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CSI actor honors disabled veteran

"CSI" actor tells what impact his "Forrest Gump" character has on real-life disabled veterans

 

CLICK HERE to see video interview.


St. Louis, MO (KSDK) - Actor Gary Sinise is very public about his support for disabled service members.

"I have Viet Nam veterans in my family on my wife's side," said Sinise, in town Monday for a rally for quadriplegic Todd Nicely. "On my side, WWII vets. My Dad was in the Navy, and so I have great respect for those who serve our country. After 'Forest Gump' I got involved with the Disabled American Veterans because I played a disabled vet."

Currently, Sinise stars in "CSI: New York," but the character Sinise played in the movie "Forrest Gump" was Lt. Dan, who becomes disabled in the movie.

"I mean, I'm playing a character," said Sinise. "They took my legs off with a computer, or I sat on them and tried to make them disappear and everything. So when I go to the hospital, and meet seriously injured service members who are living this, they somehow think I know what they're going through. I don't, really. I acted it. But I have a profound respect for those who have to continue on in life with these severe disabilities."

On Monday, Sinise announced that his group The Lt. Dan Band will perform at a May 27, Memorial Day Weekend fundraiser at the St. Charles Family Arena. The aim of the concert is to raise money for a specially-equipped home for wounded U.S. Marine Todd Nicely, 26, of Arnold. Nicely lost his arms and legs a year ago when he was wounded in Afghanistan.

Sinise says the estimated cost of the home is between $500,000 and $600,000.



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More Wars, Less Veterans' Benefits

March 27, 2011 • Courtesy of Military.com

Seems like a week can’t go by with­out hear­ing some new deficit reduc­tion planwith vet­er­ans’ ben­e­fits in the crosshairs of politi­cians. All the while, these same politi­cians appear more than will­ing for us to “help lib­er­ate” one oil coun­try after another. Con­flicts like these are great for mak­ing head­lines and dis­abled vet­er­ans, but they also take from the lim­ited tax dol­lars needed to care for vet­er­ans after the con­flicts end.

Recently, Min­nesota Con­gress­woman Michelle Bach­mann backed off her plan to cut $4.5 bil­lion of fed­eral vet­er­ans’ ben­e­fits. But, Wisconsin’s famous Gov­er­nor, Scott Walker, is look­ing to cut state funds for home­less vet­er­ans by 53 per­cent and over­all ben­e­fits by over $30 mil­lion.

Texas is propos­ing a 20 per­cent cut for the Texas Vet­er­ans Com­mis­sion (TVC), total­ing over $3 mil­lion of their cur­rent $14 mil­lion bud­get. TVC filed over 170,000 vet­er­ans’ claims that resulted in over $2 bil­lion being paid out by the Depart­ment of Vet­er­ans Affairs. This cut­back could result in a loss or delay of $760 mil­lion in vet­er­ans’ ben­e­fits and a loss in state sales tax rev­enue of more than $26 mil­lion.

Cal­i­for­nia Gov­er­nor Jerry Brown ­re­cently pro­posed a $10 mil­lion cut for another agency that helps return­ing Iraq and Afghanistan vet­er­ans in acquir­ing fed­eral VA ben­e­fits. Accord­ing to lob­by­ist Pete Conaty, for every $1 spent to get a vet­eran his or her ben­e­fits, the vet­eran receives $100 in ben­e­fits. This is money that stays in the local econ­omy where the vet­eran lives. It doesn’t go to for­eign aid or to some Wall Street bank. It goes to the veteran’s local hard­ware store or cof­fee shop, wher­ever she spends her money.

Per­spec­tive. In Cal­i­for­nia, 30,000 vet­er­ans return to civil­ian life every year, many of them with injuries and ques­tions about their ben­e­fits. Prior to the cur­rent wars, vet­er­ans had a 10-day wait to talk with a ben­e­fits coun­selor in per­son. Now, it takes 6 to 8 weeks for an appoint­ment. With these cuts, that delay could be even longer. States with sim­i­lar cuts will impact vet­er­ans every­where. But, what makes no sense is, that by cut­ting the up front money, these same states could lose even more mil­lions in tax rev­enue.

But this all may make sense on a broader spec­trum, even though the logic is skewed. There seems to be a recent polit­i­cal trend to cut fed­eral ben­e­fits for every­one. Unfor­tu­nately, as in Texas, vet­er­ans ben­e­fits pro­grams are being cut at a dis­pro­por­tion­ate rate within the state gov­ern­ments. When attempts to cut vet­er­ans’ ben­e­fits show to be unpop­u­lar on the national front, polit­i­cal par­ties appear to be turn­ing to the states to make up the dif­fer­ence. Either way you skin the cat, the Depart­ment of Vet­er­ans Affairs could be pay­ing out less money in ben­e­fits to vet­er­ans who are truly enti­tled to them over the long term.

Visit DisabledVeterans.org for tips on how to get your ben­e­fits if you’re going it alone.

