Tag: veterans

Join Jim and Greg as they cheer the August jobs report showing nearly 1.4 million new jobs and the unemployment rate dropping well below expectations. They also wade into the anonymous allegations in “The Atlantic” that President Trump uttered disparaging comments about our war dead and wounded veterans. And as Joe Biden starts making public appearances, the cringe-inducing moments come with him. Why does Biden never pay a price for comments that might sink other political figures?

Battle of Athens: The Forgotten History of the Tennessee Rebellion Against Local Government


The fight for civil rights in America is not limited to black Americans. Nor is the American Revolution limited to the 1700s. Case in point: The Battle of Athens. This was a pitched physical confrontation lasting two days in 1946, but with roots stretching back into the 1930s. It is part of an overall pan-racial resistance to anti-democratic government forms throughout the United States – and an oft-forgotten moment in American history.

A corrupt political machine run by E.H. Crump was centered in Memphis, but had influence throughout the entire state of Tennessee. This extensive influence was used to alter the election laws and charters of cities and counties to make the electoral process more favorable to Crump and his men. Sheriffs and their deputies were paid on a fee system, whereby they received more money the more people they incarcerated — with predictable results. Travelers and tourists were hit hardest, with buses traveling through Crump-controlled areas pulled over and (the entire bus) ticketed for drunkenness.

Proper Priorities: Press Secretary Briefing May 8


Press Secretary McEnany had her priorities straight. She opened the briefing with a tribute to World War II veterans, then recited in detail the great injustice done to a true man of honor, Lieutenant General Michael Flynn. After that, she opened the floor to questions (attack sound bites) and commanded the high ground with a smile, finally dismissing the pack of propagandists as tardy to an event with the president.

Notice how the focus by the White House press corps has shifted away from COVID-19. See how they are shifting to other lines of attack. I recently rapidly read The Reagan Diaries and was struck by his repeated entries about the unfairness, the bias, the flat-out fictions, of the press. President Reagan repeatedly expressed the opinion to his daily diary that the press was out to get him, not interested in the truth.

Taking Memories to the Streets


This year marked the 100th anniversary of observing what became Veterans’ Day in America. It was also the 75th anniversary of a series of critical battles and campaigns that sealed the Third Reich’s fate. In June, the western Allies gathered to remember the Normandy invasion. On December 16, there was another major commemoration, although not with all national leaders, remembering the battle that finally broke the Germans, the Battle of the Bulge.

On December 16, 1944, Hitler hurled his last, best troops, those who had survived the Russian meat grinder and the battering, fighting retreat from Normandy since June 1944, back through a weak point in the Allied front. Taking advantage of bad weather, suppressing American air superiority, and employing superior knowledge of local terrain, armored columns thrust deep through the Allies’ lines. Yet, the Allies were not going to break catastrophically and the Wehrmacht lacked the operational and strategic supply support needed to fully exploit any tactical or operational success. Nevertheless, the tactical situation became so desperate that the white Army leaders who had lied through their teeth, after World War I, about black men’s ability to be their peers in the infantry now called forward volunteers out of the support troops, filling in gaping holes with platoons of African American soldiers assigned to formerly all-white companies. Four years later, President Truman rejected “expert” opinion and ordered the complete racial desegregation of the armed forces with Executive Order 9981.

Doodads and Army Duds [Updated with a fun puzzle!]


I had long thought the doodads festooning veteran organizational caps to be a bit silly and something of the past. This Veterans Day, I took another look and came to a different conclusion. Looking at veterans’ uniforms in a parade and watching the pudgy weasel almost popping out of his blue Army Service Uniform in Congress, I discovered two things.

The first realization was of a linkage between military and veteran customs. Look at any military member’s uniform and you will see a shorthand career biography. If you take the time to look up the various ribbons, badges, insignia, patches, crests and whatnot, you get a glimpse into where they served and some tokens of what they did.*

It should be no surprise that veterans would carry over the military habit of visible tokens on their uniform. On closer examination, those “funny” caps have been serving the same function as a uniform jacket. Since the cap is the whole of a veterans organization uniform, that is where various tokens of a veteran’s service are displayed. 

