidity when you do.
Shinseki was smart enough to warn that they didn't have enough troops to secure Iraq after they conquered it.
The Army leadership knew that invading Iraq was a mistake. Iraq had nothing to do with 9-11 and wasn't a threat to the US.
I'm not surprised that all you remember was that he changed your head grear.

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#933414 --- 12/08/08 10:08 AM Re: Rumsfeld nemesis Shinseki to be named VA secretary [Re: Retired Soldier]
Brad ONeill Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 07/10/08
Posts: 567
Loc: Seneca Falls NY
Originally Posted By: Retired Soldier
Like hbt and ss, you're better off not posting anything because you show your stupidity when you do.
Shinseki was smart enough to warn that they didn't have enough troops to secure Iraq after they conquered it.
The Army leadership knew that invading Iraq was a mistake. Iraq had nothing to do with 9-11 and wasn't a threat to the US.
I'm not surprised that all you remember was that he changed your head grear.


Lighten up tough guy, I was making a small joke. Are you always so buttsore?

Sorry I dont have the copy/paste skills you do that make you so enlightened. lol

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#933424 --- 12/08/08 10:23 AM Re: Rumsfeld nemesis Shinseki to be named VA secretary [Re: Brad ONeill]
Retired Soldier Offline
Silver Member

Registered: 12/23/05
Posts: 12945
Loc: Rochester, NY
When you start acting like an adult I will treat you like one. Until then, I'll treat you like the wise ass immature kid you act like.

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#933434 --- 12/08/08 10:39 AM Re: Rumsfeld nemesis Shinseki to be named VA secretary [Re: Retired Soldier]
Brad ONeill Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 07/10/08
Posts: 567
Loc: Seneca Falls NY
Wow, youre going to treat me like a kid on the internet. lol.


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#933445 --- 12/08/08 10:51 AM Re: Rumsfeld nemesis Shinseki to be named VA secretary [Re: Brad ONeill]
Retired Soldier Offline
Silver Member

Registered: 12/23/05
Posts: 12945
Loc: Rochester, NY
No, I am just going to ignore you until you act like an adult which will probably be never. Good by.

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#933449 --- 12/08/08 10:53 AM Re: Rumsfeld nemesis Shinseki to be named VA secretary [Re: Retired Soldier]
Brad ONeill Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 07/10/08
Posts: 567
Loc: Seneca Falls NY
So now I can clown on you and you wont even know it? lol

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#933511 --- 12/08/08 12:26 PM Re: Rumsfeld nemesis Shinseki to be named VA secretary [Re: Brad ONeill]
Josephus Offline
Silver Member

Registered: 08/25/00
Posts: 11561
Loc: NYS
Originally Posted By: Brad ONeill
I cant stand Shinseki only because it was his brilliant idea to have us wear these stupid black berets as the standard headgear.

OK, I agree with RS about Shinseki... but I also agree with you about those stupid-looking berets. Our soldiers can't even wear them properly, and come off looking arrogant! Plus it says "Now, we're ALL special forces!"
_________________________
I don't want my country back... I want my country forward!

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#933523 --- 12/08/08 12:36 PM Re: Rumsfeld nemesis Shinseki to be named VA secretary [Re: Josephus]
Brad ONeill Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 07/10/08
Posts: 567
Loc: Seneca Falls NY
Originally Posted By: Josephus
Originally Posted By: Brad ONeill
I cant stand Shinseki only because it was his brilliant idea to have us wear these stupid black berets as the standard headgear.

OK, I agree with RS about Shinseki... but I also agree with you about those stupid-looking berets. Our soldiers can't even wear them properly, and come off looking arrogant! Plus it says "Now, we're ALL special forces!"


SF never wore a black beret, that was the rangers, and we dont look arrogant, the majority of us hate those damn things. They didnt enhance morale at all like the general thought.

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#934031 --- 12/09/08 07:19 AM Re: Rumsfeld nemesis Shinseki to be named VA secretary [Re: Retired Soldier]
Retired Soldier Offline
Silver Member

Registered: 12/23/05
Posts: 12945
Loc: Rochester, NY
A truth-teller for the VA
December 9, 2008
Email| Print| Single Page| Yahoo! Buzz| ShareThisText size + IN THE Bush administration, General Eric K. Shinseki committed the crime of truth-telling: He told the Senate in early 2003 that maintaining order in Iraq would take far more US troops than Donald Rumsfeld planned for. It cost him his job as Army chief of staff. That same virtue, honesty, should stand him in good stead now that President-elect Barack Obama has nominated him to be secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The choice is a stinging rebuke not just of Rumsfeld and President Bush for failing to take Shinseki's advice on the Iraq war, but also of the administration's weak effort to solve the medical, educational, emotional, and employment problems that veterans are having in returning to civilian life. Just as the Bush administration thought it could oust Saddam Hussein and create a peaceful, democratic Iraq with a bare-bones force, it has tried to skimp on veterans services.