 


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Gen. Petraeus' Son Served Afg Tour

Gen. Petraeus Admits Son Served Term in Afghanistan

Published March 16, 2011

| Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Challenged by a congressman to "be honest" about how long American troops might have to fight in Afghanistan, Army Gen. David Petraeus revealed that he has a personal stake in ensuring that the U.S. war objectives are met -- his son, Stephen, whose recent combat tour was kept "very quiet."

In an emotional exchange with Rep. Walter B. Jones, a Republican, Petraeus said "if I ever felt that we couldn't achieve our objectives," he would be "very forthright" not only with his superiors in the military chain of command but also with President Barack Obama and members of the Congress.

Noting that Obama has said the U.S. will have combat troops out by the end of 2014, with the Afghan government in position to provide its own security, a skeptical Jones said he could imagine a senior military leader coming before Congress in 2015 and pleading for more time and more sacrifice.

"You know, 15, 16, 17 years, for God sakes, how much more can we take, how much more can we give treasure and blood?" Jones asked.

Petraeus replied: "I may not be at this table, probably won't be, in 2015, but I'll tell you that my son is in uniform, and Lieutenant Petraeus just completed a tour in Afghanistan, which thankfully we were able to keep very quiet, and left in November after serving as an infantry platoon leader. We're very proud of what he did. He thinks he was doing something very important."

His son, 2nd Lt. Stephen Petraeus, served in Afghanistan as a member of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team.


Read more: http://foxnews.com/us/2011/03/16/gen-petraeus-admis-son-served-term-afghanistan/#ixzz1GoOOcToB

Sailors Volunteer to Help Evacuees

SEATTLE -- Aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) Sailors, spouses and hundreds of volunteers with the United Service Organizations (USO) assisted evacuated servicemembers and their families from Honshu, Japan at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac), March 24.

Hundreds of evacuees from Japan returned to the U.S. via military chartered flights to Sea-Tac since March 19 and hundreds more are scheduled to arrive throughout the weekend.

"We want to welcome them home," said Army Maj. Darren Jennings, Processing Operation officer. "We understand they've been through a rough experience and a trying time in Japan, and a lot of them are single mothers. We're providing a place they can relax before we get them to their final destination."


Jennings said most of the travelers have their itinerary for their next flight, so volunteers check orders, make overnight arrangements, and answer questions evacuees may have.

"It was a long, rough flight," said Danielle Hubbard, wife of Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Christopher Hubbard. "Everyone here has been very helpful. Processing has been very smooth; they've definitely made it an easy transition."

Volunteers also assisted with baggage, walked dogs, bagged snacks and made sandwiches.

"People have donated a lot of supplies," said Kat Ring, wife of Nimitz' Executive Officer Capt. John Ring. "These families have been through a lot, and it's good to see things are flowing here successfully."

Childcare was also provided while adult passengers continued processing or made hotel and transportation arrangements.

"It's great," said Hubbard. "I can get things done and not worry about my kids getting bored."

Volunteers were not assigned to specific jobs, said Dana Lewis, wife of Nimitz' Air Boatswain's Mate Ens. Brian Lewis.

"If there is someone we can help or something we see that needs to be done, we do it," said Lewis.

Nimitz Personnel Specialist Seaman Ian Kowalczyk said he felt it was important to volunteer to help fellow servicemembers and their families.

"These people lost everything they had, and we need to be there to show our support," said Kowalczyk.

Volunteers are working shifts 24 hours a day at Sea-Tac as planes continue to arrive from Japan.

"It's comforting to see so many military volunteers," said Hubbard. "They know where you're coming from and exactly what your needs are."

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Lottery To Help Fund Veterans Commission

Lottery Tickets Could Help Fund Veterans Commission

Posted: Mar 16, 2011 3:00 PM by Michael Andreani KOMU 8

 


JEFFERSON CITY, MO - A bill to make some lottery scratch tickets proceeds go to the Missouri Veterans Commission's Housing fund had its final vote moved from Wednesday to Thursday. The bill, which is expected to pass, would help the VA's seven nursing homes stay open. Those homes, including one in Mexico, serve over 1,300 veterans statewide.

Since this bill makes an amendment to the state's constitution, it will face a general election vote on the ballot in November, if it first passes the House and Senate. The bill has support from members on both sides of the aisle, but most said this measure is only a part of the solution.

"This bill will help keep these nursing homes running, and pay for other crucial Veterans Commission functions," the bill's sponsor Sheila Solon, R-Blue Springs, said. "If we do nothing the budget will run out in 2013, so it's extremely important we get something done now to keep these programs going."

Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, a co-sponsor of the bill, said, "Without this funding we might have to close one of those nursing homes and we don't want to have to do that.

Officials from the MO Veterans Commission said their glad the funding looks to be moving forward. They said they're excited because simialar bills have been successful in states across the country, including Kansas.

If the bill passes both houses it would be put on the ballot November 6, 2012.


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