Trick or Treat: A Conversation with a Young Man


I happened to fall into conversation with a young veterans’ organization member, who turned out to also be eligible for the veteran’s organization to which I belong, due to service in Korea. My outfit needs more fresh blood, so I had an ulterior motive to sit and listen, just prompting him for more of his thoughts. It was a treat to hear a well-spoken young man’s perspective on his own life, work, and service. The trick, really the pleasant surprise, was to then find an amazing breadth and depth to this fellow veteran, who I took from the conversation to be in his mid-20s.

That places him on the cusp between Millennials and Gen-Z. Folks, he was none of the negative stereotypes routinely riffed about his age cohort. He started on active duty, then (fairly recently) transitioned to a reserve component. He was highly focused on leveraging the mutually reinforcing training, certifications, and experience of his civilian and military careers. He had mapped out paths of advancement in both, taking advantage of the commonality in the two technical occupations. Oh, and he had not even needed college to get on this path, but already had thought through the evening/weekend/online schooling that would punch his ticket to the top of his chosen field in both the military and civilian life.

He had already been to the Middle East and Asia, so was looking for opportunities to see Europe and especially Africa in Uncle Sam’s service. And then it got interesting. We really do not understand the Middle East because we have forsaken much of our own intellectual and spiritual inheritance, he observed. We have the Arab world largely on our side or under our control, yet we cannot see the lines everyone there sees, of the Ottoman and Persian empires, let alone the one that once was centered in present-day Iraq. Turkey and Syria are two fixed countries in our eyes, yet Turks have a memory of empire that included Syria and more.

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I love war movies. Watching war movies has taught me a lot about history, military tactics, politics, sociology; depending on the movie, some of these things were laughably inaccurate, and some were spot-on. But the thing I’ve always been most fascinated by in the war movie genre is not the fighting, rather it’s the personal […]

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The third Sunday in May on my calendar is called Armed Forces Day. It used to be called “I am an American” Day. It is a day to honor and receive into the American family, all those who choose to come to the United States and become citizens. Turner Classic Movies has been featuring for […]

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Administrative Law in the Crosshairs


The United States Supreme Court heard oral argument last week in a critical if obscure administrative law case: Kisor v. Wilkie asked the simple question of whether the courts should be highly deferential to federal administrative officials in the interpretation of their own statutes. Rebuffing agencies—like the Department of Veterans Affairs, in this case—could reshape the world of modern administrative law. The specific question at issue in Kisor is how to determine the date at which a veteran becomes eligible for disability benefits. Few people seem interested in the particulars of the case, not even the nine Justices, but a clear understanding of them and other key cases is needed to orient the basic theoretical discussion. Ultimately, giving judicial deference is either unnecessary or mischievous. It is best to make agencies defend their legal position like any other party in the system.

In this case, James Kisor applied to the VA for a disability claim for post-traumatic stress disorder. No one doubted that he had the condition. The dispute was over when it started. Kisor claimed an earlier date than the VA allowed, and he sought to introduce evidence from his file to support his contention. The VA disregarded his new evidence. On its view, the governing statutory provision requires that claims for disability benefits be reconsidered only if the VA gets “relevant official service documents” that pertain to his claim. Kisor thought that he should be able to introduce evidence already in the record when his initial claim date was determined. The VA refused to consider that new evidence from the record because it predated the “last denial” of Kisor’s claim. Kisor responded that this earlier evidence should be reviewed in any event so long as it has “any tendency” to tip the outcome in the case. Kisor wanted, therefore, a broader reading of the term “relevant” than the VA allowed, and he claimed that the Federal Rules of Evidence supported him because it used the same broad “any tendency” definition of “relevant” that he endorsed.

