Monday, May 2, 2016

Wedge Issues

     This presidential election has been the most interesting I have ever witnessed. We started this election with 29 candidates running for president and with over 1,700 candidates filing a Statement of Candidacy. On a national level there are only 7 candidates left across all the nationally recognized parties; Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders , Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Gary Johnson, and Jill Stein.  Emails, hand size, genitalia size, Chipotle, eating habits, and who has the better concealer were all discussed.  This election started off talking about very serious issues such as the economy, conflicts in the Middle East, and healthcare. We have now reached the point in our election cycle where we are discussing issues that are meant to drive a wedge and ultimately divide us as a nation. We are currently discussing issues that are not issues for the vast majority of Americans.        
     North Carolina recently passed a law that makes it illegal for people of the opposite gender to use a different gender that they were not assigned at birth. Catlin Jenner, the former Olympian and father of six, recorded a video were she said, “Thank you, Donald. I really appreciate it,' Jenner told the camera after exiting the ladies’ room, 'And by the way Ted, nobody got molested." Though  Jenner, a Republican, claims to side with Cruz on most political and economic issues, the two stand on opposite sides of the debate over so-called “bathroom bills” that require individuals to use the public restrooms and changing facilities that correspond to their biological sex, regardless of how they identify. When asked earlier this week about the safety concerns that many, including Cruz, have voiced about sexual predators using the guise of transgenderism as a means of abusing women and children, Jenner explained that this matter should not be included in the debate. Ted Cruz has said that, "in my view, this is not a matter of right or left or Democratic/Republican. This is common sense,” he began. “It doesn’t make sense for grown adult men — strangers — to be alone in a restroom with a little girl [...] and this is the height of political correctness,” Cruz added. “ Frankly the concern is not the Caitlyn Jenner's of the world. But if the law is such that any man if he feels like it can go in a women’s restroom and you can’t ask him to leave, that opens the door for predators.” The Texas senator noted that he spent many years in law enforcement, during which he came across many instances of child predators. I am so thankful for bathroom signs because I did not know until now that they have stopped so many child rapists from committing terrible crimes. Another wedge issue is the economy, but more specifically manufacturing jobs, the auto bailout, and trade policy. Globally manufacturing jobs are in a decline. Countries that are thought to produce the most like India and China are in an economic slow down. The U.S. has lost more manufacturing jobs due to ever increasing productivity than to jobs being sent overseas. The Auto Bailout that came after 2008 was thought to be a terrible economic decision, but just five days ago it was made public that Ford has had its best first quarter report in over 113 years. Overall, the number of cars Ford sold worldwide last quarter rose nearly 10% to 1.7 million, which lifted revenue to $38 billion. Net income jumped to $2.5 billion from $1.2 billion a year earlier. Its automotive operating profit also more than doubled to nearly 10%. On the issue of trade policy, most Americans are upset with countries such as China who they believe have benefited unfairly from trade deals that they are not even a part of. America over the last 50 years has moved away from manufacturing jobs and moved to finance, services, and IT. No new trade deal can bring back manufacturing jobs that no longer exist.
      Another important wedge issue is the misconception that foreign countries and people with unfavorable views towards the United States are laughing at us.  Yes, the argument can be made that countries do not like the U.S. but they somehow respect us less is not true. Russian President Vladimir Putin is quoted as saying, "Obama is a decent, very responsible man". Russia and the U.S. are not on the best of terms, but there is still respect on both sides.
      The last wedge issue I would like to discuss is the current state of the U.S. Military. The U.S. Military is bigger than the next 11 countries combined. The U.S. accounts for 38% of total global defense spending. The U.S. currently has the world's first and second largest Air Force, Navy and Army. Sure we could increase the size of the military, but to what end?
        These are some issues that people should be generally upset about. On any given night there are 48,000 homeless veterans on the streets. There are children in this country that do not have access to clean water. But as a country, we are arguing about bathrooms and jobs that do not exist.

- John Felder

Monday, April 18, 2016

                                                     Coming Soon Vets Vision Podcast

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Outrageous Sentences for Marijuana

 Lee Carroll Brooker, a 75 year old disabled veteran suffering from chronic pain, was arrested in July 2011 for growing three dozen marijuana plants for his own medicial use behind is son's house in Dothan AL, where he lived. Mr. Brooker was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Alabama law mandates that anyone with certain prior felony convictions must be given life with no parole for possessing more than 1 kilo of marijunana regardless of intent to sell. Mr. Brooker was convicted of armed robbery in Florida over 20 years ago. At Mr. Brooker's sentencing hearing the trial judge told him, "if I could sentence you to a term that is less tha life without parole I would". This case has made it all the way to the Supreme Court and on Friday the court will deciede if the case should be heard. Regardless of where one might stand on this issue of legalizing marijuana, no one should be sentenced to life in prison for simply growing it for medical use. Decisions such as these could deter veterans from using medical marijuana to help combat problems such as PTSD, chronic pain, and depression.

-John Felder

Check out the full article here

Monday, April 4, 2016

2 Vets, 2 legs, and 29,000 feet

In a dramatic demonstration to show that the injuries that they received in the line of duty won't keep them down, two veterans are attempting to become the first combat amputees to reach the summit of Mount Everest. Chad Jukes and Thomas Charles “Charlie” Linville both lost their right legs while serving in Iraq, and aim to tackle the world highest peak later this year. The duo are attempting this feat to show the world that the injuries that many veterans have suffered in combat do not define who they are, and they are just as capable as they were before their injuries. Best of luck to these two heroes, who may soon stand far taller than people with both legs.


Monday, March 28, 2016

A reflection of a radio Interview from a few years back

The Department of Veteran Affairs has made many strides to combat the homeless veteran problem in the United States. Here is a radio interview with Maj. Brian Hampton, President of Circle of Friends for American Veterans, on veterans' issues and many of the problems outlined here still affect the VA and veterans.

Check out the interview here

Thursday, March 24, 2016

On 22 March the program team went to Capitol hill for a hearing on the choice act. In a brief summary the Choice Act will administer the “Veterans Choice Fund” to implement the Veterans Choice Program (“the Program”).  The Program will operate for 3 years or until the Fund is exhausted.  The Program will provide Veterans who were enrolled as of August 1, 2014 or eligible to enroll as a recently discharged combat Veteran with a Veterans Choice Card, and allow those Veterans who are unable to schedule an appointment within 30 days of their preferred date or the clinically appropriate date, or on the basis of their place of residence to elect to receive care from eligible non-VA health care entities or providers.  This is separate from VA’s existing program providing Veterans care outside of the VA system.  Eligible non-VA entities or providers must enter into agreements with VA to furnish care, must maintain the same or similar credentials and licenses as VA providers, and must submit to VA a copy of any medical records related to care and services provided under the Program for inclusion in the Veteran’s VA electronic medical record.  Overall we applaud the VA for attempting to bring much needed care to veterans but the Choice Act was initially poorly executed.  For instance, there where many issues with the VA paying outside doctors for services provided, the cost then fell on veterans which in turn negatively affected those veterans credit. On a positive note the VA is implementing an internally tiered system that ranks providers so that veterans are sent to the best possible provider for care. The VA has a long way to go but we are happy to see initiatives in the right direction.