If confirmed, Shinseki will face the challenge first of reducing the unconscionable six months to a year that it now takes many veterans to qualify for disability coverage, or to transition from military medical care to the veterans' system. Also, veterans health facilities often lack the psychiatrists and psychologists needed to treat and counsel veterans suffering from traumatic brain injuries or post-traumatic stress disorder. The new secretary will have to oversee implementation of the expanded GI Bill educational benefits that Congress wisely approved earlier this year.

Military leaders and veterans organizations have hailed the nomination. Shinseki, who lost most of one foot in combat in Vietnam
and had to persuade military doctors to let him return to duty, said discharged service members "deserve a smooth, error-free, no-fail, benefits-assured transition into our ranks as veterans." That is a tall order.


[The answer to the problem is to grant all veterans having a disabling injury of any kind immediate disability upon leaving the service and force the VA to prove they don't deserve it, but to begin treatment and benefits immediately.]

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#934355 --- 12/09/08 03:50 PM Re: Rumsfeld nemesis Shinseki to be named VA secretary [Re: Retired Soldier]
Retired Soldier Offline
Silver Member

Registered: 12/23/05
Posts: 12945
Loc: Rochester, NY
Shinseki right choice for VA
December 9, 2008

President-elect Barack Obama is getting deservedly high marks for his Cabinet choices, but tapping retired Gen. Eric Shinseki to head the Department of Veterans Affairs is particularly inspired. He's a military man with a wealth of knowledge about the needs of veterans in general and the special concerns of those soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Among those issues is how and at what expense to treat the estimated 300,000 veterans who have returned from service in Iraq and Afghanistan with serious depression or stress-related disorders. Less than half of that number has received treatment. The good news about Shinseki is he's both clear-eyed and brave he argued after the Iraq invasion that the U.S. force was too small. When he refused to back down, he lost his job as Army chief of staff.

Along those lines, Shinseki should support with VA funding the redesign of the Canandaigua VA Medical Center as a focal point of mental-health care. Former VA secretary Jim Nicholson backed such a project but he's long gone.

Shinseki surely will strive to put his own stamp on the VA. But he should recognize the worth of the Nicholson plan for Canandaigua. This is a good-sized campus and a former hospital, well-suited to the kind of specialized care that those with mental problems demand.

For too long, the VA has been the poor cousin at the Cabinet table. Past presidents have used the secretary's job as a way to reward political allies. Shinseki is a welcome diversion from that pattern.

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#934405 --- 12/09/08 04:30 PM Re: Rumsfeld nemesis Shinseki to be named VA secretary [Re: Retired Soldier]
Brad ONeill Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 07/10/08
Posts: 567
Loc: Seneca Falls NY
Dude we get it, Shinseki is the next VA secretary and its obvously a great choice.

Posting story after story about the same subject in the same thread is pointless. Go get a job or something.

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#935466 --- 12/11/08 06:52 AM Re: Rumsfeld nemesis Shinseki to be named VA secretary [Re: Brad ONeill]
Retired Soldier Offline
Silver Member

Registered: 12/23/05
Posts: 12945
Loc: Rochester, NY
Veterans still waiting on disability appeals
One year after bill, not a single case has been heard
By Kevin Maurer, Associated Press | December 11, 2008

FORT BRAGG, N.C. - There was nothing dramatic about how Specialist Cristapher Zuetlau's career in the Army came to an end: He stepped in a hole. But the damage to the tank crewman's wrenched back was so brutal that he can barely walk.

The Army agreed he was no longer fit to serve, but in doing so determined his that disability was not severe enough to warrant long-term care by the military. That turned his healthcare over to the Department of Veterans Affairs, which left him with no retirement benefits and cut off his family from government healthcare.

Thousands of similar stories caused veterans advocates to protest that the military was manipulating disability ratings to save money. In response, Congress last year ordered the Pentagon to accept appeals from wounded and injured troops.

So far, officials have yet to examine a single case.

"Congress finally took action to give those troops a fair hearing, and now the Department of Defense is dragging its feet," said Vanessa Williamson, the policy director at New York-based Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, a veterans' advocacy group. "Establishing the review board was clearly not the Department of Defense's priority. And that's a real shame."

In the Army alone, thousands of soldiers injured since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks - including many hurt in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan - are eligible for a review of the numerical disability rating issued by the Army's Physical Evaluation Board.

That rating is critical.

