Saturday, July 31, 2010

Time to Reinstate Compulsory Military Service in America

I have received numerous e-mails about embattled Democrat Congressman Charlie Rangel's bill to reinstate compulsory military service in America. I would like everyone to look past who Charlie Rangel is, a crook who used his office for personal gain, and consider reinstating the draft based upon its merits.

I was in the Army when we made the transition from an military force based upon drafting able bodied men and women to serve, to an all volunteer force. I was against this move. However, politics and a knee jerk reaction by those who were against the Vietnam War led to the elimination of the draft. This was the wrong decision forced upon our military.

A calling to the nation's defense is the first responsibility of all American citizens since Bunker Hill.

Today, the military service hand picks those who will serve using criteria that set a high bar for entrance. That is good. The down side is many of our youth now consider service to the nation as secondary to their personal aggrandizement. Today's youth take advantage of the freedoms and liberties protected by our military. The American youth have no sense of service above ones' self. They have no skin in the game, so they play war games on their Wii and X-Boxes, when a real war is raging overseas and in the homeland. While our soldiers are fighting and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan, most Americans are going to the mall. Sad but true.

Here are the three reasons why I believe we must reinstate the draft and compulsory military service for all Americans:

  1. America and the American dream are based upon sacrifice in service to the nation. Other countries understand that service above one's self interests creates a bond between the individual and the America whose bounty gives so much to so many from so few. Today less than one-percent of all Americans serve in our uniformed services. This one-percent is defending with their lives the other ninety-nine percent. That is not what being an American is all about. Service to protect and defend this nation is part and parcel of being an American citizen. Our military takes an oath to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies both foreign and domestic. Until you raise your right hand and so swear you will not understand what service really means. The military instills a sense of duty, honor and country in all who serve.
  2. The military creates an understanding of team work, loyalty to ones comrades, and leadership. Few other organizations can make the same claim. Unlike the private sector, pledging one's life to be part of an elite group of military men and women transcends the ordinary world of work. However, leadership skill sets learn in the military easily transfer to the private sector and enhance the overall quality of our workforce and work place. Core values like showing up to work on time, dressing properly and addressing your superiors in a respectful manner are instilled during military training. While the American military has rules it also encourages independent decision making in the face of danger. Soldiers learn how to think on their feet. Something sorely lacking today.
  3. Finally, the military provides training in a vast variety of careers. From driving a truck to flying billion dollar aircraft. From being a medic to commanding a hospital. Job expertise of our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines makes a difference in the workforce. The technical job skills learned as a baker, butcher, or candlestick maker carry over to our businesses with the added bonus of free on-the-job training provided by our military. A win-win for our society.

As Dan Senor, author of Startup Nation, points out it is Israel's compulsory military service that in large part has led to it being a startup nation. Everyone in Israel serves and has directly led to it being so successful and having so many entrepreneurs. As Dan points out it is the military experiences of Israeli youth that solidifies the idea that, " Israel is not just a country, but a comprehensive state of mind." That is what compulsory military service does, it creates a "comprehensive state of mind" that serves that nation well.

Time to reinstate compulsory military service in America and regain that which has been lost - our collective comprehensive state of mind.

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Questions and Answers for New PTSD Rule (VA Office of Field Operations July 9, 2010)

I heard that VA has changed the regulations for PTSD claims. What has changed? VA has amended its rules for processing disability compensation claims for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The new rule eliminates the requirement for corroborating evidence of the claimed in-service stressor if it is related to the veteran’s “fear of hostile military or terrorist activity”.

What are the new requirements of this change? This new rule now requires that the following be demonstrated to establish service connection for PTSD: the claimed stressor is consistent with the places, types, and circumstances of the veteran’s service; A VA psychiatrist or psychologist, or contract equivalent, confirms that the claimed stressor is adequate to support a diagnosis of PTSD; and the veteran’s symptoms are related to the claimed stressor.

When does this new rule take effect? The new rule is effective on July 13, 2010. The rule is applicable to all PTSD service connected claims, including appeals, that are: pending before VA, or received on or after, July 13, 2010; pending before the Board of Veterans’ Appeals; or pending before VA on or after July 13, 2010, because the Veterans Court vacated and remanded a Board decision.

I claimed PTSD before and was denied. If I reopen now, will VA go back to when I first claimed PTSD? If service connection for PTSD is granted under the amended regulation, the effective date will be no earlier than July 13, 2010, the date the new rule went into effect.

I currently have a PTSD claim (or appeal) for service connection pending at the regional office and am waiting for a decision. What do I have to do? Nothing. This new rule will be applied to any pending claim (or appeal) involving service connection for PTSD.

Should I still provide proof of my combat medals? You should always submit any evidence that would support your claim.

I claimed PTSD. Will I be scheduled for a VA exam? Your claim will be reviewed and, if a VA exam is necessary, you will receive a separate notification letter with reporting instructions.

My private physician has already diagnosed me with PTSD. Do I have to report for a VA exam? A private report or diagnosis is not adequate for establishing service connection for PTSD; therefore, a VA exam will be required. You should submit this supporting evidence from your doctor, or we can request those for you. (PCR must offer VA Form 21-4142 and document evidence on VA Form 21-0820. Refer VA Form 21-0820 to SOJ.)

I have been denied service connection for PTSD in the past. How do I reapply? We will have to reopen your claim. (PCR must take claim on VA Form 21-0820 and refer to SOJ.)

Does this change regarding PTSD apply to any Veteran? Yes. This change applies to all veterans, regardless of when they served.

VA Simplifies Access to Health Care and Benefits for Veterans with PTSD (VA News Release July 12, 2010) WASHINGTON – Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki announced a critical step forward in providing an easier process for veterans seeking health care and disability compensation for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), with the publication of a final regulation in the Federal Register.

By publishing a final regulation in the Federal Register to simplify the process for a veteran to claim service connection for PTSD, VA reduces the evidence needed if the trauma claimed by a veteran is related to fear of hostile military or terrorist activity and is consistent with the places, types, and circumstances of the veteran’s service. This science-based regulation relies on evidence that concluded that a veteran’s deployment to a war zone is linked to an increased risk of PTSD.

Under the new rule, VA would not require corroboration of a stressor related to fear of hostile military or terrorist activity if a VA doctor confirms that the stressful experience recalled by a veteran adequately supports a diagnosis of PTSD and the veteran's symptoms are related to the claimed stressor. Previously, claims adjudicators were required to corroborate that a non-combat veteran actually experienced a stressor related to hostile military activity. This final rule simplifies the development that is required for these cases.

VA expects this rule making to decrease the time it takes VA to decide access to care and claims falling under the revised criteria. More than 400,000 veterans currently receiving compensation benefits are service connected for PTSD. Combined with VA’s shorter claims form, VA’s new streamlined, science-based regulation allows for faster and more accurate decisions that also expedite access to medical care and other benefits for veterans.

PTSD is a medically recognized anxiety disorder that can develop from seeing or experiencing an event that involves actual or threatened death or serious injury to which a person responds with intense fear, helplessness or horror, and is not uncommon among war veterans.

For additional information, go to or call VA’s toll free benefits number at 1-800-827-1000.