In ordinary litigation, Kisor’s argument would carry a lot of weight. But not here. Unfortunately, the Circuit Court for the Federal Circuit punted deciding the issue on the merits, saying in effect that it owed extreme deference to the federal administrator in the construction of his own statute. Eyebrows should raise because the VA is an interested party—but the Federal Circuit invoked two Supreme Court cases, decided over 50 years apart, Bowles v. Seminole Rock (1945) and Auer v. Robbins (1997), to bolster its decision. Both those decisions have come under spirited attack from the conservative side of the Court, because they are said to represent an abnegation of the judicial duty to decide all questions of law that come before a court. The liberal response has been equally emphatic, insisting that Congress wants agencies that use their greater expertise on these specialized issues to determine coherent public policy. So who’s right? To answer that question, it is important to see how judicial deference works in practice.

Dear President Trump, Senate Leader McConnell, and Speaker Pelosi


There is a silent epidemic impacting our bravest and finest citizens, their families and friends; Those who served in the United States Military are more likely to die from suicide than on the battlefield.

According to the US Department of Veterans Affairs, each day there are around 20 veterans who commit suicide. What’s more, they report that veterans’ suicides account for 18 percent of the suicide deaths in the country, while they only make up 8.5 percent of the adult population. Even more disturbing is how many US soldiers who attempt suicide often have no history of mental health issues.

While politicians and our media focus attention on protecting those who may not even be US citizens, we are letting down the patriotic individuals who sacrificed everything for our great country.

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Ricochet is the only place I could think of to get an answer for this. Here is the situation. I have a son-in-law that is retired from the Air Force (my daughter is also a veteran of the Air Force). Due to family circumstances, I do not know this man very well. We were told […]

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As Veterans Day slowly slips into the darkness of holidays passed, many are thankful they no longer need to pretend they honor Service Members and Veterans alike. For some, this holiday evokes mixed emotions; it stirs antiestablishment sentiment as they view the military complex as imperialistic and entails a fiscal burden they do not support. […]

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Only 20% of Congress Are Veterans; Down from 80% in the ’70s


Considering the rank partisanship of modern American politics, the bipartisan mourning of Sen. John McCain feels like something from a different era. His broad-based appeal is partly due to his centrist politics but primarily his unique background as a Naval aviator and prisoner of war speaks to voters’ collective memory. He was a rare politician who could speak of duty, honor, and sacrifice without a hint of postmodern irony.

Veterans used to be commonplace on Capitol Hill, but today they’re an endangered species. Using statistics compiled by the non-partisan Brookings Institution, I graphed the decline of servicemembers in the Congress and Senate over the past 50 years.

Falling Through the Cracks


He was a Vietnam War veteran and was awarded a Purple Heart. He became friends with Emily Cornelius and her mother, Karen, five years ago. Emily was in the 8th grade at the time. Years later in April 2018, she accompanied him on an Honor Flight to Washington, DC. He was 70 years old.

Five years earlier when he met Emily, he was homeless. He passed away last Saturday, August 11 and left behind a sister and a son.

William “Mr. Willie” Dread was living in a homeless camp in Lakeland, FL called “The Chinese Jungle” when Emily discovered him. Over time she and her mother brought him food and clothing and other care packages. Eventually, she found him a place to live in Crystal Court apartments in Lakeland. Mr. Dread talked about this mother and daughter pair before he left on his Honor Flight, saying “I love them both. She [Emily] is just a great young lady.”

On this AEI Events Podcast, you’ll hear remarks from Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) on elevating and empowering veterans through VA reform in light of President Trump’s recent executive order “Supporting Our Veterans During Their Transition from Uniformed Services to Civilian Life,” followed by a discussion with experts in veterans’ affairs.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recognizes that it must empower and equip veterans with the resources they need to flourish after service, but it struggles to fulfill this mission. A more integrated approach to veterans’ transition programs, including education and programs focused solely on economic opportunity, can better assist veterans reentering the workforce, fostering individual entrepreneurship while combating the harmful “broken veteran” narrative.

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Tropical storm Alberto is on its way, and will soon be bearing down upon the Florida Panhandle. The path of landfall looks like it might be headed for my neighborhood… so I went out earlier and put away the outdoor porch cushions and pried up the assorted sizes of American flags that were flying in […]

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