Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Iowa Front: Military & Veterans’ Weekly Roundup

Veterans/Political Fronts

Don’t ‘Fire” Draws Veteran’s Ire”: Jim Kantaris, a Korean veteran, was more than a little perturbed when he found out his VFW post wouldn’t be able to fire off their guns during a 4th of July parade in Mason City due to the security measures made to accommodate the Clintons. "There's too much political stuff," Kantaris, quartermaster of Post 733, told the Mason City Globe Gazette. "They're making us change 50 years of tradition because of two people. And one of them is a draft-dodger who turned the White House into a whorehouse." Kantaris later apologized for his comments, but the breaking of a 50-year tradition still did not resonate well with fellow VFW members. Read more of Jim Carlson’s article in the Des Moines Register.

“Obama Aims to Quell Defense Doubts”: Sen. Barack Obama kicks of his “Commander in Chief” tour this week in Iowa. A group of military veterans who served in Iraq, including some from Iowa, will campaign in the state this week in support of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. They will be joined by Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Scott Gration as they cross the state. For more information about the tour and schedule of events, go to the Des Moines Register.

“Golf Program Will Help Vets”: Injured and disabled veterans soon will get the opportunity to develop their swing on the area's newest golf course.Thanks to a new partnership between the Blue Top Ridge at Riverside golf course, the Iowa PGA and the VA Iowa City Health Care System, the Iowa Veterans for Golf four-part program is intended to improve the mental, social, physical and emotional well-being for veterans served by the medical center. (The Press-Citizen)

Grassley Announces $7.6 Million for Veterans Cemetery in Van Meter”: Sen. Chuck Grassley today announced that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has awarded a $7.6 million grant to create a new State Veterans Cemetery in Van Meter. The new cemetery will be called the Iowa Veterans Cemetery and is the first State Veterans Cemetery in Iowa. Nearly 70,000 veterans and their families live within the service area of this Dallas County Cemetery.

Military Front

Two Return, One Goes Back: Second Tour of Iraq Separates Pair with Similar Backgrounds”: chronicles two members of the Iowa National Guard’s 833rd Engineer Company, which is scheduled to redeploy to Iraq later this month. Mark McLaughlin and Jason Beatty had become the best of friends while serving in Iraq, but they’ll be separated during this upcoming tour of duty, because Beatty has been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Read more about their relationship and struggles in Mark Kilen’s Des Moines Register article.

Republicans Defeat Troop Readiness Amendment”: A measure that would improve military readiness and require periods of down time for National Guard and reservists returning from Iraq and Afghanistan before redeploying them was defeated Wednesday by a Senate Republican filibuster. At the very minimum, the proposed down-time requirements would be equal to the time of served during previous deployment. Currently, there are no mandated restrictions set by the Department of Defense.

The amendment, S. AMDT. 2012, was introduced by Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, which is currently being debated in both chambers of Congress. The vote was 56-41 to end debate on Webb's amendment, with 60 votes needed to move to a full up-or-down vote on the Senate floor.

After the filibuster succeeded, Webb, a Vietnam War veteran, shared his disappointment on the Senate floor with Republican colleagues: "Today the Republicans decided to filibuster an amendment that goes straight to the well-being of our troops. I deeply regret this move. I would remind my colleagues on the Republican side of the aisle that the American people are watching us today. They expect us to take the sort of positive action that might stabilize the operational environment in which are troops are being sent again and again."

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