December 20, 2007
While Illinois’, and the Nation’s, Veterans Suffer, Obama Campaigns
from NO QUARTER by SusanUnPC
Illinois’ disabled veterans are at “rock bottom” — “dead last” — in benefits and claims processing of applications for disability. But Illinois’ veterans take a back seat because their junior senator is running for president. And that senator, Barack Obama, has missed an astonishing number of hearings and meetings of the Senate Veterans committee.
Obama is nothing if not audacious in touting his veterans committee membership as contributing to his “foreign policy” experience for the presidency, while his own state’s veterans suffer. The Chicago Sun-Times ran a devastating investigative series in 2004-2005 (see Truthout) that showed that Illinois’ veterans rank last, or near-last (depends on the graph) in disability awards of the 50 states and Puerto Rico (Illinois average: $6,961; New Mexico average: $12,004). The New York Times’s 2007 article shows Illinois’ disabled soldiers are still waiting over two years later: “Illinois, which has deployed the sixth-highest number of soldiers of any state, has the second-largest backlog.”
Sen. Obama admitted he didn’t know anything about problems at Walter Reed before the WaPo’s shattering series. And Sen. Obama has missed KEY votes for disabled veterans — including a measure that would create “common disability ratings.”
Obama claimed that veterans committee was “one of my first priorities.” He said, “One of my first priorities was obtaining a seat on the Veterans Committee…And the thing that I pledged when I was sworn in as the Senator was that if nothing else in the first couple of years in the Senate, I could make absolutely certain that there would have been a strong advocate in the United States Senate,” at a Veterans Town Hall Meeting, May 23, 2005.
But Obama has skipped 19 of 37 VA committee meetings in the 109th congress. Obama’s attendance record was the second worst of all Democrats on the committee. He attended just 18 of the committee’s 37 meetings in Washington D.C.