"WELFARIZING" THE VA
The Selling of VA Benefits as Welfare
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Sen. Obama Hears Ill. Veterans'
Benefit Program Overview
Isotope analysis shows exposure to depleted uranium in Gulf War veterans
Percentage of veterans
varies by state
Federal Hiring Of Nation's Military
Discharged and Dishonored
Associated Press | March
HUSAYBAH, Iraq - Extra body armor - the lack of which
caused a political storm in the United States - has
flooded in to Iraq, but many Marines here promptly
stuck it in lockers or under bunks. Too heavy and
cumbersome, many say.
Marines already carry loads as heavy as 70 pounds
when they patrol the dangerous streets in towns and
villages in restive Anbar province. The new armor
plates, while only about five pounds per set, are not
worth carrying for the additional safety they are said
to provide, some say.
"We have to climb over walls and go through
windows," said Sgt. Justin Shank of Greencastle, Pa.
"I understand the more armor, the safer you are. But
it makes you slower. People don't understand that this
is combat and people are going to die."
Staff Sgt. Thomas Bain of Buffalo, N.Y., shared
concerns about the extra pounds.
"Before you know it, they're going to get us injured
because we're hauling too much weight and don't have
enough mobility to maneuver in a fight from house to
house," said Bain, who is assigned to the 3rd
Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment. "I think we're
starting to go overboard on the armor."
Since the insurgency erupted in Iraq, the Pentagon
has been criticized for supplying insufficient armor
for Humvees and too few bulletproof vests. In one
remarkable incident, Soldiers publicly confronted
Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld about the
problem on live television.
Hometown groups across the United States have since
raised money to send extra armor to troops, and the
Pentagon, under congressional pressure, launched a
program last October to reimburse troops who had
purchased armor with their own money.
Soldiers and their parents spent hundreds, sometimes
thousand of dollars, on armor until the Pentagon began
issuing the new protective gear.
In Bain's platoon of about 35 men, Marines said only
three or four wore the plates after commanders
distributed them last month and told them that use was
Top military officials, including Secretary of the
Army Francis Harvey, acknowledge the concerns over
weight and mobility but have urged that the new gear
"That's going to add weight, of course," said
Harvey. "You've read where certain Soldiers aren't
happy about that. But we think it's in their best
interest to do this."
Marines have shown a special aversion to the new
plates because they tend to patrol on foot, sometimes
conducting two patrols each day that last several
hours. They feel the extra weight.
In Euphrates River cities from Ramadi and Romanna,
lance corporals to captains have complained about the
added weight and lack of mobility. But some commanders
have refused to listen. In the former insurgent
stronghold of Fallujah, for example, commanders
require use of the plates. End of story.
The Marine Corps has said a total of 28,000 sets of
the plates, officially called small-arms protective
inserts, or side SAPIs, will be in combat zones by
April. The Army has said it is hoping to have 230,000
sets of plates in the field this year.
Last year, a study by the Armed Forces Medical
Examiner said dozens of Marines killed by wounds to
the torso might have survived had the larger plates
been in use.
"I'm sure people who ... lost kidneys would have
loved to have had them on," said 2nd Lt. William Oren,
a native of Southlake, Texas, who wears the plates.
"More armor isn't the answer to all our problems. But
I'll recommend them because it's more protection."
Some Marines have chosen to wear the plates,
particularly those in more vulnerable jobs such as
Humvees turret gunners or those who frequently travel
on roads plagued by roadside bombs.
But many Marines - particularly those who conduct
foot patrols also carrying weapons, extra ammunition,
medical equipment, night vision goggles, food and
water - say the extra armor is not worth it,
especially when the weather becomes unbearably hot.
"When you already have 60, 70 pounds on and you add
10 pounds when you go patrolling through the city or
chasing after bad guys, that extra 10 pounds is going
to make a difference. You're going to feel it," said
Lance Cpl. David Partridge from Bangor, Maine.
Many Marines, however, believe the politics of the
issue eventually will make the plates mandatory.
"The reason they issued (the plates), I think, is to
make people back home feel better," said Lance Cpl.
Philip Tootle of Reidsville, Ga. "I'm not wishing they
wouldn't have issued them. I'm just wishing that they
wouldn't make them mandatory."
Group helps service-disabled
June 6, 2004 -- The U.S. Small Business Administration
recently announced a new procurement program that will
boost federal contract opportunities for
service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses.
The Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council
concurrently released regulations implementing the
"President Bush has made it a priority to reach out to
all of America's entrepreneurs, and we have a special
responsibility to make an effort for those who
sacrificed for our safety and freedom," said SBA
Administrator Hector V. Barreto.
The new rule will amend the relevant sections of the
Code of Federal Regulations, adding provisions that
will allow contracting officers to restrict contract
awards to service-disabled veteran-owned small
businesses when there is a reasonable expectation that
two or more similar businesses will submit bids at a
fair market price.
It also allows awards of sole-source contracts to
service-disabled veteran-owned firms will submit bids
and the anticipated contract price does not exceed $3
million, with the exception of manufacturing contracts
where the contracting threshold is $5 million.
To learn more about the program, visit