Really?? Sleeping with the Enemy?

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angrymonkey Mr. Duff, your table for one is now ready... Recently on Veterans Today, Gordon Duff authored a special report titled, “Veterans Service Organizations: Sleeping with the Enemy” where he charged the “American Legion, VFW, and other groups have advised the DVA and Congress . . . to the total failure and utter disaster we have now.” He continues, “These groups ‘played’ at helping vets but became a home for political extremists and dimwits addicted more (to) grandstanding than the hard work required by informed veteran advocacy.” I’m a lifetime member of the American Legion and tirelessly serve the veterans of my community and nation. So I therefore must be a political extremist and a dimwit addicted to grandstanding rather than hard work required to be an informed veteran advocate. Wanting to personally improve, I reflected upon Mr. Duff’s article and the charges he levied against me and the organizations to which I belong. First, he asserts veteran rights advocates are under attack and “millions are spent to push real veterans advocacy agendas off the table.” I can’t determine what agendas or advocates he’s referring to but decided to see if my role and the work of the American Legion (or other major veterans groups) could be called advocacy. I’ll offer a general paraphrase that advocacy is the pursuit of influencing outcomes that effect peoples lives. Therefore, an advocate must be someone who practices advocacy. So both Mr. Duff’s advocates and the veteran service organizations can be advocates albeit obviously, in his opinion, we’re not on the same side. The article then lists seven “critical issues” we fail to understand. Issues such as lack of “due process” in veterans appeals, claims backlog, record destruction/alteration, and lack of research in service connected illnesses. For the sake of this discussion, let's assume Mr Duff is correct, and (again, hypothetically) accede that we didn't hit on these "critical issues" to the level he desires. But excuse me because we were focused on other issues we felt equally as worthy of our advocacy. They included: • Making sure the VA understood the tremendous task associated with the new Post-9/11 G.I. Bill and that the task shouldn’t have been outsourced. Has it been perfect, maybe not, but with ten times the number of applicants, it’s better than it could have been. And we will remain with the issue within our teeth until every eligible veteran receives his benefits on time and in full. • Eradicating the veteran disability tax/concurrent receipt and its phase in. This issue has unfairly targeted our nations veterans since the Civil War and thousands are overjoyed we have begun to fix it. We’re not done and will continue to pursue the issue until resolved. • Holding President Obama’s feet to the fire when the White House proposed to charge service connected veterans for care within the VA. Only the outcry of the American Legion brought this to the nation’s attention and removed it from consideration. • Standing up for the honor and professionalism of today’s soldiers and protesting gross mischaracterizations in a Department of Homeland Security Report. • Continuing our efforts throughout the nation to not only document issues within the infrastructure of the VA Medical System, but also lobby Congress to keep funding construction, operational, maintenance budgets to meet the needs of the veterans. • Laying the groundwork for “advanced funding” for the VA Medical Care budgets which has not only passed both houses of Congress, but has become a cornerstone of President Obama’s budget. Most, if not all of these successes, were a truly multi-organizational effort by all the veteran service groups. Still, this is only a small sample of the “critical issues” that the American Legion has acted upon; there are many more that remain in Congressional committees or other venues that we continue to pursue. Since the American Legion has forever been a non-partisan organization that will not endorse candidates nor had a paid lobbying front, the insinuations on that subject are baseless. However if our support of “half-hearted” patriotic issues such as the Flag Protection Amendment or protection of the sanctity of our public veteran monuments and memorials counter the will of the American people, perhaps we’re misguided. Only problem, over 70% of Americans approve of our position on these patriotic issues. Finally, we’re enlightened on a “bit of the damage done.” There you’ll find wild accusations that somehow the VA has colluded with the veterans organizations for decades to help cover up corruption, close facilities, delay VA’s service connection for specific illness, and “continually misinforming Congress and the public on veterans issues.” I’m just one person in an organization with a membership of over 2.5 million, so I cannot with any certainty deny that not one of these things ever happened. But I’m about as confident as I can ever be that there is no organizational conspiracy to help VA in this endeavor. Hundreds of hours of testimony, letter-writing, and direct communication to Congress has been invested in the years that I’ve been involved on these very topics. For example, I was with the National Commander when he witnessed the VA Medical Center in Las Vegas held up by jacks and encapsulated in netting to keep falling debris from hitting veterans. Yes the American Legion helped close that “facility” but was instrumental in pushing for a new hospital. After much time spent mulling over Mr. Duff’s arguments, I resigned myself to realize that in all, it was his opinion. A vitriolic opinion not supported with facts or examples. And I’ll respect his ability to provide that opinion. Have the veteran service organizations done enough? Absolutely not, and every single one maintains a hefty legislative agenda to continue their pursuit. Have the organizations colluded with the VA and set aside advocacy for the veteran? I would love to see proof of this. Is every member of the American Legion, VFW, or other organizations able to be the well-spoken advocate their national leaders hope for? No, but if we revoked the membership of everyone who wasn’t to “a standard,” our nation’s veteran advocacy groups would have a membership of one. Mr. Duff, your table for one is now ready. We’re offered thanks for our “service . . . flowers . . . motorcycle processions” and ordered to “stay out of politics.” Well, sir without the advocates you’re so quick to dismiss, what exactly would you accomplish? Without the veterans advocate/service officer who tirelessly represents the claim before the VA and Board of Veterans Appeals, how inconsequential would the claim become? How many would give up the fight? Without the veteran advocate willing to spotlight the errors and missteps by the VA and our elected officials, how many programs would be initiated/eradicated without our knowledge? We can’t do it alone, and the success record of the dimwits in the veteran organizations speaks volumes to what we’ve accomplished together.
Posted in Uncategorized, the burner | 10 comments
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[...] new friends at The Burn Pit take on Duff in another bit of ignorance theater in which Duff accuses the VSOs of “Sleeping [...]

