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VETERANS TARGET OF THIRD-PARTY SLURS

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How does a politician say what they want to say without actually saying it? They quote someone else. This makes the point they want to make and at the same time offers deniability "I never said that. Someone else said that. "

The cynic in me thinks this is taught in Republican-Speak 101. The realist in me knows that this is just the way Republican politicians do business.

One of the masters of the third-party slur is Rep. Steve Buyer (R-IN), Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans ' Affairs (HCVA). Buyer has been taking pot-shots at veterans ever since he was elevated to the HCVA Chair earlier this year. And, he 's been very good at getting out his message by using and distorting the words of others.

One of Rep. Buyer 's third-party, anti-veteran slurs came earlier this year when he referred to veterans as "whiny " because they complained about proposed cuts in Department of Veterans ' Affairs (VA) benefits. When questioned about his use of the word "whiny, " Buyer said that "others " have called veterans "whiny. " When the reporter asked who actually used the word "whiny, " Buyer refused to answer.

So, Rep. Buyer got out his message that veterans are "whiny " when confronted with losing VA benefits and he was able to disassociate himself from the statement by saying someone else said it.

Earlier this month, Rep. Buyer managed to insert two third-party slurs in the same press release. With the capable pen of press flack Jeff Phillips, and using the guise of "information, " Buyer was able to further his anti-veteran agenda.


The press release was issued on November 10 and was titled, "Buyer Agrees with VA Decision to Conclude PTSD Review Based on Current Findings. " (NOTE: Buyer 's press release, although dated November 10 to coincide with the VA 's announcement, was not issued and posted on the HCVA web site until November 14.)

VA Secretary Jim Nicholson had just announced the cancellation of the VA 's review of 72,000 Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) claims that had already been awarded at 100 per cent disability. The VA had looked to lower or deny PTSD benefits based on faulty record-keeping on their part. Praise for the VA 's decision to cancel the review came from both sides of the political aisle.

Rep. Buyer had not opposed the review of the PTSD claims and his press release was mean-spirited and misleading. Buyer said, "Today the [VA] announced their decision to conclude the review of 72,000 [PTSD] cases ...Very few claims were found to be fraudulent. " This statement would lead people to believe that veterans had been committing fraud to receive benefits for PTSD.

However, the press release from VA Secretary Nicholson said, "The problems with these files appear to be administrative in nature, such as missing documents, and not fraud. In the absence of evidence of fraud, we're not going to put our veterans through the anxiety of a widespread review of their disability claims. "

To someone who read only Rep. Buyer 's statement it would appear fraud was an issue. And, one would think the VA also thought fraud was an issue because Buyer was referring to the VA 's announcement. NOT SO! Once again, Buyer is making negative statements about veterans and using the words of others (in this case, inaccurate words) to forward his message.

In the same press release, Rep. Buyer goes even further and, using the words of others, makes a most astounding accusation. Buyer accuses Illinois Senators Dick Durbin and Barack Obama of "triggering " the VA 's review of PTSD claims. But, Buyer doesn 't say it himself, he quotes Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs.

In the press release, Rep. Miller says, " ...we should not lose sight of the fact that the concerns of Senators Durbin and Obama actually triggered this [PTSD] review. I ...hope that in the future we don 't encounter another situation where two people try to gain publicity by potentially taking benefits from those who deserve them or giving benefits to those who do not. "

This is an outright lie. Here 's how we ended up with the VA reviewing 72,000 PTSD claims. Senators Durbin and Obama did not trigger this review. The Senators' concern was that Illinois veterans were receiving compensation for like disabilities, especially PTSD, at a lower rate than veterans in other states. The VA's Inspector General (IG) studied the situation and agreed.

Then, the VA looked at the IG report and decided Illinois vets were not getting lower benefits, but veterans in other states were getting higher benefits. It was the VA's incorrect interpretation of the IG report that triggered the PTSD review and not the actions of Senators Durbin and Obama who were acting in the best interests of the veterans of Illinois.

Rep. Buyer 's attempt to discredit Senators Durbin and Obama is the lowest form of political sleaze. But, there 's a happy ending. Durbin and Obama will get the last laugh.

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Larry Scott served four years in the U.S. Army with overseas tours as a Broadcast Journalist in Korea and the Azores and a stateside tour as a Broadcast Journalism Instructor at the Defense Information School (DINFOS). He was awarded DOD's First Place Thomas Jefferson Award for (more...)
 

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