Saturday, September 4, 2010

A Vietnam Veteran Responds: Sen. Simpson, Don’t Blame Vietnam Veterans for Our Nation’s “Fiscal Mess”

It's Time for All State Council President's To Join John's Call To Action!

September 3, 2010

By John Weiss, President
Rhode Island State Council, Vietnam Veterans of America
(Providence)--We hear that some in Congress are calling on America’s Vietnam veterans to slow down the Agent Orange “gravy train”—this because the price tag for caring for our war-related health problems is one that some would like not to pay.
One former senator is even going so far as to implicitly question our patriotism. Sen. Simpson heaps praise on Vietnam veterans for having “saved this country.” This strange and long-overdue recognition, however, is merely his preface to the admonishment that follows: “The veterans who saved this country are now, in a way, not helping us to save the country in this fiscal mess.”
Sen. Simpson’s remarks are directed at an AP news story reporting that diabetes is the most frequently compensated disease among Vietnam veterans.
I sincerely hope that Sen. Simpson is not calling on Vietnam veterans to sit back and allow Congress to turn their backs on our sick brother and sisters, thus allowing our “leaders” to renege on Lincoln’s promise, “To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and orphan”?
When our leaders send the nation’s sons and daughters off to war, they must be prepared to pay the full price—and in this case, the price for one of the longest, most divisive wars in our modern history is high, that we don’t deny.
Though we Vietnam veterans are aging, our short-term memories have yet to fail:
We remember, not so long ago, when our Congress voted for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), authorizing the Department of the Treasury to purchase or insure troubled assets as a way to save the financial institutions And we also remember when certain CEOs of these same financial institutions, bailed out by U.S. taxpayer dollars, continued to pay themselves excessive bonuses, with U.S. taxpayer dollars. We wondered then what was happening to our country. And now we know.
The projected cost of TARP continues to fluctuate over time, depending on the source. According to a report issued in March 2010, by the Congressional Budget Office, the cost of the TARP program over the next ten years is estimated at $109 billion. In August 2010, however, the Treasury Department estimated that TARP program would cost $105 billion.
The ten-year projected cost of caring for our veterans suffering from the contested Agent Orange-related war wounds, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, is $42.2 billion.

Let’s ask the American people where they would rather their tax dollars go.

We stand with our fellow citizens in every community, all across our great nation.
We stand with our newest generation of veterans and with all veterans. Our fight is their fight. They are us, and we are them. And years down the road, how we prevail in Congress today will foreshadow how they will prevail as they age and become us.
We support our newest generation of warriors for they are our sons and daughters, those whom we honor when they go off to battle and those whom we honor when they come home—you see, warriors are generation bound.
A strong country relies on a strong defense. And we are your defenders. So when you deliberate, remember that our country’s future relies, not on those corporate lobbyists who flash through Congress’s halls, but on us, its citizens. And if nothing else, come election time, we will be leading our families to the polls.


  1. Vietnam veterans can take just about any criticism, and it rolls off their backs like water off a duck's back. We survived the public abuse when we came home. But the one critcism we won't abide is to criticize anyone who has experienced an Agent Orange connected ailment. That's hitting below the belt.

  2. Great letter John and thank you for it's publication.

    Sen. Simpson thinking proves he is not someone who should be serving as a adviser to the president. Every veteran must insist that he be removed from this position. The president needs to speak out as he promised during his election to make things right concerning agent orange.