The Angry Monkey shouldn't read the "Duffster" material or the Angry Monkey will morph into the Enraged Primate. The "Duffster" is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts! I guess if you don't do anything postitive or productive, you have plenty of time to write yellow journalism.

Mr. Duff has a point that there are small populations of leadership in all established organizations that are leaders for the sake of narcissistic means to an end of selfish nature… but as a member of both organizations, and having witnessed the dedicated people in both Legion and VFW working with honorable intent, I am seriously offended by the fallacy he has committed... I call upon the power of the angry Yak… let the smack down commence…

[...] This post was Twitted by AmericanLegion [...]

just want to add... why isn't Mr. Duff adding IAVA to the mix in his accusations???

The site lists Duff as a [social commenter]... do they mean socialist?

Hey Duff, i just looked in the Dictionary under a-hole and there u were...

I visited the website and read most of the article and many of the comments and replies. Unlike this site, most commenters used their real name as though unashamed of their opinions. Just look above and you will see pseudonyms for the most part. I suspect most of those people are the ones referred to in the Homeland Security report as potential militia recruits. Judging by the level of serious discussion, apparently many members on this site are goobers with guns who skulk in the woods. I did not notice much actual supporting material for assertions here, but I did on the other site. For the second time, I find myself unwilling to associate myself with Legion positions.

Stephen, can you point to one tangible positive difference that Duff has ever made with regard to the VA changing policies? I'm not sure how a pseudonym changes arguments, but seemingly to you it does, so praytell what exactly "Veterans Today" has done that has had such a great impact on the plight of veterans?

Angry monkey indeed! I've read two of Duff's articles but have never been able to understand how he came to hate life. How he is able to use a website, with potential, for his own mediocre angry rants and pretend to be doing right by us Vets is quite annoying. In his "Reason To Rejoice" article, he actually says that our military is our own enemy. He trashes honorable people, military and political and assumably expects us to respect his points of view. More importantly, he has continued to trash the American Legion-------an organization of honorable members who have done so much for veterans. It's not perfect but it's done a hell of a lot more than many organizations. By the way, I unsubscribed from Veterans Today quite some time ago.......Semper Fi.......A proud American Legion member

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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.