A number is assigned to the disability based on its severity and long-term impact. Those rated below 30 percent disabled receive a severance payment that is taxed instead of a monthly retirement check. The veteran continues to get healthcare, but from the VA rather than from the military. But his family, once covered by military health insurance, no longer receives government provided healthcare.

A rating above 30 percent means that a service member gets a monthly retirement check, and that his family is eligible for care at military hospitals.

"I feel like the Army has ripped me off," said Zuetlau's wife, Breana. "When he joined the service he was a fully functioning man. When he left the service, he is like my child. I have to take care of his needs. He should have been retired instead of just being kicked out."

Investigations by the Defense Department and The Washington Post found inconsistencies in how the military assigns disability ratings. Veterans advocates claim injuries rated below 30 percent by the Defense Department were being rated much higher by the Department of Veterans Affairs, while the government's Veterans Disability Benefits Commission has found the Army consistently assigns the lowest ratings.

The VA, for example, rated Zuetlau 100 percent disabled, and the Social Security Administration found him eligible for disability benefits for the back injury and several other ailments, including mental health issues, right shoulder tendonitis, and injuries to a wrist and knee.

The three-member Physical Disability Board of Review, created by Congress last December, is charged with reviewing appeals from members and former members of the armed forces who received disability ratings of less than 30 percent.

Before Congress ordered this streamlined review process, veterans were subjected to a lengthy review by a military panel that rarely changed the ratings.

The board was supposed to be in place 90 days after the bill was signed, according to the congressional mandate. But its formation wasn't formally announced until June, and officials have said they hope to take the first application for review this month.

"They move slow on those things they don't like to do," said retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Mike Parker, an advocate for wounded soldiers.

Eileen M. Lainez, a spokeswoman in the Defense Press Office at the Pentagon, said in an e-mail the panel's creation was delayed because the Defense Department had to develop the application process, Internet information sites, and training programs for newly hired staff.

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#938309 --- 12/15/08 06:48 AM Re: Rumsfeld nemesis Shinseki to be named VA secretary [Re: Retired Soldier]
Retired Soldier Offline
Silver Member

Registered: 12/23/05
Posts: 12945
Loc: Rochester, NY
VA Glitches Rob Vet Widows of Benefits
December 15, 2008
Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Surviving spouses of war veterans have been wrongfully denied up to millions of dollars in government benefits over the past 12 years due to computer glitches that often resulted in money being seized from the elderly survivors' bank accounts.

The Veterans Affairs Department said Dec. 13 it wasn't fully aware of the problem. It pledged to work quickly to give back the pension and disability checks - ranging from $100 to more than $2,500 - that hundreds of thousands of widows or widowers should have received during the month of their spouse's death.

"This problem must be fixed," said VA Secretary James Peake. The department indicated in an "action plan" provided to The Associated Press that up to millions of dollars in back payments could be given to the surviving spouses sometime after next February, once it can identify them.

To expedite matters, the VA said those who believe they were wrongfully denied payments can call its help line at 1-800-827-1000.

Congress passed a law in 1996 giving veterans' spouses the right to keep their partners' final month of benefits. It instructed the VA to make changes as needed to comply with the law, which took effect for spouses of veterans who died after Dec. 31, 1996.

But the VA never updated its automated computer systems, which send out checks and notification letters. As a result, widows or widowers were either denied the final month of payment or asked to send the checks back. In many cases, if the checks were already deposited or spent, the U.S. Treasury moved to seize the money directly from their accounts.

Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, who chairs the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, confronted Peake about the problem in a letter last week after receiving a complaint from a widow. In response, Peake instructed the Veterans Benefits Administration to update its systems as quickly as possible to prevent future denials of benefits.

"This flawed practice has caused serious hardship for many widows," Akaka said Saturday. "Now that this problem has been brought to light, I trust that surviving spouses will receive the benefits they are due."

The VA has yet to identify the exact number of widows or widowers affected, but acknowledged Saturday it could be "sizable." Akaka's committee estimates that 50,000 surviving spouses each year since 1996 could be affected, based on VA numbers indicating more than 100,000 veterans die each year - some of whom may have been single or divorced - while receiving VA benefits.

Out of that 50,000, some spouses might have received the payments they were due if they called the VA at the time to inquire about their rights.

The disclosure comes as the VA is scrambling to upgrade government technology systems before new legislation providing for millions of dollars in new GI education benefits takes effect next August. Thousands of veterans currently also endure six-month waits for disability benefits, despite promises by Peake and his predecessor, Jim Nicholson, to reduce delays.

President-elect Barack Obama has pledged to "fix the benefits bureaucracy" at the VA. Last week, he named Retired Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, a former Army chief of staff, to be the next VA secretary.

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